Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Just weighed myself - Arghh!!!

Well then, that was a great Christmas. Have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I have eaten, drunk and generally consumed anything and everything I wanted to. I said to myself not to worry about it - that I could always do some extra exercise post Christmas and it would be fine.

I squeezed into my jeans until Friday, then I had to give it up. They were just ridiculously uncomfortable, and the resulting bulge around the waist band wasn't going to be hidden by any loose fitting clothes! They call it a spare tyre for a reason you know!

So it's been leggings and joggers since then, and I am already fed up of them as you are kind of limited what you can wear with them. In addition, some are thinner material than others, and no-one wants to see my knickers outlined for all to see with my somewhat widened derrière!

Today I decided to face the music - the final weigh in of 2013 if you will. It wasn't good - and I knew it wouldn't be. 8 pounds heavier! So I make this my resolution (there will be others, but this is the first and the most important one) - that next year, 2014, is the year I reach my weight goal and maintain it, but in addition, that I will be fitter and toned this year.

Food and drink is great. Being overweight is horrible. I can't fit in most of the clothes in my wardrobe and I refuse to buy more clothes just so that I can go out drinking and eating! Its a vicious circle, and it stops here for good. Bye bye fat clothes - I will not be seeing you again (once I don't have to wear you of course). Hello clothes in my wardrobe that I either A - haven't worn for a while because I can't, and B - those clothes I haven't worn yet that hang there making me feel guilty because I have never got to my goal! 2014 here I come!! Get ready world!

New Year's Eve

It's New Year's Eve and inevitably, you find yourself looking back over the previous years, the highs, the lows. The things we have done, the places seen, the experiences had.

Unfortunately, its also the time to start thinking about those New Year's Resolutions, as usually for me, its a case of I want to be thinner, richer, happier - things I never quite manage throughout the year - or at least not all at the same time, and with lesser and greater degrees of success!!

Right now I am contemplating how to celebrate the occasion of NYE. If we go out, it's madly expensive this night, as everyone seems to hike up their prices - entrance fees, tickets, taxi fares! If we go local, it's walking distance but its pot luck what sort of atmosphere it might be. Sometimes, local is best as its packed and fun. Sometimes though its like tumbleweed blowing through an abandoned township!!

Then there is always staying in. We have done this before, and had a take away, watched a film. It's quite nice.

One thing that they all have in common is that when the clock strikes 12, its all a bit of an anti-climax really. You do the obligatory Auld Lang Syne, then that's that for another year. For me, it is quite exciting facing the unknown prospect of a whole new year ahead, but its bitter sweet as it's a year of your life that's ended and you can never go back, whether it was good or bad.

I think the staying in option is most appealing to me, but we shall have to see what the other half wants to do!

What are your plans for this evening?

Monday, 30 December 2013

my god these pictures are amazing and haunting

check out these mesmerising pictures for a walk down the timeline of the past and abandoned


Yay - Dirty Dancing is on!!

Just home and what do I find is on TV right now? Dirty Dancing!!!!

Its on Five - get it on and indulge in a bit of Patrick and Jennifer aka Johnny and Baby magic! :)

Happy by Pharell Williams - My record of the week

I am so loving this song - it's such a funky little number and will take you through the post Christmas blues and into New Year with ease.

Plus, the video is fab. The song is on the soundtrack to Despicable Me 2 (G's current favourite - mine too if I'm honest!) and features a dancing minion!! Now, for those of you not familiar with a Minion or indeed Dispicable Me, a minion is a yellow thing that works for Grew. Except they are turned purple in Despicable me 2 - they go back to yellow when squirted with jam!!

A feel good number, and great for the gym too! Happy New Years listening x

Oz the Great and Powerful - MOVIE REVIEW

As a child, I was a massive fan of the Wizard of Oz, and even played a part in our dance school show of the same name. I also absolutely loved (and still do) Return to Oz. There is just something amazing about the whole story and the famous quotes it spawned, such as "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore"!

When I saw a remake was afoot, I was both excited but also a bit worried in case it ruined it for me. The casting went some ways towards reassuring me mind you, as some great stars have been cast in this.

Lets start with the witches - there are three. This particular Oz variation is set well before Dorothy sets a ruby slippered foot in Oz, focusing instead on the wizard and the witches. So, the first witch, the good one, is Glinda, played by Michelle Williams (Dawson's Creek - big fan). The bad witch is Evanora, played by Rachel Weisz (the mummy and wife of Bond!). The good witch turned bad is Theodora, played by Mila Kunis (Ted, girlfriend of Ashton Kutcher), and is the one who ends up the infamous green pointy chinned witch!

James Franco (127 Hours - eek) played the lead Oz - Oscar Diggs. In my humble opinion, he is fab! The supporting characters and actors make this a real trip down memory lane if you are a fan of the original adaptations such as myself, and you can't help wondering if a remake of Dorothy is following on from this as it does appear to be setting the scene for such.

It starts in black and white, or sepia if you prefer to be specific. I wasn't expecting this and at first thought there was something up with the recording or my TV, then common sense kicked in and I realised it was done for effect. The colour - very bright, very vivid - kicks in when Oz lands in Oz, and to my untrained eye, I think its also for effect in homage to the technicolour of the original.

I also think that Michelle Williams part in Kansas hinted that she was going to become a "Gale" by marriage - Dorothy's mum perhaps? Seems a bit too much of a coincidence to me! Lots more hints of the future story when he reaches Oz in so much as the building of scarecrows (the scarecrow?), scaring off a lion (the cowardly lion?) and the whole point being that Oz was not a real wizard at all - remember the curtain scene in the original?

All in all, if you haven't seen the previous one its probably still going to entertain you. It's bright, exciting, the characters are fab - I particularly loved the little China Girl. If you are a fan already, it really doesn't disappoint and I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I was little, I demanded plaits like Dorothy be braided into my hair - now whilst I think I am a little past pulling that style off these days, I did feel that same enthralling excitement (mind you, I also demanded Princess Leia side buns back in the day!).

This to me is everything that a family friendly film should be, and with a great big dose of nostalgia thrown in for good measure. Go on, indulge yourself - just don't expect Shrek humour or innuendo - it's really not that sort of film!!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

The House Feels so empty and quiet after Christmas :(

Christmas Day was opening presents (me and the man), then up to my parents for dinner, along with his dad. We stayed over Christmas night having consumed lots of festive spirit and it was a lovely day!

Boxing Day, he picked up little G for dinner, and we did a second round of presents - most exciting watching G open hers! She had an unexpected big present and was amazed! We also had Christmas dinner #2.

Boxing night we came back home with G, and had lovely cheese and crackers for tea, as we were all stuffed still from dinner. More Christmas spirit consumed too!

On Friday, the boys arrived. This is his eldest Stephen, 22, his girlfriend and their new baby. Then his middle boy - James, 20 and his girlfriend. Then his youngest boy Thomas, 18. Plus their dog! Plus G who was already with us. We invited my parents over and his dad for a house full! Cue much noise, banter and general stuff all over the place. Luckily we have sofa beds and just about enough sitting and sleeping space, but even then catering for everyone was an experience!!

Thank goodness we have a big cooker, as trying to cater for all those tums was no mean feat - the kitchen got very warm and we were running around keeping everyone fed and watered. The boys and partners and G stayed over Friday night, then decided to stay Saturday night too.

This meant sterilising baby bottles, a mad rush to the supermarket for more nappies and baby stuff as it wasn't planned to stay a second night. The washing machine was on the go what seemed to be constantly, not to mention the shower and the dishwasher!

Saturday night we made the sensible decision to go out for tea - much wiser choice. We came back and once again the house was full of life and noise.

And then today, late this afternoon, they were gone. G is still here with us, but the boys, the girlfriends, the baby and the dog have all gone back home. It's a strange feeling - the house feels so empty and quiet. It never felt empty and quiet before they came, but both us are feeling emotional now. It's been exhausting but lovely having them here. It will be a long while before they are all here together again, as they are all grown up now with their own lives, so it was one to make the most of. I now most definitely have the post Christmas blues a little and am tired beyond words, but I have enjoyed it. Sure glad its only once a year mind!

A Christmas Cold - every year!!!

It is Sunday. The festivities now seem far away, and New Year is approaching. Resolutions are being planned, the first tentative steps taken to get into the health kick have begun. This morning I awoke with a sore throat and sounding like some sort of dial up phone line (i.e. deep husky voice) and a distinctly sniffly nose!

Last year, I spent most of Christmas Day coughing and sneezing, and Boxing Day last year was a total write off as I was in bed for 7pm so laid up was I. This year, I have felt fine and dandy, and hoped I had avoided the Christmas cold.

Sadly, this appears not to be destined as here we go again!! thankfully having a red nose at this time of year is quite in keeping with the old red nose reindeer - Rudolf with his nose so bright! Not so much Rudolf more my shiny nose so bright!!

I rarely get colds is the ironic part. I never get coughs all through the year I am fit and healthy (well healthy anyway), yet every Christmas it gets me. I don't know why it is. Whether it's the over indulgence that saps my immune system, or if its being around family, kids etc.. I just don't know why its only ever at Christmas, but let me say this Santa - next year, do not bring me a cold for Christmas - you can keep it next year!!

First gym session post Christmas - will power commenced for 2014!!

Christmas is all about family, presents, and of course - over indulgence! This year was no different in that regards - by yesterday I could no longer wear my jeans - far too tight and uncomfortable!

Thankfully, in a wilful and uncharacteristic act of self discipline, I had booked a PT session for 3.30pm. That said, some part of my brain clearly dismissed that notion by seemingly having an endless appetite the night before for all manner of bad for you but lovely food, not to mention several glasses of vino!!

So with something resembling a tornado in my head this morning, I awoke in the knowledge that I had to face such a physical challenge whilst extremely hanging! A daunting prospect at the best of times, it was none the better for the over consumption for sure.

So the time arrived and I forced myself to the gym. On arrival, my PT was there - smiling and jovial as ever. Well why not? He is after all the one inflicting the torture!! I explained that I was not ill, was not injured, just bloated and over indulged, so he promised a hard session.

The man is nothing if not honest to the point of painful! He assured me that whilst I may be post Christmas and that I may have gained weight, and that yes, my body would tire a little easier due to the small break in training (not been since last Thursday!!), but that he would push me, and hard!

I have to say it hurt. I have to say that I felt every damn calorie consumed over the past few days. I also have to say that things were moving that I swear did not before! There was more of me, and it was not pretty. It has served to make me all the more determined that 2014 will be my year.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Over indulgence - tonight it's on us!

So Christmas Day is done, and Boxing Day is over. I'm not sure there is a name for today (other than Friday) but tonight it is us doing the entertaining. That is when everyone arrives, which at the moment is looking uncertain!

Last night we didn't feel much like eating at all, so tonight seemed the better plan. So we have been to Iceland (other frozen food shops are of course available!) and stocked up on the following frozen items for finger food:

  • mozzarella melts
  • chicken goujons
  • turkey roast (should have been chicken!)
  • onion bhaji's
  • chicken poppers
  • garlic bread
  • mini pizza's
  • vegatable samosa's
  • spring rolls
  • sandwich platter
  • 75 mini desserts
We also have a selection of pate, cheese, crackers, crisps, olives, pickles, nuts, cheddars and mini scotch eggs, as well as goodness knows how much chocolate!!

Whilst I do like my food, and I do enjoy a glass of wine, I am actually, already, reaching saturation point! In addition my waist band is feeling somewhat more uncomfortable than it was before christmas!

The other half's grown up boys should be arriving momentarily. The journey is approx 1 hour 20 minutes to reach us, and originally they were setting off at 1pm. Then it was 3pm. Then it was 3.30pm. It is now 5.30pm and no word of if or when they have commenced their journey. 

All in all, today is becoming quite stressful!! Isn't family wonderful!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

364 sleeps 'til Christmas!

So did you know it's 364 sleeps until Christmas? Yes that's correct, and it will be upon us before we know it!!

Several New Year's Resolutions to be made and broken, several diets to go on, several attempts to sort my finances, eat better, dress better. But that number - 364 - that's a lot of days. Surely long enough to succeed this time?

My Christmas has been lovely indeed. Good company, lovely food. Next year however, it is my turn to do Christmas Dinner - OMG!!! going to start planning immediately!!

Oh dear - G's had sprouts!!

Christmas Dinner and all the trimmings on Christmas Day with her mum. With sprouts. Followed by an assortments of rich foods, chocolates etc.. Christmas Dinner and all the trimmings again on Boxing Day with us. Including sprouts.

As is the case for many people, clearly the sprouts have resulted in some unintended consequences, and by this, I mean flatulence. Not the silent and deadly type - no. These are true blasts of the horn, but are toxic!

What doesn't help of course, is that each time I find myself absolutely crying with laughter!! We now have windows open and candles burning to avoid being gassed and still it continues.

Note to self - no sprouts for G next year!!!

Lucky Girl - Happy Boxing Day!

Well I can honestly say I have been well and truly spoilt this year.

tickets to go and see Robbie Williams, a spa break at Hoar Cross Hall, converse (blue), riding boots, perfume, swarovski jewellery, earrings, bracelet, coffee machine, kitchen grill. chocolates, underwear, a new onesie and pjs!!

Am so chuffed!! Am also very stuffed with lovely food and drink right now - Happy Boxing Day!!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Not a white Christmas

So its not exactly a white christmas eh?To be honest, having just seen the news, this year, I am more than grateful for power. That means daft christmas films, christmas dinner and silly songs.

got to spare a thought for those in the south that are flooded and without power this year. Those silly family arguments should make us all feel glad this year!

Twas the night before Christmas

So it's Christmas Eve!!!! Let me hear you say how excited you are?

Got to say the TV is one disappointment however. No corrie, no Christmas classics. Have just got home from a lovely tea (who wants to cook on xmas eve?) and what are we watching you ask? That's correct - Die Hard 2.

Yes, it's set at Christmas, and yes, its a great film. But Christmas Eve? Really? Where is A Wonderful Life? Where is Santa Claus the Movie? Even Beyond the Poseidon which seemed to always always be on the TV when I was but a kid myself!

So not exactly the Christmas Eve of dreams, but never the less, it is nice to know everything is done and I can sit back and enjoy Bruce. :)

Monday, 23 December 2013

kids clothes - who makes up these sizes?

So we have decided to get G some clothes for Christmas - she won't be impressed of course - clothes really are not her thing. however, needs must.

So G is 8 and a half, and yes, tall for her age, but seriously? Age 8 clothes would be plainly ridiculous. She is in size 4-5 shoes (thats ladies size folks and I am a mere 5 and a half myself!). In clothes, she is clearly in age 12-13 years, or a ladies size 8 or 10!

discussing this issue at work, it seems the majority of children outgrow their own age range so why do these companies persist in being so specific? I mean parents are all shapes and sizes, so surely it stands to reason that children will be too?

I was taller than all my class mates at primary school, having had a sudden growth spurt between the ages of 9 and 10 years old. I started high school and suddenly everyone else grew and my height barely changed. These days I'm a fairly average standard height of just a few mm shy of 5 foot 6. not short. not tall.

G's mum is taller than me, so it stands to reason she will also be taller than me in the future. But my point is if she is already in age 12-13, then what happens when she is aged 12-13? Are these sizes for real or what?

Most perplexing and what makes it even harder for the tired shopper is to try and work out the difference between shops. For instance, a size 12-13 in Next will we know fit her. However, comparing this to a top in New Look aged 12 - 13 and you can clearly see the Next top is much bigger.

If any of these items actually fit her it will be a Christmas miracle I swear. I would never have believed it was so difficult for parents to cloth their offspring had I not been witness to this myself this year!!

Presents all wrapped, food shopping done - what will I do now on Xmas Eve?

So it is Christmas Eve Eve. The seemingly endless list of things to be done before the big day is actually complete!

Presents bought - tick

Presents wrapped - tick

Nervous breakdown over missing presents - tick

Missing presents issue resolved - tick

Cards written - tick

Cards delivered / posted - tick

Big Christmas shopping order placed - tick

Big Christmas shopping order delivered - tick

Presents nicely placed under the tree - tick

Christmas booze stocked - tick

Christmas Day and Boxing Day family arrangements made - tick

Which leaves me with Christmas Eve and nothing to do! Normally, Christmas Eve is a stressful occasion - wrapping into the night, whilst consuming wine - result being some deteriorating quality of wrappings, skew whiff bows and ribbons, and the obligatory parcel with no label i.e. no clue who it was for or indeed what it contained. Usually I realise I have forgotten something, someone or worse!

Christmas can also be emotional in the not festive capacity. Sometimes it can feel a little melancholy, a little lonely. This year I can also cross that one off - I had my scrooge mode a few weeks back!!

Usually Christmas is ridiculously expensive with lots of unplanned extra activity making a serious dent in the old bank balance. This year, whilst of course I have spent pennies, I have in the main been quite restrained in my purchasing by actually planning ahead! Doing the grocery shop online resulted in actually buying what I intended to instead of being mesmerised by the displays and buying enough to last until November next year!

That is not to say I have been frugal - no sir. I have indulged with the best of them. What I haven't done is over buy with gimmicks or silliness. I have bought quality not quantity. I mean in all seriousness, there is only so much one family can eat, even at Christmas!!!

So now the question is what on earth do I do tomorrow? could it be - gasp - that I may actually get to cuddle up with my other half and watch a great movie together? Or possibly look at next year's summer holiday? Goodness - we could even go out for tea!! This is a whole new world of possibility!! How fabulous! :)

Sunday, 22 December 2013

I want a dancing Shetland Pony please Santa

So tonight, I am excited, worn out, stressed about losing 2, yes 2 presents!! Still 2 more days of work to endure, and in the throws of writing a list of what I still need to do.

Sort of watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, but in a distracted manner. Waiting until 10.30pm on the dot to treat myself to a glass of the old Pinot. Wondering how on earth I will get everything done.

Up pops the Three ad. That one with the fabulous Shetland Pony strutting and dancing to I think Fleetwood Mac. Immediately mood lifted. Therefore, I would now like to formally request to Santa that I have a Shetland Pony in my stocking this year - one that can dance!!

Thankyou :)

Missing Christmas Presents

The last Sunday before the big day,  and all manner of things to do beckoned. I woke up and immediately started my tasks. First job - strip the beds down. Something I do frequently anyway, but its always nice to have fresh clean linen for Christmas Eve.

Job one down - tick. Only another hundred to go! Merrily onwards I went, singing away, enjoying the feeling of job done, accomplishment and the lovely looks and smells of the house when its sparkling.

Last job of the day - present wrapping. This is usually a task I leave until Christmas Eve, and is usually accompanied by a glass of wine or two and therefore some rather wonky wrappings and bows! Feeling quite happy to be actually getting this done 2 whole days before Christmas Eve, I was getting stuck in.

Until that is, I reached into the Boots bag for my mum and dad's presents. Some of the items were in there. To my horror, 2 were not. One was Eau Dynamiste Body Lotion which is £28. The other was Obsession for men which was £29.50. So almost £60 worth of presents adrift, I then mounted a hunt for them.

I checked the bottom of the wardrobe (where the presents have been stashed since purchase) - not there. I checked the boot of my car. Not there either. I checked under the seats just in case. You guessed it - not there. I had checked everywhere and nothing. I looked at the receipt, to make sure I had actually bought them and yes, there they were. The bag was intact, no holes or tears. But the presents were and are still missing.

I now have the prospect of battling to find replacements 2 days before Christmas, and with the dismal knowledge that I have wasted £60. Maybe the girl on the counter didn't bag them but I think it unlikely I wil get any acceptance of that so I guess I have to stump up again. I had a little bit of a melt down over this, and the present wrapping came to a resounding halt. Hopefully tomorrow, I will feel festive again and will wrap the remaining items, including the 2 I have to buy again!!!

In the grand scheme of things, its not that big a deal, but it has really upset me!! If it was just an item for me, I would shrug it off. It's because they were for my parents and because it really isn't fair!!

Next year, I am checking the bags before I leave the shop!!!! Bah humbug I say today!!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Christmas Cake Giant!!

My goodness - my uncle is great at baking, and it's nothing unusual. But check out this year's Christmas cake in the making!! It's huge!!

This monster is currently being decorated - marzipan, icing and of course santas and snowmen!!

Here it is being diced and sliced ready for being mini cakes (personally, I would have just kept it as one enormous cake, but sharing is important I suppose!)

The Odd Life of Timothy Green - Film Review

I stumbled upon this film, having heard nothing about it - no adverts, trailers - nothing. Its quite a new film - 2012, and stars Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton.

It starts with the couple being told that they can not have children of their own. You know from the very start that this is going to be emotional, but rather than being a maudlin weepy, its a beautiful tale of hope and joy and the bonds between families.

Distraught, the couple console one another by dreaming up how their child would have been. They write it down, acting out how amazing that child would be and who that child would be. They then place it in a box, and they bury it along with their hopes.

That night, a ferocious rain storm batters the house,and they are startled to find a ten year old boy covered in mud in their home. He announces his name is Timothy Green. They also notice that the box is smashed open and there is a muddy hole. Oddly, they notice Timothy has leaves growing on his legs - gorgeous healthy green ones. They slowly realise that he is their child, the one they created on paper and buried.

Timothy becomes part of the family, and makes friend with a girl who he grows close to. He doesn't tell his parents that his leaves are starting to fall, but continues to fulfil their hopes. The relationships between the family are delicately interwoven and this is a moving film with Timothy at the centre.

He gives his parents an idea for a new type of pencil, in the hopes of keeping the business going in tough times. A sneaky colleage however tries to steal the idea, and only then does the story of Timothy and his leaves become out in the open.

Timothy then has to tell his parents that his leaves have fallen and that he will have to leave them very soon. Understandably upset, Timothy leaves them. They have learned that mistakes will be made, and that the beauty is to learn from then.

They relay their tale to the adoption agency, who initially, understandably, is unconvinced. When their time is up, she allows them to finish their tale despite this. So moving is the tale, and Garner is such a lovely actress, that they are rewarded in the end when they are approved and given a little girl to parent.

Yes, this film is typical Disney in that it is very emotional, a little cloying at times, and probably won't appeal to everyone. But for me, it was perfect watching for a Sunday afternoon and made me more than a little bit warm and fuzzy at the end. Definitely worth a watch if you are the emotional type such as me.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Won't wear tights!!!!

So today started off as a usual Thursday morning. G doesn't like sleeping, and last night was no different to usual. This morning, she was as grouchy as usual when woken up.

The usual grumblings followed about how tired she was, and the usual lecture from her dad about not growing if she doesn't get enough sleep, not being alert at school and so on.

Today however, there were just 2 school days left so we did think she might be a little festive at the thought. Clearly not, as she was in fact getting grumpier by the second!

Cue much dawdling about trying to get out of getting up. Finally she emerged, and proceeded to mess about in the bathroom much to her dad's delight. By this point, they were late. By this time usually they had already left for the school run. She wasn't even dressed.

Today was a non uniform day, so usually this is a good thing. Not this morning it wasn't! She has a lovely tartan skirt, and a black top, which goes fab with opaque black tights. This morning, the tights were a definite no. For some reason they are now too tight, despite fitting perfectly well with no issues previously - and the same pair!

I clapped eyes on G as she descended from her room with the foulest frown upon her face wearing the top and skirt and fluffy ankle socks! To say it looked ridiculous was an understatement to say the least.

We tried to explain it looked daft, we tried to explain how cold it was for bare legs. This was met with pouting and sulking, and then tears. Her dad, always the soft touch, gave in. Next was the boots. Three quarter length black boots. With bare legs. On the coldest day of winter thus far. In a class of kids who at the best of times can be quite boisterous in their banter. But there was no appeasing her this morning.

I drove to work and left them to it, and as I passed hoards of kids on route, I noted not a one of them in bare legs - it was bitterly cold this morning. She must have been freezing, but one thing is for sure, when she makes her mind up there is no bending her.

For me, having to mind my comments with being the step-mom it was highly amusing if not a little frustrating watching the tantrum. G is 8. Not even close to a teenager, and yet for all the world this morning, it was 8 going on 15. A glimpse of the future showed itself today, and amusement aside, I fear a rocky road in years to come is ahead of us!!

At least there is no school next week! :)

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

My Best Christmas Songs old and new

So it's less than a week to go until Christmas is here. I am getting into the swing of things now - finally. Christmas lunches scoffed (yum), fair amount of festive spirit already consumed! Lots of Christmas films watched, but now is the time to crank up the stereo with some belting Christmas tunes.

Christmas songs should elicit emotion - sad, happy, fun - here is my own mix for this year's celebrations and remembrances.

These are my own personal top 10 favourites:

Number 10 - Bing and David Bowie, Little Drummer Boy. Parum-pa-pum-pum, me and my drum. Fab for being the backing singer to.

Number 9 - Santa Baby - both versions are great - Eartha Kitt and the newer by Kylie. Both good for rocking sexy santa this year.

Number 8 - Step Into Christmas - Elton John. Upbeat festive fun - ideal when you have some energy - not straight after lunch

Number 7 - Stop the Cavalry - Jona Lewie - this is in here because it's my favourite from when I was a kid myself - lots of memories

Number 6 - I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday - Wizzard. I'm not sure I could cope with Christmas every day, but I love this song.

Number 5 - Do They Know Its Christmas - Band Aid. The original one is by far the best - who can resist doing the "bono" bit in the middle?

Number 4 - All I Want for Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey. Not a Mariah fan as a rule, but it is off Love Actually, which is one of my favourite films, and another to belt out.

Number 3 - The power of Love - Gabrielle Aplin. Great original song, but this on the John Lewis ad last year was haunting and I love it.

Number 2 - Somewhere only We Know - Lily Allen. I promise I'm not on commission for John Lewis, but they have done it again this year with yet another amazing original song being re-done by a fresh new artist with tingling effect. A classic in the making and a great return by Lily, who sounds beautiful on this.

Number 1 - The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl - Faitytale of New York. Always my number 1 regardless how many new ones arrive on the scene. Can you believe this was 1987?? The best ever Christmas song.

Noone ever agrees on which songs are great, which are annoying, and which want to make you bop around like you have had too much sugar, but one thing is for sure - you will hear them a lot so just enjoy. It's Christmas!! What's your top song?

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Elf for the first time, Arthur Christmas - twice, 3 versions of A Christmas Carol!

So I am finally getting into the festive spirit. Been a bit of a slow burner this year in the getting excited aspects. The decorations went up after much frustration over magically working/not working after an hour putting them up!!

The present buying is underway and the shopping for food and drink is at least planned.

So, to the Christmas films. First up, I watched Elf for the first - yes, for the first time. How I managed this, I am not sure but I loved it. I actually laughed out loud several times!

Onto 3 versions of A Christmas Carol. First up - Albert Finneys version and by far the best. That followed with the newer version in an animated style voiced by Jim Carey. Then the real classic one with Alastair Sim. That one is actually scary at times - especially Marley!

Then onto Arthur Christmas which I hadnt seen. G wasn't with us, so I had to sit through that one not once but twice in close succession!!

Now I am in the Festive Mood!!! Happy Christmas!!! :)

He will be coming this time next week!!

So 8 more sleeps until the big day. This time next week Santa will be loading up his sleigh, bringing lots of toys and goodies on his way.

Reindeers will fly, mince pies will be left for Santa and a glass of milk, and of course a carrot for Rudolph!

In all seriousness, I have just about started my shopping for this year, and have to brace myself for the madness of getting those last bits this week.

I just tried to book a shopping delivery - not a chance. Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda have nothing after this Friday, so that's that scuppered, which also means the joy of supermarket shopping is to be had between now and the day.

Excited - yes I am. Will I be glad when all the prep is done? Oh boy will I. Note to self - next year, start earlier!! 8 sleeps to go!!! :)

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Happy Day - Hotel Chocolat Christmas Wreath for me!

Oh how happy am I right now? Checking my emails, and out of the blue I get one to say I have won a Hotel Chocolat Christmas Wreath!! 450g worth of lovely sweet chocolate heaven!!

Must work very very very hard now before Christmas to ensure I can scoff it guilt free. It says great to slice and share with family and friends. Hmm - not so sure i will be sharing this loveliness - will see how much festive spirit I am in or I consume!!

Check this out:
Photo: The Festive Wreath Large

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Wrecking Ball live lounge by London Grammar - amazing

Driving home this evening, I popped on Radio One. It was Greg James, who is fab anyway, and he was raving on about a live lounge session. I was only half listening, but I heard him say to turn it up as it was something special.

Ordinarily I'm not really a big fan of the live lounge, as some of the covers they do can be a bit out of tune, a bit cringy. I was driving though, so I just kept listening.

I do like London Grammar and the vocals of the lead singer are haunting and powerful, but I really wasn't sure what they would do with Wrecking Ball - Miley's screaming noise of a song which I do not like at all.

As soon as it kicked in, it made me tingle. Her voice is amazing anyway, but live - wow. Her voice also 100% suits the song. You may be a Miley fan, and I'm not saying she is terrible, I just don't like her voice on this song. London Grammar though, this song was meant for them to sing. Perfect. I didn't want it to end, it was so beautiful. Get this downloaded if you can - this is totally amazing. I'm off now to hunt it down myself, as I just want to listen to it over and over again. Stunning.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Holiday booked - here's to a Merry Christmas and a Slim New Year!

Well it's not even Christmas (well not quite) and the other half has decided its time to start thinking of sunshine.

So with such in mind, cue hours of trawling holidays (him not me) and hours of trawling new clothes to wear on said holiday (me not him!)

Finally, we have settled on Maspalomas in Gran Canaria. Now I havent been to Gran Canaria before, but I have been to Lanzarote and to Fuerta Ventura, so I think I know what to expect from the weather at least - warm I hope!

So now I really do need to watch the old calorie intake over this Festive season. Have already signed up for 10 more PT sessions, but if I am going to be bikini ready in spring (that's when we go) I had better keep myself in check.

I have already got a few lovely items that would be great to get slim into - I just hope thats enough to stop me piling on the pounds this Christmas. That's not to say that I am entirely forgoing the celebrations of course - just actually having days in between when I am not competing in my own personal Olympic gold effort in consume all in site!

Here's to a Merry Christmas and a Happy (slim ) New Year this time! Hopefully Santa will add something lovely for me too! What are you hoping for this year?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Wilkinson - Afterglow - my record of the week

This song has really got stuck in my head like it's on constant loop! I had never heard of Wilkinson, and it was by chance that I caught this mid-song the first time I heard it.

I thought it sounded a little bit like Adele at first, but on second listen, maybe not so much! That said, the melodic voice (Becky hill) on this does make you feel very mellow. The term afterglow is perfect for this catchy track which is surprisingly bassy for a mainstream chart entry. You would expect this sort of thing in a club or city bar, but it fantastic for the gym or for listening to (loudly) in the car.

Download this one straight away, as its a stayer. I can see this remaining on my playlist long after it leaves the charts. Do beware though that this will stick in your head for days. Definetely recommended. Enjoy ;)

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Trafford Centre, yo Sushi and G

Today we went to the Trafford Centre. Little G has never been. How exciting!!!

Parked on the outside part for a change - we usually park under ground and then spend joyous hours trying to find the exit.

Enter through Debenhams - cue G - wow! We headed for the fantastic fountain that sprays water high up into the air. We found said fountain, but after a few nervous moments worrying that we had perhaps built this up far too much, finally, the water stopped running in the prelude to the main event - and woosh - up into the air it went. Little G's face was fantastic - oh wow she exclaimed!!

After that point, the rest, was not going to match this! Well, until we reached Yo Sushi. I am not a sushi aficionado. Actually I have never tried it. G was insistent. So eventually, after queuing for half an hour to even sit, and it being after 2pm and I was hungry, I thought well why not.

The dishes had some sort of colour code, which indicated price. This was of no consequence to me - I was worried at even the thought of it, so decided from the offset that I would just try to have what I could tolerate. I first tried Edamame beans. Quite lovely actually.

Next, was chicken gyoza - chicken dumplings. Ooh that was lush, but very small. The dishes are small!!

G persuaded me to try actual sushi, so I opted for the cucumber version. On first taste, not for me. I relented under pressure and tried some more. I have to say, I now love it!!!

We have just got home, and G is buoyant - I have tried Sushi = one off my bucket list at any rate!!!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Personal Training survived, now for wine x

Tonight was Personal Training night. For the first time, I was A - looking forward to it, and B - I actually enjoyed it.

I can't quite figure out what was so different this evening. The scales have dropped a bit, so that can only help, but more than that I felt stronger. I felt that even though it hurt and burned, that I knew I could do it. 

Boy he pushed me hard tonight though. Everything from ab work, to running, cross trainer - that darned step box again, squats, lunges. But I felt fitter and there wasn't as much moving when it shouldn't! 

So home I came after what felt like the world's loveliest shower! Oh, and cue an actual compliment - 2 ladies in the changing room said "oh you are one of those that looks good when you leave like you havent worked when you have". How others always see you differently! I see a somewhat puffy looking heffalump when I look in the mirror. 

So homeward bound, I decided I had earned my large glass of Pinot (or two). Well, all things in moderation eh? I can't be good all of the time - where is the fun in that!! 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Sail by AWOLnation - I'm slightly obsessed - definite song of the week

I heard this being introduced on the radio last week, and listened to it in passing - background noise if you will. Immediately I was struck by how familiar it sounded.

Later that day it was on the radio again when I hopped into the car. This time I dedicated my ears to it and listened properly. It was immediate and powerful and I now as a result cannot stop listening to it.

It's quite an old song apparently, being first released 3 years ago, which is a bit odd but there you go. The familiarity I found is in part explained by its prolific use in TV ads, trailers etc.. but none I can pin down as the source I recognise.

None of which matters, because it is fabulous anyway. I have now downloaded it, and am constantly listening to it at the gym, and keep walking around making the noises off it - when you hear it you might imagine how bonkers I might sound trying to imitate it!

If you like quirky songs, that are a bit electro pop this is one for you. Just try not to get as obsessed as I am. Or do. It's not like its a bad thing.

If you like it, pop me a comment to say so - I'm sure it can't just be me!

Monday, 2 December 2013

It's just a box - yeah right!!!

So it's a step box. You know the one, plastic Reebok step box, with feet that you can raise the height with. Nothing scary about that right?

So now imagine 2 step boxes. Both with feet on to raise the height. Scared yet?

Finally, imagine both boxes stacked upon one another. Trembling with fear? Right?

No, of course you are not. I wasn't. Not one tiny bit. So on with the workout I went - lots of weights, interval training, squats and lunges. Some core work to give my legs a break for a precious few moments. 

Then began the horror. First, I had to step onto the two boxes with my right foot, and believe me it was quite a step to manage. I am not short - I am a mm or 2 shy of 5 foot 6, so at least average height. I then had to take the foot which was on the floor off the ground, balance on my right foot with my leg thigh and knee raised and stay there for a couple of seconds. Then back down and repeat. For 20 reps!! Then the left leg. 

Balancing was the first problem. Whilst in reality the step is not actually that high, and I am not even remotely scared of heights, it felt high to be wobbling around on one leg attempting balance. I finally mastered it, then had to change legs - cue lots of wobbling about trying to master it on my left leg. 

This was bad, but the worse was yet to come. 

I had to place my foot on the step as I had to raise my knee - as before. However, this time you had to fully step up onto the double step then step down again alternating legs. On round 1 I had a metal frame to supposedly guide me - by guide me read hang onto for dear life!!

On round 2 he moved the steps away from the frame and pushed it up to the wall. Nothing to grip or hang on to. I managed 4 step ups before the burning started. As I was getting more and more hot, more and more sweaty and most importantly more and more frustrated at how damn hard it was, he was explaining that I needed to push my heels down. Apparently, I was going up on my toes and ball of my foot, which was putting the pressure on my thighs instead of my hamstrings and buttocks. 

The only way I could accomplish this feat was to stomp my foot like someone trying to put a fire out - actually that's closer to the truth than I intended such was the burning fire in my legs and derrière! I managed the minute, albeit slowly and with no elegance whatsoever. 

I was allowed a short recovery rest throughout which I glared at the step boxes. I was looking right at the thing and could not work out why it was so hard to just stand on and off a box!!! It's just a box!!!

Then the final set was required. This time fatigue had clearly settled into my lower half, and at a pathetic one step up on each leg I faltered. The burning began immediately. I began to kind of paw at the wall before me, grappling to heave myself up onto the box. Once up I just wanted to lean on the wall and cry!! I had to step down and up again. This time I was so close to crying that the most ridiculous sounds were being emitted from me without any conscious awareness that it was in fact me making those sounds. 

It's not without utter embarrassment that I share this with you. I must have been a site to behold. I am very pale as a rule - not at this point I wasn't. I could see the colour in my arms and legs - that colour was crimson red. I could feel the sweat running down my back and neck. My arms had a sheen which I have never managed to produce in previous exercise attempts. But I cared not one bit. All I was focused upon was that blue wall before me. As I heaved myself on and off that damned box I made all sorts of promises to myself. 

I promised that I would remember this pain each time I was tempted to ever again allow myself to pile on so much weight and eat cheese. I promised that I would be a better person if I could just survive. Every time I felt I had to stop - and that was pretty much the constant emotion - I promised myself that if I could just keep going it would be worth it. I would love to say it helped. It didn't. It was the longest minute of my life. 

Never again will that little plastic box ever be the same again!!