Category Archives: Daily Life

The Chubster Goes To The Gym

chocIt’s January, and so far I’ve been to the gym three times.

I’ve also cooked at least five healthy chicken dishes.

Don’t faint with shock.

Okay, so I drove to the gym but waited for The Teenager as he exercised for an hour. Luckily, his gym is on a retail park, so it would be rude not to look round the shops.

I’ve bought a pizza and some yoghurts from Marks and Spencer’s, shampoo and conditioner from Boots (which promised to give me luscious, luxurious and nourished hair – they lied, it’s still straw-like), a candle from the Laura Ashley sale and three Starbucks soya lattes (healthy).

Going to the gym is costing me a fortune.

I’m actually rather envious of The Teenager and his absolute dedication to getting fit. I have no idea where he gets it from. The other night I was settling down in front of the telly with a bag of crisps when he bounded downstairs, heading for a bowl of Special K and skimmed milk. He saw me, plucked the crisps from my hand and read out the calorie and fat content in a horrified voice, wagging his finger.

He’s helpfully suggested gentle exercises and talked me through the proper way to do bicep curls (surprisingly similar to the Malteser box-to-mouth action). And all this while I’m trying to cook or finally finish my essay.

He was chatting away the other day, pondering the price of tuna steaks when he asked me what my New Year resolutions were. Hmm. Good question. I hadn’t really thought about it as I normally give up by the second week in January.

Anyway, he pressed me to come up with five things I wanted to do in 2016, so here they are:

  • Begin a proper, grown-up skin care regime with at least five steps.
  • Learn how to wear scarves in a French-like manner. Or Danish.
  • Grow herbs on my kitchen window-sill without killing them.
  • Make my own bread, brownies and chia seed porridge.
  • Take up calligraphy.

The Teenager was distinctly unimpressed …

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Birthday (Cake)

birthdayYup, today I am another year older but not much wiser.

However, in my ongoing bid to become a responsible adult, I decided to take the bull by the horns and do something I’ve never done before.

There’s a special occasion coming up next month and after gazing at my pre-thyroid wardrobe, I realised I really do have nothing to wear.

So. Get this – I booked in for a personal stylist appointment at John Lewis. I know. Me!

I drove into town, parked up and had a coffee in the local bookstore’s cafe, ear-wigging at the French for Extreme Beginners group meeting being held next to me. Quite excruciating, but their seriousness was inspiring. They caught the waiter’s eye and yelled ‘Garcon!’ in unison. Ah.

Anyway, I arrived at the due time this morning and was quickly ushered into a little room full of mirrors. Great start. The lovely stylist made me stand up and turn around. Before I knew it, he’d pulled my loose-flowing shirt tight, showing my muffin top off in all it’s glory.

‘I see‘, he said with a certain level of gravitas.

He dashed off with a rail and I sat there for ten minutes, glaring at Cara Delevigne on the front cover of Vogue.

Against all hope though, Boy Wonder The Stylist arrived back with five garments. Each of them was perfect. Divine. Behind my heavy velvet curtain I sighed and stared at my transformed figure. The clothes were beautiful.

He was a genius. He had picked the perfect outfit. Simple, comfortable, and most importantly, stylish with flat shoes.

I paid and floated out the store on a shopping-induced high before foot-drop tripped me up and me and my John Lewis bag – clothes exquisitely wrapped in tissue – went flying outside the Apple store. Red-faced, I gathered myself together with the help of two pensioners and got back to my car in one piece.

p.s. I’m not actually 42 until 8.04pm tonight.

p.p.s. So I still have a few hours in my very early 40’s.

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S’Fine …

tiredI’m fine.

I’m absolutely fine.

I’m still doing the laundry, still using my hand as a duster round the visible ornaments.

Still pushing the vacuum half-heartedly through the pathway from my front door to my kitchen.

Whilst languishing on my sofa (the cottage is that small, honestly).

S’fine.

It’s the relapse trick – look useful and, ok, you’re … fine.

Which I am.

After work today I had my wonderful friend and her two children over for coffee. We are Uni mates and needed to catch up before the new term.

She greeted me with, ‘Wow! You look fab!!!’

Which is lovely. I had made An Effort. I even dug out the duty-free Clairol lippie I’d bought on a scary whim after being ganged up on by four beauty consultants in Dover. I had scrunched my hair into a random bob. I dressed in loose clothing and slouched in what I though was an effortless, writerish sort of way.

I really do think relapses are an exercise in deception.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure if you have a partner/husband/wife, they will soothe your brow and take over. Not in my case. I sneak and deceive.

I rummage plates and bowls, clinking them together. I sigh loudly as I change a toilet roll yet again. I rustle the recycling. Loudly. Anything to be visible. ‘Look, I’m doing something.’ I really don’t want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. Honestly.

I clank and bang around the house, an orchestra of a relapse.

In amongst it all, I just want to lie down. My sofa calls me. My bed calls me. I could lie down. I really, really could lie down. But I can’t. So I noisily chop and de-seed red peppers (actually quite difficult), and cry over the onions. I bang the tray into the oven.

I’m still here. I’m in the kitchen and I’m doing something.

Then The Teenager tells me he’s spending the evening camping with friends and can he have a fiver for the curry?

Oh.

Ok.

I supervise his packing. I stop him stuffing two of his brand new feather pillows into his rucksack. I tuck some money in and wave goodbye after a shower of Lynx and, well, more Lynx.

I got away with it. For now.

And. I can go to bed early.

Result.

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Wunderbar

AustriaWell, we made it back to Blighty by the skin of our teeth, not realising we were on one of the last Euro Shuttles out of Calais before a strike shut the entire town.

Just as well, as the kitten was due to be retrieved from the cattery by 4pm and The Teenager needed picking up from his flight to London in the wee early hours of Thursday.

Anyway, the trip to Austria with my boss/friend exceeded all expectations and amazingly, my tattered remnants of German held up – I was able to confidently order beers, ask how much a sausage with curry sauce was and change money for the endless loo breaks (they charge in European motorway stop offs, but well worth it just to watch the loo seat swivel round after flushing).

I tagged along, feigning interest in the Austrian Grand Prix, whilst secretly swotting up beforehand – what’s a few fast cars between friends? The boss magnanimously declined to attend the qualifiers, so we drove through Slovenia to Croatia on the Saturday instead, ending up in Zagreb for coffee and a wander round the old town.

Back in Austria, I initiated him into the joys of Wiener Schnintzel, small pale beers, bread with ham and cheese for breakfast and watching the F1 highlights in German, with me translating.

In retrospect, I learned a lot from our six-day trip:

  • A car is a very small space. As such, my friend didn’t always appreciate my attempts to stick ‘Blob’ gummy sweets (sold at every good German petrol station) to the dashboard when he was nudging 110 miles an hour.
  • A Grand Prix is kind of exciting. I bugged my friend with a lot of questions. He missed the crash at the beginning and started to reply through gritted teeth. I found the easiest way to calm him down was to pop another sausage and coffee in front of him.
  • The Grand Prix merchandise is waaaaaaay overpriced. I scraped together the money for a tiny teddy-bear keyring and got my friend to swipe the flags from the seats in front of us – you know, the ones that were to be waved by the spectators to show the Austrian flag to the watching world? Yup, those missing gaps are my fault.
  • I am much more confident with driving, helped no doubt by very fast cars behind me flashing their lights.
  • Most importantly, I have expanded my horizons a little bit and discovered that life does indeed go on outside my own four walls.

Back home, I had a pit-stop then schlepped to London to get The Teenager. He had travelled as an unaccompanied minor and as such, was mortified to be led through customs by a flight attendant. There was a moment’s hesitation when I was asked to sign for him (lol), but The Teenager and his passport were handed over.

A perfect week was rounded off by finding out that my book has been short-listed for The International Rubery Book Award 2015. Wunderbar x 10.

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Out of Kilter

rouletteLife is odd.

We click along in our own unique cogs, ensuring each cog fits the next one so we have  perfectly functioning life.

My cog clicks in with The Teenager’s, and my house and my work. And the kitten. And when it runs smoothly, it’s great.

The thing is, my cog seems to be out of kilter right now, jarring with each of the other ones, and it’s creating havoc.

It started small, inconspicuous, a couple of years ago. My speech went out of kilter. MS. Then my walking. MS. Then my brain. MS. The cogs clogged up, lol.

I think, ever since my diagnosis, I’ve been striving to get all these cogs working properly again. Some have, and we muddle along and it’s great. It’s a bit like oiling the daily machinery of life.

Yet, there’s one cog, possibly the largest one, which refuses to shift back into place. I feel somehow disconnected, rolling around like a ball on a roulette table, never quite finding my own space until the last minute.

I guess I haven’t quite ‘clicked’ back in to place. I used to be (I think, anyway) a great mother. I used to be a worthy colleague. I used to have  boyfriend. I used to have opportunities and possibilities.

And now? I’m that little ball, trundling along the wheel, trying to find out where I fit in.

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