Bit Of Me Time

Searching for more time …

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Book Club – Chapter 13

After a really busy day I dusted off my bike, put the all important bottle in the basket and headed off to the Book Wine club.  It was a lovely evening for a cycle and good to see everyone again.  I was quite disappointed as I had not managed to finish the book, mostly due to not being able to keep my eyes open – I fear I read one paragraph several times.  The general reviews were a bit mixed, most had read it, and most enjoyed it, especially the way it was written.  The main criticism about the book was it seemed to be more a book of short stories, rather than one story.  I would still like to finish it, but after hearing that some did not like the ending and others felt certain chapters were disjointed, then perhaps I’ll skip it for now and read it later.  As ever a great evening was had by all.

Husband SecretThe next book for us is “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty.  We agreed that we must all read it, or we’ll not be able to discuss it at the next meeting because of the secret.  It sounds intriguing.

The really weird thing was that at work my colleague, in a different book club, have chosen the same book.  It will be interesting to see what the two book clubs think of the book.

We have not had two book clubs really close together, I merely “misplaced” my blog during the summer.


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Book Club – Chapter 12

A belated post from July…….

This book club was special because we had our “original” member who has been in KL, with us again. We had lots of catching up to do and it was great to hear that life in KL was going so well for them.  She has joined other Book Clubs in KL and they have chosen the same book as us – which makes her reading list a little more manageable.

The book I had chosen was “Jasmine Nights” and it had mixed reviews.  Not everyone finished it, and I can why quite a few got “stuck”.  That said, I did stick with it and really enjoyed it, in a summer holiday easy reading way. It’s set in 1942 when a singer has the chance to travel to Alexandria, but before she leaves home, she sings in a burns hospital and a soldier is taken by her singing that once he begins recovery he writes to her.  Their love story runs through the many experiences she has as a singer.  For an easy read, I would recommend it and most of the others have since finished it.

Moutains Echoed

Our next book proved tricky to choose too, however it was agreed that it would be “The Mountains Echoed” by Kaled Housseini.  I am looking forward to this one, as I’ve seen the film of Kite Runner and always heard what a great writer he is.


One week of 5:2

Well, I have taken the plunge to try the 5:2 diet. My main drive was the “middle age spread” that comes from a desk job and too much grazing on the endless supply of food that is around. Having piled on the pounds the idea of not eating all day filled me with horror and proved a great excuse to delay for many weeks.  However after recommendations such as “it’s a lazy man’s diet”, “it’s really OK and I look forward to fasting days” I thought that maybe I could survive for one day.  After all, it’s not about not eating, it’s about cutting down the calories to a mere 500.

I’ve asked lots of people about it and know lots who follow it, and I know that the longer the time you fast, the more your body can repair.  This is the unproved bit.  I also think it is something that can be tailor-made, not everyone eats only breakfast and supper, some split their 500 calories between three meals, some fast from 2pm for a day, some keep all their calories for one meal in the evening.  So, I got the book (the one with some sample menus, at the back) and shopped in advance, got prepared and went for it.

Fast dietI choose, like many people a Monday and a Thursday.  I know I could not have two consecutive days together without food.  I may have a sedentary desk job, but I do have a very busy life with two small children and a hard-working husband.  I swim on a Wednesday so that was out, and I was not going to fast over the weekend.

My first breakfast was two eggs and some ham – a total of 256.  It was only half way through the day that I realised I had not worked out which supper to have because I’d not chosen my meals looking at the total calories for the day.  I am sure breakfast needs to be smaller in future.  The day was, honestly, not fun… at all.  I thought about food all day.  Luckily I’m stubborn, so I stuck to it.  I had a headache by lunchtime which did not go away.  I was not enjoying any of the (forgive the terminology) “poofy teas”, as I very rudely call herbal etc teas.  The might smell OK, but they tasted of nothing.  I normally drink white coffee, so that was out.  I missed my coffee.  I filled up with fizzy water, can of diet coke and more water.  I still had a headache.  I left work, got the children into bed and settled down to a supper of roasted veg – it was delicious, and whilst it did not fill me up, it was better than nothing!

Unfortunately, I then had to bake cakes and cookies for Husband’s birthday the following day.  I filled up the sink with soapy water and the minute the spoon or bowl came too close – I chucked them into the sink.  I’ve never baked without “tasting” or “cleaning” spoons afterwards.  Once done, I went to bed to avoid the temptation.

I had survived the first fast day, but it was a bit grim, and more so than I had expected.  At least tomorrow I could eat.

Before this sounds totally despondent, there was a definite very good plus point – other than the 2lbs I’d lost – I knew that feeling hungry was OK.  Feeling hungry did not mean I had to grab the nearest biscuit, bread, kid’s leftovers.  I understood that I don’t need to give in to every opportunity of food, and there are many during the day.  We went out for supper with family and I had a starter, a salad main and a pudding.  I was full, but not uncomfortably full.  I felt really chuffed.  Previously I would have been very greedy – “oh well I don’t go out often,  I can have whatever I want” and it was a reason to eat as much as possible, followed by feeling really full and then hungry the next day.  On the fasting days, I have eaten much less, but really tasted what I was eating.

My second fast day was much easier.  Black coffee with sweeteners meant a welcome return to coffee, which helped.  I’m not addicted, but I do enjoy a cuppa or two during the day.  I also knew that I could do it, I had a smaller breakfast, which meant a bigger supper, and I knew that the next day I could eat.

So, one week in, would I recommend it?  Yes.  I’ve lost 4lbs overall, although this weekend, and a brownie, some wine etc may not have helped, I know that tomorrow I can fast again.  In fact this week, with a couple of social events, I may only be able to fast on one day, not two, but that’s OK.  I know I can do it and I’m not going to be hard on myself if occasionally it is only for one day a week.

My advice if you’re unsure – give it a go.  Be prepared, be honest about what times of the day might be hard, and have something nearby!

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Book Club – Chapter 11

Well, it was my turn this time and it’s taken me quite a while to choose a book – there are so many good ones out there.  I reduced the list to 7 and almost made the final choice by closing my eyes and picking one.  However, I did manage to make a grown up decision, and our next book will be “Jasmine Nights” by Julia Gregson.


We have also persuaded someone to join our club to “replace” the friend who moved to KL last year.  I’m not sure if she has had a chance to read the book, but it was great fun to get her round the table for a few glasses and a giggle.  Again I used my friends as “guinea pigs” and tried out “Vodka Pasta” by Nigella Lawson and an easy pudding of Eton Mess.  All yummy, even though I say it myself.  The other issue I had to deal with, was a great idea started by “long lost friend” that when you host the Book Club you also have to write a poem, read it out and email it to her.  It’s still on my “to do” list.

This post seems to be backwards, as I’ve started with the new book, then the meal and poem and am only now getting round to discussing the book we were reading – “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes.  I loved it.  It is about a young girl who gets a job looking after a young man in a wheelchair, after an accident, for which she has no experience.  I thought the way she described how he felt about his disability, the frustration, the loss of his old life, the lack of decisions that he was left to make, and all the other emotions was amazing.  I felt her frustrations too, of trying to chivvy him on and get him to do something.   I have no personal experience of knowing anyone in a wheelchair, and these are just my ramblings, but it has certainly made me think about the bigger picture.  It was a wonderful read and we all ended with tears falling down our cheeks.  This is our second book by Jojo Moyes and I’ll be back for more soon.

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It’s the summer party season

We have quite a few colleagues leaving or retiring this year and so there are loads of farewell parties.

This weekend we are going to the pub on Friday, and on we’re off to friends on Saturday,.  Two weeks after this we have a big party for three leavers and a hen night on the Saturday (yes, I’ll be going to both);  followed by a long Sunday lunch to say another fond farewell.  One week on again and it’s the end of term party, followed the next day by a HUGE “house cooling”.  Our children will be shipped off to Granny for the last weekend, and the previous “long” Sunday!  I then have a week to recover, before going on holiday with great friends, when I’m sure my poor old liver will be put to the test again…

summer party

Loving the social life – I’ve missed you!

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Country Bumpkins visiting the the Big Smoke

Recently, very good friends of ours asked if we would like to borrow their flat in London for the weekend.  How could we refuse?  As a family we have never been to London, apart from one visit to see “The Tiger Who Came To Tea”, which was great.  So we hopped on the train on Friday morning and settled down to a picnic lunch.  Both children were incredibly excited, even thought we’d said very little about what we were going to do.

The journey went smoothly and Husband jumped off at Clapham Junction to get the key to the flat.  Kids and I carried onto Waterloo and then onto Arsenal to visit cousins.  We had a great time and found a playground for the children and took a couple of photos of Daughter outside Arsenal football ground to be sent to her Godfather who is an avid fan.  From there we headed to Piccadilly with the intention of eating at The Rainforest Cafe. The children’s eyes were on stalks as we walked in, but as we waited for our table Son thought it was too noisy and Daughter didn’t want to wait. The reviews we had heard were mixed, so we headed off to find an alternative.

The following day  starred with breakfast in a cafe, a must for Daughter who thought it was a great way to start the day.  Son needed food and we had to manage a bit of a tantrum until he got outside a couple of croissants.  We then headed off to The Science Museum.  The most exciting part of London it seems were the “moving stairs” in the Underground. At the Science Museum we barely touched the surface, but did watch a 3D IMAX, which was all about landing on the moon.  The film was an animation and included three boy flies who wanted to land on the moon, their parents, who watched in horror on television and the real astronauts.  The 3D was certainly impressive with rockets and flies whizzing past our shoulders (or so it seemed), the only bad part was when a spider climbed down it’s web about 2 feet to our right.  Son screamed and visibly shook, Daughter removed her 3D glasses and Husband did a brilliant job of calming Son down.  Afterwards we headed for lunch and then spent a bit of time at The Natural History Museum – again barely scraping the surface.

Back to the flat for a break, and then out to supper. We jumped on a bus (disappointment that there were no moving stairs) and to Covent Garden.  We were a little concerned to see so many Police outside Parliament and even more around Trafalgar Square, until we spotted the Miner’s  Union Flag and realised it was a protest again Margaret Thatcher, whose funeral was the following Wednesday.  I lived in London for a few years, including during the Poll Tax Riots (that ages me), I was a little on edge, however it seemed to be a mostly peaceful protest and did not spoil our evening.

The weather so far had not been brilliant, but we woke on Sunday to glorious sunshine and were very excited to be meeting up with Daughter’s godmother, who was joining us on the Duck Tour.  I would recommend this tour, particularly if you manage a sunny day.  It’s different, it’s fun and (yes) it’s touristy!!  Be prepared to quacking, cheering and laughing.  You spend most of the time going by road, seeing lots of sights and then go onto the River Thames, by the M16 building, down to the Houses and Parliament and back.  The children absolutely loved it, as did the adults.

duck tour

We then headed to Tower Bridge to Strada, with quite a view for lunch!

Afterwards it was back to the flat, on the river taxi, cleared up the flat and to the train station.  Unfortunately SouthWest trains were not at their best and the six carriage train was only three.  There was literally nowhere else to stand and we were extremely grateful to the mother who squashed up with her four year old, so that our two could squeeze next to her and sit down.

When I ask the children what was the “best bit” – it was easy – “the moving stairs in the Underground, Mummy”!

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Farewell my old uncomfortable friend….

In rare moments of peace and quiet, I look around the house and hope for inspiration and enthusiasm for decorating.  We have the most uncomfortable sofa which is on it’s way out, so I have my chance to decorate (if I can make a decision!).  The sofa was my Dad’s before he got married in 1966, and although it has been re-covered, cushions have been re-stuffed etc, it is 47 years old and leaves my with a sore, stiff back most evenings!  It’s done well.  It has survived me and my brothers childhood, and more impressive than that, is that it hass survived Son and Daughters (and friends) bouncing, and playing on it.  Cushions have been stepping stones, it’s made a great den and has entertained them on wet days endlessly. It should be proud of it’s innings and it should be going to the scrapheap with it’s “head held high” (if it could).sofa

Without much of a second glance we’ve found replacements!  We will be getting two smaller sofas from friends who are moving overseas.  This gives us the great opportunity of thinking about plastering over the artex ceiling, cleaning the carpet (after a puppy and babies) and repainting.  The whole house is yellow, with door frames in a “mucky yellow”.  Four years on it’s time to make our mark and de-yellow the house.

My first task with me clearing out all the unused toys – don’t tell Daughter and Son, as these will suddenly become favourtes if they see them!  This will make space in the playroom for the sitting room furniture whilst we overhaul the room.  I love de-cluttering and always wonder why it takes me so long to get started. So now I’m off the dump…..

This is a late entry for The Monday Club

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Wow, what a day….

Get up and do stretches so that I’m not walking around like an 80 year old – CHECK

Get children dressed and through breakfast – CHECK

Change to plan B as Husband is not well.  Walk the dog (with reluctant children in tow) – CHECK

Frantically busy day at work, as four days’ worth of emails finally arrive in one go – CHECK

Collect children, get them supper’ed and into bed in one and a half hours – CHECK

Arrive almost on time to aqua aerobics – CHECK

Walk the dog – CHECK

Put the bins out – CHECK

Have a bath – CHECK

Sleep……..  smile



Inspired by “What would Nigella Do?”, I decided to try homemade pizza.  The children love pizza, but I do think that some of the supermarket ones taste more like cardboard, in my opinion.  So I rolled up my sleeves and had a go.  Unlike Sarah, I don’t have a Kitchenaid, so it was all done by hand.  I’ve never made bread or anything else along these lines, so it was a case of “have a go”.

The first one was made for a friend on his birthday, and I managed to split the mixture to feed the three of us the first night, and still leave enough for the children tonight.  I thought the first attempt was very “doughy tasting” and it seemed I’d done it right and used the right baking tin (not stoneware) so I suspected a little more cooking was in order.  However Husband and friend thought it was great, and we had some good toppings.

Tonight’s attempt, whilst was very bland in the toppings, cheese and tomato only, was I think cooked a little better and was almost there.  I do need to improve the art of “stretching” the pizza dough to the right size and shape for the tin and keeping it thin crust – but without the holes.  I think this will take a bit of practice.

Whilst I’d love to add a photo, there’s nothing left, which is a good sign and I’ll be making more in the future and hope to develop my technique and widen Daughter and Son’s tastes!   So thank you Sarah.

Check out The Monday Club at Hello Wall……