Friday, 1 July 2016


I've heard a lot about FitBit but I was a little sceptical that wearing a little watch type thing that monitored my steps would actually encourage me to do any more.  However, having hit a hiatus in my weight loss with Slimming World (I can't lose that last damn 13lb), it occurred to me that this may be due to not exercising enough (the joys of being a PhD student - chained to the desk!).  I thought about this for about...well, 10 minutes or so, and then decided to get myself a FitBit and join the craze.  

My first dilemma was which one to buy?  It seemed logical to me that if I'm wearing it a lot, having a watch feature would be a huge benefit.  I also liked the idea of a heart-rate monitor (especially as my heart-rate had been a bit high, along with my blood pressure a few months ago).  Another feature that caught my eye was a sleep monitor.  I always feel like it takes me ages to get to sleep so it would be interesting to see how much I do fidget (and not just take hubby's word for it!).  The logical choice then was the Charge HR.  I decided to purchase my FitBit from Amazon as I am a student and get money off my purchases.  See, proper student mentality - why pay full price when you can pay less?!  I also would get it the next day (yep, Amazon Prime Student too!).  I chose a lovely purple one.  May as well have a bit of colour right?

It arrived the next day whilst I was at work. I couldn't wait to get home and try it out.  I went for a small strap (FitBit kindly provide a cut out paper version to check your wrist size on their website) and it was a perfect fit.  What do I think of it?  I love it!  Do you know what...I did some Zumba the first night to try it out. It recognised aerobic exercise and recorded it for me.  How clever is that?  I've also tried to fool it by sitting in a chair pretending I'm walking to see if it would pick it up - nope, it's not that easily fooled (although a friend told me that a drummer friend of hers has one and it keeps telling him he's done his 10,000 steps for one drumming session).  

Has it inspired me?  Yes.  I am the woman who doesn't own a pair of trainers (well, a pair I bought for £5 from eBay (yes including P&P) just for my Airkix flight but wouldn't be seen dead in again) and yesterday I went to a sports shop (good grief!) and bought myself some pink Nike trainers.  I know. You're wondering why pink aren't you?  Student remember....they were in the sale *grin*.  Hey, they almost match my FitBit...almost.   I haven't worn them yet as I was at work today but I intend to over the weekend.  

I'm spurred on to walk around the lounge if I've not done my 10,000 steps a day but it was only the day I got the FitBit (so far) that I didn't manage that.  I've also joined up with friends for weekend challenges and just seeing what we're all doing.  Clever stuff this.  I download my stats onto my mobile phone once a day.  It's very illuminating I can tell you.  So, FitBit, you've done your job and inspired me.  My husband is now thinking about buying one as well.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Imperial War Museum - Mum's drawings

Today I popped up to the Imperial War Museum in London to meet with a senior curator who was interested in some of my mother's items.  She was a child in Austria during WWII and my family had a collection of pictures that she drew during that time.  They ranged from sketches, letter formation, Mother's Day pictures right through to images that are highly reflective of what was happening in Germany at the time.

The senior curator went through each one, looking at them on both sides (some had drawings on the back as well) and also looked at some school books that we had.  I'm delighted to say he took all the items.  My sister and I (who owned them) were delighted that they were going to be held by the museum.  Most of interest will be digitised for viewing on the website but the originals may be displayed as appropriate.  Some I have scanned and are available on my WWII Website.

Thank you Imperial War Museum.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Fun day for children

Yesterday my 7 year old was off at a Brownie's day celebrating the Queen's 90th Birthday.  She had an amazing afternoon doing crafts, baking, playing games, etc and loved every minute of it (other than being a bit nervous when she first arrived as there were Brownies from all over there).

It gave me the opportunity to have an afternoon with my 5 year old pickle.  She had no idea what we were going to do so I surprised her by taking her to Mizens Miniature Railway to ride the trains.  Her face when we arrived was a picture.  We booked for the 'Miler' which took us on a new piece of track we'd not been on before (we last went for the Santa Special so it's been a while).  This track goes up and over little bridges and is a lovely long ride.  She enjoyed every minute whilst I was chatting to the guard as we went round.  Before it ended, she asked if we could have one more go.  Why not!

We walked down to the pond area first and had a look at the waterlilys and fishes.  Then we came back and went round again on a slightly different train and carriages.  Another lovely ride. 

Once that was over we stopped for an ice cream and a drink.  So well priced at Mizens and a huge cup of tea for me.  The weather held for us so it was a lovely afternoon.  Once we got back home, we baked a Victoria sponge and then went and picked S up.  The only downside to the day?  My Victoria sponge fell flat once out of the oven and is only any good for a doorstop now. Oh well, I'll admit defeat with that and stick to cupcakes!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Slimming World - to carry on or to give up?

I've been doing Slimming World since the beginning of September 2015.  My weight loss has gone well until Christmas time.  I seem to have plateaued since then and from December until now, I have put on 2lbs, lost 1lb, lost 1/2lb, put on 1 1/2lbs, lost get where I'm coming from. I have around a stone to go (I say around as it depends whether I'm + or - the 2lbs in any given week) and it seems that I just can't lose any more. I know, deep down, that's rubbish and clearly I can but I'm just not sure how.  I don't eat badly but I do very little exercise (unless you count walking to the school and back) due to my research.  I know that's due to change once I submit my thesis but in the meantime, I sit at a PC nearly all day.  Awful really.  

The consequence of staying at the weight I am now is that I've lost a lot of the interest I had in going to Slimming World.  Don't get me wrong, I've lost 2 stone (well, nearly given the plus and minus weeks!) and that's fantastic. My figure is 10 times better than it was last year and my health has improved (I don't take my asthma inhaler anything like as much) and I'm not so tired anymore.  Lugging around that extra 2 stone was hard work!  It's just that I'm frustrated that I can't shift this last stone.  I felt like giving up.

Then I looked at a picture of me last year just before I began my SW journey (and the picture that actually prompted me to sign up) and one from last month when we were on holiday.  It gave me the motivation to carry on.  Here are the two photos.

I never, ever, want to go back to that person on the left, trying to hide my fat behind one of my children.  I love being the person on the right who can wear a nice summer dress without lumps and bumps sticking out everywhere and having to keep reminding myself to try and suck my stomach in.

I think I may pin the pictures onto my fridge!  So, I'm going to keep going and I will lose that final stone.  Watch this space.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Father's Day

The girls were very excited this morning. They made these lovely cards at school and had also been busy all week making their daddy lots of other little cards and presents.  

As well as a CD, he got a Hama Bead placemat for his coffee cup from each of them and a silk painting from S of a turtle.  Lucky daddy.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Silk painting

The girls are both doing an after school club for silk painting. I have to say that I didn't expect too much from N, who's five, because in the colouring club, she does around 8 pictures to 1/2 of one of S's.  You see where I'm going with this.

Imagine my surprise then, when she came home yesterday with this gorgeous seahorse picture. Yes, she did it all on her own (not the outline of course).  I love seahorses so this is up in the cloakroom now (aka. the seahorse room).

S also has produced some wonderful silk art. She's been going a lot longer than N and has a real passion for art.  This time she's done a lovely turtle. 

I can't wait to see what they produce over the next few weeks until term ends.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Airkix - Indoor sky diving

Yesterday the teen and I headed off to use up one of my birthday presents - an indoor sky dive experience at Airkix in Basingstoke.  Brilliant!

We were told to be there for 11am for our 12 noon 'flight'.  Knowing what the M3 could be like I thought we'd give ourselves plenty of time. The M3 was fine.  We arrived at 9.45am. Oh well. Went off first and had a Costa and chat for just over 30 minutes and then I remembered there was a geocache in the area so grabbed that too!

Time to check in at Airkix so we entered our risk assessment codes in to the system (you can do that beforehand or on the day) and headed off upstairs to watch others doing it. Wow!  Utterly amazing to watch.  Children and older people all having a go.  We watched for a while and got chatting to a lady whose whole family were doing it.  Sent teen off to find out if we were going to be called as we were Group 13 and supposed to be called at 11.15 but nothing had happened by then. Around 5 minutes later we were called and met our instructor, Dan, who took us to the briefing room. There were 4 of us in total and we were told we'd be sharing our slot with some 'professionals' - no pressure there then.  Watched the briefing video and Dan then asked us to check for the hand signal meanings and had us standing in our positions for flight.  He ripped the mickey out of my trainers (I don't own any trainers as I don't wear them, so bought a pair from eBay for £5 (including postage!) so you can imagine how hideous they were).  I just knew he was going to be trouble then.

Went off and changed into our flight suits, got goggles, helmet and earplugs and away we went to the seats outside the chamber.  My tummy was starting to turn a little. Mix of excitement and a tad trepidation.  Teen was first of the two of us and she did really well. You have to keep your legs straight, chin up and arms at shoulder height, bent and at eye level.  Sounds easy until you do it battered by 110 mph winds!  Me next, great fun.  Dan is with you the whole time correcting your position and stopping you bumping into the glass with everyone watching (well, stopping some of the bumps as you do push yourself off). What a feeling.  Each flight is only 1 minute but it feels longer. We then sat down again and waited for the people to take their turns before teen was back in. She did really well and got to the top of the glass part on her own.  My turn next and the chap from the other couple was laughing saying I should try the 'jump in' to the chamber. Of course as I stood by the door laughing, Dan pushed me back, stepped away inside the chamber and said jump.  What could I do? I went for it.  Fab!  Flew around and then Dan got hold of me and whizzed me up to the top of the chamber.  Awesome!  We were up then in about 2 seconds.  He did this twice and then, rather than putting me back to the door like everyone else, he put me down furthest away from the door and said I could walk out.  Yeah, right. Of course, I couldn't do this and it was very funny trying to. He eventually helped me get out with everyone laughing.

We were then asked if we'd like to pay for another flight (£11 each) and be taken to the top (£5 each) which we all did.  Another amazing ride up for teen and I.  We both really loved it.  At the end we were presented with certificates marking our achievements, which you can bring back if you go again and get other parts marked off.  We then bought the DVD of our flight to show hubby and the little ones back home (we didn't realise they could have watched so well).

S now wants to do a flight for her 8th birthday as she's "always wanted to fly" and now I've done it, I'd happily take her to do it. I'm sure she'd love it.  Do I want to do it again? Hell yes!!