Charity, Cycling, Health, Lifestyle, Nightrider, Uncategorized

Today I was supposed to…

…go out on my bike!

I really need to as I am taking part in Nightrider London in June and I haven’t been out on my bike since I completed it last June! I keep meaning to I really do, I’ve even written it in my diary on the days I know I’ll have time to do it and to date I have not been out on my bike on any of these so called scheduled days. That’s 8 times I’ve not been out in the past 6 weeks but so far bad weather (I am most definitely a fairweather cyclist!) and something better (sitting here on my laptop among other things!) has got in the way. I now have less than 4 weeks to get fit enough to cycle 60k (a little under 40 miles), oops.

Am I worried? Not really! Worryingly I think I should be more worried! However I have done the 100k ( a little over 62 miles!) Nightrider course the past 2 years so I figure if I can do that then the 60k should be easy peasy lemon squeezy!!! How can I say this with such quiet confidence? Because last year I went out ‘training’ on my bike the grand total of 3 times and the furthest I did was 27.72k, yes on the night the 100k of Nightrider nearly killed me and if it hadn’t been for my hubby doing it with me I might have given up. Actually, I wouldn’t have given up because I’m a stubborn old cow who doesn’t like to be beaten, but hubby being there definitely helped get me passed the finish line before the deadline. He by the way is one of those annoying people who is sickening fit no matter how little exercise he does!!!

Nightrider 2014

The Pact for Autism team at Nightrider 2014

I’m the one in the middle and my hubby is the one on the far right.

Two years ago when I did Nightrider for the first time I did it on my own but I ‘trained’ 7 times in the 8 weeks leading up to it and managed 60k the week beforehand.  On the night I’m not saying it was easy, I had done no hill training and London is anything but flat especially in the northern and southern suburbs where a lot of Nightrider takes place, but I managed it reasonably well allbeit walking up many of the hills! Plus I felt sick after the first 20k (that’s when I realised that the Lucozade Sport I was drinking was a bad idea!), was freezing in the early hours of the morning after the second 20k and then my arse was beyond uncomfortable for the last 20k.

Nightrider 2013

Me after Nightrider 2013 with my medal and bacon roll!

But it was the best feeling in the world, I don’t consider myself to be ‘sporty’, yes I go to the gym a few times a week because I have to in order to not look like a Teletubby! But, as you’ve probably gathered by now, most of the time I’ll use any old excuse to get out of doing anything above and beyond that. I love the idea of doing stuff…I love the idea of running the London Marathon and every year watching it inspires me but in reality I hate running and the most I can manage is a pathetic 5k. Last year I ran the City of London Mile and I joke that it was harder than Nightrider (but I’m not really joking, I’d rather cycle 100k than run a mile plus I would look and feel better at the end of it too!)

So this year they’ve introduced the shorter 60k route and my friend Sarah said she’d do it with me if we did the 60k and not the 100k, as if I was going to say no to that! My eldest daughter has also just registered and we three are doing it to raise money for my friend’s charity Pact for Autism. Now the thing I am worried about is that my daughter is an athlete and the sports co-ordinater at a girls school who runs for the fun of it every day on top of everything else she does with the girls and Sarah (a teacher in her 50’s) runs 10k’s and despite hardly ever cycling (other than a spin class every week) has already done 60k in training! So I really do need to get on my bike asap so that I’m not holding them back!!! I’ll let you know how the training goes once I get started and of course how the Nightrider night goes.

I hate asking people for sponsorship but this charity is dear to my heart so if anyone would like to sponsor me, no matter how small the amount I would be truly grateful, you can do so here and many many thanks to anyone who does.

Award, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Liebster Award Nominee!!!

Oh what a surprise! A big thank you to Jules at Brewing Sparkle for nominating me and my blog, totally unexpected as we only met (so to speak) today 🙂 What a great idea the Liebster Award is to encourage those of us with small blogs, being very new you wonder if anyone is actually reading your ramblings and every like and comment is fantastic and exciting. This will be a great way to connect with other small blogs and to really feel a part of the blogging community.

Liebster Award Rules are:

  1. Thank the person that has nominated you!
  2. Nominate 11 small blogs (less than 200 followers).
  3. Answer the 11 questions set out by the blogger who nominated you.
  4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.

Well picking 11 nominees was hard but here are some of my favourite small blogs.

My nominees are:

1. A Fashion Recipe

2. Space Oddi-TEA

3. My Fitness Journey

4. Chicken Daily

5. Little Miss Debbie 28

6. The Pursuit of Serenity

7. The Healthy Frenchie

8. Shoestring Beauty

9. Little Bunny & Bear

10. Always The Garden

11. Gluestick Mum

My answers to the questions set by Brewing Sparkle are:

1. What do you love most about blogging? I’m still very new to this but I have always wanted to write and I love the freedom that blogging gives me to write about what I want, when I want, no pressure and it’s great to have a project to work on.

2. Favourite place you have travelled to? I don’t have just one favourite place! Last year I was lucky to visit Crete – I love all things Greek, Switzerland – Geneva, Montreux, Tasch and Zermatt all beautiful in summer and a surprise trip with my daughters for my 50th birthday and also Venice – I love all things Italian too, this was another 50th birthday present this time from and with my hubby. Brussels in Belgium will always have a special place in my heart as it is the first place ‘abroad’ my hubby and I visited together and where he proposed to me, ditto the Riviera Maya in Mexico where we spent our honeymoon. Other favourite places include Paris, Rome, New York, Havana and Varadero in Cuba, Marco Island and Seaside in Florida, Kefalonia and in the UK – Bath and Wales. Finally, I am lucky to live on the doorstep of one of the greatest cities I’ve been to, London.

3. Your favourite season of the year? Late Spring and early Summer when it’s warming up and everything is growing madly.

4. What is your first go to app in the morning? The alarm clock! And then Instagram.

5. Any books you would recommend? Too many to mention them all! Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary triology all made me laugh out loud and Alice Sebold’s Lovely Bones made me cry, while Jeffery Deaver’s The Bone Collecter made me fall in love with crime/detective/thriller fiction. Having just completed a BA Hons in Humanities with Art History and Classical Studies with the Open University I am now the proud owner of a lot (you have no idea how many books 6 years of studying requires!!!) of non-fiction books and my favourite of them all is one from the National Gallery (my favourite place in London) called Giotto to Durer: Early Renaissance Painting in the National Gallery.

6. How do you make sure you stay on top of your blogging schedule? Schedule! What schedule? I write when I have time which generally depends on how busy I am with work. Sometimes that means I go days or weeks between writing anything but then I might start, finish and publish a post in just a few hours and even publish a couple of posts within hours of each other! As soon as I’ve published a post I get a draft for another one going even if it’s just a title I feel better to have something started. I have a notebook that I use to jot down my ideas for posts so even though I can’t always get online to write, at least I have stuff written in my notebook!

7. Have you always been creative? That depends what you mean by creative! I’m not artistic and can’t draw but I learnt to cook and bake as a teenager and I can knit. I also made some of my own clothes in my teens by hand, no pattern with an old hand-operated Singer sewing machine. I also started baking and decorating cakes while at school which is something I still do today. I want to learn how to crochet, when I have the time!

8. The best advice you have been given. I really can’t remember, is that bad? I’ve either never been given any (highly unlikey!) or my menopausal brain is refusing to recollect (extremely likely!) or I’m a stubborn old cow who has never listened to any advice that came my way because I always think I’m right (very likely!), it could be any or all of the above!

9. Your perfect way to relax. ten plus years ago I’d have said a massage, then I trained as a Beauty Therapist and on the rare occasions I have a massage two things get in the way of my relaxing completely. First I’m usually having a massage because I’ve got the point where I really really need one and as I will have asked the therapist to go as hard and deep as she/he can I’ll be in too much pain to relax! Second I will also be concentrating on exactly what movements they are doing and if they’re doing anything different to what I do, basically I’m watching (or in the case of a massage, feeling) for new moves/tips! These days I read, bake/cook etc to relax. I love having a bath and as we only have a shower at home it’s not something I get to do very often so when I do I make the most of it, bubbles, a book and a glass of wine are usually involved! Luckily I have no trouble relaxing when I’m on holiday (I know people who say they’re half-way through their hols before they start to relax!) and my hubby always says he knows the exact moment that I relax when we go away 🙂 We always find our room, dump our bags and without unpacking, except to maybe change into more weather appropriate clothing, we go for a walk/explore to get our bearings, hubby says within minutes of beginning this walk he feels me relax – apparently I will take a really big breath which I let out in an equally big sigh and he can physically feel me relax!

10. What is on your road trip playlist? CD’s I have in my car at the moment are by Gregory Porter, Michael Buble, Caro Emerald, Seasick Steve, Johnny Cash, Imelda May, Olly Murs, The Rat Pack, Jules Holland, Jamie Cullum, Madonna and Ray Charles…I have quite a wide-ranging taste when it comes to music there’s not much I don’t like!

11. Five things you love about YOU? This is very hard as I’m my own biggest critic and quite self-deprecating! 1. I’m a perfectionist, which I love and hate in equal measure! 2. I love that my kids turned out ok and have all grown into well-rounded, hard-working and lovely adults, so I guess I must have done something right! 3. I’m a good cook and I love that I love food! 4. I’m open-minded and try to see good in everyone/thing. 5. And finally I try to learn from my mistakes and use them become a better person.

And my questions for you are:

1. Where do you come in birth order of your siblings and has this any bearing on who you are today?

2. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

3. Sweet or savoury?

4. Are you an indoors or outdoors person?

5. Tea or coffee?

6. What is your favourite food that you could not live without?

7. Favourite cocktail?

8. If you could spend 24 hours anywhere where would it be and who would you share it with?

9. Dogs or cats?

10. What is your favourite film, actor and actress?

11. What are your favourite books?

I really hope you will get involved and in so doing enjoy finding, reading and interacting with new blogs as much as I have

🙂

Health, Lifestyle, Tea, Uncategorized

Tea, my favourite cuppa

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One of my favourite things in life is a nice cup of tea. I drink a lot of tea! I like it strong with a splash of milk, builders tea but with no sugar! I usually make it by chucking a teabag in a mug but if I’m making it for more than just my hubby and I then I’ll make a pot, sometimes with teabags, sometimes with loose tea. I love tea but I’m not too fussy about the brand I buy and usually get whatever happens to be on special offer, be that PG Tips, Tetley, Sainsburys, Lidl or another brand depending on where I’m shopping at the time I’ll try any, tea-whore that I am! I won’t buy a brand of tea again however, special offer or not, if it doesn’t make a good tasting cuppa!

It’s a good job I’m not too fussy though because when offered a drink at a client’s house I will always ask for tea and it amazes me how a simple cup of tea can taste so different depending on who is making it. Most of my clients know how I like it and make a lovely cuppa however I do have one client who, no matter how many times I ask for just a splash of milk, always makes it one way…weak and milky, it’s horrible but I always drink at least half of it, it would be rude not to and I don’t want to offend her plus in the whole scheme of things I see her once a month so it’s not the end of the world and in summer I have a glass of water instead!

At home I occasionally drink Earl Grey, Rooibush or fruit tea for a change with Twinings andPukka doing a huge range of just about every tea you can think of! The supermarkets and big brands I mentioned before have all jumped on the tea bandwagon doing their own versions of different types and flavours of tea.

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My most favourite of all the different teas available and the one I drink the most is green tea, I love green tea! I know a lot of people don’t like the taste of green tea but I think the mistake most people make when first trying it is to leave the teabag in too long. I did the same at first so I always say pour the water over the teabag and take the teabag out almost immediately so the taste is milder, and when you’ve got used to it leave it in slightly longer and so on until you’re used to the taste and eventually like me you’ll be leaving the teabag in while you drink it!

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My favourite green tea is made by a British company called Higher Living, they have over 40 different teas (not all green) including my favourite Green Tea Chai which is flavoured with orange peel, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves giving it a lightly spiced taste. I see they have some new interesting flavours which I’m going to have to try, both green tea one flavoured with raspberry and one with coconut and as I’m obsessed with coconut at the moment (oil, milk, cream, flakes) it would be wrong of me not to give it a go! I usually get my green tea chai from Holland & Barrett who sock a small range from Higher Living but my local store no longer stocks it at all now sp whenever I see it in another branch I always grab a couple of boxes!

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Tea also happens to be incredibly good for you and almost weekly we are being told it’s good for this or that, a while ago it was all about white tea being good for you and now the latest health news is that black tea is as good for you as green or white tea, so that just about covers all teas then, like us tea lovers care, lol! I have to admit the initial attraction of green tea was, for me, the whole weight-loss metabolism thing. Does it work? I have no idea and frankly I don’t really care, I drink tea because I love it the health benefits are an added bonus.

Finally a tea-cat-related picture that made me laugh. I have a lot of clients who have cats and a couple of them have mugs that state ‘Everything tastes better with cat hair in it’ and this picture made me think of them!

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Cake decorating, Etsy, Lifestyle, Uncategorized, Work

My Etsy Adventure

My Etsy Shop

I am a beauty therapist and nail technician by trade, which I love but recently I’ve had a few issues with allergies and eczema and I’m sure it’s the exposure to all the chemicals I use that are causing them. Also while I have my regular clients and business is generally steady at the end of the day I’m just not earning that much and it’s quite a struggle at times to make ends meet so I was in need of something in addition to that I could work alongside it. I am qualified in nothing else and I like being self-employed, it has it’s ups (it’s very flexible, I choose when I work and can have days off when I want) and downs (no holiday pay, no sick pay, no pension). My regular clients know they have to book well inadvance at certain times of the year, e.g Christmas, holidays, summer etc, and so I have to be very organised with my diary and my family and I have learnt I need at least 3 months notice for any event I will need time off for so I can book it out in my diary! This is good and bad in equal measures, it means I know what I’m doing and can plan accordingly which means I’m very organised now but this makes time fly and also I rarely get to do anything spur-of-the-moment.

So anyway I recently opened an Etsy shop! For anyone that doesn’t know Etsy is an online store made up of individual shops for people to sell stuff they make! I had been thinking about it for a while, ditherer that I am, and I spent an age contemplating what I could make in order to have a constant supply of stock in the shop. Then I realised you can also sell the tools that are used by crafters to make their stuff, it was a Hallelujah moment!

Being a cake decorator that was the obvious avenue to go down.  I know from experience it can be a long and expensive business hunting down the tools and equipment needed for cake decorating. I found a supplier whose prices allow me to make a modest profit, another Hallelujah moment, and so off I went. The hardest part for me is finding the time to add things to my shop, I’m not great when it comes to technical stuff and, in my daughter’s words, ”watching me type is painful” so it takes me a while to do each individual item but I am getting quicker!

And, guess what? I’ve actually sold some stuff! Now I know it’s not going to make me rich but it’s a start, small steps and all that! If you fancy having a look the link is at the top of this post 🙂

Gig review, Lifestyle, Live music, Uncategorized

Seasick Steve at the Hammersmith Apollo

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We had already seen Seasick Steve live in October 2010 at a small venue, The Blues Kitchen in Camden, and so we had some idea of what to expect when we went to see him on Tuesday at the Hammersmith Apollo. I have to tell you he lived up to and surpassed all our expectations! He sang a mix of songs from his new album Sonic Soul Surfer along with some from previous albums plus a cover of a song from the 60’s and every one of them was fabulous.

Steve comes across as genuine, humble and truly gifted. He sang and played a variety of guitars throughout the 2 hour set many of which he had made himself from bits of old junk like a hub-cap and a wooden washboard! Accompanying him as usual was his friend and drummer Dan Magnusson, the pair have an unmistakeable chemistry and for some songs he was also joined by talented violinist Georgina Leach.

As well as singing and playing Steve laughed, joked and told stories of his life all the while thanking us the audience for being there and for buying his albums. At times he seemed genuinely moved by the audience reaction and when someone started chanting ‘Stevo’ he explained how the first time he heard it he had thought it was booing until he realised it was actually his name! At one point he plugged in a record player saying how happy he was that vinyl was making a comeback because music sounds better on vinyl than on cd’s.

At the end of the set he thanked the audience again as well everyone who made the show possible, including the lighting and sound guys plus the bloke who gave him his various guitars between each song each by name. He also brought the support act back on for a final bow with him stating they, Dutch trio My Baby, were his current favourite new band and I would have to agree with his praise for them they were very good.

I’m not an expert when it comes to music but I know what I like and I like Seasick Steve and his music very much. In his mid-seventies he has more charisma and energy than many musicians half his age or even younger. If you have the chance to go and see Seasick Steve live then do, I certainly intend to again if I can. If not then treat yourself to one of his albums, you won’t regret it.

Lifestyle, Lists, Uncategorized

Lists are taking over my life!

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I love lists! I have always been a list-maker, a writer-down of all things important and for that matter not so important!

Recently I’ve got to the point where I have to write everything down because if I don’t I forget it. Bloody menopause-brain is far worse than baby-brain ever was, or maybe I just can’t remember how bad baby-brain actually was because my menopausal brain has turned to mush!!! Arghhh, it’s so frustrating and so time-consuming. While technology is on the one hand wonderful it is at the same time a nightmare (for me anyway) because I don’t trust it 100% and so I nearly always have 2 sets of every list I write just in case the technology has a hissy-fit and doesn’t work so I usually have a paper back-up!

I have always written a shopping list, it used to be on paper but then I would forget to take said piece of paper with me, so now my shopping list or rather lists (I have one for each shop I go to!) are a permanent feature on my phone (and only on my phone God help me!) and I am constantly adding to it as things run low but somehow I still manage to run out of things occasionally. Take Easter weekend I ran out of loo roll for goodness sake, I knew I needed it but for some reason hadn’t written it on my list and so hadn’t remembered to get it when at the shop! Thankfully my eldest daughter popped into Tesco on her way here just before they closed and got me some.

I always write present lists at Christmas and birthdays, not an ‘I would like’ list but a ‘what I have bought for everyone else’ list. I have done this for years after losing track of what I had bought and where I had hidden it, so many years ago when my children were small I started the Christmas/ birthday list ritual. I learnt the hard way that when you have 4 kids, 13 nieces and nephews and all their accompanying adults it pays to write down what you buy and for whom as you buy it and then I tick them off as I wrap. I no longer buy for all the nieces and nephews and just give a ‘family’ present which is usually a Christmas cake that I have made and decorated myself but now as well as my own 4 adults kids I also have 3 adult step-kids and all their adult partners, as well as 4 step-grandchildren and our parents/grandparents so a list is still essential. In addition to this I also have a list of family birthdays plus my diary and calendar and still I am atrociously bad at remembering to buy and/or send birthday cards on time!  I also keep a permanent list on my phone for gift ideas which is very useful when someone mentions something months before their birthday/Christmas because if I didn’t make note of it I would never remember it when it came to buying them a gift!

I have work-related lists as in lists to do with my job which, as I am self-employed, are very important to me. I have a list of all my beauty clients with their address, phone number and treatments which is broken down into 3 different lists, the first is current clients, the second is clients who last had a treatment between 1 and 2 years ago and the final list is of clients I haven’t seen in over 2 years. These lists are in my phone contact files and also on paper because of the aforementioned trust issues I have with technology! I have also recently opened an Etsy shop and have a note-book with an ever-expanding selection of lists; I have lists for stock including when and where I bought it and how much each item cost, then another list of the items added to Etsy with the date they were added and how much for and a final section of items sold with date and client details. Now I know as I buy and sell over the interweb all this information is there for me saved on-line in my accounts on different websites and in emails but I’m sorry I just have to have it on paper as well for my peace of mind! I also have another work(ish) related notebook with an ever-growing lists of the cakes I make and decorate for family and friends, I make little to no profit from this and it is more of a hobby than anything, I do it because I enjoy it but I still make lists; type of cake, ingredients, decoration etc.

Another important list is of all my direct debit/bill payment dates which is in the back of my diary to ensure I always have enough money in my account to prevent going overdrawn!

A list I write regularly is a to-do list. Or, I should say, lists in the plural! I have a house list which is divided into room-by-room lists, plus a garden list and a shed list! These lists are very flexible, things on these lists may be done quickly, the majority however may not get done for some time, if at all, ha ha. And so I put no time limit to these lists, I put the things I need (and am most likely) to do at the top but unfortunately things further down the list often fall by the wayside and get forgotten unless my priorities change and they somehow make it to the top of the list.  At the moment I have a spring-cleaning list on the go but spring may be well and truly over before I have a chance to get started on it! Here is a good spring-cleaning list I found on Pinterest. I love Pinterest it’s great for list inspiration and of course is really just another form of lists! Here is my spring-cleaning to-do list, as you can see I’ve only managed to cross off 2 things so far, I’m hoping to have it completed before I go on holiday in June!

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Talking of holidays, I always write a list when packing for a holiday or even a weekend away, this will include every item of clothing, shoes, jewellery, toiletries and medication that I am taking plus the essential things like passport, money, Kindle etc. Here is a good packing checklist I found on Pinterest.

I have an ever-growing wish list on Amazon as long as my arm, actually it’s probably longer than my arm as it currently has 115 items on it! As well as the list of many, as yet, unread books already on my Kindle that I’m making my way through but also adding to all the time.

Lastly there is my bucket-list of things to do and places to visit before I kick the aforementioned bucket! This I am sure will never be completed unless we win the lottery ha ha! There are too many things on this list to mention here and so I think I will leave that for a future post but if you are after bucket-list inspiration Pinterest is a great place to start.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my list obsession I hope you enjoyed it 🙂

Age, Fitness, Health, Lifestyle, Perimenopause, Uncategorized

The big five-O!

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I am 50! That’s fifty! As in half a century! The big five-0!

And I’ve no idea how I got to be middle-aged, it just kinda crept up on me!

I don’t feel it, most of the time, then I wake up with a dodgy shoulder, knee or hip for no apparent reason, plus I knick my hubby’s glasses to read some really teeny tiny writing that I swear I could have read unaided only last week but I’ve been doing it more frequently over the last few months! Getting old sucks, and yes I agree 50 ISN’T OLD, I shout it at the telly every time one of those 50+ life plan adverts comes on, okay if you’re under 30 then you probably think 50 is old, but let me tell you it’s not, only you don’t realise it until you’re here!

So about a year ago, 6 months before I hit the big five-0 and the menopause took over my life I decided that I should change my lifestyle to counteract all the crap that was starting to happen to my body that I seemed to have no control over.  I started going to the gym more and trying different exercise classes like Bodypump and Bodybalance, then I read an article on Sarah Wilson and her ‘I Quit Sugar‘ lifestyle and it really made me think about what I was eating and this year I discovered Hemsley & Hemsley and Deliciously Ella. 

Wow, what a difference it’s made to my life. Now I’m not on a diet, I have a healthy eating lifestyle. Oh hark at me, ha ha! But it’s a big deal for me because I’ve spent the last 20 years going from one diet to another and now while I allow myself to have crap occasionally, it is only occasionally and I just don’t crave crap like I used to! And boy do I feel better for it, I don’t feel 100% yet but I’m so much closer than I thought possible.

I also spent the last 20 years joining the gym only to un-join when I got bored with whatever class that was ‘in fashion’ at the time. I’ve also swum a bit and run a bit, but I generally hated it (I still hate running), got bored and usually gave up before I saw any benefits. I then hated myself, ate a packet of biscuits/crisps/chocolate/ice-cream in fact any old crap I happened to have to hand to make myself feel better, alas the feeling was short lived!

One constant over the past 10 years was Pilates which I did on and off because someone recommended it to me following a severe bout of sciatica but I would sometimes go weeks or even months between going. Then about five years ago I arrived early at the gym to do Pilates and a Zumba class was taking place, it looked like fun. It was very popular, it took me about four weeks to actually get a place but, guess what, I’m still going! It was a miracle, hallelujah, I had found an exercise class that I actually enjoyed, nay loved. It nearly killed me to start with, I’d never sweat so much or looked so red as I did after an hour of Zumba but I picked the routines up quickly and it wasn’t long before I’d made friends and had moved from hiding at the back to the front of the class and at one point I was doing up to three classes a week! Three years ago I bought a bike and signed up to do Nightrider London, a 100k cycle round London at night, to raise money for a friend’s charity PACT which I have just signed up to do again this year. More recently I’ve discovered the joy of yoga which I have dabbled in occasionally over the years but never enjoyed before.

I try to do at least 5 different classes a week which alongside eating healthier means I’m seeing real changes in my body and fitness levels and finally feel like I’m in control.

I will be sharing my journey to a healthier fitter me here but it won’t all be health and fitness and I will be writing about a wide variety of subjects that will hopefully inform and inspire you including some of the things I did during my very eventful 50th year.

Namaste,

Debra