Saturday, 26 June 2010

The Motivator

courtesy of

The "Office Podge" look is not one I am particularly proud to admit having but one I have learned a great deal from. It can't be denied for a start.

I work in an office, sitting at a desk from 9-5 and on occasion longer, when the need has arisen. Over the last couple of years after these full days of work I would go home and log onto the pc and start studying for an MSc (which I completed this year after 3 years of hard graft!!), leaving next to no room for exercise. And so The Podge would grow and grow resulting in the following embarrassing adventure.

While the weight had gone on it would appear I was in a state of denial about it and was persisting with the same dress sizes as I had always had. This consequently had the effect of splitting the lining of a very nice skirt and dress I had recently purchased. They are very smart and pretty work clothes and it seemed a shame to let them hang unappreciated in a dark wardrobe. So I took them into Edinburgh to get the split seems fixed. . .

Late night shopping is a Thursday and my husband and I took the chance to do a bit of shopping in Edinburgh before heading into the alterations shop - who shall remain nameless for reasons which shall become apparent shortly. We went in with the dress and skirt in tow and I explained to the seamstress what the issue was and could she fix it for me.

There was a considerable pause. She looked at the clothes and looked back at me and was clearly struggling to put into words what was going through her mind. She came out with the following:

"I can fix this . . .(pause) . . . but it will happen again."

Pointed look at my thighs.

". . .Unless you loose some weight"

Now clearly that didn't sound diplomatic to me and there was a very long pregnant pause, as I fought back a fairly defensive response, interrupted by the sound of the bell going as my Husband left the shop.

I replied as best I could

"If you fix the skirt, I will fix the weight. Thank you very much"

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Endevour Award

When I was 12 years old I started playing squash, every week for 6 years. I played for my club and at my peak I represented the East of Scotland u16's. My sister still plays and was far more committed than I was to it. At the start of university I went to a couple of their training sessions but they weren't quite as welcoming to young, shy new starts as I thought they might be. And besides I had discovered other challenges to growing up and independent living.

I would go and play and coach and compete. Every week for 6 years. I can count on my one hand the number of competition matches I actually won. . . 1. Towards the end of the season our club would hold an awards night to raise money and acknowledge those who had performed particularly well across the club- from veterans to juniors.

This was to be my last awards night before I started uni'.

I won my first and last ever trophy- The Endeavor Award. Mine was the first name on the plaque under the cup. It went with some of these words:

" . . .
She had shown determination and commitment.

Coming week on week without fail. Helping younger members find their feet and competing without always winning*
. . .
courtesy of

Yes, I got an award for trying.

*or winning at all

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

YOGA - for beginners

My little sister and I went to the same university and while she was in her first year I was in my last.

As part of our 4th year my friends and I decided that to get through some of the more stressful parts of our respective courses we signed up for some yoga classes. The gym where these classes were held were less than half a mile away from our uni accommodation.

The first time we went, friends and sister, we just about got through the class. The instructor took it seriously, as you might expect. We however could barely sit still, let alone meditate for an hour without fidgiting or giggling.

In the end I couldn't make eye contact with anybody and found myself staring intently at the ceiling or the instructors face. We got through the first session and by the second we knew what was coming and agreed not to look at each other, if possible, because a shaking body in a yoga class is a giggling body- no doubt.

Towards the end of the second class I can hear this steady deep breathing. Someone has fallen asleep. Now this I have to see so I turn my head to the side and catch my sister sound asleep, totally relaxed and unconscious. And I fight the urge to wake her up before she start snoring however it appears that the instructor has spotted what has happened and is now talking loudly enough that it penetrates her dreams and she wakens. Discretely wiping a spot of sleep drool from the mat!!

My sister and I stayed in flats next to each other and after having a laugh about her power nap after the class we started to walk back to our flats.

There is a gurgle in my stomach loud enough for us both to hear it. I look at her and apologize-

"This is likely to result in a bit of a fart. Sorry"

"Don't worry mine was a quiet one"

With that we started laughing and giggling. Then more gurgling started and we decided to jog our way back to the halls. Farting and Trumping the whole way there!

There is a lot of gas apparently that has sat undisturbed in our bodies, for years, until we started stretching and flexing our way through this yoga class.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Big White One

I am getting married next year! Woo Hoo, yippee, yeah!!

We have booked the church, venue and photographer. I am less than a year away and am looking for "That Dress". Today we, my Gran and little sister, went shopping for said Dress. I need the power of this dress to reduce my husband-to-be to tears when he sees me at the end of the aisle. I'd like his tears to be for one reason- I look breath taking. There is a chance though that they are tears of relief that I have simply arrived on time.

It's not that I believe in being fashionably late, it just so happens I have an allergy to being on time. It usually results in my face flushing and having sweaty arm pits and in a turrets like manner I tend to splutter "I'm so sorry I'm late" repeatedly until I see a smile, at which point my shoulders dislodge themselves from under my ears. Anyway we had two appointments one first thing in the morning and the second late afternoon. On making these appointments I asked a couple of standard questions:

1. Do I need to bring anything?
2. Is it alright that my Gran and sister come?
3. Do you charge for an appointment?

The answers to these three questions were as follows:
1. "Heels and a strapless bra"
2. "Yes of course"
3. "WHAT?!" or "Erm No" (delivered in a tone that would suggest I has in fact asked an alternative question like "Do you believe that Aliens made the pyramids?")

So I, and my contingent, turn up on time- minus the red face and sweating arm pits- and am given a hand full of tokens to drop on the hangers of my chosen dresses. Like a Prima Donna I wander around the shop turning my nose up at this dress and that dress and "oh" and "ah" over the other dresses. My little assistant picked up each and every dress I had chosen and took them through to the changing room.

"Right if you just strip down to your underwear, I'll get the first dress ready"

O.k so I don't even know this lady's name however that turns out to be the least of my problems. In unzipping my trousers I realise that I haven't shaved my legs or arm pits. . . my toes nails are neglected and suffering the remnants of the last nail polish applied 5 months ago. . . oh and the cream, strapless bra I was wearing had just done battle with a black t-shirt in the washing machine and lost. Which is fine because they don't match my big (but comfortable) lacy pants.

Cue the exit of a Prima Donna, dignity and self respect.

Enter humility.

The dresses I tried on wear stunning- except for one which did make me look like a life size loo roll decoration- poofy is not a word which would adequately describe this particular white frock. If I were being thrown out of a plane at thirty thousand feet this would definitely by my choice of life saver, I could be guaranteed a gentle landing. For anyone to talk to me though they would need to have a loud and clear voice as they would be forced, by the sheer girth, of the skirt to stay at least 10 feet away from me. Failing this I was bound to make an excellent mini bouncy castle hostess for the younger guests at our wedding who could run full pelt at me and neither of us would feel the contact. At least until the child were picked up off the floor, or out of a near by wall, where upon the impact of their landing would be felt!

I may have found the one but I will, naturally, need to check out another few shops before I commit* myself to "The Tear Jerker".

*I committed:

Friday, 18 June 2010

Bareclona 2008

Earlier this year (2008) Luke and I decided that a city break was in order. Don't go getting any ideas that we are a pair of international jet setters! We planned to head out to Barcelona to camp out on a friends air mattress and spend the three days running around taking in as much of the city as we could. A bit of international sun in the middle of July was hardly an original plan however it was an exciting one.

Especially when we arrived in London to get our connecting flight and were told that we had been up graded to first class. Not because the staff saw clearly that this was a couple who were in desperate need of a holiday but because we had checked in on-line there had been a mix up and there were no seats left in cattle class. There was a large grey tea-towel separating us from where we would have been originally and it was as if we were in another world.

"Would madam like some champagne?"

"Madam would like that very much, thank you"

In an actual glass. Champagne in an actual glass. Real glass, not plastic. I stared at the glass, bouncing a ring off the side of it to hear the sound of it not being plastic. It was as if I had only ever had a cup with a lid (toddler style) and now I was getting to drink out of a grown up glass for the first time. I had to be careful not to pour the whole thing down the sides of my cheeks! Despite the champagne, my nerves about flying hadn't diminished any and by the time the plane had reached its altitude Luke was asking the attendant for a whiskey and ice. Whiskey for him and ice for his now slightly bruised hand!

Wonders would not cease for the course of the entire flight with afternoon tea more complimentary drinks and plenty of "Sirs" and "Madams" being splashed out to Luke and I. All served without sarcasm, disdain and with real crockery, real genuine knifes and forks. Unbelievable how a tea-towel can result in such a different flying experience. I would get off than plane a different woman, one who clearly was destined to be on the receiving end of First Class treatment.

We arrived and met Craig in the city centre and headed back to his apartment to drop our bags. With its views across Barcelona it suddenly became a very tempting thought to pack the job in and head for Spain... it still is a tempting thought!

We took the camera's, maps, guide books and sun tan lotion out to explore the Gothic quarter while Craig earned an honest crust.

We were standing in a square people watching and taking pictures of the two town halls - I think the Spanish and the Catalonia. Both halls sit opposite each other in a square and are almost identical, one is no more flashy or beautiful than the other. Both have guards whose uniforms are equally smart and equally different without competing with one another. I stood and admired while Luke was busy playing with the settings on his new camera taking shots of the two groups of 3 guards talking amongst each other.

We had only been standing for about 15 minutes talking about where to go next when there was the sound of bells ringing, not church bells but bicycle bells. And not just one cyclist ringing to get the attention of a pedestrian but at least 30 bells all ringing. Looking around I couldn't quite see where they were coming from when suddenly the square filled from one corner with a lot of bell ringing cyclists. Cycling round and round the square.


Men and women, young and old, all of different shapes and sizes. Some with the confidence to wear nothing but an Indian style headdress and a pair of trainers and others with a pair of pants and trainers. All on bikes, trike's and buggies.

They cycled and shouted in Spanish/Catalonia. Luke and I wouldn't know the difference between the two languages but they had obviously come to the town halls for a reason and we weren't sure which town hall we were standing out side- Spanish or Catalan. A petition was handed into a crowd of 15 strong guards who were also clearly as curious as we were as to what was going on.

Feeling very knowledgeable - having spotted something in the protesters Luke had missed!- I answered Luke's question about what they could be protesting about with a confident "It's Tibet- see the flag over there?" I was to be proved wrong later.

What the protesters didn't appreciate was that the timing of their entrance to the square coincided with a group of Hen's were making their way in the opposite direction. That was until the hens realised that there was a lot of naked people on bikes, where upon they did a u-turn and decided to "support" the protesters. The Indian Chief had the unfortunate experience of having his microphone taken off him by the Head Hen herself, who amongst a lot of screaming girly encouragement, belted out "Buttercup" by Barry White to an audience of naked people and confused looking tourists. I salute her confidence but pity the bars she and her posse were about to visit.

During the course of the song, some protesters clearly felt that the power of their message was being lost or that since the petition had been handed in it was time to delve into the rucksack and put some clothes on and head home. That for me had to be the most curious part- you have clearly cycled across a busy, metropolitan city to submit a petition, for Tibet me thinks, yet you can't cycle home the way you left it. Stark Naked?!


As we were getting ready that evening to head out for dinner Luke was quietly typing away on the internet trying to find out what all the fuss had been about, not convinced by my Tibet theory. When he burst out laughing, it turns out it was "World Cycle Naked Day" and events like the one in Barcelona had occurred across Europe.

I can bet my entire life savings that this event was not being supported in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh or London. Where we Brits are a little more reserved and a lot more cautious about put-holes, cobbles and builders.