Archive | May 2019

Fitness Week 6 – can you see a difference?

So I’ve been exercising for six weeks. “Can you see a difference?” I ask lots of people.

Mr S, “Definitely!” And he demonstrates how my waist goes in.

People at work give varied responses. From a hesitant, “Mmm, yes. Can you?” To, “Yes, you are more toned around your thighs.”

And me, do I notice a difference?

I can wear high heels again at work and walk around in them and not suffer.

I am stronger and have more stamina and a quicker pace on my usual walk.

My legs feel slimmer, and more toned. My butt firmer.

But my waist doesn’t feel slimmer. I still have back rolls and a wibbly belly. My skirts are still too tight and my breasts ginormous.

I have to face it. I need to change my diet.

Saturday: even after my big Saturday – French lessons, lunch in city, theatre – I still went to the gym. I warmed up with a 10 min walk and jog (yes I jogged, though only three of the ten minutes was jogging, but still.) Weights on the machines. Not enough abdominals, actually really nothing, but I realised I am too fatigued to do stomach work after all the other exercises.

Tuesday’s with Olga. Before the PT session, I warmed up with a 10 min walk and jog with four jogging sessions this time. I asked Olga if we could start with abdominal exercises as I’m always too fatigued by the end to do them. So we started with them. I always say be careful what you wish for. Oh ah ow. Olga pushes me in a way I’d never do.

Thursday: yoga was lovely as usual but either it was the particular pose or my back was ready to go with all the sitting I did that day, but I had a little spasm. It sent the message and I didn’t continue with the pose. Now maybe it is a sign that I am getting stronger but I didn’t have any problems with my back after the class.

Not enough walking this week. The wind has been crazy and I hate walking around my suburb with all the trees in the wind. And it has been cold, and then there’s work. And it was my birthday.

Friday: big walk. We didn’t do our usual walk. There was back burning in the bush near where we walk and the track was closed. So we walked the other way, across the highway which normally acts better than a Trump Wall to stop the two sides mixing. There’s bush tracks over there too. We had to hurry before the sun set as the track was difficult enough without it being dark. We went up hill and down dale. Despite being only 13°, I worked up a sweat. I was puffing and felt my butt working.

Now, am I up to changing my diet? I will think about it over a Friday drink.

The sun setting through the smoke. Later, while on our walk, the sun was bright red but I didn’t have my phone.

Did I drop anything?

A few weeks ago, I was in a dilemma.

Taking up exercise because it is good for me, left no time for rest and chores. I was thinking of dropping French. Not because I don’t enjoy it. I do. I love it. But because it was the only thing I could possibly drop.

I’ve made a decision. I am not dropping French.

I can let housework drop. Not that I do much anyway.

There’s only three more French lessons this term. They will be on a hiatus for most of next term as our teacher will be travelling. Then I leave for my European trip.

So I will have most of next term with Saturday mornings free of French lessons. I will see how I spend my Saturday mornings. Probably slothing around.

I am going to have to spend a large part of this weekend doing household chores I didn’t do last weekend while I was galavanting around. Actually I haven’t had time or energy to do all the household chores that need doing in the last few weeks. But those chores are always and repeatedly there and they don’t “spark joy”.

French lessons do spark joy. So they are staying.

Escape to the country

I booked a day’s outing for Mr S and me. A day trip on a vintage train. I told everyone we were going on a steam train. Not that old. It was diesel. Still, pretty old.

Our carriage was a master work of pressed tin ceiling recovered from other carriages and wood work.

On the way out we were served tea and scones. Very civilised.

We travelled south, along the coast to Wollongong.

Then up the escarpment.

We stopped half way up, from where we had an amazing view of the coast, Lake Illawarra and the now declining steel works.

There’s one big difference between modern and vintage trains. Noise. Modern trains are insulted and you are cocooned from the ch-ch-ch of the wheels, the grinding squeal when wheels are forced to go around slight bends, the rattle of windows, the creaky of the carriage. People shouted to be heard over the noise. When we stopped at stations, the silence was deafening. On the video of us ascending through the temperate rainforest, you will hear the shouting, but not all the other noises – my audio didn’t pick it up. But trust me.

On the side of the tracks, at suburban and country stations, people watched, waved and photographed our train. It’s lovely the impact of heritage trains. I think it is the mystery and sense of adventure. Modern trains, with their quietness, their metal and glass, just don’t have the same sense of romance.

Our destination: Robertson. As it is in the southern highlands, it was much cooler. And breezy.

Did Lucinda eat at her namesake?

No, she didn’t. I don’t drink coffee. We headed straight for the pub which had lovely bright decor and lots burning in the fire place. Luckily I had booked a table; there were many people who missed out.

A few beers and we were ready for a hot lunch. They stuffed up our order and gave us two No 5 blackboard specials instead of a 2 and a 5. They were so busy we didn’t bother complaining. We’d never have got our order by the time the train was to leave.

A quick walk up the Main Street. Past the big poo, sorry The Big Potato.

Up to the Cheese Factory.

As well as a cheese factory and cafe, the building contained the most amazing rabbit warren of a store. Second hand, new, upcycled, clothes, jewellery, toys, furniture. Stuff. Lots of stuff. I bought two pairs of gloves. They are so soft and a little fluffy inside. I couldn’t decide which pair I liked. So bought them both. There was a grey pair. I showed restraint and didn’t buy it.

The fruit shop was amazing. So cheap. $3 for a punnet of fat, lush raspberries. And the biggest bunch of basil I have ever seen, for the same price as a tiny bunch in Sydney.

A walk in the golden light and long shadows back to the station. There’s memorials to the fettlers and men who built the railway up the escarpment. It would have been heavy going. The memorial is made of concrete sleepers, topped by a rail indicator.

The station building looks to be made of wood – an easy assumption as we are in the highlands. But no, it is concrete slabs.

The track not taken. We were not heading this way to Moss Vale. The train had gone there to turn around. We were heading back to Sydney. There’s always something evocative about looking out the back window of a train. Not that you can do it from a modern train with the guard or driver’s compartments in the way. Maybe that is why it seems so special?

Back down the escarpment, to the coast.

Our trip back through the south of city was in dark. It felt like more like 9 than 5pm. We pulled into platform number 1 at Central. The country train side of Central.

We hoped on a suburban train home. So quiet!

We felt like we were returning from a long holiday to a different place. And a different time.

Escape to the city

On Saturday, I went to French lessons. Our pause cafe (the break in the middle of the lesson) was two divine cakes.

I then went straight into the city. I love walking under the Harbour Bridge. It never gets old, looking at all the metal and rivets.

Join me on the rest of my walk to the theatre.

Down some steps between two rows of terraces.

Down three flights of stairs and follow the road you see to be level with the harbour.

And there’s the water, sparkling through the gaps between the wharves.

I met some friends for lunch. I started with a cocktail. The cocktail was divine – so I had another. The food less so. The restaurant is close to one of the theatres we go to but has changed hands or managers. We won’t be eating there again. The vibe, the food, the service just not the same.

Then it was off to the theatre.

I was really looking forward to seeing Hugo Weaving in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He is amazing. And he was in this play too, as were all the other actors, especially Zahra Newman. But I just didn’t enjoy the play. It was soooo melodramatic, so over-wrought. All that screaming and long monologues and pacing the stage pointlessly. I’m not sure if the fault lies in Tennessee Williams or the director. Still glad I saw it.

Then it was time to retrace our steps back to the train station. The evening autumn light is so golden. Stay golden, Ponyboy.

Back up the steps between the terraces.

On the train home, I saw the trial of the new driverless train coming to Sydney. Exciting and amazing but it does mean fewer and fewer jobs for working class.

I finished the day with a workout at the gym.

Definitely a city day.

Treating the weekend like a holiday

I often spend my weekends resting and preparing for the working week.

How stuffed is that!!!

Rather than free time, it becomes more time tied to work. Washing and ironing clothes for work. Shopping and preparing meals for the week ahead. Other household chores that we just don’t have time for during the week because work eats the whole week.

This weekend I treated the two days like a holiday. OK, that was more by chance than planning, but both days were not tied to preparing for work.

I spent Saturday in the city.

and Sunday in the country.

It’s late, and I’ve had a big weekend so I will share my adventures with you in future posts.

How do you spend your weekends? Having fun? Doing household chores? Working? Preparing for work? Resting and recovering?

Aldi champagne

Today’s sparkling drink came courtesy of Mr S. He’d gone to Aldi for some pants and came back with sparkling wine, except it gets to call itself champagne because it comes from there. Erpeney no less.

Champagne Veuve Monsignor Brut Selection NV

Cost: at the top of my everyday drinking range at $21. Exxy when you say it is Aldi. But cheap if you want to say you’re drinking champagne.

On opening: opps. It was warm and bubbled over. Yeasty and fresh scent.

First mouthful: Smokey yeasty, in the French tradition. Not sweet.

Opinion: definitely drinkable. I’d buy it again.

Here’s how Casey from The Travelling Corkscrew reviewed the wine. Clearly she writes about wine a lot. I’m going to have to up my adjectives and noun groups.

 Well, it’s a sparkling golden colour on the eye with tiny streams of mesmerizing relaxing bubbles gliding up from the bottom of the glass. On the nose, I picked up hints of vanilla oak, fresh grapefruit and just out of the oven biscotti. In the mouth, it’s smooth and easy drinking with a kick of smooth oak at the back and some slightly toasted lemon and orchard fruit notes. Value for money.

Self care day

My sister’s work is highly emotional. It would take a toll. And it involves travelling. Her employer gives the workers a self-care day after every case concludes.

That got me thinking.

I don’t normally blog about my work. But here sort of goes.

I work in a high pressure, highly relational, job with constant decision-making and no down time in the working day. There’s one client who has unreasonable and unachievable expectations. She is often aggressive and rude and shouty and down right mean. And my employer gives me no back up.

Last week I had a bad night’s sleep, woke with a disturbed stomach and dreaded going to work. I am sure my blood pressure was up. I was tense and my back and neck were like rock. I knew I had to give news to that client that would probably see her respond like a rabid dog, adding to her probable Human Rights Commission claim that I can see happening in a few years.

Fuck it!

In that same week, I had several reports of suicide ideation or attempts that I had to deal with and support other staff through, including calling an ambulance and debriefs and return plans. And one family where a mother did actually commit suicide and I have to support her kids. And I had to make a report to Family Services. And deal with a faulty nationwide computer glitch that affected mandatory standardised testing. And find staff.

Those incidents didn’t actually disturb my equilibrium. That may surprise some readers but dealing with crises and taking logical steps to move forward is something I take in my stride.

Solving the unsolvable, while being politically correct, with little, actually no, support from my employer, when I think we are doing an amazing job and few could do better in the context we are in, which has been acknowledged by experts but not my employer who just ducks and weaves. And to be abused by this one woman. Repeatedly. Now that pisses me off. And affects my health. One day I might tell the story of why I didn’t blog last year.

I take very few days off for illness. Not unless I am really really ill in a physically obvious way.

But my mental health and my bodily wellbeing is important.

So I took a self care day. Some may say it is a sickie, the days Aussies allegedly take when they are not sick.

But it isn’t.

I needed to still my mind. And every time I feel sick from this woman, I will take a day and be honest, as so many of my colleagues are not, and report it as stress.

People in my position hate being seen as weak. And being stressed is seen as weak.

Well, fuck it. Then I’m weak.

My new worm garden

Look what turned up!

My second worm garden.

First step: put it together.

Put some gravel around the drainage hole to stop soil washing out.

Next: add soil in the bowl, around the worm tower home. It doesn’t have to be good soil because the worm wee will add nutrients. I didn’t have enough potting mix so dug a little bit from my garden and used the soil from four pots of plants that died of thirst.

I threw in the paper bag the gravel came in with the worm garden kit into the tower. The worms will eat it.

Here come the worms! I don’t need to buy any. First I grabbed some of the vegetable matter that was in top of the worms in the old tower. Then I just grabbed some out of my existing worm colony. (Done the bottom of the first tower there was some amazing compost – AKA worm castings. I will have to investigate getting it out and using it some time.)

Water the soil and pop the lid on.

Now what shall I plant in here? Any suggestions?

Fitness Week 4*

*changed the title of tracking my current exercise posts from Fernwood Gym to Fitness, as it is clear I am happy with my gym choice. Now to see if I can actually do more that a couple of months of exercise.

How have I gone this week?

Mmm. Skipped a work out on Saturday. I had French lessons and then went out to lunch and to see a play at the Opera House.

But don’t you fret and don’t you frown, cause I went to the gym on Sunday. Did weights!

I know, amazing, huh? I’m sticking with a weekend weights workout!

Even though I kind of push myself, I’ve realised it is nothing compared to Olga. So I have decided that I will continue with a PT.

This week, at my Tuesday PT session, Olga had me pushing something that looked like equipment the front row of the All Blacks rugby team push to practice scrums. And she had me doing all manner of squats. And she’s upped the weight on the leg press machine. Apparently you are meant to press your body weight – giving me another reason to lose weight. And the abdominal work we did! Phew! I do normally avoid or cheat on abominable abdominal exercises. Amazing how hard you can work in 30 minutes.

Yes, I will definitely continue with a PT. It’s exxy, but if I get stronger (and hopefully slimmer) then it is worth it.

I think I am already stronger. My guide? I can wear high heels to work all day again and not have to swap them for flats after an hour or two. And I’ve done some gardening and not been crippled from back pain.

I know I have to change my eating to actually lose weight. But as that is not currently on my micro-ambitious goals, it has to wait.

Thursday’s yoga was cancelled. Arghh! It was too late for me to psych myself up to face the traffic to go to the gym. The traffic is always worse on Thursday nights.

I was quite disappointed. I may make it up this weekend. Stay tuned for next week’s fitness post to see if I make amends.

I did the usual walk on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday after the PT session and a short walk on Friday. The light is lovely. Look at the setting sun lighting up the red leaves.

Australian sparkling wine

I’m partial to a glass of sparkling wine.

I have no memory for names.

Combined, these two facts mean when I go into a bottle shop (what we Aussies call a purveyor of alcohol, cause hey! it comes in bottles) I never remember what I liked, loved, put up with or disliked.

Today I had a brainwave: I have a blog. I can review my purchases and the review will live here for me.

Today’s drink: Stirling Vineyards Pinot Noir Chardonnay Adelaide Hills NV

Frankly, I was attracted by the discount. Half-price! At $28 a bottle full price, one would expect a very nice drop. So let’s give it a go and hope that it didn’t have to be heavily discounted because it wasn’t good.

And I am a sucker for packaging. I love the silver cover.

On opening: nice apple scent.

First mouthful: very little bubbles. And a nice piquancy. Not too sweet. Not too dry.

Opinion: quaffable. Not sure I’d pay $28. At $14, I could stock up.