I love to ride my bicycle

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your notice, if you follow my Twitter feed or my personal Facebook account, that about a month ago I was talked into purchasing a bicycle through my work’s Bike to Work Scheme and that since then I’ve become a bit of a cycle bore.

I have never really stuck at anything fitness related since I was at school.  I was never particularly sporty, then so I got fat.  I’ve been a member of most gyms in South Manchester and many more down south, and the novelty soon wears off.  I tried jogging but it hurt my knees.  Likewise, my 30 Day Shred DVD.  But cycling, it appears, is the fitness activity for me.

I’m not cycling to work yet, mainly because I also take the boy to school and although he ditched his training wheels a good couple of years ago he’s not confident on main roads and unfortunately that’s the route we’d have to take.  So for now, even though it’s a Bike to Work bike, I’m not actually biking to work yet.

I do, however, try and go out on it most evenings and weekends.  During the week I average 5-6 miles an evening and I try to do one long ride at the weekend, between 15 and 20 miles.  Of course this is weather dependant – I got hailed on recently which wasn’t fun, and I don’t like the loss of brake control that you get when it’s wet.  I’m definitely a fair-weather cyclist, but for now I don’t mind that.

ride4I’m obsessed with my stats on my Strava app.  I’ve signed up for the premium version just so I can set myself segment goals (not that I’m competitive AT ALL) and get a great deal of satisfaction for beating my PB or overtaking someone else in the local leaderboard.  I’ve signed up to ride 44 miles for charity in six weeks’ time! – Manchester to Liverpool – with my boss.  I’m getting slightly obsessed!

ride3I’m discovering local places I didn’t know existed.  I’m losing inches off my body like it’s melting away (the pounds not so much, but I don’t care because my clothes fit so much better).  Instead of buying music or going out for meals I’m making wish lists of expensive cycling gear that I covet.  So far, my padded cycling shorts have definitely been my best (and also most expensive) purchase!

So apologies if my blog – when I bother to update it – becomes more cycling related.  But anything’s better than endless pictures of my cat, right?

 

Nine

Yesterday was the boy’s ninth birthday.  HOW?  HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  Don’t panic, I do know the technical stuff obviously.  What I mean is, I find it hard to compute the boy now with the boy at his first birthday party all those years ago.

This year he requested a Minecraft Party.  If you’re not in the know, dear reader, then let me explain.  Minecraft is a game played by the majority of children in the Western world on their parents’ phones, tablets, iPads, computers and Xboxes and involves major tantrums when the batteries run out or when their parents actually request to make a phone call.  I can’t make head nor tail of it myself, but it seems to consist of building fantastic structures out of blocks of all manner of materials, searching for rare types of stones, avoiding zombies and throwing square-shaped pigs at each other.

The boy invited a group of friends from school and I set to work thinking up games for a group of surly and belligerent nine-year-olds.  To be honest, I needn’t have bothered.  The pint-sized hoodie-wearing mini-youths turned up, presented arms (iPads) and were awarded with the wifi code by the boy, then sat themselves down in a huddle and discussed whose “world” they were going to go into.  After a few minutes of watching this eerily quiet and refined phenomenon with some trepidation, the husband and I realised we were surplus to requirements and retreated to another room, leaving them to it!

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It might sound like terrible parenting to allow the boys to sit and play on electronic games for a couple of hours but he’s usually restricted (as are the others) to short spells at a time, and this was what he asked to do for his birthday.  In my eyes it was a cheaper alternative to taking them to sit in a cinema and stare at a big screen for a couple of hours.  Plus they played very well together, there was still a lot of interaction and discussion about what they were doing in the game, so it wasn’t as though they all sat there in silence.  It was all very harmonious (until someone stole someone else’s bed from their castle and someone else stole a sword).

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We also developed a new party game called Musical Chargers.  You know Musical Chairs, when you have one less chair than participants?  This was similar but with chargers.  They all ran out of battery at around the same time and whilst two of them had shown initiative by bringing one with them, the others didn’t.  Luckily being a gadget kinda household we managed to sort them all out eventually.

All in all it was a very chilled out afternoon – grandparents and aunts and uncles turned up and partook of wine, the boys ate pizza and drank lemonade and there was very little involvement by us.  Plus we finished it off all off with Minecraft Brownies.  Happy boys with green tongues.

I Do Like Mondays

Ah, Mondays.  I used to hate Mondays.  Not so much for it being Monday itself, but for all it stood for.  The weekend being over far too quickly, the drudge of getting up and commuting and sitting at a desk for 9, 10 hours (as was the norm) doing something I really wasn’t enjoying.

2014-01-13 09.32.06But now, MONDAYS!  I don’t work Mondays now.  I still have to get up at ridiculous o’clock (oh, alright, 7.30, not too bad in the grand scheme of things) to take the boy to school, but then I’m FREE!  Free to do what I want, until 3.15!  Some days I potter, some days I clean like a woman possessed, some days, like today, I go out for lunch to my favourite patisserie.  But always, Monday starts with a Starbucks.  I drop the boy off at school, scoot over to the drive-thru Starbucks as quick as my little Fiesta will carry me, and order a venti skinny latte.  Today I splashed out on some fruit toast because I forgot to buy a fruit loaf from the supermarket this week (bit of an extravagance).  There’s the added novelty of being able to drive at a reasonable speed around the Trafford Centre because it doesn’t open until 10am and it’s usually gridlocked.

I did worry that not working Mondays would mean I’d hate Tuesdays, but actually it hasn’t happened yet.  It just feels like an extension of the weekend and when I go into work on Tuesday it already feels later in the week so it’s closer to the weekend.  Plus I enjoy my job much more than the old one, which helps!

 

A new one just begun

Hello?  Anyone still here?  I’ve tried to brush off the cobwebs and give the place a bit of a clean up so hopefully someone might come by to see me but I don’t hold out much hope.  Blogging seems to have very much fallen by the wayside in the past year, mainly because work just took over my life and left little time for anything else.  Anyway, here is a quick summary of my 2013 and what I’ve been up to.

The beginning of the year was dominated mainly by the health of my mother.  She had one hip replaced just before Christmas but developed an infection and didn’t come home until January.  Within weeks the other hip deteriorated and she was back in having that one replaced as well.  We also had a rather eventful trip to Disneyland Paris in the snow.

I was a lady of leisure for the whole of January thanks to my previous employer finding out I had been in touch with my boss who had left to go to a rival company, and my new role not being able to start until February.

We celebrated “Febmas” with my parents – Christmas, with all the trimmings,  but in February.  Afterwards my new job started, part time at first, doing social media and marketing with my boss from my previous company.

In April everything changed at work.  The office manager left and I was asked to step in to do most of her role with the exception of accounts which went to the Accountant.  The workload got bigger and bigger and gradually I had to give up the marketing and social media things in order to get through everything else.  I went from doing 22 hours a week to up to 50 hours a week in a few months.  I was sent on a week-long course on the database system we had just purchased which was great, and I got an accreditation out of it, but it also meant my workload got bigger still.  There seemed no end to my to-do list.  The months passed quickly with little respite from work although I have to say I was enjoying it on the whole.  It was challenging and interesting even if it was taking up every waking hour and leaving me exhausted!

My little family has gone from strength to strength this year.  The boy started cubs in the early summer and it’s been the making of him.  His schoolwork and behaviour have improved and he’s growing up rapidly before our very eyes.  September brought a change of job for the husband with more responsibility, a rather nice pay rise, the purchase of a new car and a rather extended commute as he now works in Liverpool.  Then in October we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in the Lake District at our favourite hotel.  Our first ever holiday without the boy as well.  It was a fabulous four days of fine dining, beautiful scenery and a chance to spend some quality time with my big man without the constant demands by my little man.

At the beginning of November things took an abrupt turn for the worse when I suffered a mini stroke (TIA).  I woke in the early hours of one night with a burning and excruciating headache, my speech was slurred and I couldn’t use my right arm.  About 15 minutes later everything seemed to return to normal.  I saw my GP the next day who suspected a mini stroke and within three days I was seeing a specialist and having so many tests I feel I’ve had a full MOT – an echocardiogram, a carotid doppler, a CT scan, among others, all of which have come back clear thankfully so it’s likely to have just been a small blood clot on the left hand side of my brain, rather than a problem with my heart or arteries.  So far everything seems to be returning to normal; I still occasionally can’t think of the right word or say completely the wrong one, I fall asleep so quickly it’s as though I’ve developed narcolepsy and I take so many tablets now at both ends of the day that I practically rattle when I walk.  But for as much as it was a shock (although perhaps it shouldn’t be considering my weight, diet and family history), I try to look at it as a wake up call.  If it hadn’t happened I could have carried on with the “I’ll lose weight and exercise next week” and then had a full blown stroke in the next couple of years and things would be a hell of a lot worse.  I lost a stone within three weeks of having the stroke and it’s still continuing in the right direction albeit a bit slower than initially.  Plus I’m on blood thinning drugs and sta.tins to bring down my already low cholesterol (it needs to be lower still now) so the chances are I won’t have another stroke, mini or otherwise.

Whilst I was signed off sick I made a big decision.  I decided to quit my job and look for a part time position locally.  I think I shocked them at work that I did it; they weren’t expecting it at all, but I just felt I needed to slow down a bit and concentrate on feeling better and making improvements to my life to help me be happy and healthy.  I thought it might take some time as these sort of positions don’t become available often, but as luck would have it my best friend mentioned that her colleague was leaving her part time office manager position.  I spoke to the MD and he telephone interviewed me that night, I had a face-to-face interview the next day and within a week I had started!  I now work 20 hours over four days a week, we’ve cancelled the child minder and I do all the school runs, and it feels like my quality of life is back.  I get to spend time with the boy that I was just not getting at the last job.  I get time to myself one day a week.  I get to do a job I really enjoy – all the aspects of a previous position that will remain nameless that I enjoyed, in a different industry to what I’ve been used to so it’s a learning curve, using all the skills I’ve acquired over my life time AND I get to work with my best friend two days a week (she does less hours than me).  I’ve been there just under three weeks now and already it feels like I’ve been there forever.

So that brings us to Christmas.  We went to my parents’ for a couple of days, bit of a whistle-stop tour, but very relaxing and no rows for a change!  I got to catch up with my bro and his little family (my niece is nearly three now and is just gorgeous in every way) and my grandmother.  And of course my mum and dad.

In other news, the husband won a small but decent enough sum on the lot.tery before Christmas so we treated ourselves to a new TV as the old one was taking over half an hour to give us any sound (very annoying when you realise it’s time for Pointless and you haven’t “warmed the TV up” yet).  He went for a 3D model so now we all sit around like extras from The Matrix with our funny glasses on watching penguins and dolphins and things because we have yet to actually buy any 3D films and the novelty hasn’t worn off yet.  The rest of the (meagre) winnings went on paying off a few household bills so we start the New Year with nothing to worry about until they all start charging us again in April.

So that, in short (ha), was my year and now we’re in 2014.  Today was my MRI scan, hopefully the last of all the tests but by far the scariest.  Being ‘inserted’ into a narrow tube with your head bolted into a helmet and feeling like you’ve got a jack hammer going at full pelt next to your ear drum is not really my idea of fun.  I get the results next Thursday when I see the neurologist again so watch this space.  I’m sure it will be fine as it’s almost two months since it happened and I was advised the brain normally heals within four weeks, but you know I like to worry unnecessarily.  But I keep reminding myself that anything bad would have shown up in the CT.  They’ve proved I do have a brain in there, at the very least.

So, dear reader (because I live in hope that there’s at least one of you), I wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year and hope that you’ll come back and visit me here again if I promise to get back on the blogging wagon.  Deal?