celebrations, crEAting, fEAsting, mEAndering, out and about, sEAsons

O hushed October morning…

The mornings are noticeably darker now and I always struggle to wake up without the sunlight streaming through our bedroom window – not that we had many sunny mornings this year!    Each day as I set off for work  I am now well wrapped in coat, scarf and gloves to insulate me from the cool nip in the air.

This weekend we had an indulgent day in Manchester, firstly at the Whitworth Gallery viewing an exhibition of paintings by David Hockney and one or two fascinating new ‘installations’  followed by lunch at the Gallery’s award winning cafe and then a walk through the surrounding park collecting leaves to press for future craft work.  Afterwards we moved on down the road to the University to visit the Artists’ Book Fair held in the Holden Gallery by Hotbed Press.  This was our third year and it is great to chat with the artists and be inspired by all their new work.  My favourite this year was a tiny concertina book which opened out to show a series of watercolour line drawings of two latin American dancers – the artist had captured the movement of the dance perfectly.

As we are well into Autumn now and it is the time for ‘gathering in’ many churches will be holding their Harvest Festival services and at the same time there will be events hosted up and down the country to celebrate the humble British apple – this is what I wrote for October in my Art book ‘Celebrating the Year 2009’


October is the time of harvest Festivals and the month

we also celebrate Apple Day.

We went to our first Apple Day a few years ago at Erddig, a

National Trust property in Wales.

Until that moment I had never fully realised just how  many

varieties of apples we grow in this country,

partly because when we buy our apples in a supermarket

the choice is often limited to 5 or 6 different types

when in fact there are hundreds.

Seeing them all together in one place was like a treasure trove

and we watched a botanical artist delicately painting them

individually with absolute precision.  These paintings

act as a factual record and historical

archive should a variety become forgotten or extinct.

 By far, the smaller Russet apples are my favourite.  The subdued

colours – from golden brown and burnt umber to

silver-grey, and the rougher skin textures are quite

amazing and stand out against the perfect

blemish free apples on the supermarket shelf.  There is

something of the past captured in the

Russets; they seem ‘earthier’ and are the apples

that past poets wrote about.  They are part of the bountiful

harvest to be found at this time of year.

 Apple Day events are happening all across the counties and are announced on the website at Common Ground and the National Trust.  Quite often you are able to sample and buy the apples on show so that you can rush home afterwards and bake some delicious pies.

Common Ground initiated Apple Day on October 21 1990 in Covent Garden and launched it countrywide with over 50 events in 1991.  These ranged from markets in village halls to menus in National Trust houses, pruning, and grafting classes, apple road shows by horticultural societies and apple food and drink in the Houses of Parliament.


We have a few busy weekends ahead of us doing the usual rounds of visiting our beach cottage, my mum and finally my mum-in-law but I hope we can squeeze in a visit to one of the Apple Day events.  As I am still managing to stick with eating my apple a day I would really like to stock up on a few different varieties as a welcome change to the limited ones on offer in the supermarkets.

Have a good week everyone and thank you to all my new friends who left me such supportive comments after my last post when my daughter left home recently – I felt very comforted and am pleased to report that I am feeling so much better this week and slowly getting used to the quiet empty house.


exercising, fEAsible, hEAlth, healthy eating, my goals, taking stock

The Healthy Eating Challenge – September update…

Target Date:     31st December 2012

Target Weight:    8st 12lbs (without clothes)

Target waist measurement:     28″

Starting Weight:    9st 5lbs (without clothes)

Starting Waist Measurement:   33″ (yes you have read that correctly!)


 Target for 30th September 2012: 

Lose 1lb (this will be measured by staying 1lb lighter for more than 7 consecutive days)

This was a mini target for this month to allow for research and implementing ideas

How did I do?

Major Achievements: 

eating an apple a day for my morning snack

drinking only water at work

avoiding cakes and biscuits at work – almost (see below!)

eating less food for evening meal on a smaller plate

taking daily supplements and Flaxseeds

Teeny Weeny Temptations:

I Chocolate Mini Roll (at home – bought to cheer husband up)

I packet of Chocolate Raisins (from Macmillan box at work)

1 tiny party plate of crisps, cheese and french bread (birthday treat at work)

1 Afternoon tea with jam and cream Scone and Trifle (at John Lewis)

Could do better:

Increasing my steps at work – getting up and going to see people rather than email – I have made a conscious effort but not quite good enough


(not got off the ground yet)

An evening walk


Lots more sleep

Choosing new recipes

Preparing and taking lunches and planned snacks to work

And now the measurements…

Weight as of 1st October:  9st 3lb (yes yes yes I did it 🙂 )

Waist measurement: no change at 33″ (sigh! 😦 )

All in all not a bad result – I have been consistently at 9st 3lb either just over at 9.36 or just under at 9.28 now for the last seven days so I think I can claim a small victory here and really that has been achieved without too much hardship – it is notable though that these little changes have had a desired effect.

The Difficulties

My draw backs have definitely been that I really haven’t had the time to spend on my challenge and I am hoping when we are back to normal life at our house (when daughter and partner return to theirs – getting closer!) I will have more time to spend on myself. 

Work is pretty manic too at the moment my colleague on long term sick now awaiting radiotherapy and her second op in January and my helper off sick this week too!  So I have been holding the fort on my own and I am absolutely worn out this week.

My Teeny Weeny Temptations are obviously when I am either at work or out and about rather than when at home – it is easy to see the pattern when it is documented like this.

The Positives

As you can see from my NGOTGY section I have plenty of work to do to implement the changes I set for myself last month but after doing this challenge over the last few weeks I realise that it is the small and simple changes that are lasting.  The ‘apple’ as I have said before has become my symbol for this challenge and I cannot imagine walking out of the house in the morning without it  – it would be like going out without my keys or my bag.  I automatically reach for my supplements before getting my breakfast and I am so used to drinking water now that my colleagues do not even ask if I want a cup of tea, however, I will be re-introducing a herb or green tea to my list as this is quite a healthy drink.


The Next Steps

So from what I have learnt already I have decided to introduce each new challenge more gradually and break each one down into a smaller task than I had first planned.  So my next task this week is to spend time sifting through all my recipes and make myself a folder of snacks, lunches and meals that are easy to prepare, low on calories and high on nutritional value.  From this I will make some kind of menu plan and then a shopping list and then implement the changes starting with lunches for work.  The reason for choosing this first is that when I buy my lunch I have no idea of the content or calorific value.  I suspect that the soup I get from the local sandwich shop, although homemade, is laced with fats, fresh cream and salt – homemade would be much better.

On the Yoga front – I have photocopied some of the Asanas that I wish to work on with a view to laminating these as A5 cards to stick to the wall.  As my only real space for such exercise is in the living room and I do not feel I can contort myself into weird and wonderful positions in full view of my future son-in-law I will have to wait until I can have a little more privacy in the house.

 If I manage to get more sleep that will be a bonus and I will make an effort to set a limit of going to bed before midnight but this will not be a focus this week.  I am expecting that when we are back to the two of us the cooking and washing up marathon that I have now will ease and we will be able to eat much earlier giving me my evenings back.

The October Challenge

I set myself the goal of losing 2lbs for this month so I would then reach a Target Weight of 9st 2lb by October 31st (which has to be fairly consistent for 7 consecutive days to qualify).  As I have dropped more than I thought for September I have a little slack here and am already ahead.  It will be interesting to see if the changes I have already made and adhered to keep my weight constant and when I implement my next tasks how much impact they have.  Wish me luck!

PS  For more ideas have a look over at Laura’s site movetoportugal – I noticed this week she too is setting herself a few targets to lose weight.  I wish you well Laura – I am looking for good ideas so will be following along with you.