Friday 31 December 2010

It all balances out

I'm doing a bit of reflecting at the moment, I suppose it's inevitable given the time of the year. Off with the old and on with the new, and all that. It's been a good year, so lets make it better for 2011.

I've been reading a book I got from the library, thank goodness for libraries, long may they continue to provide free nourishment for the mind. The book is called The pH Miracle', written by Robert O. Young Ph.D, and Shelly Redford Young. The sub title is 'Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health'. Oh no, not another self help, you are what you eat, kind of book. Well, a bit of it is, but there is so much more in it.

It focuses on 'balance'. A quote from page four......

'The universe operates by keeping opposites in balance, and the universe contained in your body is no exception. When imbalance occurs we get the signs of disease, low energy, fatigue, poor digestion, excess weight, foggy thinking, aches and pains, as well as major disorders. This book is about reclaiming balance, energy, mental clarity, smooth operation of all body systems, clear bright eyes and skin, and a lean trim body'.

Although it primarily focuses on the balance of acid and alkaline within our bodies, and the need for balance in our diets to achieve this, it has prompted me to think about all the other aspects of our lives which would benefit from the idea of balance.

When you think about it imbalance is everywhere. The worlds population is not spread evenly, so we have people who are starving and people who throw away excess food. How much fairer it would be if there was a better balance and everyone had enough. It would solve everything. Countries wouldn't have to compete against each other on price, we could do swaps instead. Go back to bartering, come to think about it we could do away with money altogether.

For some, the work/leisure balance becomes intolerable. Working full time from the age of 16 to 65, then finding you have nothing to do untill you die, is very much out of balance. Wouldn't it be a good idea if everyone could work part time for most of their lives, but work for longer untill they wanted to stop. Spread the load so to speak, so you are not tired out when you reach your fifties and sixties. Save a bit of energy for later.

Looking back at my working life I have managed to vary my jobs to make it more interesting and not so much a chore. I think I have struck a very good balance. For several years I had a winter job and a summer job, this kept my enthusiasm fresh, knowing that I had a change of scenery coming up. I have also juggled several part time jobs. This was not at all stressfull as you might imagine, but rather fun as I changed my hats. Even when I had full time jobs, I changed them frequently so as not to become bored. Most of the time I got the balance just right.

There's a lot of truth in the saying 'Everything in moderation', and 'A Little bit of what you fancy does you good'. Get the balance wrong and a lot of what you fancy can do you a lot of harm. Like the television thing I mentioned. Sit in front of it for weeks and months on end and you become a social recluse, as well as losing the power to think for yourself.

Recently I read about a man who ate nothing but potatoes for a few months, he survived but think how such an experiment like that might affect your life if you became obsessed with only eating one type of food. You could never meet up with friends and eat out, your social life would take a dive, and your body would pack up in protest. Did you read about the guy who only ate in McDonalds every day for weeks. It cost him a fortune and he almost wrecked his body. Proof that a balanced diet, providing it is healthy food, is the only way to sustain a healthy body.

Think about what you think about. Is a good balance necessary there as well. I would say yes. It would not do to be forever angry, or forever sad, or forever dominant, or forever passive. You would not have a good life if you continually felt bitter about things, or always felt sorry for yourself, or always blamed others for your predicament.

A good balance for me is to listen to my head as well as my heart, when weighing a situation up. Mixing practicality with emotion, and seeing things from all angles makes a balanced life. It is maybe easier for me because I have no one to balance with, couples have to work harder at it , especially if one is out of balance and the other is not.

I try and balance my life at the moment, that's why I have a calendar on the wall. I have to balance my time indoors with my time outdoors, too much of one and not enough of the other and I become irritable. Of course the biggest challenge I have is balancing my finances, and I can honestly say I am an expert at that. I also balance my commitments to other people. If they demand too much of me I become resentfull of their encroachment on my time. If my calendar is empty I become sad because it means no one has thought about me. So sometimes I am happy to do things for others and sometimes I want 'me' time, alone to do what I like.

Think about your life in 2011, is there anything you need a better balance with? It's not something that happens naturally you have to work at it. I love the start of a new year, all fresh and squeaky clean, I can't wait to get to grips with it. Lets all meet back here in one years time, and we'll talk about how we all did in 2011.

A very Happy New Year to all my blogger friends.

Thursday 30 December 2010

I'll catch up with that later

I've been skiving off a bit over the last couple of weeks, watching tele on the computer. I am so pleased that I haven't got a real tele, because it would be so easy to switch it on and sit in front of it the whole day. I would spend ages looking through the TV guide and working out my viewing timetable, and everything else would have to fit in around the box in the corner of the room. I know I would not be able to switch it off because I would want to get my money's worth from the licence fee. My mentality would tell me to watch everything because I have paid for it.

Most of the time I am pretty good on the willpower, I have loads most of the time. Like not switching on the heating willy nilly, not pigging out on cakes and biscuits, and not giving in to sales blurb. I can give myself a good talking to about the consequences if I should step out of line, and then feel good about myself because I have fought and won. Saying 'no' becomes easier the more you say it.

But with a tele, the temptation is always there to switch it on. It sit's there leering at you, winking and smiling, 'go on, you know you want to'. That is why I didn't want a central heating system that works, too easy to flick the switch. I am pleased to report that I am winning that battle, even though the government has fixed it for me. I am sitting here wrapped up in three teeshirts, two sweatshirts, two jog bottoms, jacket and scarf, and I haven't switched it on because it is warm enough without today.

But where tele's are concerned I am hopeless, so it's best if I don't have one. I can still watch Coronation Street, the only soap I have ever followed, even if it means catching up several days later. I have just watched a couple of programmes about Ronnie Corbet, a wonderfully funny man, and still funny even though he has lost his partner Ronnie Barker, and is now 80 years old. I like a bit of comedy, a good laugh does you the world of good, but I didn't laugh much at the new comedy with David Walliams and Matt Lucas, 'Come Fly With Me,' or something like that. A little bit tacky I thought.

For a little bit of light hearted entertainment I like Heartbeat, or Graham Norton if he has an interesting guest. Travel programmes are my favourite, especially if they are about places in the UK. Good for ideas for places to visit. I like being able to watch what I like, when I like, I'm in charge, and I like that. Now the tele programmes fit in with me.

Wednesday 29 December 2010

My promise to me

The time has come to think about the start of a brand new year. Do I or don't I make some New Year resolutions? Shall I sit down with a pen and paper and put a few ideas down, maybe give up chocolate, walk ten miles every day, do more housework, or save the planet and use my bus pass rather than drive? Decisions, decisions.

What would improve my life? Spend more money, buy new stuff, get drunk every night, go out dancing, to the pub, eating out, fly around the world, go to a beauty parlour, stay in posh hotels, join a golf club, take up gliding, have the house re-decorated and re-carpeted, get the driveway block paved, employ a cleaner, or buy a flash car? Decisions, decisions.

None of the above.

My New Years resolution is to look after my health, simple as that, and by health I mean mental as well as physical. I will eat the right foods to give my body the best chance of a long life, if I fall ill it won't be because I have neglected myself. I want to stay fit for as long as possible, so that I can continue my walking around the UK, there are so many more places to see.

I will not worry about trivial things, I will not get angry, and I will not let people upset me, if they have a problem it isn't mine. I will not be jealous of people that have more than me, because I know I am very rich. I have my friends, and my lovely cats, and the company of my doggy friends who come to visit.

Every day is a blessing, and I am gratefull for every minute that I am here. As I get older I hear about people that I have known who are no longer with us. I think of my brother who died this year, at age 59. I think of people who are not well, and I say thank you for every new day.

Look after yourself because you are the only one who can do it.

Cheers to your good health.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

A last look at London

What a dull and dismal day it is today. I've just taken Henry for his second walk, and although it has been raining, there is still a lot of ice about. Because it is dangerous to walk on, people are stepping onto the grass verges whenever they can to avoid a fall. The grass is now becoming a quagmire, and along the hills it is eyes down to avoid the doggy deposits. Not very pleasant at all.

Anyway, to take our minds off the miserableness outside, I have dug out a few more London photo's. Here is London Bridge.

This whacky Mini was for sale in a posh car showroom in Mayfair. That would turn a few heads in Scunthorpe High Street, ha ha.

Look at this poser, he just loved playing to the cameras.

They're changing the guards.

Electric car? No problem. Just plug it in.

There are free papers all over the place in London, great because you don't have to buy one. Not so great when people dump them before they go home.

What a lot of building sites there are, I think they are tarting it up to impress the foreigners when they come to watch the Olympic games.

I've just watched a couple of programmes about the Savoy Hotel, on the BBC iplayer. It has undergone a major refurbishment and is now one of the best hotels in the world. It must be lovely to spend a couple of nights there, oh how the other half live, dream on.

Need to get anywhere fast? forget driving, or a taxi, you want one of these. A Boris Bike. they are everywhere. So convenient, if you don't mind placing your life into the hands of others, as you weave in and out of the motorised hell they call roads.

Some people do eat healthily in London, if they remember to wash the fruit before they put it into their mouth. A welcome display of colour in a drab street.

The Post Office Tower was close to the Hostel,
but alas it is not open to the public :o(
A damp Trafalgar Square.

A beautiful beastie on his plinth. A magnet for photographers.

Another beautiful hotel that I wouldn't mind spending the night in, The Dorchester. Fat chance unless I meet a rich old bloke, ha ha.

Looking at these reminds me I need to start planning another holiday, hmmm, now where do I fancy going next?

Monday 27 December 2010

Up half the night!

I am so glad I didn't over indulge over Christmas. I have to be so carefull about what I eat, winter stodge feels like a lump of lead inside me, then it gurgles it's way through my innards giving me a painfull bloated feeling. That's why I kept my shopping to a minimum, and didn't buy anything too exotic.

But.......I let my guard down. Last night I didn't sleep very well. I had a lovely time socialising at my friends house, they made me very welcome. The spread she laid out looked mouth watering, there was so much choice. It was very tempting to throw caution to the wind and pile my plate high, why shouldn't I indulge, it's Christmas.

However, common sense prevailed and I chose a few items which I thought would go down nicely with a couple of glasses of wine. Salad, a few prawns, couple of pieces of posh cheese, a pickled onion, fine so far. Then a buttered white bread roll, big mistake, white bread is like cotton wool and not good for me, there was no wholemeal :o( I asked Karen which was veggie and she pointed out some little vol-au-vent type thingies, so I took two, and one veggie not sausage roll thingy. A few bread sticks and a spoon of dips on the lettuce, and it looked fine. Not too much just a normal buffet meal.

Pudding was a piece of chocolate sponge cake, well you have to don't you :o) Ok, I own up, I had two pieces of cake. My goodness did I suffer last night. Woke up at 2.30am in agony, feeling like I'd got the rock of Gibralter stuck in my guts. Laid there thinking go away, I'm not getting up, and tried to go back to sleep. After an hour I turned on my side and at last I got some relief, my rock of Gibralter errupted then made it's way through.

I don't like taking medication if my condition is all my own fault. Seems daft to me to stuff your face with the wrong food then take a pill or medicine to relieve the agony. Note to self.....must be more carefull, don't let my eyes do the eating, think before I put something in my mouth. It was the stodge which caused my discomfort, slapped wrist, don't do it again, ha ha.

Sunday 26 December 2010

Normal service will be resumed......

Now we enter the waiting period, waiting for everyone who jumped on the band wagon, to jump off again. The period between Christmas and New Year might as well be cancelled. It's chilly outside, dangerous to walk in some places, and dangerous to drive in others. Best not take a chance, best to stay local.

Everything is quiet today, is that because my hearing aid has broken, or are people still in a deep sleep, or maybe nursing hangovers? Where is everybody? Perhaps they are at Tesco or Morrisons, or in town, scrambling through piles of sales stuff. Now is the time to buy presents for next Christmas, that's if you are going to hop back onto the band wagon again in twelve months time.

I remember when Christmas and New Year were two seperate holidays, and never the twain shall meet. Now they have merged into one big period of idleness, when people are not required or can't be bothered to go about their daily business. When I was driving I always volunteered to work over Christmas and New Year. I remember sleeping in my lorry on a night out, somewhere down south, on New Year Eve. I have always loved working when everyone else wasn't. Nights, weekends, bring it on, one of the joys of singleness.

Businesses now shut up shop for the long holiday, it saves on heating and chasing people up who throw a sickie. I wonder if this enforced period of inactivity is welcomed by all. Maybe it's just me that doesn't enjoy life in the slow lane, crawling along untill we have passed the obstruction. I was never any good at traffic jams ;-)

Anyway, I have been busy this morning, I thought I'd make a start on the spring cleaning. Done the windows and scrubbed the bathroom. Now I'm going to wash my hair, have a bite to eat, then pop round the corner to a friends house for a little socialising. Happy Boxing Day.

Ten minutes later........I think I ought to add a PS here, in case people take this the wrong way and think I am having a go at them. I don't mean that each and everyone of you have jumped on the Christmas bandwagon. There are many millions who love Christmas because it means getting together with friends and family, all well and good if you choose to celebrate in this way.

The bandwagon I was talking about is the one which people are drawn into because everyone else around them have joined in. I would much rather people thought why they are doing it, and if they don't want to, stand up and say so. How miserable it is to traipse round the shops and put yourself through hell, just to keep up. And what about the hell you find yourself in, in January, when your credit card statement comes through! It just isn't worth it.

Shops are muggers at Christmas, they prey on the vulnerable, they prey on people who worry about what others think of them. The bigger and better the present, the more they must like me. Ha, cobblers. People like you for who you are. If they like you for what they can get from you, they are not nice people. Money does not impress me one iota.

Crikey, where did that come from! Just had to get it off my chest ;o)

Saturday 25 December 2010

A smile for Christmas

I've had a lovely morning. Surprised the two little girls Katie and Chantelle, who live up the road. Their cat Micky comes into my house and steals the food, well maybe I let him, so it's not stealing exactly, ha ha. They gave me some flowers a few months back as a thank you for all the food Micky has eaten. Today I gave them a posh note book each with a picture of a cat on the cover, wrapped in silver and gold paper.

It was a delight to see their eyes light up and a smile on their faces. These are the only two presents I have given, a spur of the moment thing. In my mind this is the best way to give presents, to someone who doesn't expect them. It put a smile on my face :o) Far more enjoyable than worrying for months what to get people, and then worrying about how much money you have spent.

Sun and blue skies this morning, it's too nice to stay in. I looked down on the river and saw massive lumps of ice floating by, so I walked down the hill to the bank for a closer look.

The River Trent is a tidal river, it flows out to meet the Humber then into the sea. I spoke to a woman who was feeding her horses, she said she remembers seeing ice like this when she was a little girl, but there hasn't been any for a long time. It must be cold then, according to the Daily Mail, this is the coldest Christmas day since 1890, at minus 18.

Back from the walk and having worked up an appetite, I had a second breakfast. I just fancied bananas and honey in a wrap. I spread a little margarine on two wraps, sliced the banana and spread the pieces out, yum, then drizzled honey on them. I rolled them up and zapped them in the microwave, then sloshed some natural yogurt on them. Delicious. They went down well with a glass of sherry.

I've just caught up with Corrie, watched last nights episodes back to back. Now I'm going to get started on the second canvas bag for the Arts Centre. I have an idea for the design and I have done a practice piece to see if it is workable, and it is. Not saying yet but, when I was looking for ideas I was chatting with someone and she said, put holes in it. We laughed because it seemed like a daft idea, who would want a bag with holes in it! But then I thought, aha, not so daft. . . . . . . .

Friday 24 December 2010

Have a lovely Christmas, I will.

Tis the day before Christmas and all is well. People are travelling home to be with their loved ones. I hope the good fairy is watching over them and they reach their destinations safely. It's a time for coming together, the joining of familes, fun for the children, and love and laughter for everyone.

I will be staying here in my home, with my cats, but don't feel sorry for me, I could go out if I wanted to. My family know and understand that it is my choice, and that I am happy and content in my own world. My inner peace and happiness comes from understanding my needs and desires. It is difficult to explain but I'll try.

I love living within my own head. Thoughts passing through make me smile, they cheer me up, intrigue me, fascinate me, and excite me. My stimulus comes from within, I don't need external forces to say, 'hey, come out and play'.

I think of my mind as being like a huge cavern, there are lots of passageways and lots of places to explore. I wander through it, sometimes in the dark, and then a light goes on, aha, yes, that's the answer. It all makes sense now. My mind is my friend. How can that be, you may say. Easy, I like to learn and to understand. I read, I study, I enquire, I watch and I listen, then mull things over, and it all becomes clear. I am at peace with myself. Think happy thoughts and you will be happy, wherever you are. Have a lovely Christmas. X

Wednesday 22 December 2010

My non Christmas shopping

I have just got back from my weekly shop and the supermarket was heaving. I say weekly shop because it wasn't a Christmas shop, I have no wish to join the frenzy and strip the shelves bare of all things Christmas. I just want my normal bits and bobs thank you very much.
Fresh veg is the main thing I went for, my body craves vegetables. I was shocked at how much some of the prices have shot up, the bad weather has probably got something to do with that. I looked for potatoes, I can usually get a big bag for around £1, but the cheaper varieties were in bigger bags and more expensive, so I went for four jacket potatoes for 70p. I don't need onions or carrots because I have some, so I got Value parsnips for 80p, and Value broccoli for 55p. When you choose broccoli you must pick the one with the shortest stubbiest stalk, bypass the ones that are all stalk. The cauliflowers were an astronomical price, not this week then. Instead I chose a little treat, a butternut squash for 77p, and a celeriac for 99p, pushing the boat out eh!
Iceberg lettuce was £1, that's too much, so I got a round lettuce for 57p. I never buy fresh tomatoes in the winter, anything other than British tomatoes are tasteless. Bags of sprouts were a bit expensive, so I put a few loose ones in a bag which weighed in at 60p. So that was my lot at the veg counter.
I got my usual Value bran flakes at 77p, in my opinion just as good as the branded Kellogs. I thought I might have a change of fruit juice, I usually buy the Value cartons of orange or apple at 62p. But looking at the others on offer, they cost so much more, I just couldn't bring myself to pay the extra price, so I went for the usual.
I checked the reduced bread section but I couldn't see any wonderful savings, I was a bit too early for the final reductions. I have bread in the freezer so that will last me. I did however get a packet of reduced wraps, I haven't had these before so that will make a change.
Whiskas dry cat food is on special offer so I got a couple of boxes for £4, and I also found some reduced turkey fillets for the cats for 89p. They will love them for a treat. A bag of cat litter found it's way into the trolley as well, not as cheap as Morrisons but I can't be bothered to drive to the other end of town to get some.
The most expensive item in my trolley was the jar of Marmite at £2.72. I love this but I don't get it very often as it is too dear. I view this as a treat, and it's time I had some.
I am coming to the end of my free sachets of face cream, given to me ages ago by my friend, so I need to buy a jar now. After studying the skin care section I picked out a little pot of Vitamine night cream for 72p.
I also decided to get some bath foam. I have been using up all the oddments of hair conditioner in the bath, it works a treat and makes the water soft. I wouldn't normally buy bath foam, but after looking on the baby section I found just the thing. Tesco Baby Bath for 13p. While I was there I thought I might as well have the Baby Lotion also for 13p, and the Baby Shampoo for 20p. Oh look, there is some Johnsons baby moisturising cream for 94p. So that's my toiletries sorted out for the next year.

So for £28.85, I got my weekly shop, it may even be enough to take me into the new year. It gets harder all the time to get the best bargains, but it's a job that has to be done. It is so ingrained in me now to study prices, I can't bring myself to pick things up willy nilly. Every item in my trolley has to be the very best that I can get for the least amount of money. It's as simple as that. I have no Christmas food at all because I don't want any. The only treats I have is a bottle of wine, and a small festive fruity spiced cake for 75p. That will do me just fine.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

The aliens have landed

I went to catch a bus into town yesterday, and it never arrived. I was chatting at the bus stop with Cara who lives opposite me, we were both stamping our feet because we were so cold, when I said, 'lets try and hitch a lift with the next car that comes along.'

Lo and behold, the next car that came around the corner stopped, what luck, it was Janet and Paul my cat loving friends. What a coincidence, in we hopped and got a lift to town. Was this an example of the power of thought, if you wish for something you will get it. Cosmic ordering I think they call it, you have to start off by wishing for small things, then increase the size of your wishes untill you get the jackpot.

Anyway, I digress. I went to the 20 21 Arts Centre to see a new exhibition, it's on till the 12th of March, so plenty of time to go back later for another look. I was there for ages, mesmerized by it, and thought I would post the photo's here so you can see for yourself.

The artist, Paola McClure, was born in Dundee and is the daughter of Scottish painter David McClure. She studied illustration and print making and spent may years as an art teacher, before taking time out to raise a family. Later she began experimenting with small scale mixed media, and then decorated a full sized coffin, which started her off creating full sized textile sculptures.

You can check out her web site if you want to read more about her.

She starts her scultures by building a wooden frame, then adding wire, foam which is trimmed to the correct shape with an electric carving knife, and finally wadding. This basic structure is then ready for the fabric to be stretched and stitched in place.

Some of the seams are stitched so carefully that they are almost invisible, but a lot are sewn in contrasting thread so they are highly visible. Her alien like creatures are fascinating.What struck me was that she appears to have let her mind wander aimlessly as she constructed these pieces. No two eyes are the same. There are long arms, short arms, or no arms. Two legs or four legs. Her interesting mix of colours and textures works very well.

Have a look for yourself, enlarge the photo's to see the stitching, and tell me what you think.

The first one is called, A Walk in the Woods. It has several creatures, and trees, in plain fabric. One of the creatures has been eating berries.

Close ups of heads.........

This is the coffin, or casket if you prefer. I quite fancy one of these for myself.
Inside the bottom....

Inside the top........

And the whole thing standing upright......

An alien with no body.......

Very slender bodies with large heads........

And four legs........

This is a section of the back of a dolls house, it stands over eight feet high......

And the whole back..........

And the front......

Some very large heads.....

As you can see a large part of the 20 21 Arts Centre is housed in a church. The futuristic aliens against the backdrop of the traditional stone and windows of St John's church is an interesting combination. It works well.

All the sculptures are of human size, children or adults, it is quite awesome. If this exhibition comes to your area, it's well worth a visit.

Chatting on the phone is more fun

I'm doing my very best to ignore it. Only five days to go and as yet I haven't spent any money on it, except for sending two cards through the post, one for my sister and one for my best friend.

I do wonder if I am being terribly mean though because people have sent me cards, should I send them one back? I go through this every year, wait untill the last minute, then usually give in. I wouldn't mind if no one sent me a card as Christmas is banned in this house. I can't understand why I get cards from people who I haven't seen for twenty years, and we haven't spoken on the phone or emailed each other at all throughout the whole time. Why do they keep wasting their money?

It's not that I don't want to keep in touch. I sometimes think back about people who have popped into my life in the past, and wonder what they are up to. I have tried to keep friendships going with the odd phone call now and then, just to catch up for old times sake. But it has always been me doing the dialling, in the end I just give up.

It bugs me to get a card year after year, with the briefest of greeting, from someone who has moved on, and neither of us has the foggiest idea what each other is doing. Should I be pleased that someone has thought about me? What is the point in keeping up the ritual?

I think I might dig up a few phone numbers in the new year, and give them a call, to to say sorry for not sending them a card. At least I will be making an effort, and it won't cost me any extra if I ring after 6pm. If Royal Mail put up the price of their postage stamps any more, maybe everyone will think more carefully about who to send cards to next year. We all might as well save our money and chat on the phone.

Monday 20 December 2010

Is it cold? Not if you go for a brisk walk.

No dog this morning but I still went out for a walk. We haven't had any more snow here but there is still some hanging around from about a week ago, only now it is frozen and crispy. We woke up to a very hard frost which had coated everything in white icing sugar. Set against a beautiful blue sky there were some great photo opportunities. Sorry if you are sick of seeing our wintery weather, but everything is looking so beautiful, I couldn't resist a few more pics.

Tree near the bottom pub.

Looking towards the River Trent and beyond.

A weeping willow tree in the garden of the bottom pub, next to the river.

By the waters edge.

At the allotments, even the wire fencing is covered in frost

The fishing pond is frozen solid, no sign of any ducks or swans, I hope they come back when it gets warmer.

Starting to climb up the bank towards the village. This tree was blown over about a year ago blocking the footpath. Someone cut it up with a chainsaw.

Aren't they pretty, our countryside is beautiful.
And last but not least, the trees at the bottom of my garden.