Skype virgin

skype_logo-580x367I’ve never liked being caught on camera and I’m, well, let’s just say I’m a bit of a disaster when it comes to all things technical, so the whole Skype thing has never grabbed me.

Until now.

I have a friend who lives in America. We’ve known each other for about a decade, but we’ve never met, and we’ve never spoken in person.

Until tonight.

Tonight, she persuaded me to try Skype. Ostensibly so our kids (who write to each other) can talk in person every now and then, but of course, I had to check it worked, so tonight, I downloaded Skype and she sent me an invite, and, hey presto! we were talking face to face!

It was such a lovely surprise to see her smiling face and actually hear her voice at the same time. Another of her friends was on too, so I got introduced and we chatted for a little while.

I could get used to this!

Thank you, S, for introducing me to the joys of Skype. Let’s not wait another ten years to speak in person again!

World Book Night 2015 is coming!

WBN logo in headlineFor the fourth year running, I have happily been chosen as a giver for World Book Night, which happens on 23rd April.

As a WBN Volunteer, I will be handing out copies of Skellig by David Almond to various people.

I’m very excited and honoured to be accepted as a giver once again. I hope this wonderful book will encourage parents to read with and/or to their kids, as I do with Tadpole and Choochie – I feel it’s a book that has much that could promote discussion in families as well as being enjoyed by everyone together. I certainly plan to read it with Tadpole.

skelligWhen a move to a new house coincides with his baby sister’s illness, Michael’s world seems suddenly lonely and uncertain. Then, one Sunday afternoon, he stumbles into the old, ramshackle garage of his new home, and finds something magical. A strange creature – part owl, part angel, a being who needs Michael’s help if he is to survive. With his new friend Mina, Michael nourishes Skellig back to health, while his baby sister languishes in the hospital.

But Skellig is far more than he at first appears, and as he helps Michael breathe life into his tiny sister, Michael’s world changes forever . . .

Skellig won the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children’s Book Award and is now a major Sky1 feature film, starring Tim Roth and John Simm. David Almond is also winner of the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen award.

Skellig is a truly magical piece of storytelling and a book loved by young and old alike. It’s something like a modern fairytale celebrating the redemptive power of love and the imagination, strange and beautiful friendships and the natural world. Great for introducing young adults to the pleasure and power of reading.

Organization to the point of madness


It’s strictly on the hush-hush!

I have begun preparations for Tadpole’s 7th birthday party.

After last year’s great success of a rockpooling party at a lighthouse (where they got to climb right to the top of the lighthouse too!), I knew it would be tough to come up with something as exciting to match, or even beat, that. Because it was awesome. Really, it was. Even the adults thought so!

I got my thinking cap on, and once again, hit lucky when I spotted something by complete chance that I just knew Tadpole would love!

So I went ahead and sent a message asking for details. I got them. I am delighted with everything it entails. I booked it. Now I just have to find a venue for it, and I have an idea of where to go for that too, so I’ll be calling there this afternoon to find out availability and price for that.

I’ve already done a mock-up of a design for the invitations and I’m rather pleased with how they look.

Tadpole’s birthday is at the end of September.

Yes, I’m THAT organized! I like everything to be in place so I can quit worrying about it and just get on with having fun.

Of course, I’m not going to reveal what theme this year’s party will have – it will be a super-dooper-surprise that will be revealed when the invitations go out. Well, I don’t want anyone else stealing my idea, do I?!

So, till then, I shall leave you all in suspense. It’s nice having a little mystery. And I know Tadpole will be absolutely delighted again, and that’s the most important thing. After all, you only turn seven years old once!


BLOG TOUR: The Monster That Ate My Socks by A.J. Cosmo

the monster that ate my socksTitle: The Monster That Ate My Socks
Author: A J Cosmo
Publisher: Thought Bubble Publishing
First Published: 27 January 2012 (Kindle)
No .of pages: 30

Synopsis (from Amazon):
What happens to all those socks that go missing? Monsters eat them of course!

I read this with my six-year old son, Tadpole, and he absolutely loved it. The pictures were great, featuring the funny little sock-eating monster, but not the little boys in the story, meaning my son could better picture himself as part of the action.

The story is short, but engaging and fun, and it has a good, strong message not to judge a book by its cover; not everyone is how you expect them to be from their looks. It also imparts an example of being good, kind and helpful to others, which is always nice in a story aimed at children.

We enjoyed reading it together and will certainly look out for other titles in this series.


athletic_gym_gymnasium_exercise_311481Yesterday I didn’t really feel like going to the gym. I had penciled it into my diary for an afternoon session, but I was toying with the idea of not going, as I was feeling a bit tired and lethargic. Then I remembered I was booked in with one of the personal trainers at 2.30pm, so I HAD to go.

So, I got changed into my gym kit, packed my gym bag, and set off to the sports centre.

I got into the gym at 2.25pm and surprised my instructor (called Jordan) by not only being on time, but being early. Of course, if he’d known me at all (which he didn’t, because this was the first time we’d met), he would have known that’s just how I am – I have to be early for everything or I get panicky and feel ill.

We started by sitting down together and discussing my goals – to shed the pounds slow and steady, at the rate of a pound a week – which he said was very sensible and a very attainable goal. I figure if I aim for a pound, it’s not only quite attainable, but there will be some weeks I bust that I shed more, which will make me happy and give me a boost. This is essential, as I want to lose more than 5 stones to hit goal (yes, I have let myself become lardy, but I’m not going to stay that way!).

We then talked about how I want to achieve that – I told Jordan I had already dropped just over a stone by changing my diet and I am logging everything on My Fitness Pal (which made him very happy, because he recommends that site to most of his clients apparently – I don’t blame him, it’s an excellent resource), and that my plan is to hit the gym two to three times a week, for sessions of around 45 minutes to an hour each time. I also told him I was very into weights and liked to lift heavy. This also made him happy, because it intimated I’d done my homework and knew (as I do, of course!), that lifting heavy ain’t gonna turn me into Arnie Shwarzenegger – that just doesn’t happen to women without major additional testosterone!

Then he got me set up on the tracking system which links to all the machines, both cardio and weights.

From this point on, I was working, and working hard. Jordan really put me through my paces on the cardio, setting me up on the stationary cycles, the treadmill and the elliptical walkers, and setting me targets for the 10-15 minutes I was on each.

Of course, me being me, I couldn’t just coast at the level of target he had set, I had to exceed it. And not just by a little, I had to push it hard. For example, I had been set a target on the cycle of staying above 75rpm for the entire 15 minutes. So I did my damndest to make sure it stayed above 80rpm the whole session. At the end, he told me I’d actually stayed above 85rpm almost the whole time and went as high as 95rpm for a part of it too.

Then he set me up on several weights machine designed to target large muscle groups, showed me how to use them with good form, and set me a target of 3 sets of 12 repetitions on each. Of course, not having done weights in 2 1/2 years, my ability to lift heavy has gone down the tubes and I’m starting from scratch, so even the weights I considered very low were a little challenging, and I totally felt it during the last few reps of each set.

When we were done, Jordan made my day by saying he’d never seen anyone push so hard on a first session and that I had impressed him with my determination. It made me very proud of myself, and made me even more determined to work every bit as hard, if not harder, at my next session. He then told me that we’d have another chat about goals in a month’s time, or sooner if I felt I was ready to step things up earlier than that, and that he’d be keeping an eye on my progress through the system. Of course, that means no slacking off – as if I would!

It as a great session and I am really, really glad I went along to the gym after all. I left the place pouring with sweat, but feeling invigorated, and it reminded me how great it feels to give my body a really good work out.

Surprisingly, today I don’t feel all that achy (so far!), so I guess my muscles are starting to remember (after a couple of light sessions last week) that they are muscles and they have a job to do. I have now firmly written in the diary another session for Thursday afternoon, and another for Saturday afternoon, and nothing short of accident or family emergency will keep me away!

Thank you, Jordan, for giving me some good, strong targets, and pushing me yesterday – it was exactly what I needed! See you in a month’s time when I will need some much higher goals, because I am determined to blow these ones out of the water!

And now, I leave you all with a bit of Spandau Ballet, singing about being sweaty and muscly, because it’s a great track and makes me smile. :)

A new challenge…


The sign on my fridge, just to remind me!

My 52 things in 52 weeks list of challenges is going rather well: Fourteen challenges are now completed (not bad for under two months!), and some others are part way through (some of those will take all year, but some are half done already).

This week I decided it was time to try being vegetarian for a week. The first year I did these challenges (back n 2013), one of them was to be vegetarian one day every week for the year, which I did. I like a lot of vegetarian food anyway, so that wasn’t too difficult to do and I enjoyed it, but I have never consciously chosen only vegetarian foods for a longer period.

So, this week, starting today, no meat or fish will pass my lips (eggs and dairy produce is allowed – I’m not going vegan). I already almost had a slip up at lunch time while making Hubby a sandwich with leftover roast chicken – it was an automatic reaction to snaffle a teensy piece for myself, but I remembered with that tender morsel of chicken half way to my lips and I put it down. This was despite the notice I put up on the fridge last night to remind me! That’s going to be the challenge – remembering not to eat meat. Because I like meat. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I love meat, and I eat it most days as part of at least one meal each day. To go for a whole week – breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, and all snacks – meat free is going to take conscious effort.


Breakfast this morning: Natural Greek yoghurt with a drizzle of honey, passion fruit, and dragon fruit – look how colourful! And SO delicious!

Perhaps this will lead to me being more mindful as I eat and more discerning in my choices. It will also give me the motivation to try out some new recipes (another challenge on the list!). I have a wonderful Jamie Oliver recipe book that has some delicious looking meat-free meals gracing its pages, and I’m more than tempted by quite a few of them. It has already lead to my trying something new, and I hope to continue that too (another challenge to cross of the list soon!).

Who knows, if this goes well, perhaps next year I’ll try going vegetarian for a month. Then the next year I might be vegetarian for the whole year – one never knows where it could lead! I just have to make sure I still get enough protein as the week progresses. This could take some inventive thinking!

Getting organised

I’ve always been one of those people who likes to be organised. All appointments, play dates, visits to local attractions, holidays, etc are added to the family calendar and my diary to keep everyone right on where they’re supposed to be and when they’re supposed to be there. And now that I’ve joined a gym in order to get as healthy as I can be, that goes for gym sessions too.

I’ve just gone through my diary till the end of the quarter (which is when the timetables change) and written in three gym sessions every week, along with a weekly Aquafit class with my buddy. On top of that, I’ve added all the other exercise classes I might be able to make on Hubby’s days off, or if he gets home early from work. I don’t think I’ll make many of those, but the gym three times a week and that Sunday night Aquafit session are set in stone, barring illness, accident, or dire emergency.

Now that I have them all in my diary, I feel even more positive that I have a good, solid plan in place to get me where I want to be. And that can only be a good thing!

Disappointment… and excitement

4454911-female-excercise-silhouettes-gym-exercise-fitnessMy ballroom and Latin American dance class has been cancelled permanently, and I am absolutely gutted. We only had the first class, then the next two were cancelled due to a family bereavement. It was going to be back on this week, but then the teacher had another family emergency and the centre hosting it has cancelled it completely. They’re keeping everyone’s details in case the class runs again at a later date, but I am absolutely gutted about it.

However, next week I will begin my aquafit class with my buddy, which is going to be loads of fun, and today I went out and bought two pairs of yoga pants, several baggy tops, and a pair of trainers (just a cheap pair), and checked out the price of membership at a small gym just 10 minutes walk from my house. I will go along tomorrow for an induction and to see if the atmosphere there is comfortable (if it’s not, there’s a larger gym 30 minutes walk from the house I could try – the same place I’ll be going to my aquafit class).

As added incentive I have promised myself a new pair of all singing, all dancing, super fantastic trainers after the Easter holidays if I can get into a routine of going regularly by then. The plan is to go to the gym a couple of times a week and to the aqua fit class once a week too. I might even pick up another class somewhere along the line – I quite fancy trying zumba…

So, although I’m sad the dance class has completely fallen through, it’s not all bad – and I’m excited about all the other stuff going on. Especially as I’ve arranged with hubby to mind our youngest son in the afternoon and pick up our eldest from school tomorrow so I can go to the gym! I’m reclaiming my body as of now!

Continuing to tangle…

I’m becoming quite obsessed with zentangle-inspired art (or ZIA, as it is apparently known!). I bought a pack of ten plain note cards with envelopes last Friday and have now decorated all of them and had a real blast doing them. Letting my pen drift over the surface as it will is very relaxing and creating something quite beautiful at the end of it is a great feeling of accomplishment. Here are the cards I’ve completed. I’ll definitely be getting hold of more, as I’d like to make birthday cards, anniversary cards, Xmas cards… the possibilities are endless!