Thursday, 7 January 2021

New Year :: New Hope

Hello Lovelies, we are having some properly cold weather here at the moment. The frost has not melted all day today. It is pretty but I do worry chilly temperatures will help the virus to spread.
 Also I'm a bit miffed we didn't get a cold snap like this last January, when I was starting my 2020 temperature blanket. I use lilac and purple colours for negative degrees Celsius and they are so pretty. At least it's seasonal this year...the weather is behaving as it should, even if nothing else is. 

On New Years Eve it was so cold that I wasn't keen to go out in the garden and join Eldest's fire celebration. But in the end it was really lovely and not cold at all, sitting by the heat of the fire. He also cooked some Haloumi on the flames using a battered old frying tasted soooooo good.

Middle son saw me trying to get a half decent moon photo through the thin cloud. He set up my tripod and managed this, which I was impressed with considering the mist...and smoke :0)

 Four days into the new year it was announced we needed another lockdown here in England....not surprising to me as I'm a little bit data obsessed regarding Covid. It's a morbid fascination and not a helpful habit, but I feel the need to know. I've lived a lockdown type life since I retired in the summer, well 99% of the time. Not been in a shop more than a handful of times, nor in anybody else's house or a pub/restaurant/café.

 It hasn't felt like a hardship...well except mum and I did enjoy our afternoon cafe visits pre pandemic. Last summer she would come and sit in our garden and I'd provide tea and homemade cake. But that's all off at the moment. 

 Day to day I do enjoy my slow days though. I've rediscovered a love of ironing....which I used to manage little of when the boys were growing up and I was working. Simple tasks like this are therapeutic, if you have the time 

And my tea towel drawer looks so nice :0)

Being home all the time it's nice to have different things for lunch, not a packed sandwich at work. This was the last of the posh cheese we had over Christmas, which I have attempted to make more healthy by adding fruit :0)

 Yesterday the kitchen (which has no radiator) was so cold I resorted to baking to warm it up a bit. Nothing healthy about this ginger cake....ooops :0)

But treats are allowed, right. Just look at this mixture. Yummy

I also finished off my homemade mince meat by making one final batch of mince pies. These have almost all gone already...they are so popular. Eldest said they were the best I had made this year. I squeezed in more filling to use it up....that's obviously the secret.

My walking is going really well at the moment...what with a new exciting challenge and all that. I'm somewhere between Penzance and Truro in Cornwall at the moment ( that's 27 miles in ) in my virtual LEJOG walk

It was rather muddy but sunny yesterday, despite the cold. 

A small win of lockdown is that there is no golf balls to dodge as all sport ( except elite) is banned.

So I can wander across the fairways in safety (it is a public footpath).

I've also been making myself some new mittens. They are made with two strands of yarn held together to make them nice and chunky.

And the right hand is specially modified for phone photography :0)
 Looks a bit odd but it's better than taking my glove on and off or just wearing wrist warmers, which make your fingers and thumb cold.

It's all pretty wintry out there right now, but these catkins caught my eye.

And the roads are quiet again, due to our stay at home order.

There's so much light in the woodlands.

It illuminates any remaining greenery.

Testing my balance. Suck in those abdominal muscles Jacquie!

Phew, made it. Time to clean my boots. 

Oh dear a wet foot.

My faithful old wellies had split...sad times.

Back home these pretty violas on my doorstep brought back a smile.

Oh and I see Amazon has been :0)

And indoors I'm on the edge of my temperature blanket. Ta dah to follow shortly...I hope.

Crochet and sticky ginger cake, the perfect reward for a chilly winter walk and a wet foot.

Recipe's good!

I'm writing this post while admiring my Devon calendar....I'll be virtually walking there in a bit :0)....and we have dared to book an actual visit in September! It's a "cheap as chips" caravan mini break....but you have got to have something to look forward to I think. Got to have hope.

There's hope for my wellies too, as the husband has cleverly patched up two holes with bits of old inner tube and strong glue. I'm impressed and hope it lasts as they are old friends.

The main hope I wanted to mention in this post though was.....Mum (who's 90) has got a covid vaccination appointment very soon!!.....woo hoo!!
 That's seriously exciting and brings us so much hope for 2021. I know it's not the end of this whole scary saga....but it feels like a huge step in the right direction. Thank goodness.

Jacquie x

Sunday, 3 January 2021

My 2021 walking Challenge :: walk 1111 miles

 Hello Lovelies, 

Happy new year to you all. As promised I'm back with the details of this year's walking challenge.

For the past 6 years I have challenged myself to walk 1000 miles in the year, inspired by THIS great incentive organised by Country Walking magazine. I don't officially pay to join or anything. I just use the goal to motivate my self to get outside. I always simply record my daily total on a calendar bought specifically for this purpose.

 How do I know how far I've walked? In the early days I used an online mapping site like THIS to plot my routes and work out distances. Now I either do a route I know the length of, or  check the steps on my phone, or do a guestimate based on the amount of time a walk has taken. It really doesn't worry me if I'm a bit out. But I think I tend to err on the side of underestimating, generally. Cheating only cheats me after all.

Last January I started the year by setting my goal a bit higher.  Could I walk 1100 miles? It seemed a good idea to change things up a bit. Then came the pandemic and lockdown. I took to using our treadmill in the shed and counting those miles as the busy footpaths seemed too scary. So frustrating. I've never been scared to walk alone, but now I was scared of an invisible enemy.

My walking group had to stop and so did any long walks. But I also had more time on my hands due to my retirement, so lots of short walks, done at quiet times of the day were possible....if not that relaxing!

In the end I managed 1000 miles by late November and just managed to squeeze in 1100 miles by December 31st. YAY! The pictures in this post so far are from that final walk of 2020. On a stunningly gorgeous frosty morning.

Of course living as we are, through the worst pandemic in living history, most of the miles were done straight from my front door. We did have a short seaside break in July...a return to Swanage in Dorset, which again was not the most relaxing holiday, but it was a positive in the year.

 Before the second lockdown in November hubby, eldest and I also went for a memorably beautiful and windy walk on Stanage Edge in the Peak district. Somewhere I've always wanted to didn't disappoint. The moors will always have a special place in my heart, being the landscape of my childhood.

Anyway...I'm finally getting round to this year's goal:0) 

As I mentioned in my previous post I'm currently finding  great benefit from a daily aerobic workout. It's not that I think any less of walking, I just think the two compliment each other.

 At the same as time I was considering if it would be beneficial to include workouts and walking as one goal I got an Instagram advert for THIS challenge. Oh, it's 1084 miles to walk from Lands End to John o'Groats...that got me thinking 💡😊.

 In the end I found THIS informative and entertaining blog about an actual completed walk, which used national trails where possible and was 1111 miles long....YES!!! that's a great goal. Slightly longer than this year's and I liked all the ones :0)

This version of basically the same challenge also adds a bit of interest in a year when, lets face it, we still may not be able to journey far....well not for a few months anyway.  A virtual walk, the length of the UK , done mostly on my local paths seemed ideal. And maybe, just maybe, I might even get to walk a few miles of the actual route at some point....all being well....fingers crossed and all that!

In the end I decided I would allow 1 mile towards my goal for a 20 minute workout. Who knows if I will go off the workouts ( entirely possible ), but at least this way there's no conflict. I'm not going to talk myself out of doing them due to the need to walk. At the same time, even if I workout every day the majority of my challenge will still be outdoors, "boots on" .

So once again I'm starting a new walk tracking calendar, but this year I also have a route I printed from Mark's blog.

This means as I progress I'll note where I would have been walking if I was doing the actual Lands End to John o'Groats challenge. It just adds a bit of interest and fun.

So a close up of my calendar looks like this. W is for workout, then there's miles actually walked and the combined distance in column one. Then there's my running total for the year so far in column 2. The third column is for me to record where "I am" on the route....

Lets hope I reach John o'Groats  by the end of the year :0)

In a message I received on my phone on new year's eve, my good friend wrote (amongst other kind things) "fitness is your friend" . 
She may have meant that as a general comment. Fitness is everybody's friend it's true. But I think she knows I need this this focus. I need to keep challenging myself like this for the sake of my mental as well as physical health.

I'm so grateful my general health is still good and I can do these things in my mid 50's.

I do hope this may have inspired you to set your own matter how big or small.

Jacquie x

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Year's End

 Hello Lovelies, I do hope you enjoyed this year's  unusual Christmas.

 Ours was most relaxing. Opening presents, cooking for one household only. Playing traditional's the one day a year...except holidays sometimes....when I can get the family to all join in.

This was taken before the boys woke up on Christmas morning. I love setting the table, though as you can see it's modestly festive.

The evening saw us playing scrabble and it all suited me very well. I did feel sorry for the boys, who are used to enjoying a big family gathering on Christmas day. There's always lots of Uncle banter, hanging with their cousins and and attention from their Nanna. They are very fortunate.

Home is no hardship for me. Especially at the moment.  Most evenings you can find me in PJ's, catching up on my temperature blanket. Not long to go now. This one only uses weekly high and low temperatures to decide the colours, so it's not a big commitment. It is getting rather huge though!

We have been blessed with quite a few sunny days and I always try and make the most of our short daylight hours.

My festive hat had lost it's bobble. Time for a colourful replacement.

Why go for plain when you can wear a rainbow!

As well as walking I've been counteracting the festive baking and snuggling with a daily morning workout. I'm sharing this as I have to thank Lucy at Attic 24 for introducing me to Lucy Wyndham Read 

I just love these short and simple workouts. No getting on the floor...hurray

Lots have a beginner and intermediate option

And there are so many to choose from.

I do two every morning, always followed by the cool down stretch.

I really love the motivation Lucy WR brings, and her focus on health and wellbeing over appearance.
Mostly I love how effective these workouts are. Recently I had got quiet the "jelly belly" which I was accepting as an age thing, wrong!
After a few weeks I can really feel the difference in my strength and balance. I can walk through slippery mud and generally feel pretty steady on my feet...probably jinxed myself there I know!! 
I'm not catching myself leaning on the work surfaces in the kitchen and it feels so easy to get up from sitting on the sofa. As I'm post menopausal now I think it's wonderful to be able to reverse some of the natural muscle loss. The workouts are enough to make me pleasantly out of breath and a bit sweaty so I feel they must be helping tone up my cardio-vascular system  too....and we all need a healthy heart don't we.

I'm certainly not about to stop walking though, as I love it and feel it has many health benefits too. I'll  be challenging myself to walk 1000 miles in 2021.....though I have an idea to change that up a bit next year....more on that soon :0)

On Tuesday morning we woke to snow, so there was no stopping me going out for a walk as soon as I could!

Our garden looked pretty.

And so did the countryside.

There was just enough snow to make the world look magical

My favourite church in the snow...lovely.

So quiet, just eldest and I, listening to our creaky footsteps.

I couldn't find my gloves, in my hurry to get out, so I was wearing my wrist warmers, made ages ago and looking rather sorry for themselves. 

I've since made a new pair...and changed the design somewhat....I'll share them next time.

Wishing you a Happy New Year Lovely people.

My sincere hope is that 2021 sees the tide of virus infections recede enough for us to relax a bit and enjoy some of the simple pleasures we are currently missing. 

I do hope you are coping ok and managing to stay positive.
Jacquie x