My fat year: Ditching the sugar

Not my “magic” jeggings, but a good pair all the same. Brilliant for walking in, and fit in wellies too. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The year started fairly well with us both losing weight quite quickly. The poet lost a lot more than me in a lot less time – he’s lost almost 2 stone (28lb), and it’s staying off, although he’s plateauing at the moment. I lost around half a stone (6 – 7lb) and was delighted when I dropped down into the next stone-zone.

But then the year went a bit pear-shaped and sensible, regular eating went almost totally out of the window.

Three of our 4 parents ended up in 3 different hospitals at the same time, in 3 different towns, 2 of which were 100 miles away. The poet started to look for a new job, and that also meant that we needed to find somewhere else to live. So we had new job + house-hunting and subsequent moving thrown into the mix.

Everything settled down, with the final dregs about 3 weeks ago, and the parents are all well and healthy and back home. However, things in boxes still means we’re not sorted yet, even if life is sorted.

On Saturday we were going out, and lots of our clothes are still packed. I struggled to find something to wear, and the jeans that I did put on resulted in a massive belly overhang! So those came off and I put some magic jeggings on instead (leggings/jeans) that hold everything in.

This morning I weighed myself and was disgusted to see I’ve put a further pound on this week, on top of the 3½lb I’d already gradually put on again. I’m still lighter than I was when I started, but straight away I want to lose 4½lb to get down to a level stone again.

This morning I took all new measurements. Then I found a 30-minute Hatha yoga video on YouTube for beginners and did that before I did anything else.

I don’t want a fad diet as I don’t believe they work. Only the 5:2 diet has been successful for me, but I think it’s easier to do when you’re on your own or if the person/people you live with are doing it with you.

What I do want to do is reduce the amount of sugar I eat. I have a very sweet tooth, but I’m horrified when I see how much sugar a cheese sandwich or a pint of milk have in them. If I want sweet, then I want to get it from sweets or cakes, not savoury foods. I want it to be blatant, hit-you-in-the-face sugar, not hidden away in something that has no right to have sugar in it.

I’ve rejoined Weight Loss Resources and may pay for their continued membership. It’s not expensive, and they have a nutrition calculator to give me a rough idea of how much sugar (and other things) I’m eating.

Diet sites are all well and good, and if they work, great. But I get annoyed when they’re constantly thrusting their own products down your throats, and many of the diet plans they run aren’t very flexible. I don’t want a diet plan, and it’s difficult to work out calories, etc, when you make a lot of food yourself from scratch – I really don’t have time to input ALL of the ingredients. So I’ll use WLR for guidance, but it won’t break the bank while I do so.

I’ve been researching the low/reduced sugar and sugar-free diets and diet books that are available too, but they just seem to replace one sugar with another. And because they’re American or Australian, there are ingredients I’ve never even heard of, let alone ingredients we’ll have to make a special trip to a health store for.

BUT … I am reducing the sugar and the fat I put in things I cook myself. And compared to how much sugar is in a shop-bought loaf of bread, for example, the poet only adds 1tsp of sugar to his recipe for TWO loaves, and he may start reducing that. We’re not really cutting out fats either, just the ones that are bad for you. This means we still have cream and butter. It’s the sugar we both want to cut down on.

Wish us luck, then. And do let me know if you’re doing your own diet and how you’re getting along.

Minor temporary disaster

So, the brand spanking sparkly new 3-in-1 printer I bought from part of my recent winnings stopped working yesterday.

The good news was it waited until it had printed the 78,000-word job I wanted to start hard copy editing next.

The bad news was the gig list needed doing and a lot of the gigs were in a Word document, for printing, for ease of copy typing. (Blogger doesn’t like copy & paste and, anyway, the entries needed inserting into an already alphabetical list.)

The good news was I managed to fix it by hijacking some similar drivers online when I couldn’t find the exact make and model.

The bad news was I lost more than an hour of work time.

The good news was, the gig list got done and was posted at about 5:30pm.

I finished work at 6:30pm, went to do the weekly shopping and to check on the other house, came back for a very quick tea (at gone 9pm! – that’s far too late for me), and settled back down at the computer to try and email the recently completed 80,000-word book to the author and the client …

Only it was too big for my new Windows (8, for those interested) to send. And Yahoo forced me to open a Dropbox account. I finished work again at 10pm.

I hate having to store anything anywhere that isn’t within my complete control. I’ll continue to use the Dropbox account for when Yahoo refuses to send anything for me, but I won’t be putting anything personal on there. The new Windows setup also wants me to open a Cloud account, but I won’t be doing that either.

Call me a bluff old cynic, but you do hear these horror stories of various individuals and organisations who access online guff like this.

But anyway, it’s fixed again now – no idea what happened, but there you go. The author acknowledged safe receipt this morning, something I asked him to do with Yahoo forcing me to open the Dropbox account.

Today, then, I have to continue with the new 78,000-word project, which was originally due in at the end of the day but with the house move is now due on Tuesday, and I’ll be doing more of that tomorrow. I find that clients are perfectly reasonable when you give them plenty of notice. Had I told them at 5pm today that I might not make it, they would have had every right to be cross. I sent the warning off on Monday and received acknowledgement – and thanks – on Tuesday.

I have an invoice to raise today too. (Hurrah!)

I also have admin to do regarding the sale of the house as the buyer’s solicitor has requested various safety certificates.

One of these safety certificates was another reason for the trip to the other house last night. I couldn’t find the latest gas safety certificate but remembered our tenant saying she’d put her copy in the kitchen cupboard. And sure enough it was still there. So I have a letter to write to the solicitor today. I’m also going to use the new (and now working) 3-in-1 printer to scan in copies of all of the certificates in case any get lost again.

This afternoon I have a dentist appointment (boo!) and a hair appointment (hurrah!). I have a poorly poet at home too (boo!). He went into work Wednesday morning and was home again within the hour. He’s spent much of the time ever since in bed and I had to pick up an electric blanket from Tesco last night because he was frozen to the core and just couldn’t get warm. He’s caught my cold, but – of course – it’s been far worse than mine was … 😉 but he’s getting better now. (Hurrah!)

Tomorrow, then, I’m working, and Sunday – all being well – there’s a trip to Birmingham that’s overdue. If he’s feeling better, we also need to go to the DIY shop to get TV cables and a new letterbox. There isn’t a proper letterbox on the new house and with the torrential rain we’ve been having over the past few days, it’s pouring in.

What are you up to this weekend?

pheasant (2)
This chap came to see what we were feeding the birds.


Back up and running

Well, it was a bit of a slog, but we made it. We still have a lot of work to do – a lot! – but at least we have one empty ex house, two empty cars and the makings of somewhere to sit, sleep, eat and work. The spare bedroom is still packed to the rafters and so is the garage. But the setting is so, so beautiful, it really was worth all the hard work.

The removals people were a nightmare. Despite being asked several times to let us know when they were going into the room the dog was in, they still let him escape – at the new house. They damaged the bigger of the 2 settees and got mud all over it. They dropped loads of bedding in the mud. They broke a toolbox and a tool chest. And they rammed everything in any old where despite everything being clearly labelled. We have spent three days this week just taking stuff out of rooms and putting it all back in some order, in the right place, and with room to move around it all.

On Thursday we hired a van to take a load of stuff over to son #1, and to fetch some furniture back that’s more in keeping with the new place than all the modern stuff we had between us. Friday morning we had to go and pay the deposit and everything. And we were back by 12 noon where the removals people had at least already been working for 20 minutes. After 2 trips with the van, 1 trip in my car and 2 trips for the poet in his car, it was gone 6pm by the time we finished. But we had to go back a day or so later to get a load of stuff that had been left, and that filled both cars with the backs down and the front seat pushed forward.

We have so much junk between us it’s untrue. But at least the weeding process has begun, with some of it being done along the way.

Since then we’ve been re-moving boxes and furniture, rebuilding furniture and rearranging everything. One job for the poet was to cut down my huge, mahoosive, wonderful desk to fit the new space. Abbey Road is smaller here than it was at the other house, but we still have the office at one end and the studio at the other … but because I needed the office to start work today, that’s been unpacked (although there are still shelves to go up and more boxes to unpack). The studio needs unpacking and connecting, but with 2 gigs this weekend, there are 2 guitars and a pedal board already accessible.

Yesterday we finished at gone 5pm but off we toddled to Doncaster to get my new computer system. We decided to spend some of my winnings on the latest gear and software to help me do my job in the most professional manner I can.

So here, for now, is how my new office looks:


Of course it’s totally useless when I have a cat who wants to be in my face:


But I’m up and running and raring to go.

Today, then, I have a finished book to take to the post office to send back to the client. I have a big non-fiction I’m in the process of editing. I have snagging for 2 books apparently on the way. And I have the odd box or bag to unpack. I also have a novel to kickstart, which was stalled during, and leading up to, the move. And I have a new Office package to get used to, as well as bookmarks to set up on the new pc, etc.

Oh, and I see the snow is back on the blog. It must be December. 🙂

I’d best crack on. Toodle pip.

Close down

Well, it didn’t get any less busy and it doesn’t look as though I’ll finish NaNo, but at least we’re finally moving house this coming Friday, so at least that’s another thing ticked of the massive to-do list.

We’re still moving 2 houses really, as the last house hasn’t properly been unpacked. And there’s still stuff over there in the loft that needs collecting. That’ll be a messy job. We also have spare furniture still to give away. And, of course, there’s all the paperwork and admin needed to sell a house, move from a different house and move into a new house.

We’re also moving an office, and a music studio. The studio was packed up last night; the office will be in boxes by this evening.

Unfortunately, the poet has managed to trap his sciatica nerve again (we think). This usually happens at a gig where he’s lifting heavy speakers and other gear. This time it happened while he was packing to come home from Scotland, and he’s still in a lot of pain and can hardly move. So, whereas we were going to hire a van and have help from his 2 sons, we’ve now decided to hire some commercial help. We’ll still need the 2 lads to help with lifting, though, so I hope they’re both still coming.

I’ve cleared the bulk of my work, submitted it, invoiced it and been paid. (Hurrah!)  But I am in the middle of a hard copy edit and I do have some author/proofreader revisions to turn around. I’m doing those today and I’ll continue with the hard copy edit where I can. We’ve been promised broadband and telephone by Monday, so hopefully the hard copy edit will be ready to go back to the author soon afterwards.

After the move, I already have in a 78,000-word edit and 3 x 30,000-word edits. PLUS we’re still awaiting an 80,000-word sequel. That should keep me busy until Christmas. 🙂

Once we move and have settled, I will also be picking my NaNo project back up. I’ve managed around 22,000 words, which is 22,000 more than I had at the beginning of November, and I want to crack on with the first draft. And then I want to have a bash at a run of short material. I submitted a filler on Monday and am waiting to hear if that’s been successful. It will be a nice kick-start if it is.

The office, then, will be closed from this evening until next Thursday morning, 4 December. Next time you see me, we’ll be safely installed in the new house.

Have a great week.

new house 19
From Friday this will be yards from our front door.


NaNoWriMo 2014 Day Fifteen – Sixteen

In only 11 days we move house. I’ve been doing loads and loads and loads and loads of washing which has, sort of, been killing 2 birds with 1 stone: firstly, the majority of stuff that goes with us will be clean and ready to use/wear; secondly, we’re having a right old clear out while we’re at it.

Of course, I had a bit of a clear out in January, and then another one in April. So much of my stuff is already weeded out and down. I still keep finding some things, though, that – actually – I know I’ll never use again.

We’re working our way down the freezer and through the food cupboards too, and anything past its sell-by/use-by date is going too. And anything that has just dregs in the bottom that we can only reach with a long implement. There’s not a huge amount of storage at the new house, so everything that we take needs to have a use.

At the weekend we had a proper blitz on paperwork too. There are some safety certificates the solicitor needs for the other house and we can’t for the life us find them – gas, electric and damp proof course.

So, this weekend alone we managed to fill another 2 charity bags and another 3 dustbin bags. But we didn’t find the safety certificates …

We didn’t do a lot else. On Friday evening the fog that had been lingering all day got steadily thicker and, as there wasn’t anywhere we had to be, we stayed in. On Saturday we only went out to do some shopping. And on Sunday we only went as far as the dustbins. We did cook on Sunday, though. I made the Christmas cake while the poet made bread, cream of mushroom soup, and a Sunday chicken dinner.

I didn’t do much work either. Even with NaNo, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really do resent working at the weekend. And before anyone jumps on me saying I should find time to do my writing, I do. But it is my job and I didn’t give up the rat race to work when I really don’t want to. And, unless there’s a deadline looming, I really don’t want to work at the weekends.

This revelation may have come this weekend because of the poet spending such a long time working away recently. But neither of us works at the weekends anyway, apart from when he’s playing in his band and I go along with them. The weekends are our time, and are already time-pressured with other stuff that needs doing.

So, while I was working through paperwork in the various cupboards and drawers in Abbey Road, I came across a previously written epilogue and author’s note for Catch the Rainbow. This morning, my first job (aside from doing washing …) was to have a go at rewriting these and adding them to the rest of the story. That’s been done now and the grand total of 850 words has been added to the running total.

While I was looking for electronic versions to edit on the computer (I’m such a lazy typist …), I found a number of letters and stories from friends who’d given me firsthand and eyewitness accounts of the key period and night in question. This is particularly welcome as I thought I’d lost one and didn’t even know I had 2 of them. I also found loads of previously planned scene notes and character notes that have all gone into the folder too. When I sit down to do today’s NaNo, I’m going to use some of this material to help. I’m a little behind and need a leg up catching up.

I do have several big editing jobs on the go at the moment, though, and had to turn one down Friday evening because she wanted it back “within the week”. Unfortunately, with a 103,000-word book, an 80,000-word book and a 30,000-word book all to edit before we move house (and lose internet connection temporarily), there was no way I could justify taking on any new work for the next 2 – 3 weeks. I also have snagging to do on 2 previously completed books as well.

I’m off to edit the big one, then, and then do some more NaNo later on. Oh yes, and more washing … Y’all keep nice and busy now.

NaNoWriMo 2014 Day Seven

We seem to be having a good week.

The new work that came in is being steadily worked through, the quick one I did on Monday has already been paid for, and the one I delivered yesterday has been acknowledged and appreciated.

The poet managed to come back from Scotland without anything wrong with him.

And NaNoWriMo is still on schedule too. This morning I cleared 11,000 words, and am only 5 shy of 12,000. I think this is the most I’ve ever managed for NaNo and, of course, the novel has taken on a new lease of life with the added contemporary scenes and more narratives from the viewpoints of different characters.

We didn’t manage another fireworks display on Wednesday because that was the day the poet came home from Scotland. Had we not been to one on Saturday, then we might have made the effort. But he was weary from travel and glad to be home. So we watched what we could from the garden, in between telling the dog to stop shouting. The dog didn’t like the fireworks at all, but he’s definitely more fearless when there’s a brick wall between him and them. The cats weren’t bothered at all, just slept through it.

This morning I signed the contract for the sale of the other house. Later today we go to the new house to measure up, to see if our furniture will fit or if we have to do some swapsies with anyone. On the way back from there we’ll probably visit his family in Doncaster. Tomorrow morning we’re off to Birmingham, and tomorrow evening we have a friend’s 50th birthday party to go to in Leeds. On Sunday I think we’ll be chilling and packing.

There definitely seems to be an end in sight to all of this busy-ness. Meanwhile we’ll continue to plod through everything at a steady pace.

Have a great weekend.

Pulling our horns in?

We received an offer on the house Tuesday evening which, after some negotiation, we finally accepted. We’re moving at the end of November too, so that means we have a lot to pay out in just under 6 weeks’ time. This means we need to pull in our financial horns …

… only last week we needed a new tyre on one of the cars, then the dog needed to go to the vet with a bad paw that seems to have turned into an infected nail bed, so he had to go to the vet again, then the poet broke one of his teeth, which probably means an extraction, and the band wagon needs essential maintenance to keep it on the road, which means band money won’t go very far this weekend either. There’s also road tax due on the other car, and a motor insurance premium to renew.

So much for pulling in our horns!

It’s going to be very tight, but hopefully I’ll clear enough work that falls due for payment before Day One of the new home, which will give the poet’s proper wage a bit of a boost. We have 2 proper pay days before we move, but there’s also Christmas to consider.

Selling the house and moving also, naturally, requires packing. This house needs packing up and the other house has a loft that still needs emptying. And the house we’re moving to is slightly smaller than the one we’re in, which also has its own complications. We may be doing some furniture swapping with one of the kids …

This week I cleared a lot of editing work that’s already been paid for. I also finished one book at the end of last week, and sent the invoice, and I’ve almost finished another that should be back with the client at the beginning of next week.

I have 2 articles with publications. One has been accepted, and will be paid for once it’s been published. The other they keep telling me they hope to include and will get back to me when they can. (Both were sent on spec, but both are simply that kind of submission that I just happened to be quite confident about.)

So, over the next 2 – 3 weeks I have the “little” book I’ve already started to edit plus another “little” one and then a “big” one. We’re also hoping another “big” comes in next week, giving me 2 of each. A week tomorrow, NaNoWriMo starts too, but I’m really going to have to do that after I’ve done the paid work. One day – one day – my writing will come first.

I think we’re staying in tonight, to conserve energy as much as cash as we’re off to Birmingham quite early in the morning. We have to be back by teatime as the poet has a gig tomorrow evening. On Sunday morning, the lady buying the other house is coming to have another look, and then Sunday teatime, the poet has another gig. He’s working down here on Monday (he has his second dental appointment then) and Tuesday, and going back to Scotland Wednesday morning. The dog is due back at the vet next Friday morning, and the poet will be back Friday teatime.

Maybe we’ll get next weekend off … Have a goodun.

new house 16
Looking forward to being able to walk around this whenever we want … (Picture: Diane Parkin)

Soon back to normal

There are only 2 more weeks, including this one, of disrupted living with the poet working up in Scotland. He’s shortening his weeks up there to 3 days, then he may just do an overnight the week after next. But there’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

On Friday we just chilled.

On Saturday we took the dog to see if he liked our new home. He loved bouncing through the fields in the long grass and we had a walk around the lake too.

new house 19
Sometimes it gets quite busy here … sometimes there might be as many as 3 fishermen … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We did some shopping, we half got ready to go out, then we supervised a viewing over at the other house.

On Saturday evening we finished getting ready and then went over to Sheffield to celebrate our friends’ wedding, who got married in Kos a few weeks ago. It really was like a who’s who of the local music scene at their party. We were able to put names to new faces of people we hadn’t yet met via the gig list, and – best of all – I was able to catch up with all of my lovely friends from my Bellhouse Road WMC days (before they closed it).

Sunday was supposed to be a chill day too, but son #1 was starting to get desperate for a half-decent telly, so we took one of our spares and the spare microwave over to his new house, had a look around, then drove him over to the poet’s parents. There he took the dog for a walk while we had something to eat. And then we dropped him back before going home ourselves.

On our way there we went back to the new house again to take some pictures, so we had something to show the family. And we timed how long the trip would take from there to poet’s son #1, poet’s daughter and poet’s parents. We also did the run from his usual work … that was down from 40 minutes to 4 minutes …

This morning I dropped him off at the station again before coming back and doing a load of online/IT stuff.

I have a new book to start editing this afternoon, and I want to grease the writing muscle some more. Once we do move, I’m already getting ideas for articles. It’s nice to see the freelance muscle doesn’t need that much oiling from that side of things.

What are you up to this week?