Saturday, 17 February 2018

A Marked Improvement

Well, much as I hate to admit it, the enforced inactivity is doing some good. My knee is much less painful and walking is easier, although this situation deteriorates as the day progresses. It's not a 'real life' situation as I'm consciously keeping my weight off my knee as much as possible but I'm now hopeful that a non-surgical route may see the problem solved. This, of course, is my own take on things as I haven't been back for the next consultation with my doctor!

It's starting to feel like I never started my fitness regime and some of the aches and pains I was experiencing prior to starting the Fitbit daily steps are back. I wasn't at a particularly high level of fitness but it was definitely making a difference to how I felt and was improving ease of movement so I'm very aware of how quickly my overall fitness level has reverted. The thing I'm holding on to is the fact that I did it once so will be able to do it again ... once I get the go ahead. In the meantime I've been searching YouTube for seated upper body exercises but so far haven't found anything suitable. 

Lady Ella's recent post about her choice for 'one little word' prompted me to look back at my word and assess my progress and I'm pleased to report that there is some! My word is 'fulfil' and one aspect of this was to complete the decluttering and home improvements, and there is progress on both fronts. Admittedly, the decluttering involved friends doing the lifting and me sitting on the sofa supervising the work, but I now have a pile of stuff to go to the skip and another pile of donations for a charity shop. I'm now in the middle of sorting through all the books I've been given; my sister passes all of her books on to me and I have two bookcases full of unread novels. I used to keep pace with her but lagged behind when I was caring for my late partner and have never been able to catch up, so I'm being ruthless and getting rid of the ones that I'll never read. I only want one bookcase in use (the other one is in my music room and I need the space for other things) so over half of the books need to go. I've also started taking photos of things to be sold, ready for listing them on eBay or Gumtree. 

As for the home improvements, the new boiler will be installed next week. I've also placed the order for the new windows and that work is scheduled for mid April. I've asked the electrician and builder for revised quotes with a view to them starting their work after the window installation is complete but I'm still waiting to hear back from them. The work may not be completed but I have started looking for ideas on decorating and for lighting in the living room - this is the best bit!

Monday, 12 February 2018

Rest, Painkillers and Ice Packs

Frustratingly, Nordic walking and my daily 10,000 steps are on hold for the foreseeable future and rest, painkillers and ice packs are the order of the day. I twisted my knee when I went to London on Jan 24th and I've been hobbling about since then, finding it almost impossible to bear weight. My doctor thinks that the most likely diagnosis is a torn cartilage. I go back to see him in a couple of week, by which time he should have the results of the x-ray and will decide on the way forward. The x-ray won't confirm the tear but will provide information on the general state of my knee - there's a real possibility that it will also confirm the start of arthritis, which is expected from symptoms I've had for a while. 

Luckily it's now half term so I have a whole week to prop my leg up and rest. Yesterday and today I've only moved to get food and drink or to use the bathroom. It's made some difference already as my knee now only hurts when I walk, but the pain goes when I sit still. Hopefully, a few days of this will see a change. The last thing I want is a surgical solution.

I've just received a text from a friend to say that the logistics for Wednesday and Thursday are sorted. We have theatre tickets for both days and I offered my tickets for one of her friends as I knew I wouldn't be able to drive to the city, park and walk to the theatre. She doesn't drive but has arranged for her son-in-law to drive us and drop us right outside the main entrance, then pick us up from the same place. She's also borrowed a wheelchair (!) so I will only have to walk along the row to get to my seat each time. That means less walking than I'd be doing at home so I'm going along with the plan. I'll still have from Friday till the following Tuesday to rest properly and then I'll have to make a decision on whether I need time off from teaching.

The problems with intermittent internet access are ongoing and it seems that some of the neighbours are having problems as well. The BT Openreach van has been in evidence over the past week but so far there's been no improvement. On top of that, Blogger seems to have a bug (it seems that lots of people are having this problem according to Google) and most days I can't view my blog, just an 'oops' screen. It also happens when I try to view other people's blogs as well, so I will have a lot of catching up to do at some stage.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt - 2nd Link Up

Apologies for the lateness of this post but I haven't had internet access for a couple of days. It's back now but is intermittent, so it's taken me all afternoon to load these few photos. I have more but have given up for now! Moaning over, here's my progress on the Winter Photographic Scavenger Hunt.

No 2 | luggage, taken in King Cross Station at the entrance to Platform 9 & 3/4. 

Also taken in Kings Cross Station this is for No 5 | passengers although it could also be used for luggage.

Next, taken at the Crammer in Devizes, this is a possibility for No 7 | on the water.

Here's one for No 11 | library, taken in one of my schools.

Back to the Crammer in Devizes and a possible shot for No 13| a line of ..., or No 17| many

Finally, one for No 15 | bow or No 23 | heart

Here's the linky - please add a link to the actual post. I look forward to seeing how everyone is getting on.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Taking Stock

Taking stock ... an overview of life at the end of January 2018.

Making ... good progress on sorting out the rest of the work to be done on the house. I'm pushing for it all to be finished this year, hopefully before the summer break. The windows will be replaced in March and the boiler will be installed next month. Once that work is done I will scheduled the work on the bathrooms, bedroom and living room but I now have a clear idea of how I want it to look so I'm on to the 'choosing' stage!.

Cooking ... not much lately. I've been using up the odds and ends in the freezer (resulting in some 'interesting' meals!) and have been eating out quite a lot. 

Drinking ... lots of water but also too much black coffee.

Reading ... check the list on 'My Bookshelf' page. I've read 14 books so far this year (although the Surviving the Evacuation books were more like short stories). We're in the process of choosing a new reading list for the book group so any recommendations will be very much appreciated.

Wanting ... to find a local choir. The one I was going to is changing to a different weekday when I have other commitments so I'm looking for a different one.

Looking ... forward to my first holiday of the year at Easter. I'm off to Lulworth Cove for a photography holiday.

Playing ... very little really. At band, as well as teaching the beginners, I've been assessing the other children individually so that we can identify skills gaps/problems, which means that I've been doing very little playing myself.

Deciding ... or trying to decide, on changes to my social life. Every time we meet it seems to involve a meal and I want to turn that round if I can. Not only to do with the expense, but I'm trying to lose weight so all this eating out isn't helping.

Wishing ... for good weather this summer. I have lots planned and I'm a 'fair weather' person!

Enjoying ... a couple of trips to the cinema to see 'The Post' and 'The Greatest Showman'. Also a trip to London to see the Harry Potter Exhibition at the British Library which was amazing.

Wondering ... whether the pain in my knee is due to an injury or just an age thing. Some days I can hardly walk and can't support any weight on that leg and other days it's just a background ache. I have a doctor's appointment booked.

Loving ... that my sister had good results at her one year check - no signs of the cancer returning.

Pondering ... changes to teaching next academic year. I'll be keeping my private pupils but at the moment am considering stopping the whole class teaching in schools.

Considering ... taking a course ... don't know what yet.

Watching ... quite a lot of TV. I splashed out on a smart TV and have been making good use of the catch up TV. I'm not too good at watching every episode of a serial when you have to wait a week to see the next part of the story so have been enjoying a few evening of back to back episodes on some of the boxed sets that are available.

Knowing ... that I can't continue with the current arrangements for Nordic walking and feeling rather down about it. I have to get to Malmesbury by 8:30 am which is about a 45 minutes drive when the roads are quiet but at that time in the morning takes well over an hour and it's too a big commitment in terms of time. It's a long way to go for a one hour walk so I'm looking for something closer to home. 

Thinking ... well to be honest, I'm trying to avoid 'thinking' about things too much. I have a tendency to overthink and I'm trying to experience the moment more and to follow my emotions/response to a situation rather than analysing what I 'should' do. 

Thursday, 18 January 2018

A Troublesome Night

Was anyone lucky enough to sleep through the noise of that wind last night? I certainly wasn't so will probably need to prop my eyelids open with matchsticks to get me through the day. I think it will be the same for everyone living close to me. 

Unfortunately it was the night to put the wheelie bins out for the cardboard and plastics collection and not many of the bins made it through the night without any mishaps. I actually heard mine take off, so at about 2 o'clock this morning I was chasing the contents of my bin up and down the street and then moving the bin back towards the shelter of the garage and side gate. I'd just dosed off again when I heard another bin being blown about followed closely by a car alarm, luckily not mine, which went on for ages. I peeked out this morning and can see that a bin from the other end of the cul-se-sac had travelled the entire length of the street and hit a parked car, which is now sporting a badly dented driver's door. 

The wind didn't give up at all during the night, although it is much quieter out there now, and all I managed in the way of sleep was to dose from time to time. I've just been out to move my bin back to the correct spot for collection -  somehow my neighbour's bin stayed upright and exactly where he left it but the content of all the others is dotted about the street and in front gardens. I suppose we should be thankful that it wasn't the household waste collection! A tree has blown down in the adjoining road but luckily doesn't appear to have done any damage and isn't blocking the road. 

I've had a quick look at the back garden and there's no damage that I can see. My fences are still standing although I can see some poor soul's fence panel near the reed bed that runs through the estate and it looks like a neighbour has lost the roof of their shed. Let's hope for a quieter night tonight!

Monday, 15 January 2018

Feeling Refreshed

Yesterday was just perfect. I didn't have any plans except to take things slowly and have a restful day. Definitely no work, no decluttering, and no rushing about was the order of the day. 

I didn't set the alarm and actually slept in until gone 10 o'clock, which is almost unheard of for me. Lately I haven't been sleeping properly and usually wake ridiculously early. I spent most of the morning finishing letters to friends, proper paper and ink letters, not email - I love sending and receiving hand written letters and don't do it often enough, although one of the recipients doesn't have a computer so I always write to him.

Lunch was a UFO (unidentified freezer object), a random selection which turned out to be fish pie. From the state of the freezer I think I went through a bad patch of not labelling things properly! Anyway, it was a pleasant surprise and very tasty too. I plonked myself in front if the TV for the afternoon and finished watching Little Women. I can't decide whether I like this latest adaptation of the book or not. Did anyone else watch it? 

After that I sank in the depth of that great time waster known as Facebook, eventually getting sidetracked by a recommendation for a book series where the first book was free on Kindle, so I downloaded it. The book, 'Surviving the Evacuation, Book 1, London' by Frank Tayell is not my usual choice. It features zombies and is a genre that usually bores me stiff, but as it was only 196 pages long I read it through in one go and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I've now bought the second book but am not sure that I'll manage to read the entire series, which is currently twelve books, though if they are all so short it shouldn't be too time consuming. 

A long soak in the bath followed by an early bedtime and a good night's sleep meant that I woke this morning feeling refreshed. I feel ready to face the week ahead, whatever it brings!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Friday, 12 January 2018

Hurray for Friday!

I've only worked on two days this week for about five hours in total and I'm rejoicing in the fact that it's the end of the working week! The children haven't really settled back into 'school behaviour' after all the excitement of Christmas so it's been quite demanding. Next week can only be better! 

There's still no sign of the editing software, which has mistakenly been sent by second class post instead of the promised 24hr courier. I'm resigned to the fact that I won't see it this side of the weekend. If the weather stays dry I'll take some photos over the weekend so that I have some to play around with ... not that I don't already have thousands of images I can use for editing practice, but it's always nice to have some new ones, isn't it.

It's band practice tomorrow morning, always good fun, and in the evening I'm going to the cinema with Julie and Lauren to see The Greatest Showman. We were supposed to go last night but settled for a takeaway and a night in front of the TV instead as Lauren needed to finish an assignment. Tonight will be lesson planning (which I've nearly finished) and then I'll carry on watching Little Women on catch up TV. 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

All About ... Editing and Breakfasts

The photography editing software didn't arrive yesterday so I've stayed at home today, waiting for the doorbell to ring and a friendly delivery driver to hand me a software sized package. Sadly, that's not going to happen today. I've just received an email apologising for the delay and confirming that the courier will be collecting the parcel from them later today so the earliest I can expect delivery is tomorrow. The only flaw is that I'll be teaching tomorrow so won't be here to accept delivery. Aargh!

I've chosen 'Lightroom' and have opted to buy the software outright rather than as a download with a monthly fee. The software was chosen on recommendation by two acquaintances, both professional photographers, and online searches seemed to back up what they are saying. Up to now I've always used the software that came with the camera for basic editing and quick tweaks, and Photoshop for the more involved stuff, and I've been happy with the results. However, as I use both Canon and Nikon cameras that meant two different editing packages and I wanted to change to a single package for both cameras, and it seems that Lightroom is the way forward. It also seems to do everything my existing editing skills ask for and more, with the exception of layers, so my use of Photoshop may take a back seat. 

I've been reading lots of the articles that appear at this time of year which discuss '20 tiny pleasures to embrace in 2018' or '23 surprising weight-loss tips'.  I'm sure you know the sort of thing I mean. At the same time the potential for changing and improving my diet/attitude to food has been on my mind, bubbling away in the background and I've decided on a way forward. The general advice is not to deprive yourself of anything but to accept that some things must be eaten in moderation. I'm okay with that approach as it's what I've tried to do before and as my diet is already restricted because of food allergies, I'm loathe to make it any more difficult. I've decided to move to a 'whole food' approach, and by that I mean to remove all processed foodstuffs from my diet. It's not paleo or clean eating or any of the other named diets, but for me just means that I'll be using ingredients that are unprocessed (as much as is possible), affordable and practical.  At the same time I want to eliminate added processed sugar.

The advice is to make the changes slowly, which having taken the time to think about it is a good approach. The suggestion is to decide which changes on which meal will afford the most improvement and start making changes slowly. For me I think it is breakfasts. I usually just have toast, occasionally a full English, and sometimes a variation on a boiled egg (egg sandwich, dippy eggs and soldiers) so my immediate focus is on coming up with at least ten new meal ideas which are quick to prepare (hopefully less than fifteen minutes), are beef and dairy free and don't all include bread as I feel I eat too much bread. Any suggestions will be very much appreciated please. I tried one of the Hairy Bikers' diet breakfasts this morning - 2 crumpets (not buttered), topped with a warm spiced soft fruit compote and a drizzle of honey. It's also supposed to have a spoonful of natural yoghurt but I left that off. It only took a few minutes to prepare, was very yummy, and kept me feeling full for four hours so I didn't want a mid-morning snack like I usually do.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

An 'At Home' Day

It's most definitely an 'at home' day today. It's warmed up considerably but it's misty, raining on and off with drizzle in between showers, and very grim and grey out there. I've managed one short walk outside (to post a letter - 385 steps, not that I'm obsessed or anything!) and my poorly toe isn't up to much exercise, so another reason to stay in. Indoors it is lovely and warm (the boiler is behaving itself today!) and I've nearly done enough to earn myself a day off from sorting/decluttering duties. 

I have to find a suitable plastic box and then all the December/Advent/Christmas goodies can be put to bed until next year. I've been rethinking things in the playroom as well. When the room was originally finished I kept all the things relating to hobbies and interests that I thought I'd still want to do but in reality I haven't looked at over half of the stuff and I think it's time to decide that certain hobbies and/or active interests are a thing of the past. This includes things like the advance music theory books and workbooks; I was studying to get my higher grades in music theory when Ced was first taken into hospital but there was never time to continue with it once he came home and the illness progressed. I'm no longer teaching to the same level and I no longer have a professional need for the qualifications, and if I'm honest with myself, I no longer have the same level of interest to just continue the study as a personal achievement. So ... it's all going. Lots of workbooks and reference books will be advertised for sale and will free up a shelf in one of the cupboards. The same applies to the watercolour paints. I'll keep the paper and the watercolour pencils but will sell the paints, which'll free part of another shelf.

Hopefully I'll get that all photographed and advertised today or tomorrow, which means that I'll have room to put the new sewing machine away with free space left over for when I start trawling through the boxes downstairs. I say 'hopefully' because the new photography editing software is due to arrive today so I may will get side-tracked once that's here!