Saturday, 18 October 2008

Big Update!

Well it has been a hectic few months, so quite a bit of news to tell!

Driving lessons are going really well - enjoy them (most of the time) and have almost mastered clutch control, turn in the road (3 point term as was) and roundabouts. Still quite scared of roundabouts and the really busy roads but loving the feeling at the end of every lesson - except the pain in my knees from keeping my feet in such odd positions on the pedals.
I was totally thrilled to pass my theory test first time on 4th October - first time. Still need to brush up on a lot of things though as I can't honestly say I was 100% on all of it.

Work has been manic - launching the new course has thrown some major challenges my way, including teaching in corridors and cafe bars for the first three weeks! Settling down now and the group seem like a really nice bunch of students - most of the time :0) We have just been through the horrors of an Ofsted inspection and I am just about recovered now. It went very well. although the inspectors didn't come and observe me (again - third inspection in as many institutions now that I have been neglected ;0)). Overall the college got a grade 1 - which is testament to the Directorate's ability to cover up the truth more than it is a reflection of how things really are at the place. Anyway, over for another five years now!

No more progress on the visit to another country or the Masters assignment as yet - the mania of this first half term has seen to that - along with the extreme costs of learning to drive! However, I am getting serious on the weigh loss plan, as I can see February looming large, quite literally. I am doing 20 mins a day on the exercise bike and slowly phasing in more dieting. Salads every day for lunch at college have been a big help, but the comforting winter nosh at dinner time isn't really helping the cause. I think it is soups and stews for a while for me!

Have a lovely half term planned (apart from all the work for college). Off for a break with the family to Cornwall for a few days and hopefully seeing several relatives including Pat & Ian and Tony & Jan. Shall hopefully have time to catch up with friends too and share some good times!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Driving ambition!

I have taken the plunge and booked my driving theory test! After a revision session with my friend Angela the other night we have booked our tests together for October 4th at 8 o'clock in the morning! We figure that we then have the rest of the Saturday for commiserating or celebrating that way :0) I have taken a few mock theory tests online and scored 40 / 47 the first time and 41 / 45 the second time - neither of which are actually pass scores but aren't far off! I think having the date looming will at least help spur on the revision.
I have also booked the first of the 'new' driving lessons for Friday 5th September. I've chosen to go with Angela's instructor as he came highly recommended and is apparently very patient with dithering ladies - which will be very useful for me :0)

Had a great family day party last Sunday too - was great to catch up with all the gang and had some great fun with Kate's quiz and some alternative takes on the usual cousins gangshow photo op :-)

Had great fun at the Edinburgh festival recently (although sadly Scotland isn't a new country to me!) Saw some great things including Daniel Kitson, Stewart Lee, a play performed in a caravan and an all-girl a capella group. Good times! I took a shockingly small number of photos - largely due to the constant downpour - but I did get this shot of my Dad being a "rapper" on the bus to The Burgh via my appalling cameraphone. I think he has the hands down very well!

The trip to Barcelona for new country no. 3 that had been pondered on for August didn't happen in the end. However, I spent the weekend with Sally and Amanda, who I had planned to go with originally, in Birmingham - or Brumcelona as we renamed it in order to help us believe we were still on holiday! Had a wonderful time. Pictured is the gang - with cousin Annie at 8:08pm on 8/8/08. A trip to The Glee Club found us chuckling at Greg Davies but not so much at TV's Bob Mills - had a great night all the same!

The holidays may be drawing to a close and I don't have many of the things I had planned to do completed. However, I have been lucky enough to see lots of wonderful people - big hellos to Emma & Joseph, Jimmy, Nic, Brit, Sadie and Joe, Mike, Rory, Beth & Lucy, Amy, Nancy, Sam, Lee, Mizue, Kai & Meia, Craig & Elke, Moira, and all the family :0). Pics from top to bottom: Picnic in the park with Lee, Mizue, Sam, Craig and all the little folks! - Emma's son Joseph being a scary vampire - Elke with a LambBanana after visiting the Klimt exhibition at Tate Liverpool - Bedford Square, Bloomsbury, home of the [C] space pavilion project and filming location for The War Machines.

I should really be working on the bathroom - major DIY ongoing in there to change it from slightly squalid to sparklingly serene (I hope). Then I just need to recarpet the whole place and I will be getting somewhere with Project Lovely Flat! Off to work with me!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

New country no. 2!

I have been a bit slack at updating this of late but I thought it time for a catch-up!
Sardinia was AWESOME! What a beautiful place - amazing scenery, friendly people, relaxed way of life. I loved it and can't wait to go back again some time.

The campsite we stayed in was just four minutes walk from the beach and I have to say never having had a 'beach holiday' before, that it was just wonderful! I'm all for the mediterranean practice of a siesta in the afternoon and staying up late drinking - suited me very well :0) Pictures on my flickr.
I went with friends Amy, Beth, Craig and Elke and we all had an amazing time. Good food, lots of sun and being out in the fresh air did me the world of good and I came back glowing (the November-style weather back here in Bradders hasn't helped me retain that but never mind!).

I have still to arrange trip no.3 - but I suppose I should focus on my other goals for a while. Considering an intensive driving lessons course to get me kicked off on the road - may as well use the time I have in the summer to make up for not having done any so far this year! Research is ongoing for the MA dissertation but little has actually been done. I had better get in gear as in September I am launching a new course at college and free time may be a thing of the past :0)

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Two weeks to go!

Just two weeks until I jet off to Sardinia for new country no. 2! Very excited but the weightloss has slowed down somewhat. Not all going off the rails, just taking my eye off the ball. Haven't put any of the weight back on - but back to the exercise bike with vigour until the holiday!

Had a great few weeks and enjoyed some good adventures with friends and family. Had a great time on Sunday when I went with Tom and some of his friends to see Radiohead play in Manchester. It was an amazing gig which tops off a really good run of The Black Keys, Stephen Malkmus and Daniel Kitson in the last few months.

I've also become a bit obsessed with badge-making due to the arrival of my new badge-making machine. The perfect antidote to my crazy work schedule at the moment. Hooray for badges!!

Friday, 13 June 2008

I am a proper grown-up (almost) author!!

After much publisher-wrangling I have finally got a copy of my first book in my sweaty little mitts! Hooray! I co-wrote this epic with Dad and Sally Jewers and am right chuffed.
Please note this pic was taken after a rather exciting celebratory champagne lunch. Sadly this was the best of the bunch. The others are even more overbearingly self-congratulatory and in some cases offensive :0)
Wish I had made getting a book published one of my challenges now. Not much progress on the other goals but stuff it - I am an author!!!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Race completed!

Yay! I did the Race for Life - although I was walking :0) Great fun day and raised £100 for the very good cause of Cancer Research. Pictured from L-R are Bess, Mum, Me & Mizue (Elke and Kaishi at the front).
Still have to book my driving lessons and start my MA dissertation (although I am at least enrolled on the programme with funding now!) Time to pull my finger out!
On the plus side I've lost another 2 lbs on the new diet (despite a few cheeky beers on a Big Night Out in Leeds) so well over the first half a stone. All in the right direction!
The book has just been published too. Should be getting copies delivered this Friday - can't wait to see it. Will post pics as soon as! Feeling right giddy now :0)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

3 more lbs gone!

Lost another 3 pounds this week! Two more days of the harsh part of the diet but hoping the loss continues at this rate. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

In the right direction...

One week in to the new attempt at the low-carb, GI diet and I have managed to lose 4 lbs! Doesn't seem much compared to the amount I need to lose but it is in the right direction and with a bit more enthusiasm on the exercise front I could probably improve that next week. I really need to get fit ready for Race for Life anyway. Although I am going to walk most of it - I don't want to be the last one going round the track at dusk! Memories of school sports days and Brownie swimming galas come flooding back at the thought :0)
One more week of absolutely no carbs, sugar, fruit or alcohol and then I can start having some of these things back in moderation - yay! Who would have thought I would be looking forward to being able to have porridge again...

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Funding approved!

Just a quick note to say that I have finally been granted funding by college to do my MA top-up course! This is great news as, although I had started doing some research, I had not until now been given confirmation that I wouldn't be paying the £2,000 fees myself!
I've also had news that the driving instructor I want to take lessons with now has space on their books so will be booking my first lessons in the next week!
Exciting times ahead :0)

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Thank you everyone x

After several reminders from people that I should update this more often, this is an update on progress so far!
I am chuffed to bits to be able to say that thanks to the generosity of my lovely family and friends I have reached my target of £100 fundraising money for the Race for Life. This is a fantastic incentive for the big day itself. Joining Mum and I will now be my friend Mizue and one of my students (the lovely Hannah Harris) is also doing the race at Lister Park in memory of her Mum. Looks like it is going to be a great day.
My MA research also got another boost recently as the papers have been full of comment about the new Specialised Diplomas - the subject of my dissertation - and I've also now been trained as a Trainer (how weird does that sound) for the qualifications too. Not only will that bring more work my way (is that something I really want?) but also gives me much more opportunity to meet up with those delivering the qualification in the near future.
Apart from all that life is pretty hectic, with college and EdexHell work. However, I am managing to find the time to feed a new obsession - World of Warcraft! Check out the portrait of my alter-ego Strella - a Troll Shaman. Do you like my mohican?

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Prague Adventure

The last few weeks have bought times of exciting developments and adventure, as well as some times of reflection and relaxation. It has been a good break but I just don't want to go back to work tomorrow!
I've visited my first 'new' country on a break in Prague in the Czech Republic. It was amazing! Beautiful, inspiring and unique - it is a city I would recommend anyone visit. Awesome architecture at every turn, fantastic places to eat and drink and cheap, easy-to-use public transport. The beer was particularly good (although not very friendly to the waistline!). It is the perfect place for a holiday.
It was incredibly cold, but that was a good excuse to hide in some lovely bars and cafe's. Unfortunately, Moira had her purse stolen on the first day which was annoying to say the least, but it did mean I got to visit a Czech Police station and meet the particularly hunky interpreter who worked there! The guidebooks had warned us that in general service could be quite abrupt (as a distant attitude is seen as more professional) but the staff at our hotel were downright rude.
However, it says a lot about the magic of Prague that none of this dampened the excitement of the experience at all. Best of all was the feeling of being somewhere new, somewhere alien to my previous experience. The travel bug has bitten me hard and only fired up my urge to see more of the world.

My photos can be seen on my flickr here. I recommend you view them as a slideshow - if you can be bothered :0)

On my return (as well as a lovely clean house - thanks to my Mum) I found my provisional driving license had arrived in the post. Hooray! Been looking at Driving Schools and hope to book my first lessons for the week after next as I have a horribly busy week back at college when I return. Bit nervous but can't wait.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Getting Better

Thanks to everyone wishing so hard (and my clever Doctor's diagnosis) I am now almost all better. I still have 3 days of anti-biotics
to go but throat is not painful anymore and I am eating big-girls'
grown up dinners now. I never thought I would be sick of the sight of
ice-cream but I well and truly am. Still have some pretty strange
shooting pains going up my face every now and then but I have decided
to take the highly scientific approach of pretending they aren't there
in the hope that they will go away. Moira is still pretty poorly, but is as determined as I to get cracking with our adventure.
I have been packing and re-packing (each time I change my mind about outfits and shoes) for Prague and getting very excited. Just cannot wait to get there now! The weather is predicted to be around 4 degrees Celsius with snow showers on one of the days we are to be there so I am wrapping up very, very well. Expect many a photograph of me with my glamorous ear muffs and 300 scarves on when I return :0)

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Poorly Girl

I have severe tonsillitis (which I thought only under 10's got, but I
am clearly wrong). Feeling sorry for myself but more importantly
worried as I am due to fly to Prague on Monday for the first visit to a
'new' country! I would like everyone reading this to wish very, very
hard that my tonsils will have returned to somewhere near normal size
before Monday. At the moment I can't eat anything except cold soup,
fruit juice and ice-cream (not helping the diet) which could cause
problems and if I am still in pain it will dampen the adventure
So wish hard please! If you have any wishing left please
also wish that my friend Moira, who is going to Prague with me,
recovers from her virus by then too!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Walking the walk

The planned trip to Ingleton at the weekend turned into a trip to Malham Cove instead, due to unpredictable weather and too much faffing about before we set off. It was lovely and the 2.5 round trip walk was a good way to get back into the 'walking for fun' game. As before I always forget how much I actually enjoy walking in the countryside and came back really refreshed. I have decided I need some proper walking boots so anyone with recommendations for reliable boots in wide-fittings should form an orderly queue.
This week I have started the diet proper, after a week of entertaining different folks last week (hello Sue, Sharon, Janet, Jamie, Isaac, Moira and Aaron!). I'm aiming to keep down to 1000 calories a day and do 20 minutes on the exercise bike (at a steady pace) five times a week. On top of that I will be building in regular walks and making my 20 minutes walk from the bus to college and back as brisk as possible. I've bought a smoothie maker so that I have no excuse when I haven't got time to make porridge of a morning too.
Trying to remove all the potential excuses for myself at every turn! Got my Race for Life pack through with my number in it (I am going to be 4343 - how exciting) and already 20% of the way there to my fundraising target. Pic of Mum and I taken at Malham for my fundraising page as this was officially our first 'training' for the event (and because, although she doesn't believe in it, it was Mothers' Day).
Apart from that I am planning to see several films at the Bradford International Film Fest and the new Cartier-Bresson exhibition (one of my all time heroes) at the Media Museum. I also have just got the first disc of Season 6 of Scrubs through from LoveFilm so have this evenings activity all sewn up!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Progress so far...

Been busy since my birthday making lots of plans and being full of good intentions :0).

To date I have done the following things:

* Applied for my provisional driving license
* Booked a trip to Prague during the Easter holidays with my friend Moira (the Czech Republic being one of my 3 new countries)
* Entered myself into the Race for Life in June with my Mum. Please consider sponsoring me - you can access my online sponsorship form by clicking donate on the little gizmo on this page that says "JustGiving".
* Got my new fridge and microwave up and running - both will help me with the new and improved healthy food plan
* Completed my enrolment form for the Dissertation Top-up course that will allow me to turn my PGD into an MA (after another 15,000 words!)

A good start I guess. The exercise is kicking in a bit more slowly - it is no coincidence that the challenges that will be lots of fun (travelling and driving) have seen more progress than those that will be less enjoyable (getting off my arse and work on the dissertation).
However, I am trying to even that up a bit by organising a day out on Sunday with the fam to Ingleton Falls. I've been there before with Craig and Elke this time last year:
On that occasion Elke's little legs only managed the first mile so we are hoping to do the whole trail of 4.5 miles on Sunday. Looking forward to it!

I also have to send out a really rather enormous "Thank You" to my Auntie and Uncle, Pat and Ian, (with me in the pic) who have sent me a very generous gift that will help with my driving challenge a great deal. Love you guys x x

Welcome to my blog!

Hi everyone!

I've created this blog with the intention of using it to record my progress towards completing the four challenges I have set myself for completion by 21st February 2009 - the date of my 30th birthday. You can see what they are on the right of this page.

I've done this as much to keep a track myself of what I have managed to do, along with keeping up a 'public' face so that I will be embarrassed into actually doing what I propose to!

Anyway, if you really are glutton for punishment you can put your email into the little box at the bottom of this page and get alerts every time I update the blog.

As with most things, I am sure the novelty will wear off after a week or so, saving you from hundreds of emails alerting you the tedious minutia of my life.

Thanks to everyone that has already cheered me on, begun the nagging, sent me nice messages and helped me as I start these challenges. You are all super lovely x x x