Friday, 3 October 2014

Project 333

I was going to try Project 333 for the next three months. The idea is that you pick 33 items to wear for 3 months, no more, no less. That has to include jewellery, outerwear and shoes, but doesn't include underwear, work out wear or sentimental jewellery that you never take off (like a wedding ring, or in my case 2 treasured rings and a bracelet plus all the studs in my multiple piercings).

I dutifully wrote a list of everything in my wardrobe that I still wear regularly (making a note to remove the items not on the list), then tried to whittle it down. My original list came to 41 different pieces (I didn't count duplicates of the same colour). Should be simple right?

I was reminded pretty quickly that it is not in my nature to be that minimal. Sure, I don't like too much clutter (who knew that this day would come?) and my colour palette ranges from black to white with a hint of grey in the middle, but try and get me to not wear more than 33 items for 3 months? Sorry, no can do.

An online conversation I have been reading raised a valid point today - why is the conversation about clothing amounts so polarised? Why do we only really see the extremes - the women with huge wardrobes with a vast array of garments, or the women with the tiniest ones, with enough clothes to last them a mere 5 days without having to do some laundry?

My suspicion is that anything in the middle is just too boring. It is average. Most women aren't at either extreme, we all fall somewhere in between. Like some women have huge shoe collections, where others (like me) have tiny ones. I've got quite a lot of jewellery (even if I don't wear it that much these days) because jewellery doesn't rely on bits of me meeting some arbitrary average that a designer has picked - pierced ears are pretty much pierced ears. Other women will baulk at any jewellery that is more than a simple pair of studs, a wedding ring and maybe a slender necklace.

But average is boring so we worship the extreme. We envy the minimal bloggers because their wardrobes make their lives look so easy. I'm not sure how easy it is to only have 33 items to choose from - I'd be in a flap over the amount of laundry required just to keep it all looking and smelling fresh - but judging by the amount of blogs about minimalism there are obviously women who lap up this stuff. I wonder if they are actually read by women who have endless amounts of clothes, in a bid to figure out how to organise themselves and their wardrobes.

My brief experience in trying to do the 33 for 3 thing has shown me that I simply have no need for that kind of stress in my life, and I'm perfectly happy the way I am.
 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Body Acceptance

This has been a post that I have part-written, deleted, rinse and repeat, many times. I sort of know what I want to say, but somehow I can't make the words sit together nicely.

Three years ago this week I decided to join Slimming World. I had reached nigh on 15 stone in weight, and felt I needed to do something about it. I lost 2 stone in 3 months. And I kept it off mostly, a few fluctuations up and down, but until last Christmas I managed to maintain at a weight I felt comfortable at (around 13st 3lbs). During the course of this year my weight has increased slightly, and now I am close to 13st 10lbs. I am still fluctuating up and down. Thing is, I eat healthily. I try to exercise as much as I can (I've jumped back on the swimming train, and am loving it). Most importantly of all, I am pretty happy with my life. The thought of having to go back to religiously following the Slimming World plan brings me out in cold sweats.

The thing is, there is nothing wrong with me. I have been focusing on the numbers on the scale, and not how I feel. I feel fucking fantastic, even more so since I gave up dairy products (I never thought I'd utter those words, but well, there you go. I don't even miss cheese). And all this time I've been trashing my body in my head, it is because I don't fit into the narrow mould dictated to me by society, magazines and the fashion industry. I stand next to some of my friends (many of whom are tiny) and feel like a giant, but so what? I'm just a bigger person, there isn't much I can do about that!

This gem of acceptance of who I am started during my trip home to the UK. My mum treated me to some shopping, and I ended up with a new bikini. Its a bit 50s style halterneck fabulous stripey thing (black with bright stripes, not a usual me thing!) and by buying the correct size I felt amazing in it. Like some goddess from the pin up postcards you see in vintagey shops.

Since then I've been slowly purging my wardrobe of the things that don't really fit me any more that I'd been holding onto in the hope I'd lose some weight, and filling it back up with new things that do fit. I wore a dress the other day that was quite fitted and I realised just how hourglassy my figure has become. I kinda like it, given that most of my life I've been a straight up and down athletic figure 'type'.

Maybe this acceptance of how I look comes from the knowledge that actually it hasn't been so much to do with my lifestyle as my age - I'm in some kind of late prime baby rearing age and I think my hormones are reacting that way. If I was trying to get pregnant I'd probably manage it in the blink of an eye - I'm almost at the same age my mum was when she fell pregnant with me, so I guess genetics are a factor - my body is prepped and primed.

I plan to continue to ensure that my diet is as healthy as possible - tons of vegetables, lean meats, but I'm not going to give up the wine that I love, or the odd snack. The pasties we had for dinner last night were most excellent, as were the scones I made for dessert (tofu clotted cream for the win!).

I'm just going to continue to love me for who I am, and that means nourishing my mind as well as my body. That seems to be the best way to be healthy, to hell with what anyone else says.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Trip to the UK - Cornwall Part 4

After my couple of days in London and Cardiff, I headed to Cornwall with my dad. I hadn't been home since just before we left the UK, so it was really nice to spend a whole week in Cornwall. Luckily the weather was excellent and I spent most of the time on the beach with my mum.

Friday

Another gloomy day, and this time it was gloomy over the north coast as well. After a trip into town to pick up a couple of things, we headed over to Gwithian to walk along the beach.

Gwithian is another one of our favourite beaches, as the bay is long and wide. There are often seals around the headland as well. The storm damage was evident when we tried to get down onto the beach - not an easy task! On the beach it was easy to see where the cliffs had collapsed in places, with the sediment still evident on the sand.



 
I took my parents for dinner on Friday night to a restaurant we'd passed in Truro, called Hooked. It is a fish and seafood bar, that also has tapas. Dad was driving (despite me suggesting that we get a taxi) but Mum and I enjoyed a lovely bottle of Cornish wine, grown and produced on the south coast, near Gorran Haven.

We ate so much food - I had a seafood platter which had mussels, cockles, prawns, scallops and fish, in a spicy ginger and lemongrass broth. With chips. At last, moules et frites! We started with some tapas, and finished with dessert. There was nothing on the dessert menu I could eat, so I had an espresso and an Amaretto instead.

Everything about the meal was fantastic, and I would definitely recommend it if you find yourself in Truro!

Saturday

On Saturday I left the motherland to go back to London for my flight to Vienna. I had opted to take the train, as it is a rather scenic ride when you get to Dawlish in Devon, and I wanted to catch a glimpse of Exeter as well.



As ever it was hard to say goodbye, both to my parents and Cornwall. But as lovely and amazing as Cornwall is, it just isn't somewhere I can live at the moment. I will just have to keep it in my heart and try and visit as often as I can. 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Trip to the UK - Cornwall Part 3

After my couple of days in London and Cardiff, I headed to Cornwall with my dad. I hadn't been home since just before we left the UK, so it was really nice to spend a whole week in Cornwall. Luckily the weather was excellent and I spent most of the time on the beach with my mum.

Wednesday

On Wednesday I met up with an old school friend who I hadn't seen for over a decade - we sat and caught up over coffee for a couple of hours, which was really nice.

After lunch with back at home, Mum and I decided to go to the Lizard, the most southerly point of mainland Britain. The weather was warm but overcast, leading to a bit of humidity, but we were undeterred, and went for a stiff walk along the cliffs, stopping at the point for a drink at the cafe.

Despite the gloomy weather, the sea was still a wonderful colour, and the sun did come out a little bit later on.









 
Sometimes I think that the gloom makes for more interesting sights. Looking back at those photos just proves to me how Cornwall can be beautiful no matter what the weather.

Thursday

On Thursday we headed over to Padstow and Rock, as there was a golf competition on at St Enodoc Golf Course that Mum wanted to watch a little bit of. The weather in Truro was again a little gloomy and overcast, leading me to leave my swimming costume at home rather than take it, a decision I came to regret once we got there!














Before we caught the ferry back to Padstow we stopped at a cafe in Rock for a drink, and had wonderful green lemonade, which was homemade lemonade flavoured with lemongrass, mint, basil and something else I've forgotten. I chose it because the menu said it was inspired by the cafes along the Danube in Bratislava!

Watch out tomorrow for the final part of my trip home!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Trip to the UK - Cornwall Part 2

After my couple of days in London and Cardiff, I headed to Cornwall with my dad. I hadn't been home since just before we left the UK, so it was really nice to spend a whole week in Cornwall. Luckily the weather was excellent and I spent most of the time on the beach with my mum.

Monday

Monday was a relaxed day. Mum and I headed into Truro to have a look around and do some shopping. I procured a new bikini, some new underwear and some fabric to make some smart trousers from. Still have to do that....

Later in the day we headed over to the Eden Project, to see Elbow as part of the annual Eden Sessions.

Great food was eaten, beer was drunk and I actually really enjoyed the concert. Elbow aren't my usual sort of thing, but they surprised me a little. The final song was of course "One Day Like This", the song that became a bit of an anthem after being used in the London Olympics Closing Ceremony. The best part about the whole performance was the crowd sing-a-long at the end of the song (I'm rather partial to a bit of audience participation at gigs), made even more special when Guy Garvey asked if the crowd could sing in harmony. It being Cornwall, this happened immediately, drawing praise from Garvey at the prowess of the crowd.







Tuesday

The thing with the weather in Cornwall is that it can be so variable from one side to the other. My home is in the middle, on a hill, so it is sort of possible to see what the weather is like at the coasts. You can at least make a semi-educated guess. So when the weather in Truro dawned a little grey and overcast, we decided to head over to the north coast to see what it was like there. And packed sunscreen and swimming costumes just in case...

Our first destination was Bedruthan Steps. The beach here is lovely, although a steep climb down the cliffs to get it it. Thankfully the steps survived the storms earlier in the year; there was some places we went to later in the week where the damage was a lot greater.




We sat on the beach in our swimming costumes and ate lunch, and sunned ourselves for a while. The weather was so lovely and warm. Unfortunately you aren't allowed to swim at Bedruthan - the currents are very strong in the bay and it just isn't safe. So we climbed back up the steps and headed round the coast to Porth to catch the last of the afternoon sun. Mum didn't go in the water, but I did, finding it a nice pleasant temperature. It felt so good to be back in the sea again!


Coming tomorrow, Part 2 of my week in Cornwall!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Trip to the UK - Cornwall Part 1

After my couple of days in London and Cardiff, I headed to Cornwall with my dad. I hadn't been home since just before we left the UK, so it was really nice to spend a whole week in Cornwall. Luckily the weather was excellent and I spent most of the time on the beach with my mum.

Sunday

Sunday started with relaxation and cooked breakfast courtesy of my dad (he cooks the best bacon!). As the weather was nice we headed out to Perranporth to have a walk along the beach.





We parked at the top of the cliff and had an ice cream from the van there - luckily for me they had a dark chocolate sorbet, which was amazing. The company is called Moomaid of Zennor, check them out!

There were a lot of jellyfish on the beach, but it was nice to walk barefoot across the sand. We sat and watch the sea and the surfers for a little bit before heading back to the car to go to Chapel Porth, just along the coast.







Chapel Porth is my favourite place in Cornwall. I don't know why, it is just the nicest place to go and sit and think, or admire the scenery. From the benches by the stack house you can see so far along the coast, especially when the weather is nice. The light is perfect, no matter what time of year. In my former dairy eating times I also loved going there for the hedgehog ice creams, but those days are gone I fear. But the scenery remains.

Our dinner that night was at the Pandora Inn, a 13th century inn on the river. I haven't been for ages, as it had a fire in 2011 and was closed for sometime while they repaired and restored the building. It was still closed during my last trip, and I was keen to go there while I was home.





 Again the views are quite lovely, up and down the river. It gets quite busy but we arrived a little later after the majority of the evening dinner rush was over. Thankfully it was warm enough to sit outside, and as I didn't have to drive, I could enjoy a nice pint or two of St Austell Ales.


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Trip to the UK - London and Cardiff

After our main holiday to the USA in April, The Beard and I had no major holiday plans. I took a trip home alone, to spend a week with my family. For the most part I was in Cornwall, but the week started with trips to London and Cardiff.

I have a love/hate relationship with London. Well, probably mostly hate, although every time I go there I seem to find something that I like. This time I had a nice time, mostly on the South Bank.

I flew direct from Vienna to Heathrow with Austrian Airlines. Star Alliance airlines are my first choice always, mainly to get the airmiles. My flight arrived at lunchtime, which gave me plenty of time to get into Central London and get my bags sorted before meeting my sister in the evening.

I decided to take the Tube, as it is a lot cheaper than the train. I was wanting to drop my bags somewhere, and decided on Victoria Station as the baggage drop is open later than the one at Euston where we had to get a train back to my sister's. With an Oyster card the Tube is £3 one way from Heathrow to London Victoria.

After I'd dropped my bags I decided I'd walk to the river then walk along it to Somerset House where there was an exhibition I wanted to see. Except my geography of London failed me slightly, and I had left my A-Z at home in Vienna. With a dead mobile battery, I had to rely on the street maps that are helpfully dotted around. I was tempted at one point to grab a Boris Bike, but decided against it as I don't like cycling at home, and London traffic looked a lot scarier than Vienna traffic. After a little walk, I found myself at Pimlico and decided to just jump on the Tube again as it was getting late.

Once I'd got to Embankment, I walked through the park to Somerset House. I've never actually been there before, so it was quite nice just to be there. The exhibition was of artwork by tattoo artists, in other mediums.





 The exhibition is called Time: Tattoo Art Today and is on until October 5th.

After this I wandered along the South Bank taking in the sights until I got to near London Bridge where I was meeting my sister.


 After a drink in the bar next to HMS Belfast we headed over to the Shard for our trip to the top. Having been up the Top of the Rock in New York earlier this year, I was excited to go up the Shard, which is London's tallest building.




Sadly it was a bit of a grey day which meant that the view wasn't brilliant. We could just see Wembley Stadium then the gloom thickened and it was gone. Instead we had some champagne and watched people down below us.

Obligatory Shard Selfie

After the Shard came a fanastic dinner at Black and Blue at Borough Market. Steak, fries and good wine were had and enjoyed!

All that was left to do was to meander down to London Victoria to collect my case and then head back. The London skyline at night, especially between London Bridge and Westminster, is quite pretty (and it gave me a chance to play with the fancy night scene setting on my camera!).





After getting distracted by gin and tonics on the way, we finally arrived back at my sister's place at around 1.30am.

On Saturday we headed to Cardiff, to watch the British Speedway Grand Prix. We do this every year - I've been coming along for a few years now, but my Dad, sister and a family friend have been every year except the first year.

We park up in Newport and take the train into Cardiff after having some lunch in Weatherspoons. As you can imagine Cardiff is incredibly busy on Grand Prix day, and it is a lot easier to get food in Newport. Especially as it always takes so long to get into Wales - the M4 seems to grind to a halt.

It was a good meeting, with apparently record attendances. The racing was great, with quite a bit of overtaking going on, something that can be difficult on longer speedway tracks. The day was eventually won by the USA's Greg Hancock, with the UK's Tai Woffinden coming in a close second.




 After the Speedway I went back to Cornwall with my dad, to start a week of relaxing.

Coming tomorrow, Part 1 of my week in Cornwall!

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