On Tempestuous Seas – Rowing Two Oceans – by Elin Haf Davies

October 10, 2011

“How do you do it?” is a question I often get asked when people hear that I’ve spent 22 weeks rowing across the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. My answer – anything and everything can be done when you want to do it.

When you adjust to the physical demands and sleep deprivation that comes from rowing 2 hours on 2 hours of, 24 hours a day for 11 weeks at a time, rowing across an ocean is actually very straightforward. Simple even!  Because there are just three things in life that has to be done – rowing, eating, sleeping.

How many times in the last week would you have jumped at the opportunity to be juggling just three things in your life? Every woman I know is constantly juggling a 1000 and one things. Work deadlines, bills to pay, school uniform to be stitched, car insurance to be renewed, and your mother-in-laws birthday present to be wrapped. The list for everyone is endless and ever growing.

So while my time at sea was physically gruelling it was emotionally and psychologically detoxifying. I didn’t need to worry about paying bills. Keeping my boss happy. Travelling to work in the rush hour. Or worrying what to wear. It was the perfect time for me to STOP! STOP rushing around. STOP worrying about things that really aren’t important but that society dictates that we should. STOP being part of the rat race.

And when I got back, and was re-adjusted to life on land, I felt the same sort of relief when I STOPPED to write a book about my experiences. It was a time to reflect, a time to appreciate what I have and a time to thank those that made my life what it is and to decide what direction I want the rest of my life to take: a PhD, a successful career developing safer better medicines for children, and many more ocean crossings.

I obviously appreciate that ocean rowing or even writing a book doesn’t appeal to very many women, so I’m not going to attempt to persuade the Superwomen of Wales to pick up their oars and pens. But I would certainly advocate that every single one should, now and again STOP. Stop to do something different. Something that takes you out of your daily grind. Something that helps you to see the woods for the trees. Jumping off the rat race treadmill now and again is like recharging the battery, so that you can continue being the Superwoman that we all have to be these days.

On Tempestuous Seas: rowing two oceans (£8.50) and Ar Fôr Tymhestlog (£7:50) are published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Llanrwst, Wales and is available on line via GWALES . http://www.gwales.com/bibliographic/?isbn=9781845273606&tsid=11

Dr Elin Haf Davies www.nurseelin.co.uk<http://www.nurseelin.co.uk>

Hello I’m Nain – from 72 year old Superwoman

October 7, 2011

One  of the delights of getting old is alleged to be becoming a Nain ( Granny for the monoglot English or Mam-gu for those in the benighted south).  Particularly, I am told, the handing them back to parents when you’ve had enough. I just became a granny – to Eva Myfanwy now 9 weeks old. So way to go on grannyhood.  This  in not actually my first grand child. I have three teenage grandchildren in New Zealand.  I dashed out there within a month of the first’s birth.  What a gorgeous baby etc. I said to the parents.  Why not have a night out and I will baby sit. They got all dolled up and went out. Within half an hour grandson was bawling his head off. Unfortunately his mum had waltzed off with the milk bar and I had nothing to give the hungry lad. No idea  where they had gone and no estimated time of return. First rule of grannydom – don’t let parents leave without a forwarding number and ETR.  When will you be home doesn’t stop when they’re teenagers.

I jogged the little wailer round the room singing soothing Welsh nursery rhymes. The babe’s a Kiwi, isn’t he, so I cut no ice.  I finally got him to doze off to Taking a chance on love from my Frank Sinatra repertoire. I went out for the other two as well. It is quite hard to be a decent Nain at a distance of 12000 miles and they were all at least 5 years old before they recognised  me when I showed up again. Even then the eldest had to give the others a nudge as to who I was. I used to go out annually. As they got older I would stop off in Kuala Lumpur and raid the local Toys ‘R Us. She was into  Barbie dolls last year, he was into Lego, cuddly toy for youngest. Guess what? They had all moved on in a year so it was thanks Nain and quiet dumping of Barbie. Lego and Teddy. Those three are now teenagers and I feel I hardly know them.

This one’s different. Born in our fair capital city. I was down the minute she and mother were out of hospital and presenting my Nain credentials when she was 3 says old. Hello, I’m your Nain. Will I do? Hard to tell, they don’t do much at 3 days old but suck and sleep. Absolutely fabulous, gorgeous baby. Course she is. I had gone armed with a bucketful of Welsh nursery rhymes and early books. Dafydd Iwan and Edward did a lovely CD,  years ago. Nursery songs don’t change. I think we all know what happened to Dafydd but what happened to Edward since early 70s?  Touchy feely books with stuff like this feels like cat/dog/cow/sheep hair and they go miaow, woof, moo and baa. Preferable I think to trailing the real thing through the house. The first issue was her name. They had chosen Eva as  easily manageable in any language (my own kids having had to struggle to get people outside Wales to pronounce their names.) Myfanwy after paternal great grandmother. Eva seemed to be a problem. Welsh daddy pronounced it I-fa, spitting out the short “I”, French mother stuck an accent on the first E so it comes out as Ava. I opted out and said I would call her Myfi. I am hoping that will catch on. No two ways about Myfi – rhymes with luvvie. Next issue national identity. I said to Welsh son We’re claiming this one for Wales, quick, plant a Draig Goch in her cradle before the French grandmere shows up. I was privileged to be first on the scene as French grandmere has other grandchildren within spitting distance. French grandmere only speaks French. I said to son – tell grandmere in her own language to put her tricolour away, this one’s Welsh. Rough translation: Gerroff madame, this one’s mine. Happily grandmere has not I think attempted to launch a French invasion, and mum’s learning Welsh.

Myfi was a very placid baby. How do they do that? Mine all popped out yelling and fighting and haven’t stopped since. Maybe stroppy mothers have stroppy babies.  My lovely d-i-l is also placid. And how. I’m quite sure I didn’t have her patience when I was a young mum.  I visited Myfi again when she was six weeks old. Not quite so placid.  How they change in a short time. I am not sure whether she smiled or if it was wind.  I am not that experienced with babies as it’s 40 odd years since I had one , and I don’t go round chucking other people’s babies under the chin and doing the coochie coo bit. I do not think I am a natural grandmother. But will make a major effort with this one. Myfi responds well to Nain bouncing her round the room to Dacw mam yn dwad.  Halleluia – she knows she’s Welsh. There’ll be hell to pay if she doesn’t. Get out Ol’ Blue Eyes, you’re redundant and I’ve got a blue eyes of my own. Myfi is the image of her dad. Right down to the double chin when in repose. I’ve said to d-i-l If you want one that looks like you, better have another.

The new little family are now in Norway for a few months.  I’m going to visit in another month. Myfi will definitely give me a smile next time. I have offered to baby sit while parents have a night off. Don’t forget to get a bottle and express some milk. The deals’ off if you don’t. Nains of Wales unite. You have nothing to lose but the milk dribble on the shoulder.

Western Mail’s 50 sexiest women in Wales 2011

October 3, 2011

It’s that time of year again!  Western Mail has published its annual 50 sexiest women list with  the 50 sexiest men list to follow next week .  It’s also  the time of year I usually publish my annual rant about the inanity of these two lists.    I seriously debated whether I should bother this year – the Superwoman blog gets a lot of hits  from people searching not for my rant about the sexy lists but for the identity of those featuring in the lists.    But just in case there is anyone out there who might possibly miss reading my views …

Each year a different Western Mail journalist  has to do their level best to stretch the definition of sexy to something far more meaningful and rounded as per this effort on Saturday for the sexy woman list:  “The word sexy embodies a whole host of other adjectives.  Sophisticated, sassy, stylish”  Er no, those are adjectives all in their own right actually.   And then this little gem:  “Having a close relationship with your family and friends is sexy, as is going out of your way to help others and putting those less fortunate than you first.”  What rubbish.   The fact that a woman gets on with her father say or her friends from school is unlikely to have any bearing whatsoever on whether people find her sexy.  “Sexy” and “Her Dad” are two images that don’t normally come to mind at the same time and if they do the reaction is likely to be Bleurgh.  Nobody ever used the adjective sexy to describe Mother Theresa.    The meaning of sexy means someone you’d like to have sex with.    If correctly labelling your list “the 50 women in Wales we’d most like to have sex with” doesn’t sit right with you, then come up with another adjective rather than pummelling extra meaning into “sexy”.

There’s amazing talent in your women’s list – some of our best actors, singers, presenters, athletes,  hotel sales and marketing managers.  They are wonderful women bringing Wales to the world and the world to Wales; flying the flag high for our determined little nation in our struggle to get our businesses and business skills, our langugage and culture, our creativity and our sporting talent taken  seriously by the big wide world.  There will be the same kind of talent, with a heavier emphasis on rugby players, in the men’s list next week.  But to me, publishing a list that categorises our people by reference to being sexy is a list that says:  we don’t really care what you’ve achieved  or how talented you are, we’re only interested in you or your achievements if we think you are shaggable.

I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again.  If the Western Mail, Wales’ National Newspaper, must do lists – and lists do seem to attract a lot of comment and debate  and thus presumably sell newsapers – then do 50 Wonderful Welsh Women  and 50 Wonderful Welsh Men instead.  Because Wales, we’re worth it.

Santiago de Compostela or bust by Pembrokeshire Superwoman

September 26, 2011

Well it seemed like a good idea to me…  But friends were taken aback…  “You are doing what?  In that old thing?  You are joking…  Seriously you are joking aren’t you?”  And all I had said was that I was planning on driving Miss Daisy to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain.

Miss Daisy by the way is my 1934 Austin 7 Tourer.  We have a love hate relationship and as you can imagine, she certainly did not relish the idea of a 2,000 mile round trip to Spain.  Well if you were 77 years old and had to carry someone my size all that way, you wouldn’t be too keen either.  Actually, Miss Daisy is no stranger to driving on the Continent with two trips to France and one to Ireland already under her bonnet.  Even so, on every trip, this little old car has always marked her protest by breaking down, usually in the most awkward place.

Sir Herbert Austin had always intended that cars like Miss Daisy were to be used for little jaunts into the countryside, or perhaps a week at the seaside.  But for some reason past owners of Austin 7s never quite got that message.  In fact ever since the 1930s they have had designs on undertaking massive journeys in them.  Indeed it is believed that more Sevens have circumnavigated the globe than any other single make of car.

Then I discover that I wasn’t the only one wanting to do this trip and we were joined by two other vehicles, a 1931 Model A Ford and a 1938 Austin Seven Special.  We were also joined by an Austin Seven fanatic, fortunately in a Landrover as his Austin had thrown a wobbly just before we were due to leave.  His tow bar was to prove helpful on several occasions.

So one morning last September I left Pembrokeshire with just about every spare part I could find stowed away in various crevices of the little car.  Miss Daisy didn’t disappoint, barely 100 miles into the trip the red ignition warning light came on.  ‘Uh-oh, dynamo’s packed up.  A good thing I packed a battery charger’.

We raised a big grin from the Guardia Civil at passport control as we arrived at Santander, or was it the girls in the low cut tops?  Our route took us from Santander to Gijon, then inland through A Fonsagrada, Lugo and finally on to Santiago.  And what a route!  The locals would come out of the cafés cheering and clapping as we passed through.  I think even Miss Daisy enjoyed the attention.  We used a sat nav set to avoid motorways and to take the shortest route.  This wasn’t a good idea as Miss Daisy doesn’t like Sat-Navs and as a result it took us along some very small roads and on occasion through farmyards, scattering chickens as we passed through.

Another small difficulty was that the Cantabrian Mountains stood in our way and as we headed inland, the long climbs and drops started.  Gently at first and then the climbs got steeper and every day we found ourselves travelling not only through the most stunning scenery but also over some very high mountain passes.  One pass turned out to be 1,500 feet higher than Snowdon.  At the top we stopped to let the engines cool down and to take in the scenery.  But when it was time to move on, Miss Daisy decided that she wasn’t going to start.  So after a shove from the others, we started to roll down the other side of the mountain.

This again was not a good idea as with no engine, I only had Miss Daisy’s cable brakes to stop us as we started on our 6,500 foot descent and Austin Seven brakes are not well known for stopping efficiently.  Fortunately the engine finally kicked in after we had dropped about 500 feet and by the time we reached the bottom, Miss Daisy was running perfectly again.  But no sooner had we got down than we started yet another climb.  The Sat-Nav then took us on some very narrow, steep climbs with sheer drops of several thousand feet only inches from our wheels.

It took us about six days to reach Santiago de Compostela.  Fortunately for us, the Archbishop of Santiago rather liked vintage cars and we had been given permission to park up in front of the cathedral for a photo call.  But as there would be thousands of pilgrims and visitors milling around after 9.00am, could we please be there by 8.00am, take the necessary photographs and go…

Our mission completed, it was time to think about our journey home and that is never as much fun as the journey there.  The route back to Santander took us north to Ribadeo on the coast and then along the coast road, finally reaching Santander four days later.   But while we didn’t have massive mountains to climb, the coastal scenery of what they call ‘Green Spain’ was still stunning.

Would I recommend such a trip to others?  I certainly would.  It’s such a different Spain compared to the Costas where we British normally head.  But it is quite beautiful and the locals are really warm and friendly, even if they think you are bonkers.

I’m doing John O’Groats to Land’s End next year and on top of that Miss Daisy is allowing me to turn her diaries in to a book. I know it’s not usual for a woman to own and drive a vintage car; this has been a male pastime for years with wives dutifully occupying the passenger seat…  But why not?  It’s brilliant fun and for those who live a high speed lifestyle, a car like Miss Daisy certainly slows you down and lets you put things in perspective.

Superwoman by E J Catering – How the Rhino got his Skin

September 5, 2011

My children Molly, Jake and I spent our summer holiday in my grandmother’s house in the heart of the Lake District.    Everyday we made pasties filled with the leftover supper from the night before, we packed drinks, a book and headed out for a walk around a lake, along a river, or up a small fell in search of a water fall.  The weather just held to a typical British summer and the kids threw stones, leaves and twigs, scrambled, climbed, moaned, ran, jumped and paddled.  We were constantly on hunt alert for slugs, mushrooms, frogs and Penguin biscuit rocks – amazing rocks found only on certain special mountains that conceal Penguin biscuits for little people with tired legs.

My Granny Anne’s house is full of old leather books with titles such as Ancient Foods of England, Collection of the Giant Moths of the British Isles, Birds of New Zealand, five volumes of  lectures by Winston Churchill, Games for Children, something for anybody and everybody.  I found a small red leather book printed in 1942, Rudyard Kipling’s Just so Stories. I packed it safely in our lunch sack and under a large oak tree read How the rhino got his skin.  At the beginning of time the rhino had a very smart, tight coat with three large buttons under his belly.  One day he came across a cake baked by a local warrior which he stole and ate.  The warrior was cross with the rhino and so the next time the sun shone and the rhino took off his coat to bathe the warrior rubbed sticky cake crumbs into the inside of the coat.  After bathing the happy Rhino put back on his coat and started to itch and itch, he rubbed against trees, posts and rocks to relieve the itching, his buttons broke off , his skin stretched and sagged and the rhino got his grumpy face because ever since he’s suffered itching under the skin!

Sticky plum cake

225g soft butter

450g  ripe plums

1 lemon zest and half its juice

225g caster sugar

3 eggs  225g self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

25g ground almonds

1 tbsp demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a deep cake tin.  Stone the plums and slice into eight crescent moons.  Cream together the butter, caster sugar, lemon zest and juice in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, sift the flour and the baking powder into the bowl and fold in with the ground almonds. Add the fresh plums to the mixture.  Spoon into the cake tin, lightly level the top and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Bake in the oven for 45-55 mins or until well-risen, brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake starts to look a little too brown, cover with a sheet of baking paper  Leave to cool slightly and remove the cake from the tin.  Serve with lightly whipped cream and a spoonful of honey.  And never steal anyone’s cake – you have been warned!

Superwoman by E J Catering – National Ice Cream Day

August 3, 2011

TWO weeks last Monday was National Ice Cream Day. I am sorry I missed it and with two small children how could I?
But who knew? Hands up, honestly if you knew!  Who decides these things, which national body, world wide organisation, local council of where comes up with this stuff?  Did you eat an ice cream two weeks last Monday?
Looking at my calendar for the rest of year its National Dog Day and Women Equality Day on FridayAugust 26 – why are they sharing, are there not enough days in the year?
It’s National Grandparent Day on Sunday, September 11 –  now that is an important one.
And why is not more commonly known? Someone  tell the card companies!
My mum is very active with my kids, has a great relationship with them  and we will be making a card, so in hindsight no one tell the card companies because homemade  is always the best way to a grandparent’s heart.
There’s UN Peace Day on Wednesday, September 21 and get this one, National Chocolate Covered Anything Day on December 15 – maybe my calendar is having a laugh or is there a Cover Everything in Chocolate group, where and when do they meet, is there one in Cardiff or should we start one?
Back to the ice cream and who says we can’t have a  second national ice cream day just incase you missed the first.

Recipe for vanilla ice cream, makes about a pint and half
½ pint double cream
½ pint full fat milk
1 fresh vanilla pod
6 egg yolks
6oz caster sugar
In a saucepan mix the cream and milk and gently heat.  Slit the vanilla pod in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, add to the cream along with the pod (we will remove it later).
In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and the sugar.
When the cream is simmering pour it over the yolks, whisk it and return to the saucepan on a gentle heat until it thickens just like a custard.  If you overheat and split the custard immediately sieve into a cool bowl and beat the mixture well.
Allow to cool and churn in an ice cream maker until doubled in size.  Place in a freezer container and freeze until ready.
If you don’t have a churn or don’t fancy making your own I recommend Hapus ice cream on Caerphilly Mountain.
All that is left for me to say is Happy National Ice Cream Day the Second!

St Brides Hotel and Spa, Saundersfoot

July 22, 2011

Mr S and I went to the St Brides Hotel and Spa for a night last weekend.  http://www.stbridesspahotel.com  It was a generous present from friends but it took us almost a year from when we received our gift voucher to actually organise ourselves enough to get there.    Our children and dog safely dumped on Super Nannie, we left Cardiff at lunchtime on Sunday and arrived at Saundersfoot within two hours.

The hotel doesn’t look like much from the back – not dissimilar to a modern doctor’s surgery – but once inside you get the full benefit of the most amazing thing about this hotel – the elevated view over Saundersfoot Harbour and Carmarthen Bay.  It is truly stunning.   We had a room with a sea view and if you go there it is certainly worth paying the extra to make sure you have a sea view too because the immediate feeling of calm you get from looking over the sea is priceless.

The hotel has a spa and a small outside infinity pool which also looks out over the view.   Our gift  included a massage each and the room I was in had floor to ceiling glass windows, again with a wonderful view – probably of more benefit to the therapist than me, given that I was lying with my face in that little hole thing in the massage bed most of the time and/or falling asleep.    Couples can have treatments in the same room together if they wish but Mr S and I didn’t go for that option.  It makes me self conscious if he’s in there with me.   You have to book your slot in the infinity pool and if, as was the case when it was time for our designated slot, there is another couple already in there canoodling while they look out over the sea, it can feel a little awkward, like getting into a big bath with a couple of strangers,  but it is a glorious feeling, your head all cold and your body all warm, looking out to sea.  Sorry, mentioning the sea a lot, but there’s a lot of it to look at from the St Brides Hotel.

More lovely view over dinner which was very good, lots of local Welsh produce on the menu and a big wine list with plenty of half bottles available if you wanted white wine with your starter and red wine with your main course as we did.  Slightly marred by the posh young couple from London sitting next to us who appeared to not understand the concept of inside voices.  I don’t think any of the diners in their immediate vicinity had any option but to listen to their dinner conversation and it wasn’t even very interesting, although they did appear to have a number of friends they didn’t like all that much.  We were seated next to them at breakfast the next day too (also very good) but they were considerably quieter come morning.

Our room was light and bright, with a large bed,  crisp bed linen and a pretty Welsh blanket folded at the bottom.  Couple of complaints – our bed was large because it was two singles pushed together and there was a gap in the middle when you came together for a cuddle.  Our bathroom sink was cracked and the grouting around the very small bath (which I think may have survived from a refurbishment of the bathroom and really shouldn’t have) mouldy.  A shame – but hey, you don’t spend very long in the bathroom when there’s a serene sea view to look at.

A walk on the almost deserted beautiful Saundersfoot beach after our full Welsh breakfast topped off our 24 hour stay perfectly.  It wasn’t just the beach that was deserted but the whole of Saundersfoot and lots of shops either closed down or not yet open for the season.  I hope it’s a bit busier there this week and the rest of the summer now that the schools have broken up.

St Brides Hotel and Spa is not cheap but a little of it goes a long way towards recharging your batteries.  And oh, did  I mention the view?

72 year old astrologer Superwoman and the will of steel as determined by the stars

July 13, 2011

The will of steel – direct from our guys in the sky

I am getting feedback on the lines – I haven’t got the will of steel needed to diet.

A superwoman with no will of steel? Surely you jest.  We all have streak of steel somewhere. As some of you will know I am an astrologer.  Here’s a will of steel profile based on star signs.  Remember hardly anyone is 100% the Sun sign they were born under – there are 10 planets and 11 other signs all looking for a way in to influence your personality. So, a very rough guide.

Will of steel ratings 1* weak, 5* strong

Aries: 21st March – 19th April

Very self willed and self confident. Knows it all and won’t be told what to do. Dieting needs to be her idea to stick to it and it will be the diet to blame if she doesn’t. She may fail but as she never learns from her mistakes, it’s not her – it’s the diet. Don’t bother discussing dieting with her – she’s not listening.

WoS rating: *****

Taurus: 20th April – 20th May

Makes a mule look a wimp on the stubborn stakes. Apparently mild sort but likes to be in charge (to control freakery levels). Do not attempt to tell a Taurus what to do. She has loads of persistence and once committed will take control and keep going. A little bit unwilling to acknowledge she needs to diet.

WoS rating: *****

Gemini: 21st May – 20th June

A bit all over the place. Often hasn’t got a really strong grasp of who she is so persuadable to diet by someone else. Needs attention so once the someone else takes her eye off the monitoring ball is likely to give up. Could be a serial dieter with a string of failed diets behind her.

WoS rating: **

Cancer: 21st June – 22nd July

Emotional, though not without initiative and tenacious in hanging on to something she commits to.  Rather prone to get podgy, so knows she needs to diet but also needs family and friends’ support to diet. Will never speak to you again if you try to make a joke of her weight. And moody, so will have a sulk when the fat isn’t shifting as she had hoped.

WoS rating: ***

Leo: 23rd July -22nd August

Strong character, needs to be the leader in any dieting initiative. A high achiever. Bit of a show off so likes an audience and if her audience applauds loudly enough will stick to the diet. A group dieter, where she leads the group. Because of pride in how she looks is least likely to need to diet.

WoS rating: ****

Virgo: 23rd Aug -22nd Sept

Self – sacrificing type and very often puts others first so while often prone to fat is likely to diet at other people’s instigation. Virgo fat tends to hang around the upper body – back, arms, boobs. Good at dieting with someone she is “helping out” with their diet. Not hard to lead astray, but has the persistence to reach a goal.

WoS rating. ***

Libra: 23rd September – 23rd October

Apparently  indecisive but tends to know exactly what she wants. And what she wants is a box of choccies. Rather attention-needy, so requires loads of support. Prone to falling off the wagon then beating herself up about it. Idealistic so thinks she could make it, but not on her own.

WoS rating: **

Scorpio 24th October -21st November

The most stubborn and unpredictable sign of the Zodiac. Once she takes up anything which is her idea has the determination stick it out, but another one who is not likely to need a diet as much as some.

WoS rating: ****

Sagittarius 22nd November – 21st December

Very restless. Has plenty of will power in pursuit of a cause, but short of stamina for seeing things through, and easily bored so is off to the next appealing thing before completing the diet. Always on the move so not particularly fat – prone.

Running round in circles is good exercise.

WoS rating: ***

Capricorn: 22nd December – 19th January

Solid as a rock. Often in shape as well as will power. She may take a while to acknowledge she needs to diet (always too busy busy to notice) but once she sees the light, or the changing room mirror, she won’t be deflected from achieving her target.

WoS Rating *****

Aquarius: 20th January -19th February

Mind over matter. Aquarians will take an analytical approach to the weight problem, work out what to do about it, and get on with it. Do not invite Ms Aquarius to your party when she’s on a diet. She won’t come. Loves to party but has her priorities and the head rules the appetite.

WoS rating ****

Pisces: 20th February – 20th March

Compassionate (for which read soft as muck and a bit gullible). Not that self indulgent so not often a candidate for dieting. Somebody else may have to tell her she’s a big fat slob, but she is unlikely to care, and should she be able  to make her mind up at all about which diet to follow, is not likely to see it through.

WoS only emerges when Pisces is very threatened. Even so she’s the one hiding behind the sofa when merde hits fan.

WoS rating: *

So: Success depends on getting your WoS moving in the dieting direction and for most, getting the support systems in place. These are the Sun signs. If you have Mars in a strong place your WoS will be strengthened. A Pisces with an Aries or Capricorn Mars will gain at least two more WoS stars. An Aries with a Pisces Mars will lose one. You put the fat on – your task to take it off. Good luck.

She’s back – slimmer and fitter than ever before – 72 year old Superwoman

July 5, 2011

IF….. Diet tips from  a used to be fatty ( with no apologies to Rudyard Kipling)

IF you have let yourself go and your weight has crept up to fatter than two pigs proportions, you will feel better about yourself, and actually owe it to yourself,  to go on a diet. It is bad for you to be carrying an excess  couple of stones or more around with you.

IF you normally eat stuff slathered in cream, wine and other rich sauces, and can’t pass the biscuit tin, the cake plate, or the box of choccies without having a dib into them you will find it difficult.

IF you go for a diet made up of food you don’t like and wouldn’t normally touch with a barge pole it’s not going to work. From day one of a diet you need to be thinking about reaching your target weight and maintaining it so the prospect of a lifetime of things you don’t like will be neither appealing nor sustainable. Your diet needs to mirror your normal eating practices but stuffing a lot less into your mouth. It’s how much you eat as well as what you eat that has made you fat and a diet needs to signal a permanent change. Healthier eating  is for life not just for Christmas, in fact especially not for Christmas. Sustainability is the ultimate goal.

IF your diet of choice (and there are dozens of them available out there) is restrictive like all cabbage, grapefruit, eggs or whatever, this does not represent normal eating. The crash and burn (fast fat burning weight loss) diet  is both bonkers and bad for you. Variety and balance is what you should be looking for and while the weight loss might be slower it will all come off in the end. Just keep at it.

IF a few weeks in to the diet after knocking off a steady so many pounds a week you hit a plateau and the weight is not dropping away as you’d hoped, don’t despair. Your body’s metabolism is adjusting to the new regime and once it gets the hang of your objective it will say “Oh that’s where we’re going” and get back in line again.

IF you are trying to target one area, like the bingo wings, that doesn’t work very well . The fat shifts first from where the pile up is so it’s usually the pot belly and the muffin top that’s first to go. Then the fat backside. The meaty thighs and the bingo wings  are usually the last to go.

IF, as I am, you are very very old, the elasticity in your skin will have gone. When we had babies the enormous lump that involved whipped back into place relatively easily. When the bounce has gone from your skin what you get is the skin hanging in rather unappealing folds where it once might have recovered. I have lost two stones, and have a less than delightful row of pleats hanging round my belly. It doesn’t matter to me as nobody but me sees my naked belly and it’s preferable to the pot and the muffin top. Old former fatties who are on the pull might find this a disadvantage, unless the prospective lover is also awash with sags and droops.

IF you don’t take any exercise the weight will shift more slowly, and, if you’re not too old, exercise will help dissipate the folds of saggy skin effect. You don’t have to go mad working out at the gym and jogging, brisk walks and plodding up and down a swimming pool will do. Posture also helps. Walk and stand up straight and stop slumping like a sack of potatoes at your desk. If you thought the sack of potatoes act disguised the fat you were wrong. Only a wheelchair is higher visibility than being too fat.

IF you fall off the wagon, which you inevitably will, having a bottle instead of a glass of wine or a bag of chips instead of that one boiled potato you should have had, you won’t lose much, if anything, that week but put it behind you and get back up on the diet horse. With strengthened resolve. On a diet you pay for all that fun falling off the wagon brought. It’s great to get naughty but on a diet no more than once a month for about a day is all you can afford to spend kidding yourself you can get away with it.

IF you are competitive or joined at the hip to a fatty friend, go for a regime which allows you to be star of the show in the  local community hall or to compare progress with friend. I am a solitary kinda gal so the will of steel and support from mentors on the net did it for me.

IF you are a smoker, here’s where you have an advantage. When you are desperate for something to pop in your mouth the fag is always there for you. When the entire planet is anti smoking this is not a tip you will find on any diet regime anywhere in the world. Works for me. And Kate Moss. Talking of whom…

IF you are starting from size 20/22 or more it is daft to be aiming for a size 0. You will certainly drop a few sizes and that’s a real buzz. Make your target realistic. A size 16 for the really obese or a 14 for the not quite so obese will be a huge achievement.  Do not read magazines featuring cadaverous models. They are more unhealthy than the fatties. If you aspire to look like famine victim in Africa, go to Africa, and try famine as a weight loss venture. They don’t have any choice. We do. If your inadvertent choice is fatter than two pigs, it’s time you acted and headed for one pig size.

IF you are tall and people say You don’t need to diet you can carry it, give them a smack in the chops. We all know where our ugly lumps and bumps are and the overhanging flesh is and it’s up to each individual to deal with that if she less than happy with what she looks like.

IF a 72 year old fatty can lose two stones, without being a  diet bore at Olympic level, so can you. It’s wanting to feel better about yourself that motivates you. See you hanging round the elegant end of the size 12/14s in John Lewis. Go, girls, go.

Here’s another pastiche – with apologies to Rupert Brooke

If I should diet think only this of me

That there’s some corner of the kitchen fridge that is for ever furry.

Out! Out! damned tasty lump of gorgeous Cheddar

Begone ! you smelly Brie and Stilton treasures,

For you are simply lumps of lard as I am.

And now I must forsake you for another,

That cottage cheese in pride of place front-fridge.

OMG do I have to? YES. Get rid of the lumps of lard NOW.

Superwoman by E J Catering

June 14, 2011

To end half term I took my children Molly and Jake to Folly Farm, it was a great day out, good value for money, spotlessly clean with loads to do, see and play on.  For me, although not necessarily for Molly and Jake, the highlight was seeing a journey of giraffes in Wales – five beautiful giraffes strolling around with the Pembrokeshire coast as their backdrop.

In January I was in South Africa and went on a four day safari. On our last day we asked if we could go on a walk into the bush.  Our guide asked what we wanted to track and we said giraffes. The experience was amazing, even before we saw the giraffes.   Walking in a straight line, close  behind the guide and his gun, we saw huge beetles, spiders and beautiful flowers. The creaks in the trees and bushes made our imaginations run riot.  Our guide told us a story of when he was training.  He had lain in the grass with his leg in the air in complete silence, moving his foot from left to right every now and again to imitate a young giraffe. An adult giraffe had become curious, walked over and stooped right over him, making his heart thump.
Within an hour we had seen 22 giraffes and we just sat and watched them walk around us in their natural environment.  After a while two of us lay down in the grass whilst  the guide and others walked off, about 150 metres away. We both put our legs in the air and moved our feet like periscopes pretending to be infant giraffes. The giraffes did move towards us but unfortunately there was a logging truck in the distance and they become anxious so we never got nose to nose with a giraffe but I have a fun memory.
For lunch we walked over to a quiet part of the farm to the nature reserve. Molly and I had made a spinach and ham tart which everyone devoured.
Being my weekend off I used a bought pastry sheet to line an eight inch tart case and baked it blind at 160C for 20 mins.
For the filling
6 eggs
2 large tablespoons of crème fraiche
1 packet of young spinach
200 g of cooked, thick cut ham, (I bought a joint and glaze roasted it the night before)
6 spring onions
150g Parmesan cheese, grated
In a bowl beat the eggs, yolks and crème fraiche.
To wilt the spinach, boil the kettle and put the spinach in a colander.  Pour the boiling water over the spinach.  This is enough to wilt it.
Squeeze out the moisture and put the wilted spinach into the bottom of the tart  case with the chopped ham and sliced spring onions.  Beat the eggs with the crème fraiche and season well with half the parmesan cheese, rock salt and black pepper.  Pour the mixture into the tart case and top with the rest of the parmesan.  Bake for 25 mins at 160C or until the top of the tart is brown and the tart mixture does not wobble.  Allow to chill and eat with a back drop of a journey of roaming giraffes!