Monthly Archives: April 2011

Lost in Britain’s best National Park

That time of year and I start my annual, weekly pilgrimage to Ullswater.

In many ways I’m loathe to say how divine it is, its beauty being a particular lack of the regular visitors to the likes of Bowness (rolls eyes in distaste) or Ambleside (prays readers love Apple Pie House).

It is where much of the lost blog has taken place over the years and where I do much of my thinking about what to do next at newroomsonline. I took my best friend and her family as we’ve never done the walk before together and I’m really keen to share my love of the fells with my godsons in a way which is more than a mere account of where I’ve walked.

This is the gatepost to Ullswater Steamers – where the magic begins! Look carefully or you’ll miss the colour matched accessory – the fingerless glove.

We sailed from Glenridding to Howtown aboard the delightful and best vessel in their fleet – The Lady of the Lake.

When the light catches the surface of the lake on the last sail home, it’s like glitter floating…you really can’t beat it at all. We watched the Wammels tacking and gybing around Norfolk Island, folk out in canoes and kayaks from Glenridding Sailing Centre and of course, I pointed out the path that we would be treading – all 7 miles of it.

We also made use of the cake stand in the new pierhouse…..which I might add is looking stunning. Doesn’t seem too long ago that the whole village was swamped in the 2010 storms. Well done, Guys, a stunning job. I had a particularly divine millionaire’s shortbread.

Howtown always makes me start humming Pet Clark’s Downtown and always feel they should play it over the PA as you alight! There’s not a lot there…but there is a pub, and a nice beach for a picnic with more breathtaking views across the lake.

It’s a great walk. You can’t get lost, it’s well signposted and as my godson, George, noted, “Everyone’s always so friendly in the Lakes aren’t they? Everyone says hello.”

It’s one thing I’ve said often to my folks but I don’t think it’s just the Lakes. I think there’s a bonding between people who like the outdoors. Doesn’t matter if you pass a walker, a mountain biker or a climber, people always nod or stop to chat.

Three hard Geordie boys passed us on their mountain bikes with the muddiest, wet arses imaginable…and it was a really mild, dry day…..between us we asked why mountain bikers never use mudguards?

A few miles later we passed them again as they sat down to eat their butties and asked, “Why no mudguards?”

Apparently it’s just a preference. “Is it like a trophy? Having a really dirty backside?” I asked.

“I guess so,” came the response. I remarked that it must chafe as a result….no because padded cycling shorts ensure this does not happen….great blokes.

George had a bit of a vertigo wobble at one point. Having been gungho the whole walk, he only got nervous after I’d had to make an unplanned stop behind a gorse bush….ouch, and he’d time to think about how high he was off the ground at that point…which to be fair is probably the highest point on the walk but funny that he’d been fearless up to that moment. Mental note….don’t stop no matter how desperate you are!

We found a dead swan at Sandwick bay which I find terribly sad, nesting season and all the pairs out.

I called Tourist Info at Glenridding the following morning, simply because I had it in mind that you’re meant to report dead swans…isn’t it still a treasonable offence to kill one? That and sticking a stamp on a letter the wrong way up? LOL

Incidentally Cumbria police called me this morning to get an exact location of the swan so it must be important!

No more losses until we got to just above Side Farm…about mile no. 5.

I am assuming someone took these off for a paddle and forgot about them!

Last but not least, actually on the stile at Side Farm Camp Site…

Pointing the way home….

I woke up on Sunday, as ever, these days post any kind of activity feeling ancient with creaking bones and aching muscles. I don’t have bunions but feel like I should, that joint at the base of my big toe is more painful than I can describe. I slept badly, more proof that despite what people say about exercise leading to a sound night’s sleep, it’s all a load of rubbish!

Anyway do the walk – it’s lovely!

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Lost in weight management!

Preston College drop out

Readers of the lost blog will be au fait with my current weight loss antics. It started as a cursory trip to a fertility clinic for what I’d thought was an introductory meeting about whether or not, should we need help, my husband and I could be considered.

To recap – we’ve been pregnant once but sadly I miscarried. That occasion is long gone but in the absence of another pregnancy, and my increasing age, I was sufficiently concerned to enquire about help.

In the event of our needing help, the doctor said the NHS would not assist because I am in need of weight loss. It’s all based on BMI.

He referred me to a dietitian, except that two appointments came through – one for a weight management course, and the other for a one-to-one consultation with a dietitian…both on the same day!

The dietitian was great. I have a problem with portion size, and ratio of food groups on the plate. Added to this, I work from home, get far less exercise than I did three years ago and am probably dehydrated most of the time. All this adds up to one thing – obesity. No, before all my dear friends cajole me into thinking I am not, I am – FACT! But it’s the BMI thing which is irksome. While a health professional, by which I mean trainer/fitness bod talks muscle being heavier than fat, the fertility clinic see only weight. So I can be 14 stone of lean ripped muscle (in my dreams) or I can be 14 stone of rippling flab (in my reality), the outcome is the same – too big a BMI.

I am therefore, on a quest to shift it, except I had a total meltdown this weekend. Tears, endless tears, of frustration and oh what’s the point-ed ness. I feel like I’ve been on a diet my whole life, one which I fall off every day. And then you see programmes advertised on Channel 5 or Sky or some other crudsville channel – my morbidly obese he-Dad/she-dad is having a baby and think to yourself WHAT IS THE F***ING POINT??

I do not judge, but I do feel resentment.

I have blood tests, an MMR jab, a massive dose of some weird drug which made me cry for 5 days for no apparent reason whatsoever to combat my inner bacterial imbalance, I have had a smear, swabs and now the weight management course, which I must attend weekly for 6 weeks…..and I look around and children are dropping children, fat people are procreating….at one point 9 of my friends were/are pregnant…and sometimes it all just gets a bit much. So all of you will have to forgive the bitter ramblings of a fed up old hag…and to add a totally baseless sexist side to it all…it feels like it’s all me and that my husband can just sit back and wait for it all to happen.

The weight management course is hilarious. Initially I had fears that I would be feeling like an extra on the Jeremy Kyle show but it’s nothing like that. The slimmest woman from week one worked at KFC, she didn’t come back for week two.

We’re all women. I asked if this was on purpose and the nice man who takes us said not, but more often than not, only women ever come. The men apparently turn up to the first one then never return.

It’s all very chilled. The emphasis is on dissuading you from counting points, having red or green days and seeing any food as forbidden. It’s all about redressing your relationship with food.

Week One – classically what I’d said to my dietitian was said back to me at the class later the same day – I bet all of you had childhoods where food was a reward, a way to celebrate or commiserate….spot on. I do not blame my folks for this at all but it’s a good explanation.

The weekend and my emotional turmoil was testimony to that. I had a cream scone, bought (but didn’t eat) some Lindt Pistachio, and ate ice cream, all for the first time in weeks…plus we had two barbecues….a meat overdose.

My dietitian would probably think all his words had fallen on deaf ears while the weight management guy would comment that a little of what you fancy is OK….just don’t do it this every day.

So we’ll see. But for now I am treading the streets of Fulwood, or walking and running at intervals around Moor Park. I come home and cannot function. My legs ache, my back aches and I’ve never known knackerisation like it. Contrary to myth, it does not make me sleep.  I actually think it pumps so much adrenaline around my body that I wouldn’t sleep for days then suddenly I just crash and am snoring like a blocked drain on the sofa in front of the crucial episode of Mad Men that I wanted to see.

Rahhhh.

So fellow women on the same quest for motherhood, I salute you, I commiserate, I feel your frustration, heartache and bepissed off-ness. To the partners of the women going through any/all of this thanks for being there and putting up with the endless crap which comes out of our mouths.

To my readers, please do not read any of this as a cry for help or an invitation for sympathy. This is catharsis, this is my confessional. I am what I am and I know it, and you, who know me, know it.

So, onwards and upwards. Another week. I must try to factor in exercise…it’s where much of it falls down. Take me away from this infernal machine to which we are all addicted as our arses swell and engulf the chairs upon which we perch.

Here are the pics from my first trip around the block.

2 gloves on Garstang Road - non-matching

The cap outside Preston College was the first and then a rush of losses…these two mismatched!

The beckoning glove on Garstang Road

I love this pic. Usually I really don’t like utility gloves, they’re everywhere but I liked how this one seemed to beckon…and matches one of the mismatched ones from above!

Checco's crocheted hat

I’d be so annoyed if I lost this crocheted beanie. It was really pretty. It stayed there for 4 weeks…….which is the norm round these parts. People of Preston, and those just passing through, eat at Checco’s, it’s truly lovely and the food is scrummy.

Lost shoe - first position

Lost shoe - second position

Lost shoe - third position in fuzzy vision!

As the phrase goes – that is all!

Lost in Cleveleys – where?

Hmm Cleveleys.

I once went to a wedding in Poulton, that of a close friend, one of those friendships you make in adulthood that you never think could ever be as deep and meaningful as the ones you make in your childhood and teens, or even at University…although I personally would not describe my University years as the best of my life….I digress, but said bride had asked me to speak, in a sort of best man/woman capacity, so it was with a sense of purpose that I left the church looking for the reception venue.

The reception could not have been in a more prominent hotel – Blackpool’s fabulous Imperial Hotel. Don’t forget I’m from around these parts so how hard can it be to drive, what, 5 miles? But boy oh boy did I get lost – in Cleveleys!

It’s like the end of the earth. It’s like there is no soul to the place but a massive great apron, criss-crossed by tram lines and bespattered with cars not knowing where they’re going.

I actually drove out and back into Cleveleys several times before having a near nervous breakdown and going down a route I thought totally inaccurate and freeing myself from the vortex.

A ray of sunshine in an otherwise grey landscape

The classic utility glove - ah you can smell the rubber!

These were taken by another good friend, the wonderful Kath Walker. You may know her from such tweets as @kathwalkerart.

It’s been a week for artists and beaches. My sister sent me a link to a piece of footage from the Guardian website documenting the new Turner Gallery at Margate. Or do they call it an artist’s space? I don’t know but it all sounds like classic bullshit to me. The building whose light is described as capricious (oh perrrrrleeease) looks like something Staples may have purhcased to fill with stationery for the masses. I can’t criticise the light, I’m sure David Chipperfield’s anticipation of light, its uses when lighting installations etc etc have been taken into consideration to a great degree, but I pale when I listen to creative types bang on these days. And as my husband knows to his cost, once I’m on my soapbox about the Turner prize there’s no stopping me.

The building, situated on Margate’s seafront, is meant to emulate boatsheds. I’m sure it does. But we live in tough times and erecting something which looks like a glorified pre-fab could not scream EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES more if it tried.

I’m ever conscious of the spend these days. I listen to Radio 4’s Today programme daily and whince at the latest financial crises to hit our world, so cannot help but wonder if this money would not have been better spent keeping a library open, or even converting a library into a double space. Apologies if this has been privately funded, I was so bored by the footage I had to mentally switch off.

This morning’s Lancashire Evening Post billboards shout the news that Preston is, after all, going to demolish its bus station. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a pretty building. In fact it’s pretty grim. But it’s iconic. It’s from an era when cast concrete was funky, cool and could be so again. It’s home to a multi-storey car park which creates a safe passage for night time concert goers to walk through to the Guild Hall. I point this out as my 76 year old mother, a regular visitor to the Liverpool Philharmonic concerts, feels suddenly wrong footed. Where will she park? Will she feel safe? No. One of two things will happen. I will take her or she will stop going.

John Lewis say they intend to move onto the site. Surely John Lewis have a creative design team when it comes to their stores. Surely they could convert the place into one of Britain’s funkiest looking shopping destinations? It appears not. They don’t even have to try too hard. Ben Casey has mocked up a superb impression of what we could do with the place.  I silently weep for the crap that will be erected in its place. Whoopee, another faceless prefab….but hey….may be the light will be suitably capricious to entice us into parting with our cash for some JL goodies.

A sad day for Prestonians as we look towards 2012 and the Preston Guild 20 years celebrations. And our city’s motto? Proud Preston.

I’m not proud today, not by a long chalk.