First milestone.

IMG_0170.JPG

Or in this case the first stone in weight off. I am thrilled to have finally found an eating regime that actually works for me and isn’t a penance, in fact I am enjoying the cooking and the planning.

The Real Meal Revolution (RMR) is a well thought out and balanced eating plan which provides support, advice, meal plans if needed and a huge supply of recipes to start you off which are family friendly and easy to do. There are also lists of foods that can be eaten always, those that need to be limited and the red list of ones to never eat. It is easy enough to devise meals using the green lists. The secret is definitely in the planning but you could probably say that of all diets in truth.  The difference with the RMR is that it actually helps you to train your mind and your body in order to enable you to lose weight. It is not a quick fix and is a regime to be followed for life. Being ultimately a foodie I was initially worried that I would find the low carb restrictions too difficult but that has not been the case. The plan turns everything we have always been told to do about a balanced diet, upside down and it did take me a few weeks to get my head around it all but that is a necessary part of the learning curve. I certainly feel better, have less aches and pains and walk the dogs with greater ease. Mind you, this stone is just the first hurdle, I have several to clear over the coming months but at least I feel positive about reaching my goal weight.

The AP is aware that I am losing weight but doesn’t seem to understand how because we do all appear to eat the same meals. This is one of the bonuses of it all, she cannot meddle or tell me what she thinks I should be doing from her standpoint of no knowledge. Before we made the fateful decision to have her live with us the AP was living on sugar laden Heinz tinned soups and bought snack cakes, full of artificial flavourings and trans fats. Need I say more!

The only downside to it all is eating out. I love to go out for lunch or dinner but it is difficult to find anywhere that gives me any variety of choice. Pub meals in particular seem to focus on chips with everything, pastry dishes, bread rolls, breaded and/or battered fish, shellfish or chicken. Then there is the ubiquitous prawn cocktail which is enjoying a revival. It is invariably coated in a thick layer of glutinous mayonnaise of suspicious origin served, you guessed it, with bread and butter and I mustn’t forget the inevitable British favourites, sandwiches usually with a garnish of salad and crisps, filled baked potatoes, the ploughmans, lasagne with garlic bread and last but not least, curries with rice, poppadums, naan bread and sweet mango chutney. In the midst of all this there may be the lone salmon fillet to be had with salad and when I am really lucky, chilli beef with salad. Never mind though it will all be worth it in the end and I guess there is always an omelette with salad for added variety.

Where are we with the AP? Rolling towards our month of freedom and trying hard not to wish the time away, only four and a half weeks to go. She continues to irritate with her overbearing and condescending attitude and it will be lovely to have some time together doing our own thing.

 

Sunshine at last.

IMG_9829 2.jpg

It has finally arrived, Spring has landed with a truly incredible burst of sunshine and warmth typically just as the schools go back for the Summer term. After weeks and weeks of grey, wet and thoroughly depressing weather it is a real pleasure to wake up to clear blue skies. The land has also sprung into action with blossom bursting out all over and the fields are full of tractors and massive pieces of farming equipment sowing and planting at speed.

We are halfway through our break from the AP and the LSO and myself are enjoying our freedom despite the pressure put on us by the new boiler work.  Although the diet is not exactly on hold it is a bit intermittent. As well as eating out we have found it difficult to deal with the lack of movement on the planned improvement. It has finally got underway beginning over a week late and stuttered along for the first few days as the builder fitted in other jobs that had also been held up by the bad weather as well as his dental appointments. It is just not true that doing this keeps the clients happy and we were beginning to get increasingly upset by the delays and the lack of action. I eat when stressed. I know it’s all a bit pathetic really but sadly true but I will get my act together again.

Hopefully the small building will be completed by the weekend and the new boiler and tanks should be in place and up and running by the end of next week. Well, that is in an ideal world which unfortunately is not inhabited by builders it would seem.

Never mind, at least for another two weeks we can still enjoy having our personal space back, eating what we enjoy and doing things spontaneously.

The sunshine? That’s just a bonus.

 

Friends are like stars….

IMG_8680.jpg

…..you don’t always see them but you know they are always there. This rather lovely statement was given to me earlier this week as a gift to hang in my studio and the best thing of all about it is that the friend who gave it to me really means it.

Our eighty year old farmer friend was also waxing lyrically the other day and saying how important friends are and when you find someone to love hang on to them because they are extremely precious. All wise words and all true. The world would be a much emptier and lonely place without friends. Friends care for you and accept you for what you are; they are not critical or manipulative but are there when you need them. I had always considered the AP a friend before she came to live with us but that feeling has sadly long gone, driven away by her selfish determination to dominate us. She constantly tries to be in charge when in fact she is here as a guest and should have more respect for us and the fact we have put our lives on hold to look after her.

The house is a pleasure to be in at the moment and the LSO and I are enjoying being able to do what we want and eat what we like and it’s a great feeling but our planned boiler replacement is still delayed because of our awful weather and that is worrying. We only have a small window of opportunity to work in and that is gradually becoming eroded. A friend is coming to stay in ten days time and I can see us boiling water for washing and if the weather doesn’t improve, huddling around the wood burner to keep warm. I think I heard the LSO muttering that we need to put the summer weight duvet on but that might not be such a good idea at the moment.

My cheery statement that Spring is in the air in a previous blog seems to have been in part a bit hopeful. Still, despite the weather I am thoroughly enjoying our short spell of freedom.

 

Freedom.

IMG_0401.JPG

Such a sweet sounding word for me and for the LSO. Tomorrow we begin our month of liberty, release and the right to do what we want, when we want to do it. It seems to have been a long time arriving and latterly the time has not passed quickly but I know the coming month will.

The AP has not been quite so vociferous about her month in Scotland as she has been in previous years but that is because we have taken no notice of the rather unpleasant little asides that get muttered at intervals. Things like ‘you’ll be glad to have me out of your hair’ or ‘it’s difficult to pack for a whole month’ as if my cousin and his wife don’t have a washing machine and it’s not as if this is the first time she has been there either. We have been treated like servants with a continual string of demands made without much in the way of please and thank you and although I would like to think that it is just a foible of old age I know in my heart that it is very much how she now thinks of us.

Sad but I suppose inevitable. The AP always hated sarcasm and has always said in the past that it is the lowest form of wit but now she resorts to it as a way to get at us, thinking it clever but it only comes over as hurtful. Last week it was the turn of the LSO who had gone to the pharmacy to collect some hearing aid batteries for the AP. He managed to get a month’s supply and when told, the AP did say thank you but followed it up with ‘Oh, and you managed it all on your own then?’ said in a silly little voice. The one that is used when seeing chips on the plate, ‘oh goodie, chippies’. Fortunately the LSO didn’t retaliate.

It’s all so trivial really but when you live with this constant battering it’s hard to see things clearly and I am only too aware that the LSO and I desperately need this break if only to recharge the batteries ready for the month following our much needed breathing space.

The beginning of May will be the celebration of the AP’s 100 years. The LSO and I will become chief cooks, bottle washers, bed makers, chauffeurs and general dogsbodies whilst watching the AP gushing over everyone and playing the grand old dame for the benefit of the audience. We know that the minute everything has settled back to normal the AP we know and tolerate will return, pompous, vain, snobbish and capable of being extremely unpleasant.

Oh well, we will just have to smile sweetly and open another bottle!

Twenty-four hours to go to liberation.

 

On the brink again.

IMG_9358 2.jpg

Unfortunately not the brink of freedom, I think that the honeymoon time after the great revelation event is possibly coming to an end. I sincerely hope not because the inevitable upheaval will be enormous and the AP will HAVE to go into a home.

I really cannot deal with too many of her nasty little asides. The latest one was made after a conversation she had with cousin George who, god bless the man, had said after her 100th birthday which is the end of April she could go back up to Scotland with them. I did tell her that she would be up there anyway during April as we are replacing our boiler system and will be without water for some of that time but by all means do go up to bonny Scotland again, we would not mind at all.  Her response was a touch of the old vinegar. ‘Well you would say that wouldn’t you.’ Interesting reply to a straight comment and why shouldn’t I say it. I would be lying if I expressed regret at having the chance of some freedom, some personal space and some privacy.

I have no problem at all with the AP being more independent and just wish she would stop constantly looking for trouble, comments like ‘well, you will be pleased to know I am going up to my room now’ don’t help her cause at all. There are signs that she thinks her place here is safe now that she has agreed to a personal alarm but that is far, far from the truth. I do understand that she needs reassurance that she is wanted, don’t we all, but her attitude towards us doesn’t help to engender love and devotion.

I may need to leave the list of suitable care homes that we have found in a prominent position, she is quite prone to having a nose through our paperwork using the excuse that she thought there might be something in there for her. The fact that we always put anything for her where she sits seems to pass her by. But then most things do unless they  primarily concern her. She might just be needing a timely reminder that being pleasant costs nothing, just a teeny bit of effort.

Well, we’ll see. I don’t need one more iota of stress this year and nor does the LSO. Just to add an extra worry to our lives our oldest, at twelve years and much loved, Jack Russell has developed a strange cough and seems to have trouble breathing at times. The vet thinks her trachea may be collapsing but wants to X-Ray her to find out. We are not holding our breath that the news will be good.

 

Finding some freedom.

IMG_9389 2

Its a week since I wrote anything in this blog diary but it’s not because I didn’t want to write but mostly that everything is so damned depressing. I really must find a way out of the feeling of doom and gloom that is shrouding the LSO and myself.

Just to put the final touches to these feelings of misery I caught a really violent tummy bug that is still attempting to linger on four days later. The up side to that, if there is one, is that I have lost some weight and the LSO became Captain Dettol!

We really cannot blame the AP although her presence is a big part of the situation but she is not to blame for where we are now, we did that all on our own. We really had no idea what we were doing when we suggested that the AP comes to live with us four years ago.

The AP had always appeared to be a thoroughly social and outgoing person but we soon found out that the reality is exactly the opposite. She is highly critical of others and at times quite malicious about our friends basing everything on what she sees as a slight against herself. My god, who is this person I am writing about, I am shocked and horrified to say it is my mother, heaven forbid that my own children would feel this way about me or the LSO.

She has a better social life than us but that wouldn’t be difficult because, at the moment we don’t have one. The highlight of last week was trip to the bottle bank! Unless we instigate outings with the AP or arrange for her to go anywhere she will do nothing to help herself, just sit in her room watching television or staring into space or nodding off in the chair. That’s all ok and to be expected at 99 years of age but the downside is her attitude and general demeanour when spending time with us. The AP becomes bored and wants entertaining, like a child really. She gets everything mixed up now and is forgetful but is equally insistent that her absolutely wrong statements are true, refusing to accept the correct versions of events even when they are about us and not her. Her own mixed up memories of her life are no problem but it becomes more difficult when she makes incorrect statements to visitors and family about us and others. It’s all very sad really but in the meantime our lives are slipping by in this fog of extremely slow moving boredom.

It’s easy to think that we should snap out of this but it is becoming increasingly difficult. Before her arrival here we never stopped, we went out and explored, socialised, laughed a lot, the LSO did his printmaking, fishing and enjoyed his gardening. I painted in my studio, even selling the odd one, enjoyed my experimental cooking, the joy of living here and of course my bread making and now? Well it’s all too much of an effort.

We are trying so hard not to be resentful but I think we should put our energies into being more determined to change our situation and start going out more. There is a whiff of wallowing that can become habitual and we do need to stop that in its tracks.  We have contacted the Careline that supplies the personal alarm and key safe but as yet no-one has come back to us. That should at least give us some peace of mind when (not if) we go out. We must also ignore the inevitable guilt trip the AP will put us on the minute we do it.

Well here’s to at least some guilt free freedom at the end of the rainbow that would be more welcome than a pot of gold.

What a difference a break makes.

IMG_0328.JPG

Well we are just about two weeks into our break from the AP and after a delightful seven days in the wilds of North Norfolk I feel much more like my old self. The trip away was a gourmet’s delight which sadly highlighted the fact that we live in a culinary desert but the coast is only an hour away so we really must make more effort to visit it.

It was a bit unnerving when the BMW’s, Range Rovers, Mercedes and the odd Porsche 4WD arrived in their droves towards the end of the week and we were surrounded by a sea of Boden, Labradors and Hunter’s wellies but we didn’t allow it to spoil our enjoyment either of the excellent and varied cuisine available or the glorious beach walks with the dogs. There was such a wonderful choice of good places to eat that I felt like a kid in a sweet shop and to just top everything off we managed to get a cancellation at a Michelin starred restaurant and celebrated a rather belated forty-seventh wedding anniversary eating the most wonderful of meals. It has made us determined to return to The Neptune at a later date to sample the tasting menu but we will definitely need to book a room for the night.

Unfortunately we had to come home a little earlier that originally planned but that was because the weather suddenly turned much colder and wetter and we were just not equipped for it, no wellies, no warm jackets. Bit of an oversight really but then the weather has been so mild for so long that winter seemed ages away. Nevertheless it was  lovely to return to our own space. It’s amazing how a break can make you appreciate what you have and being on our own there is no pressure to do anything we don’t want to do. Although the heap of ripe chillies that greeted us on our return has meant another batch of hot chilli sauce is already underway.

Such a heavenly sense of freedom. It is just so important that we make the most of this return to normality because in fifteen days time the AP will be back. Am I counting? It’s hard not to when you know that within a few days of the AP’s return we will be back on the emotional rollercoaster although this time the LSO and I will try, I hope, to get out more on our own. Well that’s the plan at the moment.