Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Bus Wencher

Long time no post, but l now have time to start again.
Right now I'm sitting on the 15 bus to town, will shortly change for the X7, and as these are not the snug, comfy, tall seats of the Gold buses they seem to have removed from my journey to work, I shall not be sleeping at any point in the journey unless the bus makes me. Which it probably will. Definitely on the way home anyway.
I have been using this travel time as an opportune occasion to get on with my sadly neglected TBR pile, currently enjoying Blood of Assassins by RJ Barker and feel much happier for it... Traveling by train is great, it's quick, but doesn't give you time. And I may have to get up half an hour earlier, but I get back into town quicker on the way home. The bendiness of time! Or the fact that the train is not so great: it's expensive, often late and despite the gratitude I have towards all the guys who helped me get to work on the scooter when my ankle was kaput, I just can't afford it right now. I'm saving £60 a month by traveling on the bus, baby! Sweet smackaroony!
The ankle is still very much making its presence felt in my life. Shoes are a mare. It hurts. I can't dance. Plus ca change. Running for the bus is a no no. Also, I remain quite the chubster. Haven't been swimming for a while though, and really, really must.
What have I been up to in the intervening wasteland of time?
Campaigning for the libraries was reduced to occasional angry tweets, as NCC passed the buck on the 21 libraries they want to close to 'groups' that didn't include Save Kingsthorpe Library, and slapped a big NDA on each of them. I've been keeping an eye on the politicos from the side, and watching the section 114 notices roll in accompanied by a lack of sensible financial decision-making subsequently. The ex- leader got all tired and emotional (which is the press way of saying she cray cray, like drunk cray cray, but not drunk. Though it would make sense if she was) and swore the Jeffrey et Al at the press about my young Tory fellow campaigner in the council chambers who was one of the few who delivered the et tu Brute blows that finished her off (and ushered in the equally complicit Matt Golby). That was funny. You know when you see steam coming out of the ears in cartoons? Like that. I think my young friend has quite the future in politics. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Anyway a small child took NCC to court over the library closures and won. Hooray! We now just have to see the way it plays out, but some dastardly moves are still going on, like the stripping of book stock, redundancies, cancellation of periodicals and newspapers, selling of gifted property assets (that were gifted with usage conditions, so definitely not on).



Also for the last few months, I have been organizing a festival!

View from my tent

Jimtom


Tré Ventour

Cameron Grace
  
Kezzabelle
That's the Bardic Picnic, which took place in Beckett's Park on 5th August. Still on the paperwork, report and financial side of stuff, so can't relax just yet, but what a magical day.

Quite frankly it was exhausting and I went just a tiny bit insane as I wibbled and almost fell off my coping pole. So much to organise, plus an almost straight 10 hours of MCing and performing on the day itself , whihc beats my previous longest gig of a couple of months ago by 6 hours (4 hours of storytelling at Kettering Museum - because I am a tour de force!). The sun show down, everyone enjoyed some awesome spoken word and music, and there was vegan ice cream and rhubarb cider  - heaven! A bijou crowd remained for my headline comedy performance at the end, clashing with Jono and the Uke Dealers, but I made them laugh and that's what mattered. Plus we made two fantastic new bards: Sami the 9th Bard of Northampton, and Coral McShane junior bard.

Sami



What else? Well I've been working on my downsized allotment plot. I had yellow courgete pasta for tea last night and will have homegrown lettuce on my sandwiched today! Spuds are nearly ready, plus I have more lettuce, beets, caulis, cabbage and kohlrabi on the way.



Sunday, 22 April 2018

Back to Life

A very busy week has seen me not make great inroads into reorganising/refrugalising my life, but a few baby steps, nonetheless.

For a start, I've managed to make my lunch every day, saving probably around a tenner. Before had seen me getting dropped at the station, grabbing something reduced price from M&S for the next day (because I knew I would be too tired to bother), and hoping I could get through to a mini cab company for the journey home, as black cabs are an arm and a leg.

Good news, this week I am in shoes! My physiotherapist gave me the all clear to ditch the boot -- if I could -- about ten days ago, but I couldn't get into anything for a few days so had to keep the boot on to go to work. My foot is less swollen now, but still a bit bigger, and it's a bit less pronounced now, but my ankle is like the hip on a rose at the end of summer. Lace up pumps are the only shoes I can wear. I don't think I'll be able to war my Mary Janes or my Doc Marten boots for a while.

This week, I have managed to walk to the station on 3 out of 5 days, and get lifts the rest of the time. Trouble with getting lifts though, is I am susceptible to agreeing to not drive home straightaway, and that has seen us drive by a beer garden to appreciate the heatwave and get takeaway on the way home. Uh oh! My peak steps on Saturday were 10.9k, but that was a mistake doing that much as I was in agony after. I am settling down from the usual night pains, but I felt sore after yesterday's home physio session too, and it's making me wary of moving.

Still, every day, more control, but I still can't do everything I want/need to do and it's frustrating. I was worried about my allotment, but my friends have promised to come help in a couple of weeks, which is awesome! I am so happy knowing I'm not going to lose it.

Broken ankles are the enemy of frugalling! I saw 20p on the floor yesterday and I couldn't sodding pick it up!

Okay, enough moaning, here are the fab things from my week:

I went to see my friends' play Madam Bovary: a madcap tragedy at the Playhouse Theatre. It was excellent! Lou Chawner played Charles Bovary and the salesman. He broke his ankle too a few weeks ago (plagiarist!), so had to play with some retro under-elbow crutches, but even though this was a very physical production he was awesome in it. Nice one, Lou! Brilliantly cast as the lead was Julia Langley, who I told "gave good face" -- she does! She was excellent in The Rover too. I think she's a comic natural. My friends did brilliantly with the fantastic bed and mirrors-centred set design, puppets, staging, everything. Even ribbons were used with skill. Lovely, lovely night!

I also met up with my writers group, and got to finish signing copies of my antholgy for future sale and pick up my contributor copies. This is the happy face of a woman who loves practicing her autograph!



Might blog again very soon, about something that's been in the news loads lately. TBC!




Saturday, 7 April 2018

The Rest of Follycon




A week after coming back from Eastercon, my ambition to recount the weekend in lots of detail has failed as I've had to do other things. Plus, as I have been walking a lot more, I also need a lot of recovery time. My Fitbit has been recording from 3-5K, but as I ventured out today, I noticed it hasn't always been recording properly. All I know is, I ache.

Anyway, I should at least mention the highlights from last week, and apologies, it's not really the usual stuff you might read here.

On Friday, I launched a book! My book!

Specifically my latest anthology: The Best of British Science Fiction 2017.

This was immense. Mine wasn't the only book being launched, and I know pretty well that I wasn't the draw in a room with some pretty awesome authors, but it was such a buzz to see the launch room pack out. People got turned away because the room was so full!

And on Saturday, Chad Dixon took this photo of me controlling the presentation slides for the BSFA Awards. Woot, yes that's my wine!
I had a panel on Sunday to talk about the BSFA being 60 this year. I was moderating, accompanied by previous chairs Kev McVeigh and Joseph Nicholas, BSFA Review editor Susan Oke and previous award winner Jaine Fenn. It was quite a tough panel to be on with lots of strong opinions in the room, but very interesting. I had more wine for that one.

I had a great time in between those things, having long chats in the bar with my friends, or in the dealers room where I was on the BSFA desk. Access was a bit of an issue in the Majestic. When I felt up to it I coped with the stairs to the dealers room, but in the mornings I just couldn't, so a man called Stan would whizz me round to the step-free entrance by the art show on a golf buggy. He was a demon driver and then some!

We normally save up for the year and make conventions our holiday, though they are also quite work-filled things too, but I usually pride myself on being super-prepared. Sometimes these things cause you to be trapped in a very expensive location, so we have learned to take supplies with us for the lean times between panels. We also try to make the most of where we are. This year, with my broken ankle, we found ourselves in a lovely place that we couldn't take advantage of so much, and I did not feel prepared either. But I still had a great time.

Normal bloggery will resume again soon.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Follycon Gone!

Part one: Thursday.

Having changed the purple plaster for an awesome space boot last week, I was ready to go to a science fiction convention in Harrogate.

But first, a stop in Yardley Hastings for a celebratory cake.



As gleeful as I was to get a boot that looks like part of Marvin the Paranoid Android, the smile somewhat faded when I realised walking is now double hard and I miss my scooter.

The journey to Harrogate on Thursday was a good deal longer than it should have been, but I was delighted to find myself travelling on the A1 - lead tarmac of the film of the same name, A1: The Long Road to Edinburgh a film by newbie comedian Mark Row about his first year in comedy and which I got invited to see at a screening last week as a guest of Nig Lovell, who was also in it. Only to discover I was also in the film! Well, the sound of my cackling voice was (at a gig in Milton Keynes). We listened to a short story collection audiobook from the library on the way on time travel.

Unfortunately, because time travel was working incorrectly for us, we ended up missing a table booked for a hotel, and instead ate at our hotel - the beautiful Crown! This was a hotel at which Lord Byron once stayed in 1806, and they are very proud of this and have the poem he wrote then on the wall, which you can read on the way in to breakfast.

To a Beautiful Quaker.
Sweet girl! though only once we met,
That meeting I shall ne'er forget;
And though we ne'er may meet again,
Remembrance will thy form retain.
I would not say, "I love," but still
My senses struggle with my will:
In vain, to drive thee from my breast,
My thoughts are more and more represt;
In vain I check the rising sighs,
Another to the last replies:
Perhaps this is not love, but yet
Our meeting I can ne'er forget.

What though we never silence broke,
Our eyes a sweeter language spoke.
The tongue in flattering falsehood deals,
And tells a tale it never feels;
Deceit the guilty lips impart,
And hush the mandates of the heart;
But soul's interpreters, the eyes,
Spurn such restraint and scorn disguise.
As thus our glances oft conversed,
And all our bosoms felt, rehearsed,
No spirit, from within, reproved us,
Say rather, "'twas the spirit moved us."
Though what they utter'd I repress,
Yet I conceive thou'lt partly guess;
For as on thee my memory ponders,
Perchance to me thine also wanders.
This for myself, at least, I'll say,
Thy form appears through night, through day:
Awake, with it my fancy teems;
In sleep, it smiles in fleeting dreams;
The vision charms the hours away,
And bids me curse Aurora's ray
For breaking slumbers of delight
Which make me wish for endless night:
Since, oh! whate'er my future fate,
Shall joy or woe my steps await,
Tempted by love, by storms beset,
Thine image I can ne'er forget.

Alas! again no more we meet,
No more former looks repeat;
Then let me breathe this parting prayer,
The dictate of my bosom's care:
"May heaven so guard my lovely quaker,
That anguish never can o'ertake her;
That peace and virtue ne'er forsake her,
But bliss be aye her heart's partaker!
Oh, may the happy mortal, fated
To be by dearest ties related,
For her each hour new joys discover,
And lose the husband in the lover!
May that fair bosom never know
What 't is to feel the restless woe
Which stings the soul with vain regret,
Of him who never can forget!"

In other words: "I quite fancy you!" Did they or didn't they? Probably. He was only eighteen but apparently he'd already had a collection of poetry burned for being too saucy.

We had chosen to stay at the Crown because it was a cheaper hotel than the convention hotel - the Majestic - and only a five minute walk away. Only!! Well, after walking there on the first night, it became clear I would need to use a lot of taxis. Thankfully, taxis in Harrogate were fairly cheap.

And the food was amazing at the Crown. I had macaroni cheese with Whitby crab (oh my life - it so works!) and OH the steak and ale pudding. Then we went to the Majestic to begin locating friends. We found Ian Watson and Cristina Macia in the bar with Roberto Quaglia, and were joined by fellow NSFWG member Andy West, Dave Lally, Neil Williamson, and were then joined by friends Jess and Kris, who had enjoyed the pleasures of the A1 for even longer than we had. Finally we met Ian Whates and Helen, whose company we had missed at dinner. But it was a fairly early night for all of us before the con proper the next morning. And the memory fuzzes already... the bar was busy, we were tired, and so I am now...

To be continued...

Monday, 19 March 2018

Still Broken and so's Everything Else

Another eight days until my plaster comes off, and yet I am still not getting a full night's sleep as I keep waking up in pain after intense dreams about my feet and kicking myself awake. The cat is very worried and comes and purrs and dribbles in my face. Or, he might be hungry and thinking I'm awake so that means breakfast time now. Who knows the minds of cats...?

The frugalling is very mixed: I can't get to the shops, so have not been coming back with half of Aldi's special aisle every week... A tad too much spent on takeaways... Rather a lot of frozen veg eaten... Same meals several days in a row... I've run out of 30p chocolate...

PLEASE SEND CHOCOLATE!

I have only managed to get to the pub once since last blog and I only had my walker when I got there so had to climb over the steps. OH arrived with my crutches to get me back out of the building with more dignity. Well, I say more dignity, if you can have any after midnight when you've been on the Thatchers and only have one leg. Besides this, we had a boozy couple of cans-at-home days the week before, but generally much less in the way of alcohol than the early days of gloom, so I am hopeful that the expanding belly has not expanded as much as I'd feared. I can still get in my grey combats anyway. Plus, witness me on a friend's telly yesterday, looking kind of like a small child*!

* specifically, Wednesday Addams.

On a snowy day, I made my way to Northampton College to take part in a debate about Northampton County Council being slammed in Max Caller's "Best Value" Report. I was there representing library campaigners, and I was really concerned that libraries only got mentioned once in the report once, and it seemed to be to blame NCC for not getting rid of library staff already to save the money. This makes me really worried that when the commissioners come in a poo situation will become one of such deep guano, it will be visible from space and we find more penguins in it. Not Penguin books, either.


As I nearly brained myself getting there (falling over on the ice as soon as I got off my front step, and slipping several times on the path up to the college), I was a bit miffed to be told I was question 4, and they only got up to question 3. So, yet another political debate programme next to my long-haired husband, where we have smised, looked miserable, and not got to speak (we are Northampton's Posh and Becks of politics). 


Of course, I had to be sitting next to Jim Harker, former head of NCC until 2015 whose fault the mess most definitely mostly is, but no torches can reach him like they could Heather Smith. He seems a nice enough fella, but my goodness, does he seem blithe or what?

I think what the report does seem to indicate is a lack of strong management, but is riddled with p-taking statements like "In Local Government there is no substitute for doing boring really well." Things like that are hilarious, but not really very helpful. I agree with Gareth Eales speaking in the programme yesterday, that services will need transitional funding, not just some vague statement within about "This may require some transitional funding to ensure the effective establishment of the new authorities and also the postponement of any local elections due in May 2019." What, does that just cover the cost of elections? Whoop-de-doo. Unless the commissioners can come in and help run the services as they should, and not just make things worse, then what is the point?

So, what the report doesn't do is wave a magic wand over the incredible cheek of the March 13th cabinet notes and make them go away. Community groups have now been offered a range of packages to take over their closing libraries from bronze to platinum, and they are so crappy. Bronze is 500 books for £6K for 1 year. Silver is the same for £6.5K but shelf-ready. No idea what you are getting either, all blind. Gold, you have to buy silver package first, then can start adding on the NCC library management system (1 scanner, 1 terminal, system support - but read on - catalogue and manual) for £3.5K per year, plus £1.75K set up costs, and then you need to pay an annual charge of £600 for telephone/email support. You must buy Gold and Silver to then buy Platinum bolt-ons inclusing a self-service terminal at £650 per year, a training session on how to use the stuff at £500 for a 6.5 hour day, participation in schemes like Bookstart and national reading challenge charged at (mystery) cost. Plus if you need on-site help after, that's £100 per hour plus travel expenses please!

Of course, you could just go your own way. And at these prices, that's what many are planning from what I've heard. Totally manual, uncomputerised systems, sourcing their own book stock, hoping the volunteers keep coming and users too. And they'll be spending a fortune on leases and running costs. I've heard some are taking out special loans for the village to pay back. I mean, that's... wow. Might as well shove your old Martina Coles in a telephone box, call it a library and save yourself the heartache. I think many such things also have defibrillators in them, which is not only very useful, but handy if you suddenly go into cardiac arrest at the realisation that this is kind of the best some places can manage. 

My heart is utterly broken.

Still, we keep campaigning and fighting for our libraries.


After leaving filming, I went to The Lab to run a comedy creative writing workshop, and had a lovely Sunday lunch and a great time with the Arts Lab crew. It started snowing again then. Even though the Lab has ramps for easier access to the pavement, getting out over the ice was traumatic, and it took 4 people to get me to the car. I had decided to let the ice melt a bit before venturing out today as my little walker brakes can only do so much and I don't have help getting from the station to the office. Means I've had to take it as holiday, but what can I do?

Can't wait until I'm a bit more mobile again. Just worried about the pain now.

I've cheered myself up with booking a convention for October

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Frugalwench is broken





The wench is broken! I broke my ankle almost three weeks ago when I got lost on the way to a gig at Leicester Comedy Festival. I found myself being led by Google Maps over a scary traffic bridge, where I panicked and fell over. 

No, I'm not sure either, but I keep doing this, especially on tall stairs and footbridges. The temporary stairs at Northampton station were an absolute nightmare to me, and for some reason when I have gone to fall sometimes, it hasn't been in the safe direction. I've frequently ended up having to quickly sit while the crowd flows past me tutting, because my hand-rail is suddenly occupied by someone in the opposite direction who won't let go either. People have asked is it vertigo, and I do get vertigo as well, but it's not that.

I just hate heights.

A pants way to end what had been a great day. I'd gone to see the Adventures of Baron Munchausen, starring my mate Nig Lovell and others - a fantastically funny improvised storytelling event, which was a real hit with the grown ups as well as the kids.


We spent some time with the storytellers before heading off for food, and then Lucy Thompson's show "Shake it Off", except I went and broke my ankle in between.

We did make the gig eventually, through much pain for what I assumed was a mere sprain, but only after reaching the wrong venue first - a skate park called Broom, instead of a bar called Broood.

Broom looked like a cool skate park, and I winced at every skilful landing the skater kids were doing as though they were about to do what I had just done, while OH and the attendant worked out where we should have been and tried to sort out how I might get there, as apparently it was not the sort of area where the taxis would go.  Uh oh!

Massive gratitude to the attendant who went and ran for a taxi for me, and we got to the venue okay. The show was really good too. But... ow!

The next morning, my ankle was looking distinctly odd, so we looked for the details online as to where was best to check it out. Very important you do this as sometimes it will not be your A&E .

It was very quickly ascertained that I had a broken fibula and I got some crutches and a temp cast before my fracture clinic appointment, and my brill friend Jen took me to that. And so I got a purple cast!

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and indoor
It quickly transpired the crutches were not going to get me to work and I kept having clumsy accidents in my house, so I have had to splash on kneewalker hire. I get lots of enquiries from other fracture sufferers, and I know I'm lucky to have had some savings to cover the cost, as some people have been very crestfallen when they realise it's £23 a week. I think it has helped me lots, and even though I've been in lots of pain, and not slept, I at least have this which helps me maintain my balance to cook, wash up, or even pursue the crumbs OH leaves on the floor with a broom like some demented polo player. And of course, go to work... as I don't get sick pay.

It's not perfect, I have hurt my knees using it, and some basic things are still beyond my power, like carrying a plate or cup. To get round this, I have a screw-top thermal travel mug, which I still need to be very slow and careful with, and a screw-top lunch pot that I can out in a bag hanging off the bars.

Some tips if you are going to use one of these to get to work on a train. It's not common knowledge, but you should arrange for ramp assistance 24 hours in advance of when you need it, and turn up to the station 20 minutes before you need to travel. Try to travel in quieter times if you can, as people walking through the train can be oblivious.
Image may contain: shoes and indoor


I've been accommodated by work to work from home this week, but that has to change as I have classes. I've been spared the need to walk in the snow (I am out of food, chocolate and ibuprofen though), but I am worried about coping next week. Big time.

Also, the other bones in my foot keep relocating themselves as gravity pops them, which is a shocker. And cramps.... ai ai ai!

What's it like to have a broken ankle, apart from painful and sucky?

Well, I've had to cancel gigs, signings and weekends away. I've got addicted to social media just to feel like I'm keeping in touch with things. I can see great swathes of housework not being done and feel antsy. I'm having to sleep downstairs as my bedroom is inaccessible due to a danger landing. I have to make sure OH is on hand with my cast cover to help me shower as the danger is getting up our Victorian stairs. Our Victorian lean-to toilet is my accessible toilet. Yep, in this weather, I'm practically going outside. I'm not wearing my Fitbit because it's depressing. I have had to throw lots of defrosted fruit I was going to make into jam because I am not capable of that. Thanks to a slow and careful removal of the foods OH was blithe to, at least the fridge no longer looks like the one in  Minority Report, but I'm very frustrated at not being able to go shopping for things we need now. I'm eating Christmas Panettone, I'm that desperate!

A lot of convenience food has been bought to save my poor overworked OH the bother, and I'm neither feeling healthy nor frugal. I am beginning to see the point of Wiltshire Farm Foods.

So, what's to come? Six weeks in this cast (2 weeks down), then a boot, then crutches alone. This is gonna be sloooow.

And my X-Rays don't really show healing, but they show I'm still aligned. I have a sliver of bone that was cracked before , and now wedged out like a triangle, but apparently that's okay. It just means my fibula will be thicker there.

Oh great. Asymmetric cankle!


Saturday, 20 January 2018

Aldi does it too? Well, so do I!

I'm an idiot! I can't believe I've had my Fitbit for 2 years and have only just figured out the weight loss calorie adjustment!

I wondered why the heck it kept telling me to eat as much as I was burning, and then I ended up gaining weight after guesstimating a bit too much. I've now started using the food log properly, and though the first 3 weeks of the year now look a bit candy striped as I've apparently missed my goals loads without realising, I'm now on track to do better. But, 2lbs lost every week so far regardless. Heeey! 😇😇

Might as well use these tools, they're free! If you don't have a tracker but do have a smartphone, try these. I also used a combo of Strava, Runkeeper and MyFitnessPal. And yes, I wasn't obese then, so those things did help.🏃

One of the things I've learned is that protein is such a huge factor in levels of satisfaction and avoiding cravings. And so is fat! I used to avoid fat and really load up on starchy carbohydrates. But, I actually think I've cracked this malarkey now. I eat nuts, seeds, avocados... the very things I used to avoid. I'm not hungry, and I feel great.

I must fess up though, and it pains me to say, but that First for Wellbeing thing may well have been right about the booze. I may have had my dreams haunted by missing bottles of Malbec, but I have not just gained in the wallet. I've gained actual time back. It means extra minutes in the morning, extra energy to fit in my exercise, less ennui generally. I don't get hangovers... but I now recognise I was extra tired and hungry thanks to booze. So happy to be weaning myself off that. Wonder what I'll do when it gets to February? (38 cans of cider in the kitchen...)

Absolutely no problem getting up for the last 3 weeks of Parkrun, and getting faster each week. 🏃 I even ran in the rain today! Plus I've already won 2 Workweek Hustle challenges on Fitbit.🏆

I'm also looking to save money and pay off my debts still, so this weekend I thought I'd address my new-found weakness for protein-rich snacks. I've tried various ones from Aldi: the Pecan Pie crush bars; the Macademia and Coconut Paleo bars and both flavours of Cacao brownie - almond and raisin and peanut and choc chip. They are tasty, have no nasty extras, and fit my macros. Unfortunately, they're almost as expensive as regular chocolate bars, which I wouldn't have bought every day, so they are adding significantly to my brought-in lunch costs.

I found this recipe for 'paleo' bars that looked so similar to something I was tempted by in a café near work, I just had to give it a go. But I tweaked the measurements to make them more Brit-friendly.

150g blanched almonds
55g walnuts
35g cocoa
20 dates (just the ones I had, bought from the awesome grocers in the arcade in Gold Street)
orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
pinch salt.

What that gives me nutrition-wise is this:



And cost-wise, this:
almonds: £1.49
walnuts: £0.55
cocoa: £0.33
dates: £1.24
orange: £0.16

Total: £3.77 - 31p per bar.
This compares very favourably to the Aldi Peanut and Choc Chip Cacao Brownie, which at £1.49 for 3 is 50p per bar, and much the same size.

Also, I can confirm, delicious!

I'm a tad busy writing tonight, otherwise I'd cosy up with a library book. I found The Doctor's Kitchen, which I've been listening to the podcast of. Soon, soon...

Monday, 1 January 2018

Chicken Rescue!

As promised, here is my rather dishevelled attempt at 80s style icon Caron Keating in her bin bag dress!

Well, one person remembered her wearing it, anyway. She might have been humouring me...
The advantage of wearing a wraparound binbag dress was that I could stow it away as soon as it became a nuisance. But the fact that it became a nuisance was because it was made of binbags. They tend to stretch, and the thing was constantly falling off.

Total number of people who bothered wearing fancy dress: 4, I think. Ah well. Mind, OH dressed as the second Doctor, so didn't even have the right decade.

Well, maybe the above can be my "before" image. One day into the new year and my new fitness regime is going awesomely! While OH slumbered, I went for my traditional New Year hike. 

I thought I'd go the 'pretty' way to get to the walk I wanted to do. Mind, the pretty way is not so pretty right now... loads of abandoned alcohol cans littering the way into the park behind the industrial estate, but at least the boggy conditions by the nature reserve seem to have deterred inconsiderate drinkers from going past the river.

Conditions were pretty squelchy as I went through the park, which is on the site of an old mill. Here you can see little eddies in the fast-flowing river.

 In order not to lose my shoes in the mud, I picked my way through the bracken at the back of the church.
 But the way really was very muddy! Some straw for the horses in a relatively dry spot, or a bit of equine line-dancing?
 Then on to the N6, Brampton Valley Way. It was a very busy day. People out with their dogs, their kids, their chicken...
Oh yeah, there was a chicken. Wondered what to do about that at first. A lot of people just shaking their heads and worrying about foxes, but the poor chuck was clearly just as worried by some of the dogs on leads who were showing her some interest. I was close to phoning the RSPB, but a family were out walking their Labradors, and they knew the owner, so were able to alert her to the fugitive fowl.
I continued apace, and wow, my Fitbit is currently on 23799 steps, just over 9 miles walked today!

It's so tempting to throw money after keeping fit and healthy and losing weight, especially at New Year, but I'm using what I have (the Fitbit!) and won't be joining any clubs. All it has been doing over Christmas is logging just how far behind I am with my steps groups... no more. I'm winning, winning the Workweek Challenge I tell you! Mwa ha ha ha ha....

Won't last. There are some very competitive bods in my group. I can sense them getting twitchy...