Bunions Oignons

I have bunions. Not grossly gnarled toes yet but they’re definitely beginning to wander in the wrong direction. A trip to the GP confirmed it and he gave me a letter to give to the specialist and I was to phone and make my own appointment with him. All very simple. 

Appointment made but was told to bring a recent X-ray with me. Back to GP for X-ray referral note. We chose to drive to the clinic to arrange an appointment. We arrived at the clinic at 4:30 on Friday afternoon.

Me: I’d like to make an appointment for a foot X-ray please

Receptionist: Do you want it done now?

Me: Yes please

Receptionist to Radiographer sitting next to her: That’s ok isn’t it, you can do it now?

Radiographer to me: Yes but only if you’ve got me a box of chocolates 😂

15 minutes later I walk out of the clinic clutching my X-rays (honestly if I thought my feet were awful with skin on, the bone view is disgusting) and without having to hand over any chocolates.

Oh and I get to choose which specialist I see.  At the 2nd visit to the GP to get the X-ray referral I asked him if the specialist he’d first suggested was the best one. He said he was very good but his specialism included knees and thighs as well as feet but if I just wanted a specialist who only dealt with feet he would give me the details and it was entirely my choice who I saw.

All this done without managers setting targets, monitoring workloads, producing meaningless reports, interfering in medical staff time-management……..

Quite refreshing.

The Fast Show

Up until I was in my early 20s I was skinny, really skinny. I ate what I wanted, the cream off the top of the full fat milk was poured onto my daily bowl of cornflakes, dinner money was spent down the chippy most school days, sweets were a daily treat. 

When I got to my early 20s the weight started to creep on, nothing had apparently changed in my diet but I suppose it was just one of those things. I then started to look at the diet advice in magazines, utterly ridiculous fad diet ideas which never appealed to me as a fussy eater at the time but I was still only a Size 12 so not really an issue. I had however always decided that if I ever got to a Size 14 that was when I needed to do something.

I was creeping nearer that size when I ventured into a Weight Watchers class, got my diet sheet and advice and set off for my first week of proper calorie controlled eating. I hated measuring food, I hated the restrictions imposed but I did it and the next week I headed back to the class clutching my food diary and ready for the big weigh in. I have no memory of whether that week was successful in weight loss or not I just remember being told off for eating 3 eggs in one meal. So my short foray into the world of Weight Watchers ended there and then, I wasn’t paying good money to be humiliated for making an error.

A few years later Slimming World entered my life, I liked Slimming World, I had the freedom to eat what I liked within a framework of Red and Green days. The first week I lost 5 pounds in weight and I continued to do well on it for a year or so reaching goal, then losing interest and going back to my usual habits. Life moved on and several years later I was edging closer to the dreaded (in my eyes) size 14 again so back to Slimming World I went, their diet had changed a bit, I was less successful but still managed to reach goal. Then I lost interest again.

Yo-yo dieting was becoming a ‘thing’ in my life.

Finally 3 years ago I took the plunge with 5:2 intermittent fasting, I read the book, I read the reviews of those already on 5:2 and I loved the health benefits that this diet offered. As someone in their mid 50s and their body doing what it does as you get older i.e. falling apart, it was time to start focussing on looking after this valuable commodity. And so I started fasting. The first couple of months took some getting used to, finding a pattern of eating 500 calories that suited me was tricky. I’d believed for years that unless I had breakfast I couldn’t function, after getting up one fasting day and having nothing in the house for breakfast I headed off to work convinced I’d faint or something awful would happen. It didn’t, in fact I felt less hungry. I then started to split my calories over lunch then dinner, this worked well but also gave me the flexibility of also just having all the calories for my evening meal on those fasting days when I couldn’t get a lunch break.

The weight dropped off, I felt healthier, I had much more energy and on 5 days of the week I ate whatever I wanted. It suited my lifestyle and it didn’t interfere in my family meals. 3 years on and I still follow the diet, I only take a break when I’m on holiday, or now, as we are permanently on holiday (well not quite but it feels like it most days), when we have family visiting us for holidays.

So 35 years after the weight started creeping on me I finally found a way to control it. 

Snap happy

One of the great things about living in this wonderful part of the world has been all the amazing sights, from stunning views of mountains, the coast, plants and trees and the wildlife. For the past few years I’ve chosen a mobile phone based on its camera specification to ensure I was able to get some good photos without having to resort to carrying round a camera, and I was always delighted with the results (Sony Xperia Z3 is my latest phone). However I began to want to experiment more with my pictures, I particularly wanted to be able to zoom into areas that I wasn’t able to get to but with good results, not the pale, grainy, indistinct shots I was sometimes getting with my phone. With Christmas approaching I started to think of asking Santa for a decent camera. I thought of getting an SLR mainly because I assumed it was the best type of camera to go for but I asked the advice of a friend on Facebook, who is a great photographer, and she mentioned a Bridge camera. I hadn’t heard of one of those so started doing research and after initially having my eye on a very impressive, and expensive, one with a 90x zoom capability but which also weighed a ton, I started to look at more realistically priced options and Santa finally delivered me a fabulous Sony DSC H400 which has an impressive 63x zoom, is lighter and gives amazing photos.

On Christmas Day my photography frenzy began; first I snapped this little chap in our garden

   
Then I went in for the big zoom to the peak of one of our nearby mountains

A close up of some seeds on a branch
    
Then finally the ‘piece de resistance’ The Moon.

 

I’ve obviously taken some duff photos too, and I’ve driven my daughters to distraction with constant close-ups of them but I’m having so much fun with my new toy. I’ve just got to get to grips with a few other things now, confidently using different settings on the camera,  maybe protecting my images and most important of all remembering to take off the lens cover!

Valencia

As a slightly early anniversary present to ourselves we booked a few days in Valencia. We didn’t know too much about the city before we booked but it ticked our criteria for easy access and visiting somewhere that we hadn’t been before.  As soon as word was out of our destination we heard lots of wonderful things about it and some excellent recommendations of things to see when we were there.

Just a five hour drive from our home and we were in the plains surrounding this beautiful city. A bit of hassle finding our hotel almost took the edge off the excitement of our break but once we found it we were suddenly in heaven. The hotel was situated on the outskirts of Valencia not too far from the wide, sandy beaches. A good choice of location even if we got lost a couple of times.

The first evening we took the hotel recommendation of a restaurant on the seafront and after a walk along the wide promenade and being overwhelmed by the vast numbers of dog owners out for a stroll (at least 50% of people had at least one dog in tow) we enjoyed our first valencian meal.

The next day, a baking hot day, we took the metro into the centre and a couple of tourist bus trips round the city to get a feel for the place and also ensure we got to see as much as possible.  A compact city, crammed with culture was what we found. Stunning old and new architecture in bucketloads.

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The most striking things apart from the architecture was the decision taken after disastrous floods affected the city in 1957. The river was diverted from the city and the old river bed turned into a glorious Park which from what we could see was used extensively by young, old and everyone in between.

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A full day of sightseeing was had and the following day was spent mainly indoors visiting the incredible central market,

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the silk market hall,

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and one of the many art galleries.  Truly a cultural day.

After our final night at the hotel and a warm send off by the friendly hotel staff we decided to have a long walk along the beach, have lunch before heading home.

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Valencia; a wonderful place and well worth a visit.

And I’d like to thank………..

…….well Eileen actually or rather Thesearegrandmasthoughts for this lovely award. It’s a Liebster  award

 
A great way for fellow bloggers to show their support for each other, to maybe broaden their readership but certainly to acknowledge how much they enjoy their words. I was more than a little flattered to get the nomination and I hope that those I nominate will get as much of a buzz as I have.

Now onto the important bit…….I’ve got some ‘probing’ questions to answer so brace yourself for my innermost thoughts 😂
When you were growing up what was your dream job? 

I dreamt of being a Fashion Designer. I’d spend hours doodling designs for dresses but, and its a big BUT, I had no original ideas, what I was doing was just drawing other people’s designs. I have a small talent for drawing but not for real creativity so that was never going to be my career. Rather disappointingly I’m not sure I ever found my dream job either. If I could relive my life I genuinely would train to be a plumber (see next question) I’m pretty certain I’d be good at it, it’d be useful and based on my age it would’ve been quite trail-blazing to be a female plumber in a male dominated trade at that time.

Jack of all trades or Master of one?

Jack of all trades definitely. I’m a very ‘handy’ person, I love DIY and will attempt most things. I infuriatingly rarely read instructions and frequently still get it right and when I don’t…..well I don’t admit it.

Your favourite piece of music, and why?

Oh this is difficult, I have favourite pieces of music for various moods. But if I really am pushed then it’s……..

It never entered my mind by Miles Davis. A real heart stopper for me. First heard this one lazy Sunday morning when I was at my future 2nd husbands house (not that I knew he was going to be that then) and whenever I hear it I’m transported back but also reminded how lucky I am to be with this wonderful fella.

Fondest childhood memory?

My Mum doing an impersonation of the laughing policeman. She was the kindest, sweetest but most of all funniest woman I’ve ever known (my two daughters seem to have inherited her wonderful qualities) and she knew that whatever the mood she could always make us laugh when she did that.

Book or Kindle?

Another tough one. I love books and when we packed all our belongings up to come to France our books were the things we had most difficulty sorting out and reducing. But having said that I’m a Kindle convert;  I don’t need to find more storage space, I can easily chop and change what I’m reading depending on mood and most of all I can still buy physical books if I really want to.

If you could speak another language which would it be and why?

It has to be French. I can speak it but I’m not fluent or overly confident and I need to be now that I’m a resident of France now. And once I’ve mastered that, it’ll be Spanish as we live very close to the border with Spain.

If you had to choose to live without one of your 5 senses, which would you give up?

Oh this is tough, I’ve got damned good arguements for all five but I’ve got to choose one so all things considered I’d have to go for smell as for me the other senses would compensate sufficiently I think. 

Craziest thing you’ve ever done

I’m very impetuous so I’ve made my share of crazy, impetuous decisions usually involving spending money. I’m also a scaredy cat so doing something wild would never, ever happen. So I’m not sure I can think of anything that truly fits this criteria…sorry to disappoint with this question.

How did you choose your Twitter name?

This is easy. My day is dominated by drinking tea. It’s my first drink of the day and I drink lots of it. It also rhymes rather nicely with my surname initial.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Here. We moved to France 9 months ago, it was a long-held dream to live here and, touch wood, it’s living up to, and exceeding, all expectations.

Well there you go, that’s my soul bared. So now I have the task of nominating other bloggers. I’m supposed to nominate 10 who have less than 200 followers, well I don’t know that many so I’m just going to nominate 3……

Lamputts on land a fab blog from a lovely lady sharing her view of life travelling and living abroad
Tea milk no sugar a fellow tea lover sharing his love of that fine beverage
Fair weather cyclist a new blogger sharing his experience and views of cycling in that great county of Northumberland

And the questions I’ll pose are;
Twitter or Facebook? And why?

What’s your favourite book

Who do you admire? And why?

Which season do you prefer?

Name 3 people (they can be living, dead, famous or not, fictional…….) you’d love to invite to dinner

Earliest childhood memory

What inspired you to write a blog?

What makes you laugh, really laugh?

When was the last time you laughed like that?

I believe everyone has a talent, what’s yours?

So, now all you have to do is:

Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them

Copy the Liebester image from their site and paste into yours

Answer their questions… They’re not too hard or probing!

Choose people to nominate (should be blogs with less than 200 followers)

Ask them some probing questions

when you’re finished leave them a message on their blog or Twitter to let them know they’ve been nominated

Good luck 😃

If music be the food of love……

As a long time attender of gigs I finally got to attend a music festival last week. Ok it was only one day of the four days, there were not banks of tents, mud, and generally unwashed people milling around but it was a music festival and it was all day and there were three different stages for bands to perform on so in my book it fitted the bill.

Not being experienced festival goers we packed our insulated backpack filled it with cool blocks, water, Cola and a couple of baguettes from our favourite bakery and to keep the sun off us we took a large golf umbrella. Sensible.

The festival was well-organised with free car parking and free bus shuttle to the venue. So far so good. Well apart from slight mishap as I banged my head on the rail above the bus seat, but no one noticed so I still was exuding cool, in my eyes anyway.

Arriving at the venue, a lovely château up on a hill with views across the Mediterranean, we noticed the age range of fellow attendees to vary from young to old.  A good sign.

When we went through the entrance gates our sensible baggage was not allowed so we had to put the brolly,  ice blocks and cans of drinks into the ‘left luggage’ area before heading in.

Our first views of the area inside was impressive with the backdrop of the chateau and set amongst the trees was a stage and surrounding the area were a good variety of food and drink stalls.

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We set our blanket down and settled ourselves ready for the first 3 acts; all pretty good but the shining star of the lot were Mountain Men, a bluegrass band with so much energy you couldn’t fail to stamp your feet and enjoy their music.

After that set we headed to the larger area where 2 stages were set at right angles to each other and this was where the remaining acts were going to perform. Alternating between the stages and with barely a breath between acts, it was incredible organisation.  All you had to do was turn your head from one stage to the other ; no decision needed on who to see, you saw them all.

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The atmosphere was excellent,  no rowdy drunken behaviour,  good humour abounded. It really was a family friendly environment.

As to the acts, well clearly Santana were the stars of the show, giving a polished performance as you would expect. One act stood out for us, not because he was good however,  but because we were incredulous that despite being so awful he is clearly a much loved French singer. We stood in shock as his awful songs were greeted with cheers and singalongs.  We squirmed as he ‘seductively’ undid the buttons of his shirt. We laughed as he tried to exude rock star status by leaping off the stage, running through the crowd to clamber astride the water fountain then hitching a lift back to the stage on the back of some poor man in the audience. One can only imagine how that chap felt with his neck wrapped by the sweaty crotch of this fella. But we clearly were in a minority, his French fans loved him, young, old, male and female.  Très bizarre.

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Another act followed Mr Charisma and that was a lad from Suffolk who barely speaks any French,  sings in English and is obviously another big star over here. This time however we could appreciate a bit more why he was popular. Still not necessarily to our taste but at least his songs had more than 3 words in them.

After Santana finished and buoyed up by our first experience of a music festival we headed back, picked up our brolly, ice blocks and cans and headed for the free bus back to the car park and the short drive home.

An excellent day out. Proof yet again that the French are superb at organisation. And yes I think we might do it again.