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The hell of half-term swimming

By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

I used to think ghosts were scary. Or those horrible Scream masks. But now I’ve discovered something far more terrifying – daring to go swimming in the half term holiday.

My first mistake was going to the swimming pool with recently washed/styled hair and perfectly acceptable make-up. (Throughout the late 80s and early 90s I watched in awe as my mother swam lengths of the pool with perfect coiffed hair, without so much as a splash on her Foster Grants. I’ll just do the same, I thought.) Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

The relative calm of the car park lulled me into a false sense of security. After my toddler and I had run the gauntlet of the changing room (drains cobwebbed by rank bits of hair, and a random child trying to shove his half-chewed armband into my little boy’s swim nappy) we emerged into the pool area to an immediate assault upon the senses. Shouting, screaming and a distinct whiff of wee, with a side of shoving thrown in for good measure. We elbowed our way through the crowds to get into the water and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was as hot as a bath. The smile quickly drained from my face as I realised we were surrounded by small children concentrating, so after dodging our way into a slightly less-warm zone we finally discovered a bit of space to splash about in.

Now, am I the only one who finds it quite odd to be bobbing around in a pool of water with a load of strangers who are only slightly clothed? I find it weird. Every time. I don’t know what it is about a heaving swimming pool but there are no situations where it is OK to brush a naked limb against a stranger unless they say you can. I don’t care if you ARE swimming – I do not appreciate toes in my ear, thighs touching my forearm or hairy backs grazing my cheek. I was accidentally groped more times today than I have had hot dinners in my entire existence. No one apologises, no one looks embarrassed and no one stops to say thank you. I think swimming pool etiquette in our neck of the woods needs some serious addressing.

Another problem I have is why women have to cover their breasts when plenty of men sporting a near C-cup are allowed to leap into the water without a care in the world. I would much rather see an actual breast than a hairy man boob (and if I am ever Prime Minister I’ll definitely make sure Parliament debate this). I have never wished this before, but when we got out to escape to the whirlpool I desperately hoped the hair that was caught between my fingers was someone’s discarded pubic hair, rather than a moob hair. This is not something someone should have to worry about when they have paid £9.50 for the privilege.

Finally, when my nerves and my eyes had just about had enough, I decided we would make our way through the throngs of shrieking teenagers towards the baby pool. Just then a massive kid, who looked like the lovechild of a Sumo Wrestler and a Tombliboo, decided to dive bomb right in front of us; landing on my knee, drenching half the people in the pool and splashing even the photographer who was standing ‘safely’ in the viewing area. I’m afraid I just about lost it then. After telling Tombliboo-boy that he should learn the rules of the pool (no petting, no bombing etc) we got out, stormed past said Photographer (waving his camera at me rather optimistically) and took a hasty shower. I love swimming with my little one but I have to say the overall experience was pretty horrendous. I even saw someone squatting down with their trunks off between the plastic palm tree and the pirate ship, which just about summed up the afternoon.

This one wasn't as cute

My local version certainly wasn’t as cute

I used to hide behind the nearest bush when I saw a Scream mask. Or run the other way if I thought I saw a ghost. But now I’ve taken on the hell of half term swimming and survived to tell the tale there’s nothing that can scare me from now on. After all – hell hath no fury like a woman splashed.

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To remind my local pool-goers!

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Shedding the mum-tum (it's been fun)

‘It’s been fun but I’ve got to let you go’; shedding the mum-tum

By Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

Part of me always liked my mum-tum. After giving birth, scoffing chocolate at 3am during one of the many night feeds is about as much fun as you can have sitting up. Or lying down. We stayed together, my mum-tum and I, through the many sleepless nights, the first smiles and the first weaning mouthfuls. My mum-tum was there for the first steps, the first swimming sessions and the endless coffee and cake and long ‘play lunches’ with other mums and their little darlings (and chips). It’s been fun, but I’ve got to let you go, mum-tum.

As I’m currently unable to stop eating the Builders’ biscuits, or from ‘wasting’ the tasty leftovers from my toddler’s dinner, I’m taking part in a work experiment using the ‘simple’ way to lose weight – Diet Chef. It’s designed to help you ‘lose a healthy amount of weight, while eating real, yummy food’. They deliver all your calorie-controlled meals for an entire month to your door. Sounds easy enough.

The first step was to buy a pair of scales (I chucked the old ones out when our old 70s bathroom was ripped out, which is possibly where I have been going wrong). Upon firing the digital scales up and stepping onto them I almost had a heart attack – 33 stone? I knew I’d been hitting the Maltesers reasonably hard over the last 12 months but not THAT hard. I got our friendly Builder to have a go (post-biscuit break) and he got the same result. A quick on-and-off and it seemed to fix the problem, though I was still fairly mortified to realise I was a whole 1.5 stone heavier than my pre-baby weight. Not good. (Said Builder’s story about “Arnold Schwarzenegger being clinically obese on account of his big muscles” didn’t really do much to reassure me, seeing as I was not even strong enough to lift the pile of tiles out of my way so that I could escape the nightmare unfolding in my kitchen). Definitely time to take action.

Step two was to wait for delivery of my Diet Chef hamper to arrive! Two months of food arriving straight to my door? I feel like I’m about to hibernate for winter but must remember this is NOT to be eaten all at once. I happily eyed the large box which had an initial layer of chocolate granola and oat biscuits inside (now, I thought, this is a diet I can get on board with). Underneath were all the carefully controlled diet portions that would be almost my entire existence over the next 8 weeks. But on the plus side I won’t have to cook for myself. Apparently just 3 minutes in the microwave and my meals will be done! Hurrah! It’s like being a giant adult baby and having all my meals carefully balanced and pre-prepared for me (but in a good, non-weird way).

I’m now on day three and it’s going OK so far. I’ve cooked pizza for my nieces, dolled out snacks at toddler group, cooked home-made chicken nuggets for my son and endured others slowly eating succulent lamb and mash whilst I slurp on my soups and pretend to look at the ceiling (I’m glad we’re getting rid of that old artex as all those swirls made me think of Cadbury’s Twirls – dargh). I didn’t even had a bite of theirs, or a Twirl. But that’s alright – I get that this isn’t going to be easy all the time and giant adult babies do not need chocolate.

As diets go though this one really isn’t bad. The meals are actually tasty (just small). The snacks are quite yummy (but small). Yesterday though, after stupidly spilling half my soup in the microwave (I was actually tempted to suck the suspicious-smelling cloth I mopped it up with) I was feeling pretty hungry. When people talked to me all I could see was this:

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So I treated myself to an apple. That’s how I roll these days.

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Day 3 = 1KG lost so far! That’s the same weight as about six and a half packs of Colin & Steve’s Jaffa Cakes!

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Dear David: some suggestions on how to save money

Dear David Cameron,
It has come to my attention that something called the deficit is still a bit of a problem. I’ve had a look around on the internet and come up with a few suggestions on how you and Mr Osborne could save a few (or several thousand) pounds to put towards the problem. I hope you find this helpful.
1. Scrap the Lords’ lunches
I read recently about members of the House of Lords ordering roulades of stuffed pigeon served with celeriac purée for lunch, at the taxpayers’ expense. I personally think a Marmite sandwich is more than adequate. Alan Sugar has enough money for many frivolous items (he pays for two bowler hats, two skeletons and two bottles of Oud every year as part of that Apprentice treasure hunt challenge) so he can certainly afford to pack up a packed lunch before he hops into his Rolls Royce. I saw the petition on this one and signed it. I didn’t see your name on there yet but perhaps you chose an alias so as not to upset Alan – he does always look like he might punch someone, so I understand.

2. Get a swear jar
I saw these rather lovely personalised piggy banks online and I think you should get one. You’ll be surprised how much you can collect when you put all your loose change in there. Or why not make it an expletives jar? Every time someone mentions Jeremy Corbyn or Nick Clegg they have to put in a pound. Five pounds if they mention duck houses, pig heads or Lord Ashcroft. You’ll soon have enough to re-open one of the Children’s Centres currently set for closure. It would also make a great gift for your good friend George this Christmas.

piggy
3. Ask MPs to give to charity
My boss offers a scheme to take regular donations from our salaries and pass them on to our chosen charities. Why don’t you try this, David? Agreed, this should be an optional donation but every month it should be published who gave what to whom (and who didn’t). This might be a nice way to justify the recent 10-11% pay rise for MPs, at a time when nurses, doctors, police and fire fighters are facing a pay freeze or even job losses. The NHS is a charity, so may I suggest they start with that one?

4. Make Charles & Co take the bus
A recent report stated that the Royal Family spent over £5 million last year on travel, with Prince Charles alone racking up a bill of £1.2 million. Now, I thought the £4,000 I had to pay on an annual train ticket to work was a lot, but clearly not. David, I wanted to share with you a thing I’ve discovered called Skype – it means I’m able to take part in conferences, discussions and meetings without even being there! It’s amazing! Here’s the link, so you can pass it on to Charlie and his family, to help them cut down on their air miles: http://www.skype.com/en/

Even as part of a photo op, you still get a crotch in your face. Welcome to the real world, Charles.

Even as part of a photo op you still have to suffer a crotch in your face. Welcome to the real world of commuting, Prince Charles.

5. Swap & Save

Have your done the Aldi Challenge yet at Downing Street? It does save you quite a lot of money but it is a bit of a hassle (and an elbow fest). I know you probably haven’t got much time to be rummaging around in vast racks of stuff just to find a tin that’s not dented. Maybe Samantha could go for you, once a week? Or, I have found a gap in your schedule that could give you enough time to pop to your local Aldi on Kilburn Highstreet – that weekly meeting with HRH that she insists upon having. I know how you feel – I hate those forced weekly catch-ups with your boss, when you have nothing to say other than “it wasn’t my fault”. What Liz she need to know so urgently, anyway? Just text her all she needs to know – and that’s what this week’s Special Buys are. Sorted.

6. Check for lost cash
I’m not talking about The Queen’s mystifying over-inflation pay rise which is yet to pay dividends, but we went to look around Parliament last year and all those green seats you sit on have gaps down the back of them. Have you asked anyone to ferret around in the crevices and see what you can come up with? May I suggest the front bench first – who knows what Bo Jo or Jeremy Hunt may have been squireling away in those deep pockets. I’m sure they wouldn’t miss the odd twenty quid (I’d wear some rubber gloves though if I were you). A check of my Dad’s armchair afforded me £3.41 last time I looked, so good luck David – you may even find enough to buy your own stuffed pigeon roulade for tomorrow’s lunch.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague in the House of Commons at the start of the debate on the vote for an EU referendum. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 24, 2011. See PA story POLITICS Referendum. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Sitting on a gold mine ?

Yours frugally,

Anna Trevelyan cropped-anna-pic-2-e1436354275658.jpg

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