I like the word “indolence” – it makes my laziness seem classy.

I used to be a runner.

I know I was a runner – rather than someone who went out for a run – because I ran a marathon. There’s even pictures to prove it. There’s one on my desk at work right now gurning at me – waving at me while she is perpetually moving and I’m just sitting here. Staying still.

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There I am. Running and everything. Even looking happy about it. Who is that person?

I say “used to be” because the thought of moving myself that distance right now just seems like a distant memory. Was that really me, plodding through the streets, mile after mile, debating the merits of jelly baby vs energy gels (jelly babies, always choose the jelly babies)?

Laziness seems to have crept up on me and kept me stuck to the sofa, like how a cloud crossing the sun casts darkness over a previously perfect summer’s day. I’m not sure how it happened, and how I didn’t notice – but now, when I think to myself “I really should go to the gym”, the response is less likely to be me picking up my kit and bounding along to my workout, and more likely to be a sigh of “oh I’ve got a slight headache, it’s probably safer to give this session a break” as I reach for a snack.

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Reader, I had The Blerch. (Image taken from TheOatmeal.com, and this series remains the best summary of my relationship with running I have ever seen)

Oh the excuses you can come up with when you don’t want to move your ass.

I kept up my GoodGym missions to Judith – making a cup of tea and sitting with her whilst we watch Pointless remains one of the highlights of my week – but there kept being reasons (oh “reasons”, there’s always “reasons”) that I had to walk to visit her, or even (horror!) get the train, rather than strapping on my trainers and running there, which is kind of the whole point of GoodGym. I mean, the clue’s in the name, guys.

It was on one of those runs to Judith, where sheer denial had kept me convinced I was running at the same speed as I always had (hey, perhaps even quicker – who knows!) when I made my fatal mistake. The App of Doom.

On my shiny new phone, I discovered something called “Exercise Mate”, which tracked and timed my run. “How excellent”, I thought, “This will prove to me just how fast my legs are – Beyonce’s thighs will be quaking in their boots” (I’m nothing if not delusional).

But oh, the shame. Not only was I slow, but I was slow and running a much shorter distance than I thought. Double whammy of shame. My casual “oh I could bash out a 10k tomorrow, and probably a marathon next week, after all I run 4 and a bit miles each week to Judith (just don’t mention the cup of tea and a sit down in the middle)” suddenly became “oh my god I can barely crawl 3.5 miles, what happened to me?”

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Basically, all I need to do is put these bad boys on more often. Simple as that.

 

I’ve been trying to get myself back in the routine ever since. I’ve signed up for the Nike “We Own the Night” run, and as two of my friends have also signed up (one of whom having never run before), I really can’t back out now. I’ve even actually run that 4 and a bit miles a few times now – and without the cup of tea in the middle.

But that little devil on my shoulder, who barely even existed way back when in my Actual-Runner-Don’t-Call-It-A-Jog days, is still there whispering in my ear and I think I’m just going to have to accept that, and turn up my playlist a few notches more in order to drown him out (Miley Cyrus is particularly effective at this, I’ve found).

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That there is my mum. Determined not to let that guy pass her as she crossed the finish line. I think need to channel her more often.

And I need to stop seeing that picture on my desk as mocking me, but instead see it as encouraging me to get out there – You did this. Your legs did this. They’re the same legs. Now get out there and use them.

Today’s quote is from Bernard Williams

 

 

 

 

My dear young fellow,’ the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, ‘there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet.

So my plan to read a Roald Dahl book a week – as so many of my plans – failed at the first hurdle. Having raced through, and loved, Danny the Champion of the World, I looked at the slimness of the next volume in the boxset – James and the Giant Peach – and thought to myself, this will be a breeze. I remember not really liking James and the Giant Peach as a kid, and it turns out I haven’t changed that much as an adult, as I kept picking up this book and putting it down again only a couple of pages afterwards, and it sat looking at me accusingly from my bedside table for weeks. Try as I might, I just couldn’t love this book.

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The original cover for James and the Giant Peach (Picture taken from Wikipedia)

 

JGP (not to be confused with JGL) is about a young boy James (obviously) who is sent to live with his two aunts – Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge – when his parents are killed in a tragic rhino-related incident. Magic happens*, and James Henry Trotter (to give him his full name) ends up living inside a giant peach with (wo)man-sized creatures – including a centipede, spider, glow-worm and earthworm. Adventures ensue.

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Gratuitous picture of JGL. Have suddenly come over all unnecessary.

I’m not sure why I’m so down on this book. Perhaps it’s aimed at too young an audience for an adult to get much out of it – perhaps it’s the over-fantastical premise, or maybe that there’s less of a moral story running throughout the book (except perhaps “don’t mistreat children in your care, otherwise you might get squashed by an oversized piece of fruit”) – either way, my conclusion was that I wouldn’t relish it if this was the book any future child chose for me to read and reread night after night. (Also – think of all the different insect voices I’d have to come up with! As anyone who’s heard my “Scottish” can attest, I am not good at accents)

I did, however, learn a new word – vermicious.

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Also – did you know that grasshoppers make their music not by rubbing their legs together, but by rubbing their leg against their wing – like playing a violin! Don’t say you never learn anything from this blog.

One interesting thing I discovered as I read the Wikipedia entry (never say I don’t do research) was that because of the story’s “occasional macabre and potentially frightening content”, it has become a regular target of the censors and is No. 56 on the American Library Association’s top 100 list of most frequently challenged books. (I actually couldn’t find proof of this on their website, but if you fancy a bit of a giggle or a few WTF moments, I recommend you visit the ALA website here – apparently someone tried to ban To Kill a Mockingbird because it contained racism. Mmmkay.)

As in Danny the Champion of the World, Roald Dahl seems to have referenced a future book at a couple of points in the story. At the beginning, when the peach (Spoiler!) rolls off the tree, it rolls right on through a “famous chocolate factory” – Willy Wonka’s? James and the Giant Peach was published in 1961, with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory following three years later. Also, Whangdoodles, Snozzwangers, Hornswogglers– mentioned in this book – all, according to Will Wonka (always a reliable source), apparently live in Loompaland (home to the Oompa-Loompas of course, do keep up). (Note – I just noticed before publishing this post that I wrote Will Wonka rather than Willy Wonka, but I want to leave it as I imagine Will being the sophisticated alter-ego of Willy)

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A Vermicious Knid, yesterday.

Which brings me nicely to the next book on the list – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Very much looking forward to this one!

I’ll end with a random Roald fact – did you know he wrote the script to You Only Live Twice? What a life story this man has.

Today’s quote is from the book – I think it’s not a bad attitude to have, and fits with my idea that you should never stop learning about the world.

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.‏

Not content with my current number of hobbies, and being inspired by the sunshine (sporadic as it is), and the fact that I have my own garden for the first time since leaving home, I decided all of a sudden that I am a gardener. There is no evidence to back this up, however – in fact, the myriad of dead plants left in my wake over the years would stongly suggest otherwise. Never one to let facts get in the way of a good time, I set about digging things up and chopping things down and gleefully planting seeds here there and everywhere.

And then along came Mother’s Day. Last year I made my mum a tote bag from the Cath Kidston book Sew, and this year I wanted to make her something else. Honestly, it’s like I’ve regressed to being a small child, painstakingly painting stones (just what mum needs, gravel) and crushing rose petals to make a delicious (rank) smelling perfume (globulous liquid) and proudly presenting them to mum alongside some burnt toast and weak tea (my mum doesn’t drink tea). Happy Mother’s Day indeed.

Anyway, I must have had gardening on my mind, and – as my mum is a keen gardener, having successfully kept a whole garden of plants and flowers alive for some years now – I hunted around the internet to find something suitable to make.

I decided on this cute little gardening apron from Sew Mama Sew. Isn’t it great? Very easy to make – all it needs is two rectangles of (fairly hardy) fabric, and bias binding for the ribbon – or of course you can use a longer strip of fabric to make this. In fact, it’s plugged as a fat quarter project – something to use up all those small bits of fabric you fall in love with at the haberdashery and justify to yourself as a bargain, despite knowing full well they are too small to make anything useful. The tutorial is all online, and it’s very easy to follow.

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I currently have a bulging, overflowing stash (humblebrag), and so was able to make this out of fabric I already had – an unidentified stiff blue fabric I picked up in a shop on Brick Lane (no idea what I was planning to use this for, but I have reams of it), and leftover patterned cotton from John Lewis, originally used for the tote bag last year. All I needed was some bias binding in a nice contrasting red, and away we go!

This was a really simple make, perfect to do in a couple of hours on a rainy Sunday afternoon. So easy, in fact, I made one for myself too (now I’m practically a professional gardener, and all) out of the other bit of fabric left over from the tote bag – which rather cutely match my gardening gloves. I’m nothing if not twee.

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Too lazy to go out in the actual garden. See evidence of living plant behind.

I ruined *ahem* customised  my mum’s with some rather embarrassing embroidery. Yep. I think I need to recognise my limits. I can follow patterns (to some extent). I can’t do freehand embroidery.

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Seriously. What does this even say.

My mum was dead pleased with her apron, despite Scotland still being too arctic for thoughts of gardening (she tactfully avoided mentioning the embroidery) – and now I have the nifty outfit, all I need now is some greenfingers to go with it.

Today’s quote is from Alfred Austin

Five people that win… March

1. Lupita.

 

I hope she’s never off the red carpet.

2. Equality and common sense.

Peter McGraith and David Cabreza, who have been partners for 17 years, hold hands outside Islington Town Hall before their wedding.

Image from theguardian.com

 

Congratulations everyone!

 

3. Wes Anderson (and maybe Ralph Fiennes)

 

I really loved this movie – so beautifully put together and delicious to look at.

 

4. The Women of Westeros

Me and my boyfriend just mainlined season 3 of Game of Thrones. Woah. But the ladies – the ladies are killing it. Bring on Season 4!

 

5. My mum. Obviously. Happy (belated) mother’s day!

 

 

I’ve not done this before, but I think we need to have a Villain of the Month this month. And that dubious award goes to Stylist Magazine for their ridiculous scaremongering in their article on how what beauty products will stop all the disastrous effect that exercise has on your face – including a cream for nearly 250 quid!(Unfortunately I can’t find a link to the article online but I will update here if I find it!)

Seriously. There are (at least) three times in a woman’s life where she really shouldn’t worry about what she looks like – and during exercise is definitely one of them (the other two are during sex and childbirth – you have more important things to be getting on with ladies, enjoy yourself/push* *delete whichever applies). Anyone who mentions the phrase “Runner’s Face” (not a thing) in all seriousness has got their priorities all out of whack, and for a magazine that pushes its feminist credentials, they really should take a long hard look at themselves and what they are telling women. And any woman who coats herself in oil before jumping in a swimming pool I’m in – as suggested in this article – will feel my wrath.

So exercise away, get fit, get strong, move your legs. The smile on your face when those endorphins hit definitely counteracts any saggy runner’s face (not a thing).