Monday, 30 December 2013

pre work on New Year Resolutions…..

Before I firm up my New Year Resolutions I am trying to build in in some sensible considerations……

* Remember your resolutions are yours… don't try to include others who may not wish to be part of your commitment

* Limit  "activity" time replace by "productivity" time….. reduce non productive stuff like Facebook, twitter to say 1/2 times a day. Don't waste time playing games …….replace with exercise, projects, interests, hobbies….. career objectives…..

* remember time is yours - does not belong to anyone else - you decide how you use it…..

* spend time on those who truly love you………..

* Limit interaction with those who cause you angst even though you have to accommodate them from time to time for family/work reasons.

next ………important resolutions and measures……..

end of another year!!!

OK…Christmas officially over,  time to examine the state of mind….state of body……lets start with the latter….

Over the last couple of days at the gym we have had the usual influx of new people at our gym.  Over the past 30 years the gyms I have belonged  to - I have seen the same pattern emerge.  Conscience driven individuals decide at this time of year to take stock and be proactive - admirable.  The downside to this is that really overweight people embrace an unrealistic schedule. I see large men and women exercising using equipment as if they are being chased by a pack of hounds.  After 10 minutes many give up sweating profusely and looking decidedly ill.  They then talk with friends exchanginging thoughts on how hard they are working and disappear to the refreshment area where they have a full strength latte…..

I am not trying to be self righteousness but realistic. To sustain any sensible exercise plan you have to know yourself and develop a programme which works for you. The secret is then to make sure you can establish a regular routine which realistically can form part of your lifestyle.

From my experienced observations February marks the decline of the number of new December members who say things like "its a waste of time".  What they need to realise is that there is no quick fix.  Don't kid yourself that you are working hard - 10 minutes of little effort is not a workout!  Talk to the trainers at your gym and work out a regime which will work for you no matter how small…..a little and often will work wonders …..

Friday, 20 December 2013

welcome present!

We had a delightful meal with my son and his girlfriend Wednesday evening in Notting Hill.  It was a small homely Italian venue - excellent food - only downside was that we had to pay cash……..

Afterwards we exchanged presents……but before I expand on this…. just a few comments on logistics which I am sure will strike a chord with everyone…...

Christmas presents challenges for all families in terms of who you go to on Christmas Day.  My daughter and her boyfriend for years split in 2 directions for Christmas to spend time with their respective families.  This was not at the insistence of either set of parents but something emotionally both children wanted to do.  Now we have Christmas Eve and Day with me and Boxing Day and the next couple of days with her husband's family.

With my son he is still going through the arrangement of Christmas Eve with me and Christmas lunch and Susie goes to her mum. I love having my son her but also feel for his girlfriend. Again I have never insisted and I know there will come a time when things will be different.

My daughter who has a 4 and 2 year old has also subtly talked about them having Christmas at their home one year…….  my view is that you go with the flow we are all reasonable people and will sort out so that we all feel comfortable.  The trouble is for all families is that we all want to be together. For the moment we just need to get through this Christmas :) and worry about the future ones later !

Must be wonderful if you have an enormous house and can accommodate all!

Getting back to presents Susie wanted to see my face as I opened her present to me…… I was absolutely delighted with her choice as she knows I like to have very feminine  unusual things in my handbag………………

What I found particularly endearing is that the present showed that she really knows me and even more importantly….she cares…….. just perfect!!!

so here is my new stylish designer pen !!  It is

Thursday, 19 December 2013

"12 Angry Men"

Twelve Angry Men Tickets


just seen "Twelve Angry Men" at the Garrick Theatre - it has had excellent reviews and certainly we were not disappointed.  I always find it fascinating seeing famous actors at close quarters - particularly those who have been part of the catalogue of credits we viewed when young.  One of these most notably is Robert Vaughn who I remember so well from "A Man From Uncle" - seems a lifetime ago.  Robert Vaughn is sadly showing signs of decline and looks all of his 80+ years but still gives an excellent account of himself.

Martin Shaw also superb.  I did worry about how he would portray and American but needn't have done so - all carried very well as was the performance of all the others including Jeff Fahey and Nick Moran.

see extract below from link

the classic 1957 Sidney Lumet movie that featured Henry Fonda in a starring role is one that is remembered fondly by movie lovers everywhere but what few may know is that it is based on a teleplay that screened on US television earlier in the 1950s and its subsequent stage play from 1955. Now audiences in the West End will be able to witness this stage production once again as the Garrick Theatrewelcomes a star cast in Twelve Angry Men.
Whereas that iconic movie featured Fonda alongside Jack Klugman and others, the Garrick play will feature Robert Vaughn, Martin Shaw, Jeff Fahey and Nick Moran among the cast members. So as well as re-exploring a classic story it will also offer the opportunity to see some high profile actors on the stage.
Twelve Angry Men focuses on the jury of murder trial. Following the court proceedings we witness as 12 jurors retire to deliberate on the case of a young boy accused of murdering his father. At first it seems as though this is going to be an easy decision to come to but thanks to the thinking of Juror 8 it is clear that there is more to it than meets the eye. Perhaps they won’t be able to make it home soon after all.
Robert Vaughn is a veteran actor whose work has spanned the stage and screen on the other side of the Atlantic. His credits include movies like The Magnificent Seven, The Bridge At Remagen, Bullitt and BASEketball, among others, as well as stage productions of The Real Inspector Hound in the US.
Meanwhile, Martin Shaw is also a veteran actor, albeit a British one, and his work has included television shows like Inspector George Gently, Judge John Deed and A&E, among others, as well as stage work like The Country Girl at the Apollo Theatre and An Ideal Husbandat the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Twelve Angry Men follows the long-running Rock of Ages at the Garrick Theatre when it opens at the venue on 11th November 2013 (previews from 7th November 2013). The show arrives in the West End on the back of a UK tour.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

so much to do……..

Well Christmas is nearly here and preparations are well under way!  Decorations are up, presents mostly wrapped and final food list ready to buy!

To think we do all this for really one day, although I appreciate some extend this period and continue feasting!!.  We cater for 12 - something I really enjoy having my family around me and sharing anecdotes past and present.
My 2 little grandchildren are so excited and still appreciate Father Christmas and can't wait for Christmas morning and their presents.  I used to love this time with my own children and with your grandchildren you can experience it all over again.

Then the follow up  visiting relatives and delivering presents  which in itself is hectic and challenging with so many people having the same idea heading for the motorways.

The one day in all this melee that my husband and I appreciate is Boxing Day which is our day.  We really enjoy all the festivities on either side of this date but there is something very special about total relaxation and quietness and time just for the two of us. We savour the comfortable silence and potter around doing nothing in particular - heaven :)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

weight loss update

I have reached my 7 lbs target……..  phew!!!  Celebration!!!!!!

Stress Busters!

We all experience stress - and a little may not be harmful. However when things seem out of all proportion.... then you need to take stock of yourself. I raise the topic of stress at this time as Christmas can be a pleasure but also a headache - so much to do...... planning, buying presents, food, drink, relatives , friends....... the list seems endless. 
Here is an article from the link below on stress generally which provides helpful tips to take some control in facing the challenge. Hope it helps!

What's making you stressed?

If you're stressed, whether by your job or by something more personal, the first step to feeling better is to identify the cause.

The most unhelpful thing you can do is turn to something unhealthy to help you cope, such as smoking or drinking.
“In life, there’s always a solution to a problem,” says Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster. “Not taking control of the situation and doing nothing will only make your problems worse.”
He says the keys to good stress management are building emotional strength, being in control of your situation, having a good social network and adopting a positive outlook. 

What you can do?

These are Professor Cooper's top 10 stress-busting techniques:

Be active

If you have a stress-related problem, physical activity can get you in the right state of mind to be able to identify the causes of your stress and find a solution. “To deal with stress effectively, you need to feel robust and you need to feel strong mentally. Exercise does that,” says Cooper.
Exercise won’t make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, clearing your thoughts and enabling you to deal with your problems more calmly.

Take control

There’s a solution to any problem. “If you remain passive, thinking, ‘I can’t do anything about my problem’, your stress will get worse,” says Professor Cooper. “That feeling of loss of control is one of the main causes of stress and lack of wellbeing.”
The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it's a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else. Read tips about how to manage your time.

Connect with people

A problem shared is a problem halved. A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way.
“If you don’t connect with people, you won’t have support to turn to when you need help,” says Professor Cooper. The activities we do with friends help us relax and we often have a good laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever.
“Talking things through with a friend will also help you find solutions to your problems,” says Professor Cooper.

Have some ‘me time’

The UK workforce works the longest hours in Europe. The extra hours in the workplace mean that people aren’t spending enough time doing things that they really enjoy. “We all need to take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise,” says Professor Cooper.
He recommends setting aside a couple of nights a week for some quality "me time" away from work. "By earmarking those two days, it means you won’t be tempted to work overtime on those days," he says.

Challenge yourself

Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new language or a new sport, helps to build confidence. That in turn will help you deal with stress.
“By constantly challenging yourself you’re being proactive and taking charge of your life,” says Professor Cooper. “By continuing to learn, you become more emotionally resilient as a person. It arms you with knowledge and makes you want to do things rather than be passive, such as watching TV all the time.”

Avoid unhealthy habits

Don't rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping. "Men more than women are likely to do this. We call this avoidance behaviour," says Professor Cooper. "Women are better at seeking support from their social circle."
Over the long term, these crutches won’t solve your problems. They’ll just create new ones. "It’s like putting your head in the sand," says Professor Cooper. "It might provide temporary relief but it won’t make the problems disappear. You need to tackle the cause of your stress."

Do volunteer work

Cooper says evidence shows that people who help others, through activities such as volunteeringor community work, become more resilient. “Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective,” says Professor Cooper. “The more you give, the more resilient and happy you feel.”
On a more basic level, do someone a favour every day. It can be something as small as helping someone to cross the road or going on a coffee run for colleagues. Favours cost nothing to do, and you’ll feel better.

Work smarter, not harder

Good time management means quality work rather than quantity. Our long-hours culture is a well-known cause of workplace illness. “You have to get a work-life balance that suits you,” says Professor Cooper.
Working smarter means prioritising your work, concentrating on the tasks that will make a real difference to your work. “Leave the least important tasks to last,” says Cooper. “Accept that your in-tray will always be full. Don’t expect it to be empty at the end of the day.”

Be positive

Look for the positives in life, and things for which you're grateful. Write down three things at the end of every day which went well or for which you're grateful.
“People don’t always appreciate what they have,” says Professor Cooper. “Try to be glass half full instead of glass half empty,” he says.
This requires a shift in perspective for those who are more naturally pessimistic.
“It can be done,” he says. “By making a conscious effort you can train yourself to be more positive about life. Problems are often a question of perspective. If you change your perspective, you may see your situation from a more positive point of view.”

Accept the things you can't change

Changing a difficult situation isn't always possible. If this proves to be the case, recognise and accept things as they are and concentrate on everything that you do have control over.
“If your company is going under and is making redundancies, there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Professor Cooper. “There’s no point fighting it. In such a situation, you need to focus on the things that you can control, such as looking for a new job.”

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Planning for the future!!

At this time of year you start to wonder what the next will bring.  I am quite amazed at the actions taken by some of my friends who have taken positive action to challenge themselves.

Jennifer has just celebrated her 70th birthday and has been working under VSO in Tanzania since September on a 2 year assignment.  She is looking to make a real difference to make sure that others benefit from her expertise and skills from her working life which she continued until her late 60s. She has always follow a healthy lifestyle, is slim and young in mind.  To her, her age is just a number and it is how fit you are and how sharp the mind - both of which are work in progress ……..

Trish has returned to University to do a Masters in Eng Literature at the age of 62.  Although she has always held responsible positions until fairly recently she still feels like the "new girl" - as she said to me a little like "Educating Rita" with all these bright young things around you thinking great thoughts……

She will not be deterred!!!

Your positive friends bring out the best in you and provide inspiration for you to look forward. Everything is possible. Getting older does not mean you can't experience new things!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

weighty update!

lost 5 lbs ….2 to go!

Not so easy with so many pre Christmas events and am trying to be so good!!

How are you getting on managing the flab?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Works Do!!

When you retire you no longer have the dubious pleasure of the "works do". However my husband and I always ensure we do something for us which reflects a more appealing substitute for this.

So our Christmas present to each other this year was to go to the Royal Opera House to see Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet which we did last night.

We can honestly say that of all the many productions we have seen in London, theatre, opera and ballet - this particular one was the best.

The Royal Opera House never disappoints anyway - it has such style and sophistication and enjoyment.

The Ballet was in 3 Acts, The scenery and costumes were second to none.  The dancing was superb. The story telling in dance of the tragic young couple was so moving and emotional. The first Act in  particular with Prokofiev's dramatic music heightened the tensions and feelings - this called for my husband producing yet more tissues for me!! At the end of the evening we felt elated and very satisfied. This topped with a great meal ended a perfect occasion.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Arty Habits

I have just finished another couple of oil paintings…..

this one of my cheeky 2 year old grandson Mac…………….

and the other of my son Ben…………

It is surprising how the hours pass so quickly with my hobby.  My husband usually has to drag me away and says "enough!"  :) 

Monday, 2 December 2013


At this time of year we are more likely to think of charitable donations. I have become really offended when I examine how some charities have evolved ………looking after the interests of our particular concerns only to find they have been hijacked by political lobby groups.
My husband and I give a regular donation to the charity (sense) we feel we have a particular affinity -   this is a charity which I think does not promote itself so aggressively and which need to give some hope and life experience to those who have limited sensory ability.

Please look carefully at Charities and scrutinise  - is this this how you want your money to be invested?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Much Ado About Nothing!

I made a mistake last week of not reading the reviews before going to see "Much Ado About Nothing " at the Old Vic.  I was drawn particularly to the 2 big names who have an enviable pedigree.  I assumed this would provide a superb performance as per publicity blurb below.
James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave in Shakespeare’s timeless comedy Much Ado About Nothing at the Old Vic.
Much Ado About Nothing is the story of young lovers Claudio and Hero who’s imminent nuptials thwarted by the resentful scheming of a Prince, marriage seems inconceivable for reluctant lovers Beatrice (Vanessa Redgrave) and Benedick (James Earl Jones). Redgrave and Earl Jones take on these roles for the first time.

My husband and I made our way to the south of the river to the Old Vic. The outside of the theatre looks much like a department store in the middle of an uninspiring section of road. Inside there are the remnants of a bygone age which has been valiantly championed in terms of refurbishment by Kevin Spacey.  Somehow it still looks tired and lacks the charm of the West End Theatres.  Good leg room however for we tall people!!

The set for the play can only be described as minimalist and austere.  The actors, although using the Shakespearian language were dressed in the drab garb of 1940s with American soldiers in uniform which made it difficult to distinguish one from another.  This attempt at a kind of updating  led to a disconnect which ensured the subtle nuances of the intrigue were lost.

The 2 main characters failed to deliver - the once great Vanessa Redgrave was often incoherent and inaudible - her energy levels were very low which seemed to infect the rest. James Earl Jones was sadly out of condition, very overweight lumbering across the set and delivering his lines, albeit with his wonderful voice,  from an armchair.  He still has charisma but somehow his performance was unconvincing.  There were a couple of young actors who were able to project and to make the parts their own.

It was so tedious that about what seemed an eternity the interval arrived  I turned to my husband and I said "I have had enough, what about you?" He said he felt the same way but wouldn't have said so unless I did.  He didn't want to spoil it for me….as if!!
This is the first time we have walked out of a play.  

On return I wondered if it was just us having this view so looked up several reviews - Quentin Letts summed the general feeling…
and another….

The review says that James Earl Jones is now 82 and Vanessa Redgrave 76.  To act in such a demanding play with many performances is laudable but maybe foolish.  When your health and fitness are still in the ascendence there is no need to change direction but with these 2 great actors maybe they should now follow a different but maybe related path so that they can still feel they are achieving in their chosen careers.

Lessons learned !!!