On Podcasts

I’ve started listening to a lot of podcasts lately. The current news is just. too. much. (and has been since the last general election tbh), so instead I listen to podcasts, recent and ‘archived’.

Here’s my current line up:

For news/opinion 

LBC – Only listen to James O’Brien. Only. Ever. DO NOT WAVER. I pay the £2 a month to podcast the entire show. I can also save/ignore topics or days when it’s too much to deal with. Thursdays also contain mystery hour. He covers a range of topics, not just the news.

The News Quiz – Sadly seasonal. It’s currently Dead Ringers on that link, subscribe now and ignore it until it changes back the the News Quiz (Now Show just about makes it). I also have entire back seasons of this, from the 90s+, it reminds me that the things that are shit now have always been shit, and we (liberals) thought we were doomed then also

Myths and Legends

Myth – I cannot recommend this one enough. I’ve inhaled the first 30 or so episodes, and now thrown money at him for membership (with extra episodes and source materials)

Lore – I’m less convinced by this one, but I do love his voice so I’m persisting. It’s a bit more “woooOOOoooo ghoooosts…”, but kinda fun nonetheless

Feminists Ahoy!

Hidden Histories – I’ve only done the 1st episode, and there’s only 6, but this is women writers, from the New Statesman

Strong Female Lead – Nerdery/geek culture with a firm feminist stance, from Standard Issue magazine

Stuff Mum Never Told You – This covers a wide range of topics, from a feminist perspective


The History of England – It’s quite dry, but I am still in “Ethelred etc” territory. It’s about to hit Cnut and 1066, so I’m expecting to take a bit more in from here on!

Stuff You Missed In History Class – I’m finding this one fascinating. Not only is it as the title suggests, but also I was taught history in the UK, from a very UK perspective

Err, Feminist History

The History Chicks – I’ve only just started this one, the sound quality is dodgy in the early episodes (though a disclaimer also acknowledges this!), I’ve already learnt a load and the other episode titles look promising

Herstory – Not started this one yet, but it was recommended along with the History Chicks, so I’m looking forward to it

General Nerdery

Stuff to Blow Your Mind – Still not convinced by this one, 4-5 episodes in, but not not-convinced enough to unsubscribe…

No Such Thing As A Fish – QI. Podcast. Do you need more?


IRL UK –  I’m not sure about this one still, it’s 2 women chatting about those “I woke up and was married to my hamster” type stories in trashy magazines. Fun, but not entirely sure I’m comfy with it

Gods of Comedy – I’m loving this so far, comedians gather and chat about what they believe/what belief means to them. So far they’ve had a range of different faiths/denominations in each episode and so much respect for each other’s opinions. How faith/lack of should be discussed

Do Who I Say, Not Who I Do – I love the woman who does this, though I’m not yet convinced by the podcast itself. Willing to give it a bit more of a chance because of her

Desert Island Discs – I’m mean when it comes to this, I tend to only listen to about 1 in 10. But it’s quite comforting, and you get to know the celebs a little more than a standard interview

One Minute Norwegian – The man is annoying, I don’t think I’m getting anything decent from it, for some reason I can’t delete it… ! It’s only 10 episodes, I should rush through it really


On Why I Run

I’m a runner

That’s still a hard thing to type, and I’ve been running for about 18 months now (not non-stop, shush). I have a medal to say I completed a course (it was a fast walk mind you, never have your MMR the week before something energetic)

I lumber, I jog, I stumble as I tire, I pick up injuries easily. I’m bigger than most ‘active wear’ clothing ranges go up to. I haven’t really done sports-stuff since 6th form, a year or so gym going when I had a ‘real job’, that’s about it.

But I’m a runner

I’m a runner because my legs are strong. I’m a runner because when that high hits it’s like nothing else (legal). I’m a runner because I’m a leaf on the fricking wind don’t ya know! I’m the runner that other runners smile patronisingly at, I assume they think I’m super-new to this, that I’ll get faster and thinner. I’m the runner that is lip-syncing to TayTay and Kesha and doesn’t care you think that’s weird

I’m also a runner because it helps quiet my mind. I’m an over-thinker, a worrier. I’m still not convinced the train guard wasn’t pissed off at me a few weeks ago, despite him smiling as he joked he was… The running stops my brain, it makes the world all ok again, it’s like the sweat and energy takes the worry away with it…

I’m a runner. And if I keep repeating it to myself I might start believing it

And yes, I’ll be hitting you up for more sponsorship sometime soon… 😉

How’s it going?

I’m half way. Over the hump.

So how is it?

It’s hard. Thinking is hard. Moving is hard. Motivation is hard. Words are hard. Keeping concentration is hard. Keeping my mood up is hard…

I’m constantly tired, my sleeping has gone back to 9-10 hours, and it’s taking me sometimes an hour to get out of bed after waking. My body is weak, I can’t turn myself over in bed because my stomach muscles are so sore.

I’ve managed to work out if I have the gluten in the middle of the day that gives me some productive time in the mornings, and makes it easier to sleep.

I was hoping to get some yoga/upper body work done whilst I’m not running, but everything feels like lead, adding to that seems unwise. I have managed to get quite a bit of reading done though, and my attempt at language learning has had a boost. The brain fog doesn’t last as long as the body fog…

I have managed to get through some lovely foods, and some ‘not as good as I remembered’ ones. There’s going to be some recipe hunting once this is done!

Essentially I’m good. I’m ok. Don’t expect lots of chatter, I’m struggling to interact unless it’s on my own terms (and I’m mostly trying to let the time pass as quickly as possible). Pictures of cats, kittens and yarn are all welcomed.

And thank you for asking.

On Weight Loss: an Update

Today in an important anniversary for me.

You’d usually read in a piece like this that there was an epiphany, that someone had decided enough was enough, that their health was suffering. Nope, not here. I was happy being fat. I’ve never had any real body issues (beyond “what most people have”), but just over 5 years ago something changed. My trusty size 26 jeans no longer fitted, and going up to a 28 was just too much.

That didn’t happen today, I don’t have the actual date that happened. You don’t tend to record when shame hit you, you’re kinda too busy being ashamed… But after the shame my determination (stubbornness) kicked in, and I started to actually think.

I’m an advocate of Health at Any Size. If you look beyond the newspaper headlines you find that there’s very little research to support that weight alone means you’re unhealthy. The few studies done using ‘healthy’ weight people and ‘unhealthy’ weight people have found that it’s activity and lifestyle that affect their health. The unfit inactive ‘healthy’ people were just as in danger as the ‘unhealthy’ ones.

I know enough about weight loss to know that “organised diets” don’t work. I’ve seen far too many people (women) in my life yo-yo, and that had always been my reasoning (excuse?) for not attempting weight loss.The very few times I did try, I put the weight back on, and more when I went back to ‘normal’ eating.

But that was the problem. ‘Normal eating’.

The diet industry relies on us not adjusting our entire lifestyle, but in order to keep weight off long term you have to adjust. Something means that you have that extra weight (I went to type “your eating means”, but that’s a lie, we’ll come to that), and you have to adjust to counteract that, and that’s not easy.

In theory losing weight is simple. It is. Broken down it really does come to “calories in, calories out”. If only it were this simple, right? When GymBro (bro != gender) explains this I walk in the opposite direction. This advice is only given by someone who has found it simple, their body did what the instructions said it would and they now think everyone else is lazy/lying.

I currently have four diagnosed medical issues which have “weight gain” as a symptom, one of which also has “increased trouble in losing weight” as a side effect. Thanks! This doesn’t mean it’s impossible for me to lose weight, but it does add yet another step on the ladder to get there. Add in some weird blood sugar stuff that they haven’t worked out yet, some “my body thinks vitamins are superfluous”, and a smattering of “I have anxiety issues around food” and you have a hilarious mix that doesn’t really fit into any of the “just do X” advice.

A little over 5 years ago the motivation appeared. The shame arrived. My GP surgery had always been lovely, the doctors there had never fat-shamed me. An appointment was made.

My GP was lovely, slightly surprised at my request for help, but lovely. I immediately got the referral to a dietician I’d requested. The dietician was lovely, if a little stuck in the 1970s… (is it arrogance, or awareness if you think you know more than the trained medical professional??). The advice the NHS is still giving out is frustratingly out of date. The immediate offer was surgery (which I knew I didn’t want), the further advice was low fat, no eggs, high carb. I smiled and nodded, I had hoped for something more progressive, but I also knew I needed the accountability.

I stay with the dietician for about 6 months. I did lose about 10kg with her, but following my own version of her 70s throwback advice, (Lots of eggs! Butter!), and the monthly weigh in was exactly the start I’d needed.

Then came the time for her to sign me off… There was no real need for me to see her (and we’d kept appointments going for 2-3 months more than needed really, just for the weigh ins). I needed something else to keep me accountable… The shame was still there (though it was now accompanied by “how can I advocate Health at Any Size and be losing weight..?”), and this wasn’t really helped by the easiest to use site being called “FatSecret”… But, it helped. Food logging kept me in line and quickly showed me where I was ‘spending’ calories that weren’t worth eating (for one biscuit I could have [something more fun]… sheesh!)

Skip forward about 2 years, about 20kg down, I started to realise I needed some form of exercise otherwise everything was going to go south… Casually throw in some long distance walking, a walking half marathon (there’s that stubbornness again…) and the realisation that running was more efficient than walking and you have my exercise regime. I mostly gloss over this because this worked for me. It won’t work for everyone. Running is amazing, I love it, I’m antsy today because I don’t have time for a run, and won’t have until about 5 days time. My thighs want to move, I have muscles now and they need flexing regularly. But you have to find the ‘moving’ that works for you, else you won’t do it.

I eventually switched to MyFitnessPal, I discovered Fitbit, Garmin, Strava, and graphs! (I saw a GP yesterday who was bemused by my ability to pull up stats about my body to 1 decimal point). I found that one way of motivating myself was to be able to see my progress. If I’m having a day when it feels like it’s all for nothing, I can pull up a graph that tells me how much I’ve lost in the past week, month, year, all time (adding exercise into the mix means I’m building muscle, the nice downward curve I used to get no longer exists, I know I’ll weigh more certain days, and no, I’ve no idea why).

About a year ago, I stagnated. I’d say I plateaued, but in weight loss that means something different. I wasn’t sticking to my daily calorie/fat allowance. I was running regularly, and I wasn’t putting on any weight, but I wasn’t really losing it either (or if I was it was only bits I’d put on previously). I’d made huge progress fitness-wise (10k ftw!), and made some interesting (and potentially important) discoveries about my body. But I had no idea where I wanted the weight loss to end… The NHS thinks I should be about 55kg… Now, I started at 150kg, the idea of being 55kg is impossible to me… I’d passed the 100kg marker, which was my first goal, but the idea of 55kg seemed (and still does) too low for me. Asking the NHS wouldn’t help here, I had to work out what I am, where I should be.

Cue Edinburgh (there’s a whole blog post about my love affair with Edinburgh, but I’ll save that). Enter someone I’d previously seen talking about werewolf erotica, and a show about being fat, what it means to others, and importantly what it means to you. I sat in the audience and I heard me. I heard about not wanting to be dysfunctional with food, about wanting to be in your own body.

And I realised I wasn’t there yet. I had to work out if this meant moving my expectations, or giving the weight loss a kick in the arse.

If you follow me on social media you’ll know what the answer to that was, I want to get to 75kg. It’s a nice achievable number, it will put me in the “overweight” BMI category (yes, BMI is rubbish, but it’s what the NHS rely on to categorise people, and it’s a useful benchmark), and it’s also exactly half of where I started…

So, I’m not where I want to be yet, but I know a lot more about what I need to do to get there, I’m happier with my body (and importantly fitness. I’m still wondering if I can squeeze a quick run in today…), and importantly I’m one of the 5% that has kept it off for more than 2 years. I’ve not yo-yo’d. It has become my new normal. This is rare, so rare my GP asked me how I’d done it. That’s important, because it shows we don’t really understand weight loss, there was a quote somewhere (annoyingly lost in the depths of the internet) that said we know less about how nutrition works that we do about the human brain, and we know fuck all about the brain.

Oh yeah, and that size 28 I crept up to? Today I went through my stash of ‘skinny’ clothes and I can almost, so very almost, fit into size 16 trousers.

Almost there…

Previous posts from 3 years ago:

On losing weight

Why losing weight is hard

On Remembrance #NaBloPoMo

Death is an odd thing. We, British, tend to shy away from saying “X has died”, and not always because of the person affected.

I often tell people we ‘lost’ my dad (a sign of ageing is that this is no longer greeted with the shock it once was). But we didn’t did we? We knew where he was, but using the word ‘death’ just isn’t the done thing.

I’m just as guilty of this as others, this week at Rainbows we’re continuing the Poppy badge challenges, which means dealing with 5/6 year olds and their concepts of death… How do you explain war to a child? “some grown ups got mad at each other so the soldiers had to go fight”? Because surely the answer to that is “the grown ups who are mad should work it out, like the 5 year olds are taught to”… (this is mostly a moot point, they’re taught enough at school that they were all aware, or not speaking up, about war and remembrance day)

But it’s always bothered me that, as the person who should be grieving for a loved one, I’ve had to deal with others (unconnected to dad I hasten to add) sorrow and emotion. It may seem ungrateful, but I don’t want to have to deal with your upset at the loss of a parent. I’m unlikely to break down in tears at the mere mention of him, but that seems like that’s what’s expected… And it makes me angry… “I’m sorry”, are you? For what? I get you’re attempting to express sympathy to me, but you didn’t know him, most of the time you barely know me, and death happens… but I can’t appear ungrateful, so I have to do the ‘thanks’ mumble and look, and you get the impression that you’ve done your bit, but how is that helpful to the grieving person? They’re putting you above their own feelings here

This is much more of a ramble than a post. It’s been 20 years since dad died, but I still get the “pat on the shoulder and sad look” treatment, and as each year passes it annoys me more. It means I rarely talk about my dad (the conversation will inevitably lead to me having to tell the other person), and that itself makes me sad.

I’m a big believer in remembering the person, not the death. So, if I bring up a dead person in conversation, a much better way of showing me you care? Ask me about them, help me celebrate their life, help me smile when I think of them.

On Exercise #NaBloPoMo

Like many things in life I’m finding that ‘exercise’ is something that everyone else seems to know about, but no-one is actually able to share that knowledge…

About 6 months ago I started walking. Obviously I was walking before, but I started long distance walking. Over the past few months I’ve clocked up over 700 miles, and see some lovely parts of the local, and less local, urban areas and countryside (house-sitting and a holiday meant Greenwich and Edinburgh were added to my wanderings).

There’s been massive upsides to this. My general fitness levels have improved, my lung capacity is noticeably better, my recovery rate is speedier, and my legs actually want to go (I sometimes find myself walking a few miles ‘by accident’ cause my legs get restless without the regular training now).

The downsides… I don’t really know what I’m doing… I mean, I’ve read all I can find, I’ve take some advice from friends (mostly this boils down to GET DECENT SHOES!) and from my physio, but I still feel like I’m meandering aimlessly with no real idea if I’m doing myself more harm than good…

I mention my physio, and the decent shoes thing, that’s because when I started walking ALL the advice said “just walk”. some said “stretch, then walk” but in none of it did it mention that shin ache is bad, that I could actually end up with a toe so painful I thought I’d broke it, or that badly fitting shoes might give me a blister under the toe nail and (eventually) my nail would fall off… (sexy, right?). And I’ve had to seek out this information when things have started to go wrong…

I’ve just started running (jogging? stumbling?), and in none of the ‘couch to 5k’ stuff does it give you gait advice (in fact the NHS app I’m using doesn’t even suggest you stretch at any point), so I don’t know if my thunkthunkthunk running is down to bad shoes, bad posture, or just because I’m new to this.

When the overwhelming public opinion is “just do it”, it’s somewhat frustrating to have to repeatedly ask “how?!”

The massive positive is, I didn’t die. I can still move about without much stiffness, and I’m already looking forward to being able to actually do the full 1st workout (I managed 4 of the 8 running bursts today).

Well, that and I actually managed to get into my sports bra without dislocating my shoulder… (it was close)

She doesn’t even go here… #NaBloPoMo

I didn’t blog yesterday. Why? Well, I’ve been avoiding this post for some time…

I currently live in Surrey. We exist on my husband’s (well above the country average) wage. I’m an actual Surrey housewife.

I’ll let that sink in…

We earn enough that we have a nice flat, feed ourselves and 3 cats (organic high protein only), eat out/have take aways when we fancy, buy new clothes and gadgets because we fancy them, have food delivered by Ocado, and John Lewis and Lakeland Limited are my idea of shopping heaven.

For at least 15 year of my life I lived in houses with no central heating or double glazing. I can’t comprehend how people can afford to drive a car when it’s not absolutely essential for work. I don’t know how you’re meant to fund a university degree (not the fees, dear Gods not the fees. The everyday living). I can’t bring myself to set up a direct debit to charity, because “what if we need that bit of cash?”. I’ve never been skiing, and I’ve never even sat on a horse (this last one might be a lie. I don’t remember sitting on a horse… A donkey, yes, horse? no).

I owe a massive amount of gratitude to my parents. I was well into my late teens before I realised we’d grown up quite poor. Between creative cooking and handmade clothes I had no real idea. We enjoyed days out (museums, parks, stately homes and castles) and seemed to have an abundance of present for birthdays and christmas. I realise now that’s because my parents, mum in particular, were (and are) bloody amazing.

Yet, despite this oblivion, and despite now living the middle class cliche, I feel I don’t belong here. Each time I go to a ‘posh shop’ I wait to be stopped and asked to show them my bag (it’s worth noting this has NEVER happened).

And we don’t talk about it. Not generally anyway. I mean, I joke occasionally, but to friends whose parents have given them deposits to buy their first house with (!).  So I often feel like I’m ‘just visiting’ this world, and I’ll soon get found out. That I’ll be made to move back to the “ambulances won’t go into this estate without a police escort” areas I used to live in and have my only food options to be ASDA smart price.

I was extremely lucky to be gifted with a brain. That, good schools (which we walked miles to go to, thanks again mum!) and parents that took an interest and played ‘educational’ games (I have vivid memories of word and classical music based amusement) meant that I sailed through school. My GSCEs took very little effort. But, then I hit the world of selective education. An all girls school. I was handed a posh (expensive) uniform and titles for my ‘summer projects’. Umm, what? What’s a summer project? But there was no-one at the school to answer, it was summer, and everyone knew what was expected of them right? I started my first week knowing I was already behind, knowing I was already the outsider, and knowing I’d have to embarrass myself in front of my “we already fit in this system” classmates (who, I feel the need to point out were always lovely. They never made me feel like I was an outsider, the poor kid, it was entirely the expectations of the system we were in).

Any time I see about how non-private school kids need to be encouraged into university I get angry. Not angry about my own life, I’m very happy where I’ve ended up, but angry for those kids who don’t have the support structure around them like I did. For the brainy kid whose parents couldn’t give a crap about their education, or can’t be bothered to read a story with the kid trying to learn new words.

If I didn’t fit in, how will they?

I’m slowly getting used to the idea that I’m ‘allowed’ to be in ‘posh’ places. I doubt I’ll ever be comfortable with tipping service people on a much higher wage than I’ve ever earned. And it’s unlikely that I’ll ever feel confident walking in to a restaurant and paying more than £15 for a non-steak main.

John Lewis however? You can pry that out of my cold, dead hands…

ETA: A hat tip to this blog post for, eventually, prompting me to write about this

On bras! #NaBloPoMo


Your back, shoulders, neck and boobs will thank me for it.

Feel free to buy me Bravissimo vouchers as thanks :p

On Grey Hair #NaBloPoMo

I quite liked being a kid, but I don’t now wish I still was. And with each ‘big’ birthday it feels like I’m more ‘me’ than I ever have been.

But then there’s the grey hairs…

I’ve dyed my hair almost continually since I was about 15. My natural hair colour is a kind of dull brown with random shades of red in it, and those pesky grey ones. The grey ones aren’t new, and they’ve never bothered me really, it’s a novelty to be under 30 and have grey hairs, right?

Under 30…

I’m approaching 40. It’s more normal for people my age to have grey hairs, and it feels like a sign I might be almost a real grown up…

And I’m not ready to be a grown up. We don’t (and never will) have a mortgage, or a car (equally as unlikely), and we don’t have ‘grown up’ jobs (I do most of my work in my PJs whilst fussing cats, that’s not a grown up job. And O goes to work in his jeans, that’s not a real grown up thing), and we don’t have kids (and never will, barring horrible accidents and some insane person entrusting their kids to us. Though, do warn us if you’re doing this in your wills, yes??). The absence of all these means I can kid myself that I’m still young-young.

And then those grey hairs reappear…

I’ve recently totally revamped and rediscovered my hair, finally finding out that I’m a curly! The upsides to this are numerous. The downside is that the hair dye I’ve used for as long as I can remember is no longer an option…

But, those grey hairs…

I tried to embrace it, I tried to grow out the dye (henna that time), I did really try to be a grown up…

But they stare at me in the mirror, taunting me.

A 93 year old once told me she still didn’t feel like a grown up, I want to be like her in many ways. So, if you’re aware of a nice hippy (red) hair dye… ?

Meal planning #NaBloPoMo

I’ve yet to get into my stride with meals in the new place. I keep going to reach for items, then finding we used them up in preparation for the move…

The last flat only had (once our now-dead beautiful side by side departed) a small freezer, so I was always playing a balancing game between empty and full.

But, rejoice! A normal sized fridge freezer! (if not slightly bigger? My perception is shot, having one tiny and one huge means I’ve no idea now)

So, cue today. After about a week of planning and researching I finally had a collection of meals that I could collate, bag and label before throwing into the freezer.

I’d like to say it was a breeze, but standing chopping and bagging for about 6-7 hours took its toll on my back and hips (thanks there to Hubs for the massage this eve!), but it does mean we have a good few weeks worth of homemade meals, from fresh ingredients, with the ease of a ready meal (they’re all either slow cooker or “cook meat, add sauce”).

I’ll try and work out the actual cost over the next few days, but almost all the ingredients (and lots of the ‘pantry items’ I had to replace) came in under £100. That’s (once the remaining 5 are done) 14 meals for 2, carb to be added later (veg was in the order too!), and 7 sauces (needing meat, veg and carb).

What’s that? Yes, that’s the sound of a smug housewife :p

Pinterest board for recipes

ETA: having done the maths, the actual cost of things I used was under £50. There’s quite a bit of ‘pantry’ stuff left over, but none will go to waste. Including the leftover stuff it’s still only £62, so about £4.50 a meal!! (not taking into account the extra sauces)


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