Monday Meditation: Family Matters

 7B409BAD-D2AA-4704-857F-413F20F7CC1FA very quick post today to explain and apologise.

We are currently in the throes of trying to move my mum into sheltered accommodation just around the corner from us. It is taking up all our time and energy. Mum is finding it all overwhelming, she doesn’t want to move but knows she has to if we’re to be able to take care of her needs. It is causing her a lot of stress.

She is calling us every day several times a day with the same concerns and not retaining any reassurances I give her. She can’t keep hold of the relevant dates when things are happening.

She is insisting on sorting out all her belongings immediately – even though we haven’t even seen the property she’s been offered yet – and spending sleepless nights trying to decide which furniture to take etc. when she doesn’t know the size of the rooms.

In the 10 days or so since she found out she’d been offered a home, she has injured her back, her kitchen light went and we had  on Good Friday, and then on Easter Monday, she found a key in a drawer, tried it in the back door and got it stuck, so we had to pay a locksmith £70 to spray WD40 on it to free it! She then twisted her knee.

She keeps promising me she won’t do any more, but then phones me up to ask if so-and-so in the family would like such-and-such that she’s just found in a cupboard or wardrobe! Later, she will forget that she has given something to someone and worry she can’t find it.

As I write, my husband has gone to pick her up and also meet two estate agents who are coming to value her current home. He will then bring her here, and we will take her to look at the new home on Friday. It is very nerve-racking. The authorities will also be approving her at the same time and if they don’t think she can live independently, they will rescind the offer and then I don’t know what we will do.

So, I apologise for not being able to read everyone’s posts or comment as frequently as I’d like. There may be a hiatus in my own posts as well, at this point I don’t have any more scheduled. I am exhausted and worried about how all this is going to play out. Even if we manage the whole move, our lives will no longer be our own. Mum will have more security and hopefully be able to live independently for longer, and she will see more of the family. But we will be on call 24/7 and I’m not sure we’re up to the task.

It’s a huge emotional, as well as physical, responsibility. I worry that it will all be too much for her to cope with, leaving everything and everybody she knows at almost 88 years old, and if she is dreadfully unhappy in the new place, that will be on me, as I’m the one who has instigated it all.

By the time you read this, she will have seen her new home. It will be much smaller than her present home. She is not a joiner, and is worried ‘they’ will try and tell her what to do or make her join in activities or classes or ventures she doesn’t want to do. She likes to keep herself to herself.

I am normally a postitive person, but the weight of this is extremely heavy. What if she hates it and doesn’t want to move… What if she moves and hates it…

I know, I know, what if it all goes well and she is happy here…

Positive thoughts would be welcome 🙏🏻

Update: Mum saw the bungalow and felt better about the move, we even chose paint colours for all the rooms. Then last night (Saturday), she had a TIA (mini stroke) and has since been in hospital.  We are hoping she will be discharged tomorrow (Monday). The Earth is spinning just a little too fast at the moment.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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Curried Squash & Leek Soup

FAE055D1-284B-457A-9C2B-29EAA17FEC71During the block of snowdays recently, we did a lot of baking and soup making (see Our Snow Days Became Baking Days – Is The Gym Open Yet?), the kitchen became a hive of activity, partly to keep warm and partly for something to do! I’m going to attempt to post some of the recipes; I hope I can remember, or at least decipher the brief notes we scribbled down at the time! I always think the photos will be enough, or my Instagram posts listing the ingredients, but then I forget the quantities. So bear this in mind and don’t take the recipes too literally if you try them.

This soup came about because we had a butternut squash from our organic veg box that had been waiting a while to be used, but it was small, and I had bought some much-reduced leeks that needed using, plus there were a couple of cauliflower florets left from Sunday, when we’d used the rest of it, and the middle bit of a bunch of celery. They turned into a lovely warming soup on a freezing, snowladen day. My husband also made bread rolls that morning, which you can see in the photo, but they weren’t gluten-free, so I’m not featuring them here.

This soup is full of healthy ingredients and is anti-inflammatory. (Butternut squash provides vitamins A and C, B6, potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium, as do leeks). No cream or butter, just a little coconut oil.

As always, the recipes are vegan and gluten-free, organic where possible.

Makes enough for 4 servings.

Ingredients

Coconut Oil for frying

1 Small Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 Leek, trimmed, washed and sliced (keep as much of the greenery as is usable)

2 Cauliflower Florets, chopped

3 Large Carrots, scrubbed and chopped (peeled if not organic)

The middle stalks of Celery with leaves, chopped

Approx. 1.5 Pints Vegetable Stock, with 1 Tsp Yeast Extract dissolved in it

Half a Tsp each of Cumin, Ginger, Turmeric & Curry Powder

 Black Pepper

Pink Himalayan Salt if required for taste when cooked

D3C44198-2988-4D9D-A048-C401850C4360Method

Melt the oil until hot but not smoking

Add the spices and all the veg, mix well, add black pepper, place the lid on and sweat for a few minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally

2B810F41-36DB-40BA-8413-01CC69A4E2C3Add the hot stock with the yeast extract, enough to cover the veg

Replace the lid, and cook on a low heat until the veggies are soft but not mushy, stirring occasionally.

Blend with a stick blender, leaving some texture to it, taste and adjust the seasoning

Serve with warm rolls or flat bread

 

Copyright: Chris McGowan

 

Monday Meditation: St Luke’s Village Church, Hodnet

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St Luke’s Church is next door to the beautiful Hodnet Hall Gardens, sitting just beside the entrance. This small, intimate church was open for visitors when we were at the gardens in the summer and is well worth a look if you like historic buildings and richly-coloured stained glass windows.

This Grade 1 listed building is Norman in origin and listed in the Doomesday Book. Much of the original Norman nave still exists. It has the only octagonal tower in Shropshire, with octagonal wooden clocks on each side. I had never seen a tower like it. I warmed to this unusual church instantly before venturing inside the porch, its open door inviting us in.

The stained glass windows were beautiful. One is in memory of Mary Heber, an ancestor of the current family in residence, and the other tells the story of The Holy Grail.  It was really difficult to find the right angle to do justice to the vivid colours and images, the sun was streaming through windows and washing out some of the colour. We were the only ones there and took our time, not feeling in anyway rushed by person or event.

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The aisles and chapels are tiled in various colours and intricate patterns. They are in wonderful condition. I spent a lot of time just sitting, contemplating, taking everything in, all the magnificent beauty and craftmanship.

 

 

IMG_3995The families who have owned the Hall have been – and still are – long-time patrons of this church, supporting its upkeep. Many of them are buried there or memorialised within the church. There are some very elaborate marble memorials on the walls and in the family chapel. Unfortunately, my camera battery died and I didn’t realise it had given up on the marble sarcophagus in the family chapel.

I’ve never seen pews like these before, they were all across the front of the congregation, no doubt there for the great and the good! I found them incredibly uncomfortable, forcing me to sit up rather than lean into them.

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I don’t know exactly what it was about this church, but it had a very welcoming feel to it. It’s quite small which makes it more intimate, less intimidating, for all its imposing stone and sense of history. There was a sense of continuity through the family names that you get in small villages, and lots of notices addressed to visitors and parishioners inviting them to look around, providing information and histories, a visitors’ book, but also framed photographs of the current incumbents and articles about local people and activities.

A lovely touch was the invitation to request a prayer for, or thoughts be sent to, someone who needed it, whatever the circumstances, no names necessary, and there were candles and matches if you also wanted to light one on their behalf. No charge. I requested a mention for our dear friend, Terry at Spearfruit.

(Please Note: I wrote this post some time before Terry passed away and I hope it doesn’t cause distress to anyone close to him. He was very much on my mind at the time of our visit).

One project I particularly warmed to was some research conducted by the local Scouts group into the names on the War Memorial in the church yard. This research was left out for all to see and filled in the details behind the names, turning them into real people not just ciphers. The project was at the back of the church for anyone to leaf through, with an invitation to contact the authors if any information is incorrect or if the reader had more up to date details to include.

There was a small piano alongside the ancient organ, and really old prayer books, Bibles, registers in full view, not locked away or removed for fear of vandalism, as in many churches these days. This added to the welcoming atmosphere of this beautiful church.

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I was reluctant to leave, but we had been out all afternoon and now it was approaching evening and the gardens where we had parked the car would soon be closing. If you click on the link in my first paragraph, you can read about this magnificent estate, one of the most stunning and unspoiled places I’ve visited.

A final look up towards the church from the entrance to the Hall:

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

 

Vegan & Gluten-Free Oat Crumble Scones

In my previous recipe for Vegan Gluten-Free Mango & Raisin Crumble, I used leftover crumble topping to make scones, and they turned out well, far exceeding expectations. All I did was add almond milk (or was it tiger nut milk?!) to the mix until it made a sticky dough. Any plant milk will work – tiger nut is sweeter and creamier – even coconut milk. (See below for posts on how to make dairy-free and some nut-free plant milks). There was only enough left to make two, but I’ll certainly be making them again.  You can see them to the right of my husband’s bread rolls on the cooling grid:

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They’re not the prettiest, but if you like wholefoods, and texture, and a high nutritional content, then why waste the leftovers?

I’m short on time as my mum is coming to stay, so I won’t write out the whole crumble recipe again, you can click the link above if you’d like to try them, and enjoy the relief of a short post from me for a change 😉

0D9D9516-E038-4A4C-AB3D-0D226EF4EF3AI had them with some vegan spread (I rarely use it, but when I do I use Pure), and St Dalfour Strawberry Spread, which has no sweeteners at all.

They were delicious, crumbly on the outside but moist on the inside. Full of texture and flavour.

Next time I might try adding some dried fruit. I wonder what my mum would make of them. Not exactly the Cornish cream tea she’s more used to when scones are involved! I’ve always preferred wholemeal scones to the traditional bland and textureless white kind, like you get in supermarkets. Many people have problems making scones, but for me they are the easiest and quickest of things to bake. The trick is for the dough to be sticky and to cut them very thickly, at least an inch. If they come out a bit dry and over-baked, cover them in fruit spread and thick yogurt for a healthier cream tea.

Here are some links to other scone recipes and how to make plant milks:

Vegan Gluten-Free Almond & Apricot Scones – oh yes!

Savoury Vegan Glutenfree ‘Cheese’ & Herb Scones

Vegan Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Scone Recipes: 1 Sweet, 1 Savoury

How to Make Cashew Nut Milk & Why You Should!

How To Make Almond Milk

Horchata (aka Tiger Nut Milk)

Smooth and Creamy Hemp Milk

 Copyright: Chris McGowan

Monday Meditation: Vegan Gluten-Free Mango & Raisin Crumble

F285BFFB-8C3A-4FB1-8B4F-3B9714EEC31BAn unusual topic for a Monday Meditation, but if left to my own devices, I find baking a very meditative occupation.

I don’t particularly enjoy the hustle and bustle of a crowded busy kitchen, needing to produce several different items in record time! I do however enjoy creating recipes using just what I find in my cupboards or fridge/freezer, often using up small amounts of this and that, so as not to let them go to waste.

I can let go. I can relax. I can enjoy the sun streaming through the kitchen window even on freezing cold snow days, as this one was. I can play my favourite music and sing along at the top of my voice or enjoy the quiet and let my mind wander where it will, with no demands made of it. I can be as creative as I like and no-one is going to pull a face or disapprove. I like experimenting and rarely make the same thing twice with exactly the same ingredients. I’m not one for following recipes, even my own!

I’ve been asked for recipes for the baking I did during our week of snowdays, so I’m gradually working my way through them (see Our Snow Days Became Baking Days – Is The Gym Open Yet?)I made only sketchy notes or sometimes asked my husband to write things down and his notes are usually only compehensible by himself alone! So I’ll do my best, but all quantities are approximate.

I love mangoes. The fragrance, the juiciness, the soft flesh. They are high in vitamins A and C, and also contain some B6, iron, calcium and magnesium. Great on their own, in smoothies or ice-cream.

However, I find mangoes as frustrating as avocados. You wait forever for them to ripen and just when you think it will be perfect, it’s gone. They are best kept out of the fridge to allow the ripening process to continue, which I did, but this one was defying all the laws. It appeared to be ripe on one side, unripe on the other and developing a black spot on the end. I decided to peel it and see.

It was too unripe to use straightaway and I didn’t want to waste it. I had never heard of mango being cooked before but I decided I had nothing to lose, so I chopped it up onto a pan, added a little apple juice and some raisins – I may have used a little maple syrup too – put on the lid and cooked it on a low heat.

I didn’t want to use it immediately and so I put it in the freezer – and forgot about it! I found it on a snow day and decided to try and make a fruit crumble with it.

86B02C47-8A7C-4C21-AEE2-2FB40AE6A223I let it thaw for a couple of hours – it doesn’t look very appetising, but it tasted good. I then devised the crumble topping.

Here’s what I came up with:

2oz Tiger Nut Powder*

4oz Self-Raising Gluten-free Flour

2oz Poridge Oats (I left them whole as they were quite small, but you could grind them to a flour if preferred)

2oz Vegan Spread (I used Pure)

2oz Coconut Sugar**

Method

7394C255-4B0D-49A2-9249-9C594B5DDD8DMix together the flours, sugar & oats, rub in the spread with the fingertips until it resemble thick breadcrumbs.

Place the mango and rasin mixture in an oven dish and top with the crumble.

Place in a medium hot oven and cook until golden and bubbly.

9D4DC69F-4FDA-467C-A5E2-65F1ED6E4392We had it first with coconut yogurt and then next morning, having got up late, we had it with homemade custard while we sat huddled in front of the woodburner!

Homemade custard:

This was made using cornflour, a little coconut sugar and a drop of vanilla extract, which was mixed to a paste with a little almond milk, then I poured in some warmed almond milk, stirred and returned it to the pan and heated, stirring until it thickened.

I used some leftover crumble mix to make scones, see next time!

Vegan, Gluten-Free Plum Crumble – Nice, But Not Too Naughty!

‘What Do You Eat If You Can’t Have Anything Naughty?’ – What Vegans Eat

*The Tiger Nut Company

*The Raw Chocolate Company

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Our Snow Days Became Baking Days – Is The Gym Open Yet?

4A91CBDC-D755-49B3-8CF1-F433031E30F4I spent an entire week confined to barracks because I can’t bear the minus temperatures and icy winds, or risk a fall on the ice. My husband couldn’t go out on his usual bike rides and we’d also chosen this week to have the hall parquet flooring restored, which meant open external doors. We had blizzard conditions here and the woodburner was our best friend. So was the oven. We spent the whole week cooking, but mostly baking, and if the weather doesn’t improve soon, I’ll be needing a bigger size in jeans!

This was just one day’s production line:

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D14E5C63-6F6C-4E66-A9C5-39B82C1583B2My husband made bread rolls (and next day a wholemeal loaf), I made a Mango & Raisin Crumble with Oaty Topping, some Scones from the leftover crumble and some Curried Squash Soup! The next day I made a Coconut Cake.

9D4DC69F-4FDA-467C-A5E2-65F1ED6E4392My husband, on finishing the cake said ‘We should do this every week,’ to which I replied ‘I don’t think so, there’s no more room for my waistline!’ We even had crumble with Coconut Custard for late breakfast one morning, very decadent.

At the beginning of the week, I’d attempted to make flapjacks. The mixture looked amazing in the tray. Tasted good, too. Unfortunately, I spent far too much time talking to the floor man and didn’t keep my eye on it, so it was a tad overcooked and I forgot to cut it up before it went cold. So it became granola!

(The floor turned out nicely, though:

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Thankfully, it was a much easier task than the other two rooms we’d had done in previous years as it didn’t have to be relaid. It was finished in two days).

My husband made some Welsh cakes – a bit like fruit scones – and our son jokingly said, send some down! So we did, with some granola. However, they were snowed in, there were no shopping deliveries and no mail deliveries until 5 days later! We were convinced they would go straight in the bin, but my son gave them the thumbs up and was very appreciative.

719CAC7A-861A-4A48-8CAE-9F7A86FDE4F0On Friday morning, my husband walked the mile to the gym in snow and icy winds for a spin class, but the only exercise he got was the walk there and back and the half hour in between, clapping his arms around his body trying to keep warm! The class was cancelled due to the snow, but the instructor was unable to contact him. He did get a free session out of it for the next week, though.

As for me and my waistline, well, I surprised myself when shortly after the thaw, and despite the still chilly temperatures, I managed to walk My First 10,000 Steps.

*Since I wrote this, the snow decided to pay another visit at the weekend, and this was the result:

From left, clockwise: Chocolate & Coconut Tarte, Gingerbread Ducks & Chicks, Vegan, Gluten-free Pizza.  There has to be an end to snowdays soon, surely?

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Monday Meditation: Appeals for Help for Homeless People in the Prolonged Icy Weather

295843B4-63EE-4573-BC5B-133F6C8D6401As I write, the latest fall of snow is melting. We had the littles here for the weekend and they had a lot of fun playing in it, as did their dad, a little too much as it turned out – if you enlarge this photo, you’ll see a hole in the right garage window!

Towards the end of the first prolonged period of snow when it had hung around for about 10 days, I braved the outdoors during a brief fine spell for a short walk. I had been cooped up in dry central heating for so long. How good it felt to fill my lungs with the sharp fresh air!

As I gingerly walked along the roadside, avoiding the sometimes slippery paths, I pondered about how we coped without central heating when we were young children, when there was often ice on the inside of the windows and a bath was a weekly affair to be dreaded and shivered over. I remembered about chapped red legs from wearing wellies to walk to school. Dead white fingers when I walked my young son to school and I couldn’t untie his shoes. And then I thought about all those having to work in these conditions, but most of all, people who were even now having to spend the nights outdoors in flimsy clothing. I chastised myself for complaining the other night about not being able to sleep when it was -10C . I had a thick duvet, two hot water bottles, woolly socks, central heating and a comfortable bed. How many didn’t have any kind of bed, or slept in damp rooms with ill-fitting windows and no heating?

I came home and went online to see if there was a charity for homeless people in my area – how did I not know that already? We support the local Foodbank, but as I thought, there was no dedicated charity for homeless people in our immediate area, although I found one for the nearest large town and made a donation. Nowhere near enough. It felt like conscience money.

719CAC7A-861A-4A48-8CAE-9F7A86FDE4F0This past weekend, the icy winds and another 3” of snow have returned and I read an appeal on Twitter from @StreetsKitchen in London (also StreetsKitchenOffical on Facebook) for warm socks and underwear to give to homeless men. I went on Amazon and ordered some to be delivered there. (They had recently also appealed for sleeping bags). A drop in an enormous ocean, I know, but many people have responded, so let’s hope a few more people will be supported during this freezing weather.

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Please click the link if you’d like to know more or can help in any way. They need food donations too. Or please think about donating warm clothing to your own local charity, or your time to hand out warm soup and drinks.

 

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Dairy-Free Frozen Chocolate-Flavoured Breakfast Smoothie Bowl

16D342DD-5171-499D-A90A-59CCFB55A00DI keep rescheduling this post because the weather insists on returning to winter temperatures!  Plus, I think the colour and the fact that it has spinach in it may put you off. If I hadn’t written ‘smoothie’ in the title, you would probably have thought it was soup!

However, I’m relegating porridge bowls for now, I need a change, and I have to hope that things will warm up sooner rather than later.

Admittedly, this smoothie doesn’t look very appealing, but appearances can be deceiving and it is chock full of the good stuff.  Using frozen instead of fresh banana makes the smoothie thicker and creamier. Slice over-ripe bananas and freeze them in the amounts you’ll want to use them. Bananas that start to have black spots on them are much easier to digest, fresh or frozen.

Use less milk than you would for a normal smoothie in a glass.

Vegan, Gluten-free and can be Nut-free.

All quantities approximate.

Ingredients

1 Banana (frozen)
½ cup of Blueberries, washed
1 small handful of Spinach, washed
2 Tbsp Peanut (or any nut or seed) Butter
1 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder*
½ cup of Tiger Nut Milk (or any plant milk, click link for how to make)
Optional: 1 Medjool Date, but as I’d put one in the milk, I didn’t add another
Optional: 1 Tbsp Moringa**, or a scoop of Vivolife ‘Thrive for Her’ Green Superfood, Wild Berry flavour*** or any other flavoured Protein Powder
Toppings: I went for a crunchy mix to offset the creamy texture of the smoothie. Chopped nuts (I used Walnuts here), Mixed Seeds, (I used Sunflower, Pumpkin & Chia*), Cacao Nibs*, Blueberries or other berries, Buckwheat

Blend until smooth, but don’t overdo it or it will become too thin.

Sprinkle with chosen toppings.

Nutrients include: antoxidants, b vitamins, iron, magnesium, prebiotics, probiotics, protein, calcium, zinc, potassium, healthy fats, dietary fibre. Great for breakfast, dessert or a healthy pick-me-up.

Here are some links to other smoothie recipes:

Frozen Mango, Banana & Passionfruit Protein Smoothie

Monday Meditation: Two Year Old Frank’s Berry Good Smoothie – Made With Love & Smiles

Almond, Chia & Spinach Super Smoothie

Heart-Healthy Carob, Walnut & Lucuma Smoothie

Monday Meditation: Indulgent No-Banana Cherry & Chocolate Smoothie

The Mood Booster: Raw Chocolate Mulberry, Banana & Walnut Smoothie

Kumquat & Cacao Protein Smoothie

*I buy from The Raw Chocolate Company, their products are Vegan, Organic, Fairtrade, Kosher, Gluten-free, high quality, ethically-sourced and made in the UK.

**Also Vegan, Organic, Gluten-free & Kosher Aduna support African small businesses, often run by women.

*** From Vivolife also Vegan, Organic, made in the UK and Carbon Neutral.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Monday Meditation: My 10,000 Steps (and very sore feet).

A very personal post this week. I hope you’ll bear with me, I am writing this the night before posting in place of the scheduled one. Typos may happen as I’m pretty tired and sore because yesterday (Saturday), this happened:

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This is the first time I have ever reached this goal and this is how I felt when I saw the stats:

💃🏼🎈🎉🎊🥇🍾✨🙊👑

To put it into context: I’ve had a severe back injury that goes back (sorry) to when I was 20, and has been exacerbated by numerous other injuries, surgery, medications and treatments. I have spent months in a plaster cast, weeks in traction, years wearing a steel reinforced corset, and spent most of my adult life lying flat on my back rattling with pills that didn’t work, unable to have anyone touch me due to intractable pain.

I’ve missed countless family events.  I have gone to bed in my trainers because there was no-one around to unfasten them for me. I have frequently slept in my clothes because either I couldn’t move or the pain was too severe to have someone help me. There are times I can’t even clean my teeth because raising my arm is too painful. I didn’t have a bath, shower or hair wash for 5 years – I eventually had my son shave my head, very liberating! I can’t travel to see my mum. I can’t hold a book. There are still days when I can’t get out of bed. But just occasionally, with a lot of hard work over a long period of time, with fingers crossed and all the planets in alignment, I manage to go for a walk. Usually they are short. Once in a blue moon and usually in warm summer weather, they become longer.

Saturday was one of these days.

To cut a long story short, my husband needed me to go with him to take a parcel that was being returned and the address needed to be scanned, but he doesn’t have a smartphone and wanted to use mine. He has a (justified) reputation for losing or breaking electronic devices and I didn’t trust him with mine!

Had I known how far we would be going, and end up going via a circuitous route along the canal, I would have gone by car. I wasn’t feeling the best, but knew I should try and have a walk. In the event, I was distracted by swans and ducks – flying overhead and sitting on the water –  crocuses, snowdrops and canal architecture, smallholdings with geese, old buildings, and my husband pointing out where various people lived and so on.

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By the time we arrived home, I had done 7,000 steps. SEVEN THOUSAND STEPS!! In winter when it’s impossible to leave the house, I struggle to make a few hundred; previously when I did go out, I was delirious if I made 1500. Lately, with hard work, I’ve been managing 3-4,000, that’s how momentous this is. I couldn’t believe it and knew immediately there would be payback. I could feel myself stiffening up as soon as I sat down.

It had threatened rain, so it had been damp, which didn’t help. The next time I stood up, I couldn’t straighten my legs, and my feet and ankles felt like they would break with the pressure. My back was not happy at all. I knew I had to keep moving, hard as it might be. So, even though my husband kept offering to fetch things for me, I doggedly shuffled about trying to keep the bodyparts mobile. I felt like I was in my nineties! Injections of WD40 would have been appreciated.

Later, as my husband made dinner, it became a lovely evening with a peach-toned sky and I decided I had to try to walk around the block or I would never get out of bed in the morning. I was rewarded by the most beautiful song from an overhanging tree as I rounded the corner. A robin was in full voice right above my head and I had my own private concert. I was glad I made the effort.

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Can you see him? I wish you could hear him, but my blog won’t support video. I took this still from the video I took with my phone camera.

His song lifted my spirits and I walked the rest of the way with a smile and a metaphorical if not literal spring in my step.

By late evening, my husband and I compared notes, we had both done just over 9,000 steps! I couldn’t believe it. My competitive genes kicked in and I knew, if I tried really hard, I could manage the final 1,000 before bed, just walking around the house. I knew I would be sorry next day, but I didn’t care: I also knew that my sense of achievement (and the fact I beat my very fit husband!) would be worth all the pain and discomfort.

I had a long and very hot shower, smothered myself in arnica gel and set about my task. Eventually, I looked at my stats and it said 9,951! So close. I shuffled and counted. I was sure I had made it. I checked again. 9,951. What was going on? Again I counted. Still 9,951. I knew I had made it but I needed the visual evidence! I walked around and around the kitchen as I waited for the kettle to heat up for a couple of hot water bottles, I was going to need them! I was dead on my feet, they would ever forgive me for abusing them this way.

Finally, finally, the stats changed. 10,360! That was so cruel. I could have been in bed 360 steps ago! But I was ecstatic. And so proud. I have been trying for years to improve my walking and kept being kicked back to the starting point. This was incredible. I was so happy.

All I needed now was a good night’s rest and to take things easy next day, try to keep moving but not push myself. So, what happened? A dog barked all night. The temperature had risen and I was overheated with the shower and hot water bottles. I was over-stimulated by the exercise and my mind wouldn’t stop recalling my efforts and everything I’d seen that day. I was so stiff, I found it hard to change position. By the time I felt like I had just managed to drop off, a blackbird was singing his heart out and it was still pitch dark!

It took me an hour and a half to get up this morning. Another long hot shower. More arnica gel. My feet didn’t want to touch the ground. I felt like I’d been in the ring with Ali. My husband went on a 50 mile bike ride and I could barely lift a cup of tea!

And yet, I was smiling. I couldn’t wait to show my also very fit cycling son and my kick-boxing daughter what I had achieved. They wouldn’t believe it. I still had trouble believing it. I keep having to look back at the stats.

I may never manage it again. But if I don’t, I will always have this feeling. I will always remember this euphoria. I will always be grateful for the chance to prove that despite all the ‘can’ts’, this time I could.

Ps Plus the added bonus of beating my husband!

PPs I could never have done this before I started juicing and became vegan. There has been a marked improvement in my overall health in the last 4-5 years. I think there has been a reduction in the inflammation throughout my body, plus the added nutrients feeding my muscles, nerves and so on.

Thank you for reading. I just had to tell someone!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Memories of Mother’s Days Past

5C93CC37-7C33-49EC-9775-968D6FFE0A4EA double repost today, both about past Mother’s Days.

As you will discover, we don’t pay much attention to these commercialised ‘Days’, but every once in a while, I receive a lovely surprise. Plus, I never tire of telling these stories of my children’s Mother’s Day surprises.

I won’t be seeing my family on Mother’s Day, but my son, daughter-in-law and their family of littles will be visiting next weekend – although I am under no illusion that he is coming especially to see me, it is the prospect of a long bike ride with his dad and the club that lures him here in reality!

If you’re celebrating, I hope you have a lovely day together. If you find this time difficult, my thoughts are with you, and I hope you can find a way of nurturing yourself through it.

An Impromptu Mother’s Day Adventure or How We Survived the Vortex that is Our Local Bermuda Triangle …

  Mother’s Day: A Tribute to My Children

 Copyright: Chris McGowan