Posted in 40.40 CHALLENGE

Day 19 – Nerd! Moi?

The bigger your Ram, the worse the Spam...

What I mean by nerd, is that I love technology, and all things techie. That said, not in a way that I can recite every acronym ever invented for Windows or Mac. No, more like the way it can amuse me. My iPhone, or a cool application, or my computer. And it is of a computer I wish to inform.

Last night I took delivery of my new baby – yes, I am the proud owner (well, the Brandon House Hotel is) of a brand new laptop. Specs to die for, Windows 7 and the list goes on. The one for me – it even says it on the Magnesium Alloy Body. Ok, one of the very annoying stickers they feel they have to attach to every television, computer or piece of equipment nowadays, says it all – Work hard. Play hard!

Twenty years ago, that would have been far more apt than it is now. When you take receipt of a new piece of equipment, that same naive curiosity that would have had you sit for days pressing every button and challenging every key, has now become a more impatient curiosity. You want to do all the things that you have read about, but like with so many things, you are highly unlikely to allow for the time or patience to CHANGE!

YES! With new technology comes changes and new experiences. With new technology comes frustration. Your computer on its own will be grand, but oh my God, attach it to a network, and all of a sudden it does not know if it is single, or part of a family, or merely adopted. So where all your well calculated folders and well placed desktop icons used to be, are now new and foreign icons that you have no intention of ever finding out what they do, because you are to busy bemoaning “Why can they not just make it easy! Why can’t they just let it stay the same?”

How funny are we humans when we get older – we sometimes so badly want something new, something spontaneous, something retail therapy – only for us to realise that what we have is actually adequate and enough.

That the changes we feel we need, like new shoes, or handbags are often unneccessary. When we strip down to basics – we are still butt naked. A pen and paper and calculator might have done just as nicely.

How does this all link with my 40.40 challnege? Very BADLY, I might add. You see – all those lovely iPhone applications that calculate my every calorie, my weight graphs and my every step now have to be re-synced with my new iTunes download, and my Beta 2010 Excel spreadsheet has to talk to my old excel 2007 one, and the back-up has to be restored, and then I have to download all the programmes, and then I have to try to sync all my music and pictures and photos…. and what about all my favourites???

10 minutes excercise and food???? YOU MUST BE JOKING! Who cares about weight loss…. there is NO time, I will sync my carb intake with my calorie burning later, there is not enough time. My baby – Vicky Vaio, as I lovingly (well at time of going to press) am still referring to her needs all my attention today to turn into the type of laptop I would like her to be!

As the old Chinese proverb goes: Be careful what you wish for – you might just get it!

Change indeed.

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Day 18 – Hot stuff!

Now does this not look inviting? Me in 1 hour!!!

This is truly old news, but the odd obsession with the weather in Ireland is a most astounding matter. And might I add, that as I write I am sitting bemoaning the weather as much as the next person – however, I digress. Just so that you know I am not really entitled to stand on any meteorological high ground!

Today is hot – well, hot in comparison to the preceding 945 days. Today feels like a balmy and muggy summer’s day in some sub-tropical enclave in equatorial South America. It’s humid and sticky. I mean – it is all of 19 degrees celsius, and we are sweating here!

The irony is that once you get used to these mild and wonderful four-seasonal days that we are accustomed to, a “normal” day seems like such an oddity, that everyone ends up complaining anyway! One has to ask though – is it truly that hot, or is it just that we have become so used to moaning about the weather, that it is more of a conversational crutch, than a passionate debate.

Well, I have decided, like we used to on the First day of spring… and I don’t mean the Irish spring which is actually on 1st of february –  because of St Brigid – even though the ground is covered in snow and frost.. but like the one on September 1 in the southern hemisphere, that I am going for a dip in the outdoor pool in our Solas Croi Spa.

Actually, I have invited my sprog, and look forward to a balmy summer’s evening, lazing in the pool, and who knows, my low-calorie intake today might even allow for a glass of wine?

Oh, the perks of the job!

I will not complain again about the weather, as there are also murmurings of a picnic on the beach this weekend, strolls along the sand… and the list goes on! Who said romance is dead?

I’m happy to report, I am officially declaring this summer OPEN!

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Day 17 – Sexy legs

Nothing like wet and white winter legs!

Right! I wish to share an ever so embarrassing moment I had today (with advance apologies to the man in my life).

Picture the scene… There I was, Brandon House Hotel – May 2010. I was about to sign Brian Kennedy for the hotel as part of the upcoming Dunbrody Festival (in opposition to Crystal Swing I might add), and came bouncing down the stairs on my way to scribble my million dollar signature on the contract.

Stopped in my tracks, I did! Outside, just by the corner of the window, what would greet me – but one seriously sexy pair of legs. You know the type ladies…. toned, tanned and deliciously athletic. Then I glanced up and saw an equally tanned and toned arm casually draped over the side of the chair. Ahem – could it be the rarest of breeds? An Irish Adonis?

I picked up my salivating jaw, closed my drooling mouth and slowly creeped up to Tara whom I had to confirm the contract with.

With my tongue still slightly hanging out of the corner of my mouth, I sidled up to her and said: “Did you see that?? Oh my God, what a sexy pair of legs!”

To which she non-chalantly replied “I know…. he’s my partner!”

Mortification of a different kind! An almost middle-aged woman being caught ogling a young man’s legs – I mean really – what was I thinking. Yeah yeah – I’m only human after all! But what would the Bishop say?

Oh well – it was a sight for sore eyes. The basics stay the same – I have only 256 calories left to consume today. I think a serious 10 minutes on the vibroplate will buy me some more, so best I get back into action.

And for the record – even though I was blessed with 2 big boxes of chocolates today – I confess to only having four…..

……….ish!

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Day 16 – Best behaviour

If I pull my face tight enough, I can stop putting things into it!

Thanks Chef! Finally I have complete support from the home front with my challenge, and I am SERIOUSLY back on track. The bumpy and cellulite infused road of the past few days is ebbing into a smooth and controlled calorific ride – and all of that because I returned to work being greeted by curiosity and enthusiasm. Is a positive mindset not just the greatest gift we get in life?

Even though I am a little behind my weekly target – thus far I have shed 3.52739 pounds, which leaves me about a pound and a 1/2 behind schedule, and with only 36.47261 pounds to go till August – best I get more of this large rear in gear. Although the 36 already looks MUCH better than 40!

It’s always difficult to come back from a week’s break. The old inbox is satturated, everyone wants a piece of you, but most importantly just to catch up with all the happenings, or lack thereof as it was, everything taken care of most efficiently. I was missed a little bit (I say to myself of course), and having dished out my customary unwanted hugs – I am glad to be back!

The difference this time is that when we usually get a little unmotivated when change does not happen as quickly as we feel it should, we tend to fall back into old comforting habits – or into a jug of chocolate milkshake…. a jar of Jaffa cakes…..or a bag of Maltesers. So far, I have been very good, and have forced myself back into calorie counting good habits.

With all the excitement about to hit New Ross – what with Jedward being signed for the Dunbrody Festival and all things light, frivolous and invigorating, I might even be forced to change my hairstyle! I mean, instead of dollops of chocolate in my mouth, or copious amounts of gel in my hair, I could start tying my hair up again. I will ensure at the same time that it is pulled so tightly back, that my mouth is pulled narrow, like a  button-hole, and that my face is SO rigid, that I simply cannot chew…. or open my mouth.

Now there’s a thought! Maybe if I cannot open my mouth, I can stop putting my foot in it at the same time!

What are the chances?

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Day 15 – Eulogy

The Valley of Desolation - Graaff-Reinet; Groot Karoo

Today is not a day for trivial tattle over a couple of pounds not shed, or a muscle not exercised. Today is a day to remember.

Today kicked off with incredibly sad news, and news that always makes the distance between where we live, and where we come from seem like an eternity. I would love to write here about a dear friend, a wonderful man and all the other wondrous adjectives I can think of, but I wish to write about a man who was like a father to my son.

For those not in the know, I left my only child back in South Africa for five years in order to find my feet in Ireland. During that time my mother gratefully looked after him, and took care of him . But it was the Schmidt’s who took him in and gave him a place at their table, as if he was simply a lost son. In their house he had brothers and a sister, and a mother and father by proxy.

It is Willem who I want to tell you about. I never really knew the man well, and as with all things small town – probably not a thing to admit readily – but such is a small town mentality that we always feel we are entitled to everyone’s every step. Sometimes I think that closeness can be stifling – but in the case of Willem, in all his larger than life presence, I think people felt that if he spread his long arms, and outstretched his paddle hands, that they were part of the humility and kindness that he could exude with a single gesture, or a common touch.

There is going to be a lot of talk about the sadness and the tragedy that goes with his passing. I wish to say that all of that is warranted – oh yes, and knowing my wonderful hometown, a lot of gossip as well (all will deny that – of course).

For those not from a beautiful Karoo town in South Africa – Willem was also a doctor. One that still did house calls, showed great compassion and talked to you about ailments as an equal, and never underestimating your intelligence or your curiosity. A man who showed as much sympathy for your snotty nose or a bad bout of manflu, as he would in tragedy such as cancer, HIV and even death.

He was also one of the greatest influences on my son. He took him under his mighty presence as if he was his own. He loved and encouraged him, chided him and guided him when I was not there. With the rest of his family they gave him the stability that I could not afford, and most importantly – he was proud of him.

Our wellbeing is all we have – look after yourselves. As for Willem? I will be eternally thankful to you in spirit.

May the gentlest giant now rest in peace, because the legend lives on.

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Day 14 – Back on track

A Fork in the Road? Blame it on Sligo!

Confession – the title refers to us being back on track to the Model County, and has no reference whatsoever to me being back on track…. yet! We are definitely going to have to write this weekend off as a speed wobble, that will have to be severely re-balanced from tomorrow onwards.

It was the day for spontaneity. We skipped the evaluation contest, and hit the road, only to be detoured (guilt tripped) via Seafield for some afternoon tea. Yes Brendan, I use guilt trip in classic blame technique to ensure that you realise it was YOUR fault that I ate the cheesecake….. and the cucumber and chicken fingers…… and the chocolate biscuit….. and the Salmon Sandwich wedge….. Thank God I hate fruit scones! Even though you had me pinned down to the ground, forcing all these delicacies down my throat with the vegetarian staring on with relief, you could not get me to eat those scones! I told you I had resolve! Baked raisins indeed.

And then the dreaded text….. 4 times 40 Jumping Jacks? HA – I scoff in the face of danger (and exercise pain) today. I shall brave the new day down laden with the sence of loss, albeit not of a single pound, but of the opportunities to exercise that I had skipped (not with a rope either!) – but strong in the knowledge that I had a great weekend in great company, and that I am strengthened in spirit to face another challenge.

Bring on the new dawn! Bring on the next 98 days, and warn all and sundry of the imminent rumblings of earth as I start pounding pavements again to catch up on the pound or two that has not passed me by.

Bring it on!

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Day 13 – 100 days to go!

Fawlty Towers says it all!

Oh my God!!! Look at the hour! I’m getting back into good habits, and blogging at the end of the day at the latest…. and what a bold girl I’ve been – staying up till now? And speaking of beyond the pumpkin hour – am I the only South African living in the northern hemisphere missing pumpkin fritters with cinnamon with a passion beyond belief?  Ahem – NO, butternut is lovely, but it is NOT a Boerpampoen!

For those not in the know, I always vow that when I go to another hotel, I would never want to do unto them what I would not want done on myself. Hence, I never criticize another establishment, unless their frailties are so pronounced that you have no choice. Tonight is such a night – I mean I had to call the manager! Without going into detail, another night that you truly appreciate what you have, but most importantly, I am yet again blessed with such friendly and kind staff!!! I love you guys! (Yes, 3 glasses of wine and 2 Guinness – but I will repeat it in the sobriety of morning).

Tonight I had 4 courses thrown in front of me, I had red wine spilt over not only the cloth, but also my plate. I have been shoved, I have been prodded, and I have been ignored. All the time I have to remind myself I am at a “Gala” dinner. Poor Carmel is keeping me awake in the early morning hours through the sound of her stomach aching with the pangs of hunger. Now we might question her being a vegetarian – but RAW courgette? For a main course? Even I had sympathy, and it does not come easily to vegetarians!

I digress though – great speeches today. Wexford’s bid for the 2010 conference officially noted, and have met some wonderful, diverse and colourful characters. What more can you want?

Oh yes – I received a text in the past hour and a half, reminding me that I can exercise any time, and that it is not to late to go brisk walking for ten minutes? In your dreams, Marcin! I am still in dim mode. Try again tomorrow!

Alright so…. I will start the day with a brisk walk, and as my penance will do the other 10 minute exercise as well. IN total I have had 2434 calories today, and that does not include my two pints of Guinness!

Lovely as it was, Thelma and Louise both agree – we miss our men, and want to go home! Wexford…. be warned, we’re copming back!

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Day 12 – Thelma & Louise

Not long before Carmel and I look this good too!

Late again? Of course dears – we were in transit to Sligo! A lovely stop over in Mullingar with Claire and Rian, and a leisurely cruise via Longford. OK – I confess, leisurely until some asshole drove into the back of my car, refused to admit that he had (even though his bumper was still seductively lodged up my poor Fiesta’s rear), and reversed and drove off. Arrogant and most ignorant person from County Louth – or Louth by registration anyway!

When we eventually arrived , it was paramount that the stresses of the trip be washed away with a couple of Gins & Slimline Tonics (3 X 56 calories) – and that was where my calorie counting ended. It was all downhill from there – or, as Carmel says – not in switched off, simply in dimming mode!

I was surprised by all the politics going on, but then again, how naive to believe that Toastmasters can be different to other large organisations when there are positions of power going, and that it would be exempt from competition? Our girl won of course, but it was a very fair and even contest, and diplomatic it might sound, but either way the organisation would have won.

All that is fine, but I also have to comment that not all Toastmasters are fun people! Why do some people have to take things so serious, or even worse – display NO sense of humour. That could also be seen in the surprise shown in the fact that I won the fancy dress (my own surprise included). But a lot to be said for originality then, even though I felt a bit guilty because minimal effort went into the creation. I was St Francis of Assisi and had copious furry animals stuck t my dress, with a pussy draped over my shoulder which I stroked between conversational breaks!

All in all – a good night, lovely company and myriad of information obtained for our upcoming conference in Wexford. You have to love that ol’ networking buzz!

That said – I still have not received a text for any exercise, and I have not exactly been reporting that either. Tut-tut, but I am reasonably on the right track (read slight speed wobble). In the words of Mr Yeats….

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

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Day 11 – Toastmasters

I'm the one on the right!!! I swear!

I’m officially in full-on Toastmasters mode. Great meeting this evening, with hysterical Tall Tales to boot, and off to Land of Heart’s desire Conference tomorrow with Hop-Along Carmel – in Sligo. Apparently the after effects of delicate keyhole surgery should rather be interpreted as bolt-hole surgery – not much different to the insertions made in Frankenstein’s head.

I have spent the day “saving” calories for the weekend, although we all know that’s not the way this works. I have had NO instructions what so ever about exercise, and I can only state that I have done none. I officially have had a day’s holiday.

For those not in the know – I am a total and complete information junkie, with a penchant for all things modern technology. Today I finally realised that it can also be a curse! I know it’s great to settle every argument or curiosity with instant access to internet, or an app – but sometimes we have to remove ourselves from all this, and simply be. It’s good for the psyche. I have deactivated my emails for the duration! What was that? I couldn’t do it? Well, I did!

So what have I learnt from today? Apparently if you don high heels if you are a tad overweight (read deliciously plump), then the “stones” fall off you. This statement clearly did not take into consideration someone like myself, who in bare feet towers towards 6 foot, and who in heels look like a misplaced Drag Queen, and releases the urge to speak in deep Ivan Rebroff dulcet tones, whilst adjusting my underwear repetitively.

All that is now left is to pack me little bag in the morning, complete my outfit for the fancy dress tomorrow night – Saint or Scholar??? – and hit the road to the other side of Ireland, with a most delicious lunch break with Claire and Co in Mullingar!

O happy days!

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Day 10 – Yesterday

Something Buff for both sides!

For the millions following my mortification approach religiously – my apologies for the late post – but I was in the “Big Smoke” yesterday, and did not get around to sit in front of the pc till now.

Free!!! That’s what my afternoon cost me – nothing! And you might ask what did I get up to? Well, Lucy and I went to the Natural History Museum next to Leinster House, and it was Free! Actually – all the national museums in Ireland are free! How things change – I can recall when I arrived first that this was not the case, and I think it is something that they should emphasise far more than they do. it’s nowhere on their website, and only when I emailed regarding the cost of a day visit, was I informed of this brilliant news! Well worth going to see no matter how young or old you are.

Notorious for my lack of direction however, I wish to admit to my blondest moment yet. I followed the signs to get to Grafton Street, but only realised 1/2 hour into my walk that I was following VEHICLE signs – so I was walking along the ONE WAY, in the opposite direction of Grafton Street all along. O such folly – I truly am completely directionally dysfunctional. And it gets worse, because you cannot even follow the sun – this time of the year it’s always in the sky, or cloudy! Woe woe!

Back to the Challenge though – I hope that my getting lost also lost me some calories, because I allowed myself a viciously decadent treat last night. I do declare – I am an Eddie Rocket’s Virgin no more! What a lovely event! Yes, I measured out each delicious calorie carefully – but I have to congratulate the staff, the food and the experience at the Parnell Square establishment for a job well done. I also had my first “slider”, which is the PERFECT nibble burger – FUNSIZE instead of SUPERSIZE me in future, please!

To conclude my day out, we took a scenic drive through Phoenix Park, and went to see two plays at the Gay Theatre festival – of which the first should have been on the national stages, and made to be compulsory in these times. Besides absolute tour de force acting, it was probably the most comprehensive and touching rendition of what it must have been like for the victims of all the abuse scandals. Rather than us talking about it in disbelief withguilty relief that it did not touch us personally – having seen this I realise that I feel not only pity for victims anymore, but a tangible deep sense of the pain that all this must have caused, especially for one’s SO very young.

Sorry – heavy stuff, but it was the best one man play I have ever seen; It has been rightly accoladed across the globe, only for it to play to a couple of people in Dublin. Why? Because the official Gay theatre fest and the New Gay Theatre fest are having a bitch fight – and running two festivals at the same time – all of this we found out last night! If not even the gay community can work together in harmony under one rainbow – how are the rest of us poor souls meant to make head or tails out of all this global drama?

To conclude my belated post – I did do my novel excercise yesterday! Whilst waiting for Luce at Marks & Spencer (who’s M&S re-branding ain’t working – another story), I did as instructed, and scaled many a bottom shelf, read labels for a minute at a time, whilst haunching at 90 degrees (or there abouts) all the time. I did this 10 times, and have bought things that I really did not need!!! Thanks Marcin!

P.S. The play was called “The Tricky Part”, at the Teacher’s Club; 36 Parnell Square West; 8pm every night until Saturday. You can book online at www.gaytheatre.ie – but I would say that with the attendence I saw last night you could just arrive. It is well worth the ONLY €15.