Monthly Archives: January 2012

Half Term Fun: Wizard Week!


Olton Hall, the train from the Harry Potter films

Wizard Week at National Railway Museum

11-19 Feb 2012

Looks like we’re going to be busy this half term! The steam train from the Harry Potter movies will be at the National Railway Museum, with all kinds of wonderful, magical activities for children:

All-action wizard duels

Broomstick flying trick photography*

Best-dressed wizard competition

‘Science of Magic’ spectacular shows

Stunning owls on display

Plus, there’s an outdoor play area with a miniature railway and simulator rides*

further details and prices can be found at

*extra charge may apply for certain activities


Shredded Weep

Shredded Weep

Shred my ass. No, please, do

Just bought my first ever exercise video, Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred.  Did I get Shredded? Broken into pieces, more like! (Actually, it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. She’s not annoying, anyway.)

True, I laughed, I cried, I was a little bit sick. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried it just after my dinner. Why on earth would I cry? Involuntary response, I think, a release of hormones and my body’s last attempt to fight back with psychological warfare.  But my body lost, and despite the sheer exhaustion (I’ve never sweat from my eyes before) I actually feel better already. They are very intense workouts; relatively quick, too, like ripping off a plaster.

Jillian Michaels is a great motivator, like Linda Hamilton would be if she made a workout video at the start of Terminator 2, getting all the inmates up and at ‘em in the asylum. She kept telling me not to “phone it in” and was very encouraging, saying “only one more left now!” But she lied. SHE LIED!

By the end, I was feeling just like one of Linda Hamilton’s  inmates.  I was hoping  the Terminator would come in and put me out of my misery.

After being a size 6 most my adult life, I never had to worry about workouts. I walked most places and danced a lot, like a crazy little fairy. At school, it was easy; walking a mile a day, badminton, hockey, and I was a fussy little beggar when it came to food. Now? Not so much.

After moving in with my husband, we made the classic mistake; I used to eat little and often, he would eat  like a boa constrictor; one massive meal would last him a week. We ended up eating huge portions quite often – not a bad compromise, or so we thought.

Then I got pregnant, I found myself hauling  the equivalent of a bag of potatoes around, which made my stomach look like a balloon that had been blown up and left to fly round the room. I was lucky not to “shred” my stomach muscles apart, like some mums.

My first pregnancy gave me wicked heartburn. Old wives would say “you’re having a hairy baby!” Those old wives would be proved right. She was a monkey.)

The heartburn while preggars was intense. I couldn’t stand Gaviscon so I self-medicated with icecream. I don’t even like icecream, dammit! I put on four stone and only lost two stone after the birth. I can’t blame the icecream completely; I was pretty ravenous for nine months, which makes me think there is more to this hormones lark, as I wasn’t hungry at all when I was having my boy.  Which takes me back to The Hormone Diet…

The Hormone Diet


Instead of jumping on the ‘New Year New Me’ bandwagon, I’ve decided to ditch the diet mentality altogether and make lifestyle changes for…well, life, I guess. Trying to ignore the word ‘diet’ in the title, this excellent book  The Hormone Diet by Natasha Turner has been a real turning point for me, as it explores how hormonal imbalance can sabotage weight loss and helps you achieve optimum physical and hormonal health through eating and exercising the right way.

Looking back, I’ve been majorly affected by my hormones all throughout my teens and twenties; and not just in a good way either! I burned up energy fast and tired easily, felt the cold terribly (Bristol seemed to be the coldest place on the planet, if my memory serves) and I was anaemic for probably two weeks out of every four.

Now I realise how different things could have been if only I’d had this book. (I also think if we’d had the tinterweb 20 years ago, I’d be ruling the world by now, but hey, shoulda woulda coulda.)

The first rule of Hormone Diet is get enough sleep (see my post on sleep here.) Even after a couple of days, you will notice the difference, I promise. For the first time since I’ve had kids, I feel like I’m truly awake during the day.

The second rule of Hormone Diet is to cut out wheat products and cows’ milk. I’ve tried to buy organic wherever possible, but even organic cows’ milk  contains lactose which can be a problem depending on your level of intolerance which can get worse as you get older.

I’m having problems with cutting out cows’ milk  as I’m a strong builders’ tea addict (partly funded by free donations of Make Mine a Builders – what will I do without you now? Buy it, I guess.) I’m trying all kinds of replacements – milk made from soy, oats, rice – you name it, I’ve tried it. I’ve not yet come across the perfect ingredient to make up my strong milky tea but I tend to “cut” cows’ milk with the alternatives and I’m weaning myself off the bovine variety a little at a time. So far, I’m finding the best supplement is Oatly Healthy Oat Milk (organic of course)

I’m also discovering good alternatives to other dairy products. I’m quite partial to warm goats’ cheese and spring onion salads and I’ve found St Helens Farm to be the least ‘goaty’ of all the goats products I’ve tried so far, including their delicious goats’ natural yoghurt which I add to smoothies and curries.

Natasha Turner has just brought out The Supercharged Hormone Diet which includes a two week diet plan, high protein detox and new recipes. I shall be looking into this book and reviewing it in the near future, so watch this space.

Go to Sleep!

Go to Sleep!

Sleep?! Yes, I know, easier said than done when you have kids. Even the older ones have nightmares, or can keep you up most of the night with coughs and colds.

I breastfed on demand and co-slept with both my children, so even when that was over they were still in the habit of waking me up in the night. We got them both nightlights and implemented a reward system for staying in their beds. Eventually they got the message.

But after telling the kids time and time again, “Go to sleep!” I just couldn’t do it myself anymore. My own body clock changed. Insomnia can be worse at certain times of the month, and if you’re the wrong side of 40, menopause could be just round the corner – yay! This can lead to waking up in the night because your core body temp is too high.

To keep your body temp down I recommend taking a bath or shower a few hours before bedtime, use bedding and nightwear in natural fabrics like cotton or silk, and drink a glass of cold water before you go to bed.

I read that lack of magnesium can cause problems getting back to sleep; and if you wake up between 3 and 5am it can be due to your liver or kidneys detoxifying. So make sure you drink enough water in the evening (not too much though, no point defeating the object by needing to get up to go to the loo.) I try not to go to bed on a full or empty stomach, either. Lettuce is said to promote sleep, so a salad sandwich in the evening and a glass of milk could be the best prescription to aid a good night’s shut-eye. No cheese though, you don’t want nightmares!


Although if you believe The British Cheese Board, a study of 200 volunteers commissioned in 2005 indicated that different cheeses cause different dreams, never nightmares, only pleasant dreams, (Red Leicester or Cheshire) or at a pinch, just a little bit weird (Stilton). I guess it must depend on the dreamer.

In a radio interview, Nigel White, Secretary of the British Cheese Board reported that one volunteer  dreamed of a vegetarian crocodile who was upset because he couldn’t eat children. And another one dreamed that they had soldiers fighting with each other with kittens instead of guns. But there were consistent reports by volunteers who ate Cheddar that they dreamed of celebrities. Which could be classed as a dream or a nightmare, depending on who it was.