Tune up your body ;)

… so this doctor said, to the woman on the Radio 4 programme, ‘I recommend that as you get older you change the radio station you listen to – choose a music station with music you like to dance to … that way you can exercise whenever you are working around the house – just dance!’

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me … in my youth :)

OH YES!

I grew up with Radio 4 on in the background (Home Service in my youth – if I am truthful) and though as a teenager I listened to Radio Luxembourg / Pirate radio and eventually Radio One (when they gave up fighting it and made pop-music mainstream) on my radio in my room while doing homework or reading in bed – Radio 4 was the sound-track to my home life.

After my parents moved in with us down here in Cornwall, Radio 4 was once again the default on the radio – and always on. When, because of her developing dementia, Mum couldn’t follow what they were saying and she began to get annoyed with Radio 4, I found that music stations were better for her … and for me. Radio 2 now became the default and, though I missed the thinking pieces, the reports and studies, and some of the humour from Radio 4 – I found I really liked the music played on Radio 2 as so much was ‘my era’.

Music of your own era is hard-wired into your brain. It is a fact that memories associated with music are extremely evocative and form some of the strongest memories. There have been various pieces of research that indicate that the emotional response that music can create may have something to do with this. Dementia patients, who respond to very little else, will suddenly join in with songs and music from their youth – singing along with Old Music Hall songs (as my Mum would) or be-bop-a-lula – if that bit younger.

As for me – hard-wired is the operative term – and it is both brain and body. There are some pieces of music that I just cannot sit still and listen to – I have to get up and dance around (or at the very least tap my foot enthusiastically) 

So – I listened to the doctor – and dance as I go about my everyday life. And it works – okay – so it may look strange to see me pirouette and shimmy across the kitchen, utilising all my favourite belly dance moves – or mosh to heavy-metal in the dining room – but it keeps this old gal limber (love that word!) and if another lovely memory ;) happens along with the song – it puts an extra smile on my face.

Now for your Saturday Smile – enjoy this video – and go on, GO ON! Why not?  Have a dance around :)

What is your favourite music to dance to?

Do your have music-linked memories that return every-time you hear a tune?

do share – I’d love to hear from you

Ann

 

Find me on Facebook and Twitter @Ann Foweraker

 

 

Back to school – with a difference

WP_20160201_12_56_44_ProHere we are – back at school … in this photo, taken on Monday, in the library of Satash.net community school in Cornwall.

WHY were we there? Not just to sell our books (even though that’s what this picture looks like) no, we were recruited to help the sixth form A level English group tackle the new creative writing element of the English A-level.

Sally Newton, also published by Pendown Publishing, writes Historical Novels. With a PhD in Archaeology she is dead-keen to make sure all the history is correct – though her life-long love of writing fuels the adventures she puts her (real life historical) characters through.

I write contemporary novels, so, as such, I do not have that sort of research to do – though I do plenty of a different type of research – depending upon what my totally fictional characters are interested in, work at or end up being faced with.

While talking to the students, it was interesting to note that one of my contemporarily written novels, ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’, was created in the early 1990s and as such, for the sixth-formers in front of us, was now ‘history’ as it all happened before they were born. In a different era – almost – when the common person did not even own a mobile phone (let alone a child!) and if they did it was a BRICK! Yes, there were computers, and this story dealt with computers, but not as they would know them, and the ‘floppy-discs’ that information was stored on (again – unheard of now) … and, of course, there was NO internet.

Life before the internet really does seem to be a different time. My children were born into the computer-era. We had a computer (BBC B) from when they were really quite small (with 32 KB of RAM! haha! The computer – not the children) By the age of seven our eldest was creating computer programmes to make simple games in ‘BBC Basic’ (the computer language) Then came Granny and her Archimedes (Acorn) computer, running the RISC operating system, much more powerful and the most advanced system at the time! This also found its way into my novel. But even that computer only had 4MB of RAM. It is hard to remember … how slow … how basic.

However, without access to that computer I may never have got into writing properly – for while my writing remained by hand in scruffy old exercise books it was never going anywhere. So when I wrote my first, full-length (never to be published/apprentice-piece) novel in just that way (while keeping half an eye on a toddler potty-training) it was only after I was encouraged to type it up on the computer – and saw the total words displayed (using the amazing ‘words’ function) at 84,000 … and realised that I could do it – I really could write a WHOLE book – that I let myself spend time actually doing that – gave my imagination permission to write – my aspiration permission to think ‘Author’.author

We finished up the day at the school by helping individual students as they tackled the task of writing the first page of a novel; three-hundred and fifty words to convey so much … just what we aim for ourselves.  They were a bright and interesting group of students to interact with and displayed a breadth of ideas that was pleasing to see!

 Have you ‘gone back to school’ for any reason recently?

What were your experiences?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you. 

 

Find me on Facebook and Twitter @AnnFoweraker

Have you looked? Really?

Hey ladies – how many times do you have this scenario.

Him ‘Where’s the tweezers?’ (or any other smallish item – particularly one that lives in THE DRAWER. You know the one where all the odds and ends go, the one where the useful items are to be found, the ‘clutter’ drawer.)
Her: ‘In the drawer under the microwave.’
Him: *sighs* goes to draw – sound of rummaging.  ‘It isn’t there!’
Her: ‘I’m sure it is.’
Him: ‘I’ve LOOKED and it ISN’T there!’
Her: Giving in and leaving whatever she is doing to go and look. Looks. Moves one item. ‘Here it is!’
Him: ‘Huh!’ Takes it and goes off.

drawer man looked

Familiar?

Now don’t get annoyed – they can’t help it.

Research has proved that men and women (in general) really do SEE differently … and as such WE are far more likely to find things in a drawer full of many items – THEY are much more likely to spot something travelling at speed, or in the distance.

The theory is that we developed these different ways of seeing when we were still hunter-gatherers. The facts are that the higher levels of testosterone in the developing male baby change the number of neurons in the visual cortex – giving them 25% more neurons – helping with seeing distant and fast moving objects. The colour wave-lengths that men and women perceive are different too – with the majority of females being able to distinguish far more shades of colour that the average male. Plus, it is known that there are separate neural pathways for processing information seen in near and in distant space – it was found that women were much better at processing and pin-pointing in near-space and men were better at distant-space.

So it may not be their fault that they can’t find things that are right in front of them – albeit ‘disguised’ by having something else partially covering it … annoying as it is.

Anyway – this made me smile :) so I’m sharing it with you …

Any other annoying traits we can put down to the real differences between men and women?

What is your pet peeve?

Do share – I love to hear from you … and you can always use an alias  ;)

Getting passionate about …

The first time I was in my forties, and I blame the WI. After all, if I hadn’t seen the day out in the County News I would never have decided to have-a-go.

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Cheesewring, Cornwall – photo Ann Foweraker

So it was off to the wilds of Bodmin Moor – to the quarry at the foot of the famous Cheesewring. When I say, at the foot … if they had continued to quarry there would have been no famous Cheesewring left to see, as it hovers near the top edge of this defunct granite quarry.

We, a group of WI women from all over Cornwall, were gathered to have-a-go at Rock Climbing and Abseiling.

I have to say, it was an exhilarating experience, made all that more wonderful by the fact that you could almost palpably feel the goodwill driving you on to reach that next hand hold or edge of rock to rest your foot on, from the women below (and above) as you climbed the ‘sheer’ rock face. Okay, so it was a real ‘beginners rock face’ with plenty of hand holds once you knew what to look for, and the places to put your feet were substantial enough to suffice, even though we were all in conventional trainers.

Once we reached the top, yes all of us managed it, we had the opportunity to abseil down again. This was quite another thing.

Climbing, taken that you are roped and belayed, is relatively safe, you are also in control of your movements. The LOOK of abseiling sent my heart beating fast. It looked unsafe. It looked out of my control.

My turn came, the sound of my heart beating, in my head so loud I could barely hear the instructions. I stood on the cliff edge feeling sick and started to lean back over the abyss, the rope taking the strain, my grip on the rope, as it went through the rappel, tight.

It was magnificent! The bouncing off the cliff-face and landing further below; a new sort of freedom, and it finished all too soon.

That day was completed with a second, higher, climb and abseil and I exalted in it, enough to organise another event for other members of my own WI on Kit Hill the next year. However, that was it… until my boys, now very (read EXTREMELY) keen and good climbers started taking me with them on local sorties … and to the local climbing wall where they also have Bouldering. A giant ‘rock’ in the middle of the huge climbing barn, dotted with coloured holds, making routes of differing difficulties which you climb without ropes. And, though some routes can be a struggle (for me) the sense of achievement when you reach the top on your second / third / fourth go! ZIPPP!

And I am hooked. I am thinking of buying climbing shoes (rather than hiring them) and, in true WI style, making my own (very individual) chalk-bag  ;) My only grievances: – my fingers are not very strong, and though this will improve, I suspect over-sixty is not the best age to grow new finger-strength – watching  youngsters fly up the holds, their lithe, lightweight bodies scrambling like spiders, and wishing I’d done it back at that age  –  and finally, time – it is hard enough to fit everything I want to into a day as it is!!

Here’s a lovely video of a baby to show you just how easy it is really :)

Do you have a new passion this new year?

Have you tried climbing – is it your thing?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you…

Finding joy in Mindful eating

Mindfulness – yes, you have probably heard this term bandied around in many contexts I am sure – and it does sound a little bit airy-fairy, doesn’t it?

However, mindful eating is some thing that can lead to joy of a sort. How’s that? I hear you ask. DSCF5093cropped

Well, I have advocated eating this way for a while – however not necessarily using that precise word. From my weight-loss notes (under the drop-down from About Ann) when I was on my year of blogged weight-loss we have “have to remember is to give each piece of food it’s due consideration. If we eat knowingly, concentrating on the eating, our bodies are more likely to tell us we are not hungry – as we have already eaten – than when we eat while doing something else – watching TV, or playing on the computer or reading.”  In other words – mindfully – eating mindfully.

And mindfulness comes into play also when I am ‘feeling hungry’. It is so easy to wander where there is food and have a snack, telling yourself that a few nuts are fine, as they are, but not on the third trip in an afternoon!

Mindfulness eating starts with asking questions. Am I really hungry? Well, mostly the answer is no – peckish maybe, but not hungry. Peckish isn’t a reason to eat.

What is driving this peckishness? Thirst? Number one reason for that feeling – have a Non-Carb-loaded drink – ideally water. Tiredness? Take a power nap, or do some exercise – yes, that does help some kinds of tired. Boredom? Find something else to do – or do some exercise to wake up the brain.

WP_20160110_13_15_54_ProIf it is a meal-time, or you missed your last one, and you are truly hungry, first drink a glass of water then take the time to prepare something delicious, make it colourful and healthy with a number of different colour vegetables to accompany your main protein – but keep the carbohydrate loading low.

Sit down at a table – cast aside books, tablets, phones, TV – and concentrate on the food – flavours, textures, colours, aroma. Wait for five minutes before deciding it you need anything else other than a cup of tea or coffee. If you do – keep the carb-loading low with your choice – and concentrate on the food again – use a smaller spoon maybe, savour the aroma and the flavour.

Enjoy your food more – that is where the joy comes into this very everyday activity. Maybe not ‘thrilling’ but an enjoyable experience rather than just a re-fuelling.

Enough about eating – it is making me peckish!

Is mindfulness a part of your daily life?

What do you try to do mindfully?

Do share – you know I love to hear what you think.

It’s not really funny … time flies

It’s not really funny … I was wondering why the tax man kept sending me these little reminders to fill in my tax return. I mean, I distinctly remember filling it in back in September. I’m sure I did.

Eventually I go and look at my tax folders – where I put all the receipts, the bank record, the mileage notebook. Where, I wonder, is the print-out of the result of my filling in the tax form?? Hmm, maybe  I better check in with the tax-man on-line.

OH! HOW TIME FLIES! My clear memory of doing my tax was nearly 16 months ago – and now I was in a PANIC. PANIC

You see, I am not good with numbers. See this blog here about dyscalculia. So all my number stuff takes me twice as long as average – as I check, and re check, that I have entered the numbers in the right way round.

It took me all day! To do the task that took my husband half an hour! (okay, so I have an extra section to fill in – but still!)

And I know I probably put it off in September because the thought of these forms just gives me the shudders – but I then TOTALLY forgot!

Now to Chill – here’s a nice little bit of calypso / reggae music called Time Really Flies —  :)

There – that’s better :) Smiling now.

How are you with numbers?

Does filling in a ‘number-based’ form fill you with dread?

Do share – I can’t be the only one - Ann

Making Lists and Spinning Plates

I don’t know about you – but I NEED to make lists.

I have used the technique of making lists for a long time – I blame my habit of acquiring new (hobby) jobs. Sometimes the ‘things that need doing’ for these disparate groups I belong to all come at the same time. To overcome the problem, of trying to keep all the plates spinning, I write LISTS.I love making list

The list usually has to encompass the usual ‘home-running’ type of thing as well – otherwise I could well forget to make bread or cake when it has run out and only realise I meant to do it when I open the bread bin / cake tin at tea-time.

Because of this anyone coming across one of my lists (usually written on the back of an envelope or other scrap paper) would wonder what on earth the person who wrote the list – actually did.

Today’s list went something like this … Remember delivery today / make WI tickets / make WI BB sign-up Chart / Looe Lit Fest brainstorm chart / LLF Agenda / make WI Extra sign-up / Make Yoghurt / Email XXXX / WI Anniversary sign-up chart / email YYYY / write blog / Prep notes for meeting / Edit next ch Dad’s book / …

I then go through the list and number them in order of importance – with some – like ‘remember delivery just ‘there’ so I do not go out without leaving a note to say where to either find someone else or where it could be left if no-one answers the door …  because … otherwise, I may well forget.

As of writing (2.30pm Tues) I have crossed off – to my delight – seven of the above – and by virtue of this writing now am part way through the eighth – and I do find a JOY in each achievement signified by the crossing out!

I have always written lists when time is pressing and I have a lot to do – it gives me a focus – otherwise I can be known to become a panic-butterfly – doing a bit here and there but not completing a single task. However, I feel I need to write lists more now to avoid forgetting things that need doing – and that can be worrying. More of this effect in a future blog.

And what about you? Are you a list writer?

Do you write list to remember or just to order?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you – Ann

Eat, Drink, & be Merry ‘cos tomorrow we DIET

The papers are full of it!

The magazines heaving! (I’ll say that again – the Magazines are Heaving with it!)

“Now you are fat and blown-up like a barrage balloon having eaten all that STUFF we suggested to you in glossy, gorgeous, gourmet piles BEFORE Christmas … we suggest you might want to … DIET!”

Even the TV is in on the act with adverts for Gyms and Slimming World or WeightWatchers somehow timed to be shown in January.diet 1

Well, if you’ve been with this blog from early on – at least from Jan 2012 – you will know I do not believe in ‘diets’. A diet is ‘what you eat’ – not a weight-loss regimen per se.

And you will have followed my trek down two and a half stones over that year. How?  By sensible {nothing banned, nothing glorified, moderate portions, low (not no) carb} food consumption PLUS a set of exercises designed to combat the muscles-loss caused by menopause.

You see, I hadn’t realised that the Menopause cuts back on the very thing that burns-up energy – muscles. So, even eating sensibly (as above) the weight had still crept on … and on … and on! You can find this epic tale all in the blogs under ‘losing weight’ in the Topics menu and on the drop-down menu under About Ann if you missed it and want to know more.

Today is Saturday – so this is the light-hearted laugh of the week blog. Yes, it is. And I’m here to tell you that the weights exercises really work! Oh yes they do … because December just gone I carried out a month-long controlled experiment undertaken with no thought to personal consequences … ok, I stopped doing them for the month – for various excuses reasons – but mainly inconvenience – my usual exercising space (spare room where I also write) was occupied.  I didn’t go mad on the food either … but the result – 7lbs ON! :o *shocked face*

So here I am, along with the papers, the magazines and the adverts, telling myself to lose weight :) now that is funny.

They say do not start these things on January the first – after all ‘there’s still a lot of ‘bad’ food around’. Well, you’ll also know that on my ‘nothing banned’ sort of eating this doesn’t matter – what matters is how / when I eat it. After all, if I deny myself something altogether I’m certain to get a craving for it!magnets [At least I don’t crave magnets ;) ]

My best option is to give it away to someone who doesn’t put weight on easily (my OH for instance) – but if I really like it – I eat it sparingly – over time – as part of the overall foods I eat in a week – not extra to it.

So January the first it was back to my (previously) usual routine {less than 15 mins a day – at home – exercises} … and having had the first weigh-in at the end of a week, I can be happy in that 2lb has already left :)

Do you find it ironic the way that first they encourage us to eat like there is no tomorrow – then tomorrow they tell us to slim … for the summer holiday that is coming?

Did you miss out your usual exercise over the festive season?

Do share – you know you want to :) and I love to hear from you!

A little piece of cardboard joy

So you will have taken down your decorations by today – or intend to –  won’t you? I did mine yesterday – ‘twelfth night’ – but only because it suited my schedules (not just because I am always confused as to whether the 12th day includes Christmas day or not – honest )  IMG_20160101_140946

Much to my boys’ surprise we had more cards than ever this year. To their surprise because, being of the digital generation, they send a quick facebook message of Happy Christmas / Happy New Year – much as they do one for Happy Birthday when prompted by FB or their on-line diaries.

They laugh and tease me rotten about ‘saving the planet’ by recycling every last bit of paper or card, then joyfully using up these resources to send cards to people at great expense. I can see their point. I could send the money I would have spent on cards and postage to a charity, and send digital messages of peace and joy to everyone instead … if everyone was digitally connected.

Many of our cards come not just to us, myself and husband, but to my mother and father as they have lived here with us for over twenty five years. Many of their friends (those that are left) are not computer-savvy and not available on facebook or even email. It is from them that come the handwritten letters tucked in the card, telling of who has passed away, who still with us, who ill, how the clubs that my parents belonged to / ran are faring etc.

As I collected the cards up five caught my eye, hand-drawn/made cards – and I’m going to share them with you, the first are from a new line in School-fund raising I’m sure. WP_20160105_11_54_51_Pro Once only one child ‘won’ the prize of their design being the chosen one the school had printed in the hundreds in the hope that parents would buy them and support the school funds that way. Now technology means that every child can be the winner – every family can buy packs of cards with the design on that their child made.

Then there are the wonderful creative friends that still find the time to make cards. (I used to make a small number for closest friends – but lately it hasn’t happened early enough and I have resorted to bought cards)DSCF0218

One does elaborate designs all carefully shaded in with dots – and prints them off (the inside of the card is half-covered in a design too!) The other, year on year, finds a new and interesting way of creating a card, frequently using fabric and / or stitching. Both are a treat to receive!

WP_20160105_11_56_40_ProLastly, my pride and joy, a snowman from boys who don’t get to see snow – from my grandchildren in Malaysia – hand made and then hand written by the eldest inside – perfect :) a real piece of cardboard joy.

And that made me think of when my four boys were small and, as I took the decorations off the tree, how designer Christmas trees had come in … and were, maybe, on their way out again.

My tree is pretty retro! As you can see above, no monochrome tree for us – coloured lights and multicoloured baubles abound. This also means that we have had some decorations for over 30 years (quite good policy for reusing rather than chucking) This Christmas I realised our tree may even be coming back in fashion – in a retro sort of way – as I heard Chris Evans on Radio 2 say they had a retro tree – all coloured lights, tinsel and baubles  – and heard someone else say that it was cool now to go retro. It all comes round again eventually!WP_20160105_10_41_26_Pro

These baubles – bought about 1990 – are the epitome of the tree when the boys were young – unbreakable – brightly coloured – spin easily to ‘twinkle’ (which they liked to do) – easy to hang (for small children) and shiny. Every year as I hang them I think of when I bought them all those years ago, when the boys were small :) and that memory makes me happy.

Do you have old Christmas decorations that bring back lovely memories?

Are you modern or retro when it comes to Christmas?

Cards or digital greetings?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you :)

***Happy New Year*** Happy New Blog

Happy New Year, Happy New Blog
       – and the first of my Saturday Smiles

2016 is the year I intend to be positive!  Despite dark clouds on my personal horizons I intend to channel my inner pollyanna and subdue that grumpy old woman that has been grinding my teeth at the idiotic ways of the world lately.

So whether you are new to my blog or not, with any luck you will find a positive vibe about the everyday-things that I find a pleasure, provide excitement (of a kind at least) or even exhilaration! If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you will also have noticed that it now comes to you in a new livery – smart or what?

Which brings me to my Saturday Smiles. For a while now I have been finding something to smile about on the internet each morning to show my 89 year old father … so on a Saturday (at least I think it will be a Saturday thing) I’ll share some of these ‘smiles’ with you.

I have just got round to updating my computer to windows 10 (didn’t seem to find the time before now – that is time when I didn’t want to be using the computer but was around to deal with any pop-up boxes that needed ticking or whatever) and I suddenly had this awful sinking feeling – I should have done this while the boys were back for Christmas… then I saw this cartoon – it made me smile – hope it does you too.

children and computers

On the bright side (see what I’m doing :) ) the installation seems to have gone well, no nasty glitches, no ‘where have they hidden that?’ so far – so I am feeling pleased with myself after all.

And on a similar theme – here’s a little poem you might like  ;)

  Betrayed

It’s no use looking at me
like that
innocent
blank-eyed
staring back, unblinking.

Look at everything
you have wasted,
thrown away all I’ve given
you,
not caring for my feelings,
for the care I’ve taken,
my gentle caressing
pouring my life into yours,

and now,
and now,
damn you
you say – error
cannot open file.

Here’s wishing You and Yours a peaceful, creative, happy and thrilling 2016

What makes you smile?

Do you like to look on the bright side?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you!

Enjoyed this blog? Please share :)