Handbag-Fat, Resistance Weights and Zebra Cakes

So, two items caught my eye in the press this week that  I’d like to pass on in case you missed them.

The first was the headline ‘Is Your Handbag Making You Fat?

My larger handbag

Ok, so I’m thinking of the odd bar of chocolate or bag of sweets secreted in your handbag for ‘emergencies’ that arrive on all too frequent a basis. (Who, me? Ever?)

But it seems that the renowned cosmetic surgeon (Shudder – is this is just me – can’t bear the thought of going under a knife for cosmetic reasons but can cope with the idea for medical…)  Dr Michael Prager had noticed a correlation between fat distribution and the side his clients carried their large handbags. He noticed these things due to the measurements and pictures he took prior to cosmetic reductions. (shudder)

The fat was more heavily distributed on the side that carried the hefty bag.

Now, if I ever get my photos from Fat Woman Thinning? up onto my blog (I’ll do it when I’m sure they will stay on the blog and not appear all over the place at random) it would be noticeable that the Fat on my upper hips is not distributed evenly.

Having said that – my fat has the unfortunate propensity to settle in ‘lumps’ rather than a smooth covering. Way, way back, in the dark ages when I was at college my room mate was a lovely girl who weighed quite a bit more than I did at that time* but really didn’t look it as her layer of fat was smooth and even all over, whereas what fat I did have then sat in lumpy areas looking like .. well .. fat. (*a lot less than I am at the moment and a weight I’m aiming at)

Bonny checks I haven't forgotten anything

So, back to the photos, yes, one hip definitely has a noticeably larger love-handle lump of fat sitting on it than the other, and I’ve often wondered why and how to get rid of it, and YES it is the side I carry my large, very full and heavy handbag. The good doctor was backed up by Postural expert, Ivana Daniell, who claimed that the imbalance caused by toting the heavy handbag built skeletal and muscle imbalance that affected fat distribution.

All I know is that I am going to do two things. 1, even-up the handbag carrying (swapping shoulders if I have to take my larger (this way I don’t forget  anything) handbag with me) and 2, trying to take my smaller ‘back-pack’ type handbag at other times as this is worn on both shoulders evenly.

The second headline (a sub) was ‘Lift Weights for Brain Boost’

 This is more like it, I thought, as you may know from my Fat Woman Thinning? blogs I am Not Dieting but I am following a quick resistance weights programme (less than 15 mins a day)

The gist of this article was that lifting weights as resistance training not only builds and maintain muscle-mass and strength as we grow older but also helps to  prevent cognitive decline.

The same article also advocated Vitamin D to help prevent memory loss and as you’ll know Vitamin D is generated in our bodies through being in the sunshine – however, Eggs are one of the few foods that provide vitamin D – and you know how much I like to advocate an egg for breakfast (3 cheers for Eggs) And, talking of that – the same article pointed out that Cereals were really the worst way to start the day – and that a protein based breakfast would be more healthy for the brain.

Enough! I know you are all really waiting for the ZEBRA CAKE.

Winning Zebra cakes at our WI group meeting

This was set as the competition for our WI group meeting held this week. Here’s a lovely photo of the three winners.  No, none of them was mine, despite being the one who re-engineered the recipe to be UK friendly (and imperial measure friendly) and to fit an 8inch tin (where all the other recipes are for a 9inch – most people asked had 8inch tins)

The ingredients are really simple and probably in your cupboards now – however, the method is the most unusual I have tried.

Ingredients for 8″ Zebra Cake – a fairly dense, moist sponge cake with concentric circles on tops and vertical ‘zebra’ stripes inside:

3 Eggs

155g    / 5 ¼  oz  caster sugar

150ml  / 5 fl oz   whole milk

150ml  / 5 fl oz   vegetable oil (any – your choice)

2 tsp vanilla essence

180g  /    6 ¼  oz Self Raising flour (sieved)

1 level tablespoon Cocoa powder        }

scant ½ level teaspoon baking powder  } sieved together

a little extra milk – if required (about a tablespoon)

For the full recipe WITH METHOD click here to go to Recipes drop down for  Zebra Cake

 So a very mixed bag this blog post (get it) , and I shall finish with another plug for the great Win a Kindle (or one of 4 other great prizes) DRAW that I’m running here on this blog . Just an email-sign-up gets you an entry in this draw, where only one thousand are allowed to enter, and there’s only 429 places left. As soon as 1000 are signed up to this varied blog we call the draw! Free and easy to enter just click HERE for all the information, then I’m sure you’ll want to share it with everyone you know to give them a chance too!

Is your everyday / favourite handbag giant sized  and over-weight – do you think it makes a difference?

Or have you ever made a Zebra Cake using one of the other recipes out there on the Internet (they are widely varied) if so, how did you get on?

Love to hear from you!



Divining an Inspiration

A captured-spring well

Google ‘divining’ and you’ll land in a vehement discussion as to whether it is real and true or just luck and trickery. There seems to be a big divide between those who believe and those who don’t.  I shall nail my colours to the mast. I believe.

Many years ago, after the spring that feeds our water supply reduced to just a trickle, we invested in having a borehole drilled.

Now I am under no illusion that Cornwall, and particularly this part, is a dry area. I know that there are many springs around – it is something that I have done a small historical study on, the domestic captured-spring wells of the parish. Like this one – where the spring has been boxed in by slate slabs (making a dipping pool of about 10 inches deep) with a little stone ‘house’ built over it and even (once) doors to keep out blowing debris and animals.

However, we contacted a guy who later became well known, with a short series on BBC TV, Donovan Wilkins, known as Don the Diviner. His business (based at Chacewater – true!) was borehole drilling and his promise was that when the drilling was made it should produce the amount of water he had predicted or you didn’t pay. Not just water – but the right amount of water.

A hazel Divining or dowsing rod

They came. They being Don and his wife Margaret and he looked around the small paddocks and strode around divining rod in hand, marking a few likely spots. His wife watched. After a while she suggested he try ‘over there on the other side of that gate’. Pointing at the gate to the strip that then led to the big field. So over there they went and within minutes he started sticking rods in all around. Soon he’d marked many lines of underground water and the place where they crossed. He told us how deep they would drill and the quantity of water in gallons per second. (I learned much later, from another renowned dowser, that Margaret was considered as good a diviner, if not better than, Don)

He then offered to show us all how to divine for water. Most of our family had ‘it’ to some extent or other, and #1 son, then aged about 7, was particularly good. Even after relinquishing the rod he seemed to still be able to sense the lines of water underground and described it to me like lights inside his head moving round until they met.

The borehole was drilled and the water found in just the abundance that was promised and an experience was locked into my head. Over time I read up about divining and found that water wasn’t the only thing that diviners could sense.

It was this, of course, that I drew upon when creating my novel Divining the Line, the handsome Cornish water diviner is following a line that isn’t water. It leads him to a nondescript estate in the southeast, a meeting with a woman and a near fatal beating. The woman is at a turning point in her life and ready to follow her own line of discovery that leads them both back down to Cornwall. What comes from this is a story of family, love and loss.  Divining the Line brings the ordinary and the extraordinary together into everyday life. Read reviews here

Of course in such a novel there has to be Divining – and here are two excerpts from DIVINING THE LINE  involving divining for water… firstly from page one….

Perran Lovering stood in the centre of a circle of white steel spears, marking the lines, and thrust a red spike into the earth between his feet. ‘Right,’ he said ‘that’s it.’

            He smiled and looked round the garden, it was about the best place they could have found, close enough to the road to make access easy and far enough away from the old Cornish farmhouse to be discreet.

‘Would you like to try? I’ll show you how,’ he offered, and held out the vee-shaped hazel stick to the owners.  

The wife blushed but held out her hand. As she took hold of the stick she tried to remember how he’d held it, but couldn’t as she had been keener on watching this handsome young man go about his work, than the work itself.

‘Like this,’ he said warmly. He laid out her hand flat, soft white palm upwards, and placed one arm of the dark rod upon it, its end passing just under her thumb, the lead up to the vee crossing her small finger. ‘Okay, now the same with the other hand. Right. Now grip it.’

She did, finding her wrists twisted inwards at an unnatural angle. 

He looked at her, made sure he had her attention. ‘Now pull the rods so that your wrists come straight.’

She followed his instructions feeling warm with embarrassment.

‘Got it?’

She nodded. 


And then from chapter 8

Back in his room he began to work in earnest. He marked the boundary of the first property as far as was known, he shaded in the ‘impossible’ sites, where farm buildings were, ponds, woodland, and other impediments to the machinery  reaching the sites. He took up the pendulum, letting it swing and twist in his fingers. He thought, water once more filled his mind, the pendulum was brought to swing over the site, eyes open he followed its guiding lines, watched as the swing slowed to a stand-still and became a gentle twisting motion. He fixed his eyes upon the point, let the crystal rest, marked the place with the pencil. He breathed as if he’d held his breath. The site chosen by the pendulum was clear of any of the known obstructions. The lines on the map suggested the ground was reasonably level, that is, level for Cornwall. He picked up the pendulum once more, allowed it to find the spot again, then turned his mind inwards seeking knowledge of the depth that the water ran at, and the quantity that coursed through the place selected. Using imperial measurements he sunk his mind by feet, ‘felt’ a major flow at eighty foot, but went on down, finding the best at a hundred and twenty. He next thought of quality and tasted sweet water in his mouth and was satisfied with that. Finally he needed to fix the quantity, the pendulum answered the numbers as he thought them, settling on eight hundred gallons an hour or thereabouts. All this he noted down and when finished shook himself as if suddenly feeling a chill, his innermost mind shivered from exposure.

Divining the Line and my other Novels (Nothing Ever Happens Here and Some Kind of Synchrony) are all available from annmade books and from Amazon

Or you could Win  a copy ….  as of today there are just over 400 places left in the draw I am holding for one lucky person to Win a Kindle – with runner up prizes of a Nero Slate cheeseboard and ecopies of each of my novels – including Divining the Line. To enter you only need to email sign up to this blog (see box above left) Click HERE to get all the details of when and how the draw will be made, how to get extra entries and why you’ll want to tell all your friends about it!

 By the way, for this week FWT? cheerleaders – results for week 16 are now on the drop-down from FWT? button!

Have you ever had experience of water divining or dowsing? Do you believe in it or think it is just hocus-pocus? I’d love to hear from you on this subject!


Daffodils, daffodils and not dieting

Nature Notes for March (very late – sorry – please see last blog for my excuses) and Week 15 FWT?

Our parish hedgerows look stunning at this time of year, and behind their beauty lies a small bit of local history. As you drive around you will notice many of the Cornish hedgerows festooned with daffodils, ranging along the tops, dotted amongst the twiggery, pouring down the sides.  So many, you would be forgiven for thinking it were some free-for-all Britain in bloom affair, but the truth lies in the War Effort.

Many, many years ago, in the early nineteen hundreds, a St. Dominick man, sending other produce ‘up the line’ to London, picked and bunched some wild daffodils that grew here. The Tamar Valley has a micro-climate and produced early strawberries and cherries, and the daffodils were early ones too. They found a ready market in London and soon everyone was growing daffodils as they became a profitable crop. This was very much a market garden parish and not only were whole fields set aside for growing daffs (and a factory set up to treat the bulbs against disease) but most people with a bit of land would grow a few rows and band together with others to send boxes of daffodils off to market.

Now, come the War and Dig for Victory, all the arable land had to be turned over to food production. The daffs had to come out of the fields, and as they were cleared they often got thrown up onto the hedges, and there many thrived, and seeded and grew until now many of our hedgerows look like the photograph (above top) in spring with daffodils in abundance.

As for those homes with a ‘bit of land’ a large garden or an orchard, well the daffodils from those rows are still there – developed into great swathes – like this one that covers most of our orchard (above).

I took the camera round the orchard on one day and took pictures of the daffodils that were in bloom that day. I have to say that many were still in tight bud and would not show for another week or two so this is not the complete range that grow here – but you can see the variety we have.

The Dog loves to cool off by lying in the daffodils  (though it makes a mess of them!)

So my much belated March Nature Notes consist this year of daffodils, daffodils and more daffodils.

The Not Dieting part of this blog is the Fat Woman Thinning? report for week 15, and I can claim yet another one pound loss and half an inch off the waist measurements.  So now at 10st 5lbs. This is much steadier loss than I expected, especially as my weight gets further from the 12st starting point. If you are a late-comer to Fat Woman Thinning and wonder what it’s all about you can look at the FWT? dropdowns from the top bar where it will tell you the why and the how of my losing weight without dieting.

And looking at Bonny (The Dog) in the daffodils – she is very pleased her video has brought more people to enter the fabulous Draw I am holding on my blog here. You only have to sign-up to my blog to enter, though if you are on Facebook or Twitter you can have extra entries – what’s more, as soon as just one thousand people enter, the draw gets made.  And what can you win? Well, first prize is a KINDLE,(Yes a Kindle!) then there’s a Nero Slate Cheeseboard, and then ecopies of my Novels: –  Divining the Line, Nothing Ever Happens Here and Some Kind of Synchrony. If you haven’t entered yet – just click here for all the details, and if you have, don’t forget to spread the word – your friends and family deserve to know about this great free draw!

Does your area put on a particularly wonderful natural show at any time of the year? If so I’d love to hear about it – or any of your comments.



Life, death and losing weight.

I know the title sounds dramatic  – but week 14 of my FWT? odyssey has been just that.

The other half was away for a week and then everything began to go wrong. Fair enough, Monday was set to be a busy day before I had even started as quite a few orders had come in over the weekend, I had to carry out some important household repairs and had a Poetry meeting in the afternoon and WI committee meeting in the evening.

Luckily I had taken time out on Sunday to get most of the orders packed so when I received an email that told me I had to get to a shop, which had stocked my annmade slate-ware on a sale or return basis, some 13 miles away within the hour to collect the remaining goods as they had gone bankrupt, I was able to put the parcels in the car and set off immediately.

The goods collected and the parcels posted I just had time to check on the livestock before getting lunch ready. All was well. After working on making a shower waterproof and fixing a few other items I headed off for Poetry meeting and arrived back a few hours later to find that one of the nanny goats had produced two kids. Early.  Just dropped them and moved on. She wasn’t interested in them, despite their pitiful bleats – and they were so small, but I thought that perhaps this type of goats had much smaller kids. Grabbed up, rubbed dry, cuddled to get them warm, placed in the straw ready in a house, my 85 year old father and I then tried to lure their mother with tasty tidbits out of the field, away from the herd, and into the goat-house. She really didn’t want to come! She didn’t want to leave the others.

Eventually we got her into the house and by kneeling on the floor and supporting the kid with my hand under its small body, its spindly legs seemingly unable to hold it up, I managed to get the stronger of the two kids to suckle (The nanny was not keen on this either, kept flicking her leg out at the kid) The other was too weak to suckle – so a small amount of milk was squeezed from her mother’s tiny teats into a syringe and squirted into this baby goat’s mouth.

This to be repeated at intervals until it had enough strength to have a go at suckling with support.

Now you have to understand that we have kept goats successfully for over 25 years – just different goats – larger ones, milking goats with large teats that are easy to milk! We know how to look after goats, but this mother wasn’t keen on being a mother and even needed the distraction of food to allow her youngsters to feed.

I kept this routine up until by the third day she started standing to let them feed, they were both strong enough to get a feed and they seemed to be able to feed themselves having both been observed doing just that. I was confident that they were going to make it after all!

The next morning the weaker of the two was found dead. Well, this happens, if you keep livestock you have to expect some casualties (as a farmer friend of my father’s used to warn). The second kid would have a better chance, I thought, and so was shaken when my husband found this one cold and dead the following morning as well. Perhaps they were never destined to make it and who knows, perhaps their mother knew this from the start, but you can’t help feeling saddened.

On a happier note the other goats have produced since and we now have four very pretty goat kids to show for it, two nannys, two billys, and I can now see that those first kids were very undersized compared to some of the later progeny. Here are two of them, a girl and a boy – about 2 days old!


And as for ‘losing weight’ well,  this should be the week 14 round-up!

All in all, I really didn’t have any time to spare to write up my meals or my exercises before I fell exhausted into bed gone midnight. In fact, as this goat drama coincided with a family drama (where my father fell over and hurt his back, meaning I had to take over the night care for my mother on top of running the household and my slate business), I was so run off my feet that I didn’t even have time to do the exercises on those first three days (though I did plenty of exercise involving running around with half bales of hay and straw, and 25kg sacks of animal feed). However, I did get back on track and the results on Sunday morning showed another 1lb drop and half an inch off both measurements at waist level. So, my apologies to my cheerleaders for the lack of up-dates, but we are still on track, yay!

My thanks go to those lovely people who kept re-tweeting and sharing the wonderful Win a KINDLE draw that I am running on this blog especially on the days I had time only to make an odd tweet about it late at night. Please keep sharing!

Have you had times when everything seems to whirl out of control, how did you keep on track? I love to hear your comments!


Canine-take-over – Bonny’s blog

Ann’s Blog BONNY’S BLOG    

Wo Wo.. (tail wagging)  Hello (smiles)

Don’t tell my pack-lady but finding the lap-top unattended I’ve grabbed the chance to stage a take-over to warn you about a video that my pack-lady’s pups made of me over the weekend!

I mean, there I was being exercised entertained as usual by my pack-lady, you know, my favourite game where she throws these rings for me, I’ve got five of them, love to gather them all up and gallop back with them to insist she does it all again.

She’s not bad at it, has a knack to make them whiz along the ground – I like to chase them like that! (It seems chasing these is ok, pack-lady doesn’t like it when I chase rabbits the same way – especially when I catch them!) But enough of that! Oh I was having fun, even though her pups were standing round getting in the way! Usually they are great fun, giving me lots of fuss and games, but that afternoon they weren’t playing with me.

Later I heard lots of laughing and music and sneaked my paws onto pup-twos lap, then worked my way up to see the screen pup-three was working on. There I was, catching my rings, as usual, but now a figure of fun for everyone.  Just look at what they did!!!

I appeal to you… don’t laugh at me .. I just love doing this, chasing and catching up my rings! (appealing look – waggles eyebrows)

I asked my pack-lady about the video – she said it was just a bit of Cornish fun… and she wanted people to find her blog  If that’s all it is I guess I don’t mind, after all my pack-lady likes to play and my motto in life is ‘play with me!’ 

What do you think??


FWT? Week 13 and A Birthday Bonus

FWT? and A BIRTHDAY BONUS? – See details below of extra prizes in the Draw!

Here we are again at the round-up of another week of Fat Woman Thinning? At last I’m beginning to think it might be safe to drop the question mark at the end of FWT. At the start I really wasn’t sure this was going to work at all .. but now, and especially today, I am feeling more positive.

If you are new to FWT? Then a quick up-date. You see, I had to do something, menopause seemed to have changed the way my body dealt with things – my usual way of maintaining my weight no longer worked and the weight crept on… and on until by Jan the first this year I weighed in at 12 stone!  So, now I am using resistance weights as well as some aerobic and stretching, and watching what I eat (writing everything down as well) – but Not Dieting!

Also, I don’t go to a gym.  I don’t have time to spend getting there, nor the inclination to flaunt my lumpy body in front of others, so I have worked out what I can do at home and it doesn’t take long – the weights; never more than 15 mins and the aerobics and stretching is worked to follow a half hour of music.

So where am I now? After the previous week, where over indulging led to no weight loss, I kept a strict eye on the carbs, made sure I didn’t over eat and did all the exercises!

The results are in folks: Weight loss this week 2 lbs!! hurray, and I am now at 10st 7 lbs for my birthday! (my second secret goal!) Waist measurements, for both relaxed and pulled in tight went down half an inch too, so I am happy.

To celebrate this and as a Birthday Bonus I am adding to the prizes available when anyone signs-up to this blog in my Win a Kindle draw.

As you will know, if you have entered, this draw has to be only open to people living in the UK as the Kindle in question is already purchased and ready to send and the draw will be held as soon as a thousand people sign up, so you are all encouraged to share!

So here is the New Prize Line-Up!!

The first number drawn will Win the Kindle.  

The second number drawn will Win a Nero Slate Cheese boardfrom annmade.co.uk

The third number drawn will Win an copy of Divining the Line (in pdf form so you can read it on your computer or use calibre to convert it  if you have an e-reader).

The fourth number drawn will Win a pdf copy of Nothing Ever Happens Here and

The fifth number drawn will Win a pdf copy of Some Kind of Synchrony



So, here’s wishing everyone good-luck in the draw, please read the (full details HERE)

So what do you think, folks? Is this a good way to celebrate  – with no calories 😉


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