Disconnect from IT for one week – Challenge no 13

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In the back of my mind I thought I might waste a bit too much time on IT devices googling non essential info, reading Facebook etc so I set myself what I thought was quite a simple task…..no IT for a week.  This meant no i pad and no mobile ( hidden away by Chris) leaving only the landline.  This, however, really turned out to be an interesting task with the following results

Main Benefits

  • I had so much more free time
  • I read 3 books in one week
  • I used my dusty cookbooks rather than looking online 

Main Drawbacks

  • I had no way of finding the bus times
  • I I could not download my photos, access photos, online bank
  • There was a real need to be organised in advance about meeting people/planning events

Lessons Learnt

  • I am surprisingly  addicted to checking the weather and I really missed that
  • I loathe listening to the news on the TV and enjoy reading it on the BBC website as I choose what is important and can balance good, interesting news as well as disturbing, gloomy news
  • I waste far too much time, even more than I had realised, on Facebook, playing spider solitaire and searching irrelevant things……so will be drastically cutting back!!
  • I love the benefits of being able to keep in touch with family and friends that technology brings

Going ‘old school’ was fun and challenging for one week and certainly enlightening as it showed me I need to be more disciplined with my usage, however I shan’t be doing it again soon. It is amazing how quickly and seemlessly we adopt new technology and how it shapes our daily lives……I wonder what technology I will be giving up for a week when I am 60???

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Have a pedicure – challenge no 40

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I appreciate that a pedicure may not seem like much of a challenge to most people, but I HATE feet…the only feet every acceptable to touch or be touched are babies/young children…and even then only your own!!!  My family still laugh at the squeals that resounded round the house when as a small child my mum would wash me…everyone knew when she had got to my feet!!!!  And don’t even get me started on flip flops…..the finest, torturous work of the Devil indeed 😱 .  So when my lovely daughter-in-law, Candis, was thinking about a challenge she decided we should climb the O2 (such a preferable idea!!) however as she is due to have her second baby in April a new and more fiendish 50@50 challenge was set…..the pedicure!!  Candis loves a pedicure, her toe nails are always immaculately painted and she wanted to convert me!!

So yesterday I ventured to Maidstone, I was early and popped into a Wetherspoons for breakfast….did you know they serve alcohol that early??!!  Purely as a fact finding exercise, to see if this rumour was true (and for Dutch Courage) I ordered a bacon roll, a mug of builders tea with a JD and coke chaser….and YES…she served me….when did this happen as it has certainly passed me by?

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Anyway, I digress, so I met Candis and we went to The Reef and we prepared for our pedicure, I was very nervous which I explained to the therapist and she was delightful.  It helped that Candis and I sat next to each other, and then the ‘touching’ began…to my utter surprise it was relatively pleasant, not abhorrent at all, and it got better as the exfoliation was great, the cooling mint cream was positively pleasurable….but then….oh heavens above…( I could no help it ) I squealed…only a bit, well ….maybe a prolonged bit!! For some reason they have to separate your toes….mine absolutely do NOT naturally do this (preferring to stick closely together, safety in numbers and all that) unlike Candis and most people, it would seem, who can separate their toes, even waggling them at will!!!   As if that was not bad enough, she then stuffed cotton wool between them to keep the poor things separated and began to file and paint…I might have been pulling a few contorted faces here as Candis was laughing quite a bit.  But then before I knew it, it was over…..my toes were covered in cling film ( having refused the offer of the aforementioned devil’s work…flip flops) and we were done and I had perfumed, painted, massaged, pampered, plump little piggies!!  I also had a secret treat for being so good ( thank you Candis). 

So on reflection I have to say the majority of it was very enjoyable, my feet certainly feel softer and I have been converted as I will certainly have another pedicure in the future (especially as it was explained to me that walkers get more of a problem with hard skin than most people) …..but I most definitely won’t be rushing to take a course in how to become a pedicure practitioner…..those poor girls ( what must they have done in a previous life eh 😉)?

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Go to a Maidstone United Football Match – Challenge No 23

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I think it is fair to say I grew up a bit of a ‘tomboy’, always playing sport with the lads over the local field, helping to train my Dad’s ferrets and polecats, going rabbiting and watching my brother, Dave, playing football on Shepway green some weekends…I loved watching football and listening to the exotic names of the teams being read out on the pools round up…when silence was mandatory!!

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When I started going out with Chris his family were big Maidstone United football fans and took me to watch at their old ground on the London Road…which conjures happy memories of Grandad Fred especially.

So when compiling my 50@50, a trip to Maidstone United’s new Gallagher Stadium to watch a match had to be on it.  I went with my son Matt, and met up with my brother Dave and what a great day we had.  It was an exciting game, against Basingstoke, which we won 3-1 (not that Matt saw all the goals…poorly timed rest breaks and distracting conversations about the hand dryers LOL). Our seats in the stand (booked online)provided us with clear views of the action; the all-weather pitch, whilst controversial, did provide a decent, playable pitch even after all the rain recently and a good number of goals meant the partisan crowd were vociferously happy.  The crowd were made up of a large number of families (of all ages) which was so nice to see, and the hardened fans kept together in one particular place. There was a great sense of comradary and it was also nice to chat to the family behind us as the Dad used to live in the road next to me as a child and knew my older brothers well…a pleasant chance to reminisce.  

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An added surprise was my daughter Kate unexpectedly turning up for post match drinks (although we won’t go back to the White Rabbit again as the service was appalling).  A wonderful family day, making me thankful for the past and blessed for the present. I shall certainly be back as I have already had numerous people saying how much they would like to go 😄.

Try Sushi for the first time – Challenge number 47

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My daughter Katie has been trying to coax me to have sushi for a number of years now, but belligerently, and with no good reason, I have declined.  So when I was out with my friend of 35 years, Fiona,  and I explained this she set upon this as her 50@50 challenge for me.

And this is what I have learnt:-

  • Sushi does NOT mean raw fish, but ‘it’s sour’ referring to the rice
  • Sushi is a Japanese dish
  • the rice used is a special short-grain rice (awake-zu ) and when mixed with rice vinegar, salt and sugar and is known as shari
  • nigiri is the sliced raw fish with rice under it
  • maki is sushi which is rolled and sliced
  • both nigiri and maki are intended to be eaten with your fingers
  • sashimi is sliced raw fish which should be eaten with chopsticks
  • only the fish elements should be dipped in the soy sauce
  • the pickled ginger is intended to be a palate cleanser

Fiona very kindly bought a selection of vegetarian and fish sushi round to my house (a great way to have a first try for the uninitiated) and we had light soy, sweet chilli dipping sauce and wasabi as accompaniments.  Well I am sure it is no surprise to you all, that my inability to try new things has meant I have been depriving myself of a real treat.

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 I grew up with Sunday night teas being winkles, cockles, whelks, prawn and bread and butter….sushi is a posh version of this and I loved it!!!  I enjoyed the vegetable and the fish (which bodes well for my 2 week vegetarian challenge),  the crunch of vegetables, texture of the rice, full fishy taste and visual beauty…..I enjoyed it all.  I also really liked the hit of the pickled ginger….ginger was the find of my 40s…in cakes, stir frys, chocolate and now pickled in sushi….mmmm 😍.  However I can not say the same for wasabi, which was like horse radish and mustard and not to my palate at the moment…but I will persevere.  So thank you Fiona for a lovely lunch and pushing me out of my comfort zone….next I can have a play on the revolving conveyor belt of yumminess!!!

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Go to Brighton to see the starling murmurations – Challenge no 31

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Well I won’t beat about the bush, this was an unexpectedly moving experience and whilst cliched, I just don’t care, my heart soared with the birds.  

Some years ago I was sat in the garden around dusk and watched the 20+ starlings in our garden dance around the tree tops, swooping, moving on and eventually landing in their chosen roosts, it was mesmerising behaviour and when I later learnt that huge groups or murmurations ( the collective noun for Starlings, sometimes also known as chattering, affliction or scourge) of Starlings collected at Brighton pier I decided to check it out…..but never quite did.  So this is how it appeared on my 50@50 challenge list.

It turned out to be one of those special days, the ones you don’t have high hopes for.  I had researched when was best to see them but found very little on the internet about it apart from one post years ago dated February so that was the month I earmarked to do it.  The weather was supposed to be Ok so I decided the shopping would be good if nothing else!!  As I don’t drive I took the half hour bus trip to the station, waited 45 mins for the connecting train and spent 1hr 45 on the scenic trip through Romney Marshes and on to Brighton….but it was sooooo worth it.  I shopped for a bit in the North Lanes and then headed down to the pier (avoiding the donuts, ice creams and chips due to the silly losing weight Challenge I set ☹) but the fair ground was going. I have to say I love the Carousel, loads!!! So imagine how pleased I was when they said I could go on it, even though no-one else was there…my own private swirl around…winding back the clock, the music filling the air…pure nostalgia and I loved it.  After that I left the pier and went to wait, with little expectation as all I had seen thus far were gulls and oyster-catchers; but from nowhere 20 starlings appeared over the water!!!

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If I tell you I was thrilled with 20 you can imagine my feeling as more, more and yet more groups of starlings joined the flock to make one massive murmuration.  They split into two groups straddling the pier but on one side were much closer to the water so I swapped to that side and at times as they approached the air darkened and you could hear their beating wings.  They flew low to the water so they were lost from sight momentarily then emerged and would rise forming DNA strand-like shapes, then switch direction and deploy an invisibility cloaking system so again you would hardly know they were there.  It was impossible not to gasp with wonder and marvel at the genius and beauty of nature.  

As the light faded the Starlings began to swoop closer to the Pier and sections would split off and head under to their roosts, this was repeated and the numbers depleted but this was then replaced by the cacophony of chirrups from under the pier…and here I left them….elated!!

This took place between 4-30-5.30pm on Friday 26th February.

There were very few people watching this spectacle and I just wonder…why?  It was great, heart warming entertainment, free to view and I will certainly be heading back again but with my camera next time!!

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