A Finished Garden… Almost

When we moved into our house four years ago, we were really excited to make it our home. While the house is still a work in progress (more on that later), the garden is pretty much finished, bar a tree, some shady plants and a lick of paint. This is what it looked like before: […]

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Introducing a plugin that adds basic Markdown support to longform idno posts.This article is © Copyright Marcus Povey 2008-2014

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Let me know if there any real issues. I know there are a small number of missing photos, but I’ll fix that over the next couple of days. Ta.

A dieting post. Seriously? It’s come to this.

Shall we start with a short visualisation? Let’s. Picture this. You have done your very best to arrive at your physiotherapist appointment on time. You are in the waiting room quietly high-fiving yourself for remembering, after too many times forgetting, to wear the right underpants. Admittedly, the criteria for assessing the right underpants for any occasion is open to a great deal of interpretation.

On this particular day, for an appointment involving some level of undressing for a health professional, my criteria was simply that my underpants be in decent condition. Not grey (unless they were grey when purchased), no wayward elastic, no holes. Just a decent, proper pair of knickers.  And would you believe it? I actually remembered. Dignity intact! Though not for long.

After the initial treatment my physiotherapist informed me that she would be teaching me some new exercises. To ensure I did them correctly she said I’d do them in front of a mirror. Oh and would I mind stripping off to ensure I got the angles right? (Angles you say? What angles? As we both soon saw my body was a distinctly ANGLE-FREE-ZONE.)

So with cruel, unforgiving, sunlight beaming through to compound the ignominy of the situation, I stood almost naked in front of a full-length mirror assessing the damage. (Did I mention that I paid actual money for this exercise???) The only underwear that would have rectified it would be a full body spanx suit. And that ain’t something I own. 

It was mortifying, if not a little expected. Ok, if I’m truthful, totally expected. The real surprise was that I was surprised at all. It’s not as if any of my clothes were fitting comfortably. I hadn’t exercised at all for over 12 months thanks to my faulty hip. And, well, food. Glorious food had become, even more than usual, my lovely, reliable, dependable friend. (Though in hindsight this friendship was not without flaws: read ahead.)

The image in the mirror prompted me to hop on the physio’s scales. I knew, despite desperately hoping otherwise, it wasn’t an illusion staring back at me but I thought I needed the facts. I don’t own any scales and, aside from my two pregnancies where regular doctor appointments gave me a chance to keep track of my weight, I don’t generally weigh myself. Until I did.  

Unfortunately I recognised the number staring back at me. BECAUSE IT’S WHAT I WEIGHED WHEN I WAS 7 MONTHS PREGNANT WITH MISS L. Except this time, there was no baby to account for any of it.  I’ll let you digest that for a moment. It certainly took me longer than a moment to digest. 

Eight weeks on and I am capable of sharing this with you because I have managed to buck and even reverse the trend. I am now, happily, closer to pre-pregnancy weight than peak-pregnancy weight, which considering Miss L hasn’t been growing inside me for 20 months isn’t of itself particularly astounding. But it’s a darn-sight better than it was a few months ago.   

What I am about to write pains me. A great deal. With the exception of various diets I tried to help manage Crohn’s disease back in the day when that was a problem, I have never been on an actual diet before. There is part of me that dies every time I hear the word diet. I hate the word and everything it connotes. But the truth is I’ve been giving one a whirl and it’s kind of brilliant.

I am sharing it as a community service announcement should you ever find yourself naked in front of a mirror, thinking it might be time for a solution other than a muffin and a flat white to ease the pain.   

I have been on an adapted version of the 5:2 diet, the principle of which is on 2 non-consecutive days each week you eat very little. The rest of the week you eat what you normally would. It has completely reset the way I eat and I have dropped several kilos without it seeming difficult. Truly.

This is why I think it works:

  • I got an app on my phone to help me keep track of what I actually eat. Simple but brilliant. Particularly if, like me, you have never had a firm handle on exactly how many calories are in the things you eat. (I actually want to stab myself in the eye for writing this. But it works.)
  • Maximising nutrition. By paying attention to what I eat, particularly on the fasting days, my mind is wired to pick foods that give maximum value. This wasn’t on my radar as much before.
  • Quantity control. The fasting days have recalibrated my appetite. Habit is a powerful thing and I was in the habit of eating a lot. I can now distinguish between hungry and not hungry. I eat less overall but honestly I’m not hungry. I just don’t overeat. As much.    

Ok I will now stab myself in the eye and wonder how NABM came to this. A dieting post. But if it saves me – or anyone else – from the indignity of an almost-naked full-length mirror situation it will be worth it. Surely?

Tuesday Treat – Violet and Percy

There’s nothing I like more than finding a new stationery shop and thanks again to Twitter, I’ve found another one! Violet and Percy have an amazing selection of quirky cards, prints and jewellery and I couldn’t resist these postcards. What do you think?! I could quite happily spend all day looking through the website and deciding which […]

Fifteen open data insights

[Summary: blogging the three-page version of Open Data in Developing Countries - Emerging Insights from Phase I paper, with some preamble] I’m back living in Oxford after my almost-year in the USA at the Berkman Center. Before we returned, Rachel and I took a month to travel around the US – by Amtrak. The delightfully […]

Dim Sum and Sushi Steam at Miele

Last week, I spent a day making (and then eating until I could eat no more!) sushi and dim sum. I was invited to attend the (c/o) Dim Sum and Sushi Steam at Miele Experience centre in Abingdon. Despite living just up the road, I’d never been to Miele before but I pretty much want to […]

Review – Mograna Red Wine

Let me preempt this review by saying that I’m not a wine connoisseur. But I know what I like and I like red wine. I don’t mind a rosé in the summer and there’s always room for a G&T, but when it comes down to red or white, it’s always, always red wine for me. […]

Boden on the Road

My life took a rural turn last week when I was whisked away to the Dorset countryside to celebrate ‘Christmas in July’ with Boden.The three day adventure included making bread in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Cookery School at River Cottage, creating p…

So it’s been a while.

So. It’s been a while! So long, in fact, that I have been wondering whether I know how to do this anymore. That nagging notion has been putting me off from coming back here for too long. So I’m just going to jump back in like I did when I started. 

Boy, oh boy, has a bit happened since I last stopped by here. I remember just before I started what was about to be a new job editing Women’s Agenda I decided to give myself a month’s grace period from blogging. I knew my plate was going to be full and figured I’d need to reserve whatever energy I had for work and home. Ha! A month! 

Full doesn’t begin to describe it. It really was the most hectic, rewarding, difficult, thrilling, supercharged experience on all fronts. The work itself was an absolute blast and I loved every moment but it was addictive and consuming. It was only when I stepped back from the role earlier this year that I really appreciated just how “on” I’d been. About two weeks after stepping back I started to wonder how I had done it. Not in a smug gosh-i-am-a-bit-special way but in a brutally honest way. (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???) I still don’t really know.

Home life was equally consuming but markedly more chaotic than work. There was far too little sleep for far too long and frankly living on no sleep for too long is no way to live. Just ask our neighbours. Despite my job being busy in comparison to Mr G’s working life I may as well have been on holidays. (Albeit, a pretty average holiday.)

So it’s been full on but we seem to be emerging from the haze. I know that because there was a time, not that long ago, where I didn’t have the mental space to even think about this blog’s existence. Lately, though, I’ve found myself thinking about it often and even composing posts in my head. Perhaps, dear readers, there is a sliver of space for me to keep an online diary again. Therapy!

To bring you vaguely back up to speed with the NABM household, this is where we’re at. Our little misses are more entertaining and – dare I say it – easier than they’ve ever been. Miss I is now 4 and would run the house if we let her. Possibly better than we do. She is one of the funniest people I have ever met and I sort of wish I could bottle her up in this age forever.  

Miss L is 20 months and delicious. She has an uncanny sense of humour; she laughs out loud at the exact moment a punch line is delivered. Even when she’s a room away from the conversation and the conversation is at least several levels beyond her comprehension. She laughs out loud at the exact moment everyone else does.

She is also the most determined person I have ever met. She makes Miss I, who you might recall we had pegged as a potential terrorist leader, look positively flexible. Miss L’s will power can – and occasionally does – crush us. Fortunately that’s happening less and less.  

In other news, I have unfortunately become acquainted with the world of chronic pain. I wish that bit was a joke. You might recall, if you cast your mind back, a particularly disastrous urban outing in which I was trying to put together a photo frame for Mr G’s birthday.  One detail which I left out at the time, probably because there were so many disastrous details to relay, was that I fell down a flight of stairs after my friend had taken the photos of the girls and I. Fortunately I wasn’t carrying Miss L or Miss I so neither of the girls were hurt. But I was. And it seems I still am. 

A few months later I started having some trouble with one of my hips and I assumed it was pregnancy or child-birth related. The pain become worse and more frequent and tinkering around the edges did very little.  I had forgotten about the fall until the beginning of this year (that’s correct 12 whole months later) by which point the pain had become debilitating and constant. An x-ray showed I had a small fracture in my pelvis. (NB I will never ever arrange a photo frame for anyone’s birthday. Ever again. Obviously.) Unfortunately there is no quick fix so I am still in the midst of trying to get myself out of pain and back into full mobility.  Until this chapter I had been blissfully unaware of the cruel world of chronic pain. Take me back to that blissful place!!

In other genuinely great news we have moved. INTO A HOUSE. A proper grown-up house. With bedrooms and a living room and a laundry and a clothes line and a backyard. Without any scary neighbours! Can you even imagine? We’ve only been here a month but it’s already made my year.

So that’s an update from this corner of the world wide web. What is happening in your world? On a side note I am really really thinking about getting a Thermomix. Do you have one? Tell me why I need it*. 

*More accurately please tell Mr G why our household needs it. I am already convinced.

Clothes Clear Out

I don’t know about you, but I seem to wear the same three or so outfits, despite having a wardrobe and chest of drawers I can’t actually clothes. Inspired by this post, which Rosie shared in a Facebook, I was determined to get myself organised. The problem I have is this: about a third of […]

Tuesday Treat – Alone Time

Another week has passed and I’m still no further ahead in getting blog posts published. But I have been busy going places, eating and drinking things, making things and organising things – all of which I’ll write about… eventually. Anyway, we’re really busy at Crafty Chai towers. We’re ploughing on with the garden and it’s […]


Sits above the town in her Schiaparelli gown, down in the depths on the ninetieth floor. – Cole Porter Things that have happened lately. A couple of my house plants died. I didn’t mourn them. I just went out and … Continue reading

London Calling

‘For a minute there, I lost myself’ RadioheadI love being a tourist at home, especially in an area as vibrant and colourful as the east end of London. It’s fun to look around with fresh eyes, like a holidaymaker exploring somewhere new, or a child…

How many?

Just a few police bikes then… (stolen this clip from FB) Post by Kev Fannon.