Tag Archives: school

Couch Potato Versus Runner Bean…

When I am not mucking out, social networking or wiping up child spillages, I can usually be found running round the local villages, cycling round rural Nottinghamshire or at the swimming pool.

I know some people think it’s mad but this is what I choose to do for my “me time” rather than, for instance, watching TV (unless either the Grand National or triathlon highlights are on, in which case you’ll find me under a duvet in front of the fire snacking on Quality Street).

I often read people saying on Facebook or Twitter that they would like to get fit, lose weight or get back into a hobby and, in so far as any of my blogs have a purpose beyond the fact that I just feel like writing them, the point of this one is to say: “if I can do it, anyone can”.

(All right, it is also because it is extremely cold outside and I need a good excuse to avoid having to clean the bathroom in which the sink, in particular, would not look out of place in a Glastonbury portable toilet cubicle).

The thing is that, while you might often hear me banging on about how much I love running, cycling, swimming, skiing and, of course, horse riding, I am far from a “natural athlete”.

Except for netball (which I seemed to be quite good at), I was more often than not picked in the last handful of people in school PE lessons. Admittedly, this might have been down to my bad haircut, very untrendy Puffa horse riding school coat and resolute refusal to wear makeup but it must also have said something about my sporting talent…

Apart from riding, I am relatively new to most of my sports and not necessarily very good at them yet.

Take skiing. I have spent a couple of my happiest weeks on the slopes but I am no expert. In fact, I have been told by various experienced skiers that my gung-ho, jumpy style would be far more suited to being on a snowboard. My husband, however, would never let me on a snowboard as snowboards are apparently not for respectable 36-year-old mothers of five. Besides, he says, I look grungy enough in my mucking out gear all year round without having to dress that way on our family ski holiday.

Despite my lack of grace on a pair of skis, I can already kick my husband’s ass down a long bumpy black run because I’m fitter and his thigh muscles get tired. (strangely, Jon strongly disagrees with what he describes as this “outrageous” statement and claims that I don’t realize how much he “slows down” for my benefit. I feel a down-hill slalom race coming on …)

My favourite hobby – or, as Jon would say, obsession – at the moment is probably running but I am not a natural runner.

Just as with skiing, I have a rather unique and unnecessarily “twisty” running action – which cannot be very efficient and must certainly waste vital energy that I could be using to make me go faster.

I have been doing various exercises to try to improve my running technique and I think might have succeeded in toning down some of the oddities. Even so, I still look like I’m struggling through mile 25 of an off-road marathon even when I’m just jogging a mile down the road and feeling as fresh as a daisy.

While I have always enjoyed running, I have to admit that it is far more enjoyable once:

a)      You are fit;

b)      You are doing the correct type of training;

c)      You start to do quite well in races

d)      You can see an improvement in your results in line with all the effort.

If you have bothered to get this far down the page and have had even the teeniest “I wish I did some form of sport” thought, then read on and let me persuade you to log onto eBay and order yourself a pair of new trainers…

1)  Firstly, when I am at the end of a run or have finished one, although I am physically tired – I feel full of energy and I know it’s a cliché but I feel “alive”.

2)  Exercise has made me fitter, faster and stronger and I have been able to take part in some fabulous fun things, which I’d have never been able to do if I were a couch potato. Examples being “Survival of the fittest” obstacle race, Dambuster Olympic distance triathlon and the most recent addition to my weekend schedule – running for the Readyfield hunt and being chased over the countryside by a pack of bloodhounds…

3)  I have lost weight, whilst still eating pretty much what I want.

4)  I have toned up all over and only have a minimal patch of lumpy fat at the top of my thighs now, as opposed to loads of it before I started my fitness regime!

5)  Running and triathlon races not only give me a “goal” to work towards but I usually sign up to them with a friend and we have loads of fun both on the day and in training for them.

6)  I have completely replaced my horse-buying tendencies with a much cheaper lycra running outfit addiction.

7) I have a valid excuse for falling asleep on the sofa every night and leaving Jon to deal with the 5-child chaos, bedtime excuses and washing up.

8)Schadenfreude – As in when I bump into certain old classmates who were “too cool” to speak to me at school and discover that their thighs are bigger than my waist. I know it’s wrong but no one is perfect.






Filed under comedy, fitness, funny, getting older, health, humour, Running, self-help, Sport, Swimming, thirties, Triathlon, weight-loss


Squeezing is something I do a lot of.

Toothpaste squeezing (for little girls), squeezing thighs and bum into lycra (for me), squeezing legs into tights and feet into wellies (toddlers again), squeezing in time to go for a run or a bike ride or a swim or just squeezing in half an hour to do something for myself that doesn’t involve horses or children.

The more I come to think about it, the more my life seems to be one big squeeze. Just take the first hour or so of the day…

Tomorrow morning, I will wake up squeezed firmly between Violet (5) and Troll (3) who will  have climbed into our bed during the night. I know this because they have done it every night since they were ejected from our bed (I say ejected but it was a very half-hearted ejection in Marigold’s case and Violet’s “ejection”  consisted of making her lie down in a cot at the end of our bed for about 12 minutes one night three years ago until her pitiful  crying and bereft expression won her her place back in the “family” bed. She is a very sensitive soul but can be very determined when she wants and she has steadfastly and resolutely resisted all attempts to persuade her even to consider the notion that her nocturnal place in the world might be somewhere other than squeezed in between mummy and daddy).

I should say now that Jon will probably also be squeezed in there somewhere but he long since retreated to the other end of the bed. Yes, we often sleep top to toe in our house, a bit like the family in the Willie Wonka film. Jon occasionally mutters darkly about the sleeping arrangements and sometimes growls noisily and grumpily in the middle of the night when one of the girls “checks he is there” with their sharp toe nails but he does not seem to mind too much providing I make sure that Annie Hound does not also join our little club.

So I start my day by un-squeezing myself as quietly as possible from the bed in the hope of squeezing in five minutes to myself and avoiding making husband more grumpy by waking him up. I then go  into the kitchen and squeeze around 6 items into 5 packed lunch boxes. This sometimes involves emptying out the previous day’s partially eaten lunches and squeezing them into an over-flowing bin. I do this knowing with absolute certainty that Jon will moan about the bin-cram at some point during the day but, at this point in my pre-bus stop -pre-mucking out schedule, I choose to ignore the thought and squeeze away.

Squeezing things into bags is usually next on the list, swimming kits into swimming bags, PE kits into PE bags, letters that i should have signed and returned two weeks ago, into book bags. Next it is breakfast time, OK not much squeezing here, except when we’ve nearly used up all the bread and i have to squeeze the crusts between both palms to make them thin enough to squeeze into the toaster (they still usually burn and set the fire alarm off though, so this squeezing is probably a waste of energy and the complete squeezing-squeezing-burning-binning process almost certainly has a “carbon footprint” the size of Alaska. I’m explaining this on the off chance that carbon footprints are on your high-concerns list, they are not on my list… in fact i’m not sure that i have or have ever had a high-concerns list.

When i open the outside door, which leads to the “shoe and coat” cupboard, Annie-hound (who sleeps in this room) always attempts a quick and sneaky run-and-squeeze through gap in the door to go and say good morning to the tribe, rather than go out in the cold for her wee.

Squeezing Violet and Troll into their tights, squeezing out toothpaste, squeezing Clyde’s massive school bag out of the tiny living room window when he has forgotten it and is late for the bus.

However, I am not the only one doing the squeezing.  Troll loves to use the opportunity afforded by the close contact required to help her get dressed to sneak a quick but firm squeeze of my boobs. She has always had a thing about my boobs – other children have dummies or blankets – for Troll, only my boobs are good enough. She knows they are off limits (mostly) and that she is too big to touch them now but this doesn’t deter her – it just ensures she has an especially naughty grin on her face as she makes a grab for them.

When Rose and Clyde have left for their bus, it’s time to squeeze Violet and Troll into their coats. Daisy does hers herself but would happily let me do it for her too if I would. Troll does not strictly need to come on the bus-stop walk as Jon is at home (squeezing in an extra hour of sleep, may i add!) but, usually, she insists (having woken up the moment I get out of bed).

After all four children are safely on their way to school, I take Troll to Granny’s house (which is quicker than it sounds, as Granny lives next door!). Eight out of ten times we will get to Granny’s door and Troll will plead and beg to stay with me for a bit longer, in the form of: “Me help hay horses tiny bit?” and so, she will come to “help” me for 10 minutes.

I’m sure you are thinking that we spoil her and she gets her own way all the time (and you’d be right) but, although she is hopelessly unhelpful at horsing right now (and just having her on the yard means I need eyes in the back of my head and to repeat the phrase “don’t go near the black horse’s stable” endlessly),  my excuse is that i am subtly imprinting her for teenage mucking out duties…

Haying or rather haylaging, which is our forage of choice in the winter, takes about 20 minutes and Troll usually gets cold hands after 5 minutes because she likes to dip them in the yard water trough. I often have to squeeze out her gloves before hanging them on Granny’s radiator, when I drop her off.

When troll “insists” on something, it is usually much easier to go along with it – unless she is trying to eat something poisonous or wants to show her bum to someone over the age of 75, life is too short for the resulting argument (I must admit to having failed on this last example in the past but that’s another story)…

The squeezing in my life is not all bad though.  Our beautiful basset hound Annie loves to be squeezed and cuddled and she is probably the most squeezed dog in all of history. She enjoys fuss so much that she groans out loud when she is stroked. I also spend a good deal of my time sitting on the sofa with a pile of children laying on and around me, all wanting squeezes (or in their very own words “huggles”). Sometimes after eleven pm –  when everyone under the age of thirteen is asleep, I like to squeeze up with Jon on the sofa (although nine out of ten times I have fallen asleep before the first advert break, if we are watching a film).  These squeezes are the best kind.


Filed under comedy, Equine, Family, funny, humour, large families, Sport