Thursday, September 28, 2017

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep -Oh, How I've Missed You

One of the great things about being back in the land where I grew up is being able to sing along to the radio. Having birthed kids in the 90s and early 00s, I missed out on a lot of music, unless you count "Under the Sea" and the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song. Didn't matter which side of the Pond I was on, the new stuff passed me by.

There were a few old songs in the States that I knew, obviously. They're into the Stones and Bowie like the rest of us, although the same few songs tend to be played ad nauseam, and quickly get ruined for you. Their "oldies" though, were often songs I'd never heard before. First time I heard Jimmy Buffet my husband sang the entire song along with everyone else in the bar and I'd never even heard of the guy. (I'll warn you now, this is a great song and will have you singing it all day!) There are also some 70s and 80s rock songs that I didn't know, and that was a time when I reckoned I was on top of everything musical. 867 5309 was HUGE in the USA in 1983, when I was listening to anything and everything and I don't think I heard it till I moved there.

But now, back in the old UK, I'm having a blast from the past. Not sure the family are digging it quite so much though. Last week, Ken on Radio 2 was doing one of his quizzes and my goodness, I had some explaining to do about the songs.

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, by Middle of the Road - The conversation was along the lines of "Yes, they're singing "Oooo-wee, chirpy chirpy cheep cheep." And "Yes, as a matter of fact it did get to Number One."  (And, no that's not Anna from Abba.) 

Granddad - Also in 1971, we had Clive Dunn singing this lovely song. Yes, everyone bought it for their favourite grandpa, which is why it was the enormous success it was, but Top of the Pops? Really? (I didn't bother telling them about the 1980 smash hit "There's No One Quite Like Grandma" by St. Winnifred's School Choir.)

And then we sampled Shaddap You Face, which certainly had them shutting up, especially as I appeared to know all the words and had the accent down too. It was Number One for three long weeks and kept Ultravox's "Vienna" off the top spot. I was slightly relieved to hear it stayed at Number One in Australia for eight weeks, so we're not the only saddoes. (Would this ditty even be considered politically correct nowadays I wonder.) 

Have I missed any? It seems like every other day I'm being forced to defend ridiculous songs. Oh yes, what was the one with the big duck-like puppet? 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Getting My Body Back

I should start by making sure no one thinks I had a body to begin with. We're not talking pre and post Kardashian births here. However, I used to be fit and healthy, and now I'm not. I have had about two years of chronic and acute back issues, back surgery, a relapse and a transAtlantic relocation to contend with recently, so the gym hasn't always been my happy place. 

Although my vastly reduced activity level hasn't resulted in much weight gain, it has done a bit of a swaperama with muscle and flab. There's definitely more flab now, and it takes up more room than the muscle did, leaving some items of clothing a bit snug to say the least. But now that things have settled down somewhat*, it's time to get motivated, take control and do all those things that irritatingly fit and enthusiastic people say they do. 

*When I say "settled down" I mean we finally have a proper bed, two months after the move. Still waiting for a desk for Man Child Mark Two, the guest room is spartan, I don't have any rugs down and I still can't work the induction hob. But we're getting there.

I have thought about going for some type of physical therapy, but with sciatica, a lot of movement is just too painful to do. If one more person tells me it's just a question of "strengthening the core", I swear......  I was doing all that already, and still got myself a herniated disc and sciatica, so no, it's not "just that". I thought I had found someone who could help a few weeks ago, but I'm still waiting for a call back so that probably won't pan out. (Yes, I could call again, but to me, that's a sign of customer service. Or lack thereof.)

Anyway, this week I decided to take matters back into my own hands. Started off with a mega-walk with the dog. She gets a lot of walking as it is, but this one was extra long and included a conscious effort to tighten ham strings, stretch the legs out and clench the bum. And I didn't do too badly either. (Ba-doom tish.) I should really have speed-walked but the stupid dog thinks I'm playing and starts either jumping up at me or dashing to the end of her extendable lead, neither of which is conducive to a good power walk.

And then the other day on Radio 2 I heard a young fitness chappie called Jo Wicks. Everyone had been raving about his "quick but amazing" workouts and he mentioned his low impact sessions he calls "Easy on the Knees-y". Even though it's my back that's hampering me, I thought "That's for me" and then had a nosey around You Tube. Sure enough, there are a few low impact 20 minute sessions. 

So yesterday I tried one.

And today I can barely brush my teeth. 

It's amazing how seemingly easy exercise can completely knacker you if it's the right kind of exercise. To be fair to myself, Wicks was also sweating bullets, complaining about a stitch and clocking his heart rate at almost 170, so it wasn't just me being unfit and flabby. 

But yes, I'm going to do it again tomorrow if I have recovered. There's something about waking up with sore limbs that makes one feel improvements have begun. And let's face it, there's something about looking at this while you're working out too. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

For the Love of God - I'm Just Trying to get to Tesco!

They say pride comes before a fall and I should have seen it coming. I have just had a friend staying for a few days and she got hopelessly lost (or in her words "Where the hell am I?") on her way to me the other day.

"I've just passed this huge church and a white pub", she wailed. 

"Oh you're fine", I assured her. "Just keep going, turn right at the lights and you're here". 

You can't imagine the sense of accomplishment I felt at recognising local landmarks (without the name of the church or the pub, I might add), and being able to guide her to my house. "I'm home. I belong", I thought to myself, in a moment of over-the-top self congratulations. 

Flash forward to this morning when I dropped Man Child Mark Two off at school then ambitiously decided to head straight for a near-ish Tesco Superstore without having to come back home and start from scratch. I looked at Google maps, made myself a quick list of left-right turns and was feeling pretty confident. I even remembered to put the re-usable bags in the boot/trunk fer cryin' out loud. That's how on the ball I was. 

And then I made a wrong turn. ONE WRONG TURN. That's all it took. The roads not being anywhere near straight round here, I was soon heading back in the direction I had come, and straight into the longest queue at the temporary traffic lights near my house. I don't even know the area well enough to dart off along a side street and do anything fancy and time-saving. 

The thing about the signage in the UK is that it can be fairly terrible. Last summer, when staying at my mother's, the kids and I headed off into the country for some zip-lining and general hard work. (I watched.) Again, I had mapped the journey, complete with A and B road numbers. I knew it wasn't going to be easy (windy, tiny roads) but I wasn't prepared for the TOTAL LACK of road numbers at every roundabout. I mean, what's the point of them if they're never used. Every roundabout had the name of a teeny, tiny village but no number. Of course since we were out in the middle of nowhere Google Maps gave up the ghost and we were left trying to figure out directions by the position of a hardly visible sun. 

Round these parts, my particular village is rarely sign-posted, even from a few miles away. You have to learn where it is in relation to the places that have hit the mapping-jackpot. And then you get to a roundabout that has no mention of your place and more than one exit for nearby villages! Yes! I'm not joking! 

Is it any wonder that I can barely make it to Tesco without tears. 

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