That was the year that was…


One year ago, today, at 7:30 am we were on our way. We collected the dogs and cats, packed them in the car and surrounded them with all the bits and bobs that would not fit in the two moving vans that we packed up the day before. We stopped off to say a final goodbye to Zoe and set off up the M11 towards our new life in Morecambe. The sun was shining, the sky was blue. It was almost idyllic, if somewhat traumatic.

Over the last month Facebook has presented me with daily memories of us getting ready for the move. Saying goodbye to people, packing up a house that I had lived in for 20 years. 13 of them with Nigel. Leaving a town that I had lived in since I was 7. It has felt a bit overwhelming because even now there are times when the enormity of what we have done overwhelms me, and I catch my breath at the thought of it.

But here we are, one year later and settled in, happy to live in this northern seaside town, existing beside the permanent watercolour that is Morecambe Bay.

Its not all been plain sailing. There have been hiccups of course. I miss Zoe so so much. But she is doing so well in her new job, living her life where she needs to be.  Nigel and I both agreed this morning, we have no regrets. We feel blessed every single day. Even when it is rainy and windy like today! And without exception, every hiccup has taught us something, lessons that we needed to learn. The difference here is that we are open to learning those lessons. I think in our old lives we were so resistant to change that we fought against it, refusing to learn as we went along. When you embrace change, you open yourself to growth, and your world becomes infinitely richer and more exciting.

Ironically, we have spent the last six days mirroring the activities of last year – only unpacking instead of packing. We have lived most of the year with boxes still sitting in most rooms. But in just over a week my lovely Aunt will be arriving from New Zealand for a few weeks. That has given us the motivation and impetus to get ourselves sorted out at last. It has involved quite a few runs to the tip and the charity shop! If it was still in a box after a year, we didn’t need it – right?

To tie in with Auntie Roseanne’s visit we are finally having a housewarming party to – to mark my 60th birthday and our 10th wedding anniversary. It seemed like a good reason to mark the changes in our lives by re-stating our wedding vows too. So, at the beginning of August, friends from North and South will join us at The Corner House for a celebration. In a strange way I feel that the event will set the seal on our new life. My mum will be here too for the first time.

Nigel has a great job that he loves. My business is starting to grow. The house is slowly taking shape. Who would have thought that at the age of 60 I would be looking forward to a bright future, that I would have realised a very long held dream to live in the Northwest. My message to you all? Never give up on your dreams. It takes a bit of courage. But as I have said before – leap and the net will appear. And the reality may actually be better than you ever imagined!

This picture was taken at Catch The Wind, Morecambe’s kite festival which is happening again this weekend. Last year I was in shock and a bit tearful, but this year I am full of hope and I am home. I wish the same for you all.

I am off to dance round the kitchen with the labradors – I have done a lot of that since I moved here! I cant stop the feeling!

Fat lady singing…


This is going to be one of those difficult to write blogs. And be warned, its long! I know I have been missing in action for a few weeks. There has been lots going on, some good, some bad, but as usual there has been forward momentum and I am heading in the right direction again!

But today I want to write about food. About my relationship with food. And my weight. Always a delicate subject of course!

At the end of May I watched a program about crash diets. The one where you substitute meals with milk shakes and soups for a period of time. It showed a group of successful dieters losing weight, improving their health and, in one instance, reversing Type 2 diabetes after 17 years of living with it and taking loads of medication.

As a passionate cook the thought of “dieting” that way fills me with horror. I did lose weight with the Cambridge Diet back in the 80s, but I don’t think I have ever been more miserable. However, the program came along at a very precise moment for me and gave me lots of food for thought – forgive the pun!

Next week we will have been in Morecambe for one whole year. It hardly seems possible. Generally, we are both happier, fitter, calmer, less stressed….and so on and so forth. The last few years we have spent the winters feeling poorly with bad colds and all the usual winter ailments. This year we were much healthier. I put this down to more walking, more cooking from scratch, less stress and the lovely essential oils that I work with.

But. And it is a big but. I am still struggling with my diabetes. Spending weeks with my readings too high, feeling tired and lethargic. But seemingly unable to do anything positive about it. I have little spurts of extra walking, low carb days etc. But not enough. My feet are numb with neuropathy, on occasion I crawl up the stairs in the house (mainly due to the lack of balance caused by the numb feet) and I confess there are times when I avoid things because I do not feel physically able to do them. There – I said it out loud!

I too was diagnosed 17 years ago. I blame the stress of a broken marriage and a very bad time at work. But I was around 7 stone heavier than I am now, I didn’t exercise, and I was miserable. I lost 3 stone very quickly – that happens when you become diabetic and are undiagnosed. I swallow 11 different tablets. 5 different medications, every day. 3 for my diabetes and 2 for my high blood pressure, which has improved since I moved to Morecambe. I hate taking the pills. But I swallow them religiously because I have to. As you know, last year I had to have my eyes lasered too. Since my diagnosis in 2001 I have lost another 4 stone using various methods.

I am actually 1 stone lighter now, than when I arrived in Morecambe. So things have improved a little. But for the last few months I have been stuck. And my blood sugar readings have been all over the place. I even stopped doing them for a while – like not knowing what they were was going to make a difference!

With Zoe being a Type 1 diabetic there is very little that I do not understand about diabetes. Type 1 and Type 2 are of course very different and are treated in different ways. But the principle is the same. What I am saying is that I know what I need to do. But I seem unable to get a grip.

After watching that program, I decided that it was time. I recruited a little team of supporters – people to hold me accountable as I try to change the way I eat, the way I exercise, trying to get this beast under control. There has also been a flurry of other programs on tv in the last couple of weeks. One about all the medicines that are prescribed. Another about carbohydrates. I have soaked up more information and I am quietly determined to change things, I even tried yoga! And loved it too. I will be building that into my regime.

I had decided not to go public because my previous attempts have a) not been that successful and b) I think you must all be bored stupid. Also because everyone is an expert. There is always someone who knows a better way. But not everyone is me. It is very important to me to find a permanent solution to MY problem. Not a quick fix, or a miracle cure. A sustainable way of living with my diabetes, living a long and healthy life, to the full, doing everything I enjoy. And that includes cooking. And eating.

Eating as a diabetic is not straightforward. Many foods that are considered “healthy” cause my blood sugar to soar. Its a minefield.

I am not making excuses here. I know I need to change things. But do I want to live in a world where I can never again eat a slice of cake or a bowl of chips? No. I don’t. And bread. Sometimes I want bread!

But here is the reason for this blog. To share some of the pain of being overweight. Not looking for sympathy or understanding. Simply to tell it like it is. To get it out there.

I have been overweight for as long as I can remember. I remember people telling me that it was puppy fat – no such thing of course. When I look at my school pictures, although I was bigger than my friends I was not grossly overweight. That came in my late teens. I can analyse it. My parents divorce, my lack of self-esteem…the “reasons” are endless but that is all in the past. I have to deal in the now.

To be honest for many years I told myself that I did not have a problem with my body image. I wore what I wanted, I went topless abroad, I displayed my cleavage and my other curves without thought really. I had moments of horror about how I looked. But I am a bluffer. And like many other big girls I covered my insecurities up with laughter, being the funny one. The fat ugly friend that hung out with the pretty girls, feeding on their popularity, accepting unacceptable behaviour in relationships because I did not value myself enough.

In the late 80s I slimmed down. I was not skinny, but I had a waist, great boobs, and an attitude. That was when I met my first husband. By the time our marriage had played out I was back to being a mass of insecurity, and of course I was a full time working mum in a very stressful job.

I can list endless reasons for the WHY. But what about the WHAT. What do I hate about being a fat bird?

I hate not being able to go shopping for clothes anywhere and being able to buy cheaply

I hate never being able to buy or wear tailored clothes, or get a good fitting bra

I hate seeing judgement in other people’s eyes (and the fact that I judge other people too!)

I hate the physical limitations of being overweight

I hate having to ask for an extension for my seat belt when I fly

The list is endless

But I am doing something about it. I have my “dirty dozen” who have my back and are cheering me on from the sidelines.

I am picking my way through a low-carb lifestyle. Loosely following Michael Moseley’s 5:2 diet which works really well for diabetics and is doable. It allows me to indulge my love of cooking. Picking up the exercise, and yes, taking up yoga. Building it into something sustainable, a different way of eating that will allow me to go off the rails from time to time.

In just a week I have seen for myself the trigger points for me going off-plan. I never thought that I ate for comfort, but I do. And if I am tired or out of sorts? All bets are off. But going off plan will not derail me. I am in this for the long term. My blood sugar has dropped significantly, and although I wobbled at the weekend I am feeling better. My feet feel different. They will not heal completely but they will improve.

Part 2

I left this blog to sit overnight and came back to read it this morning. It says what I wanted to say but I don’t feel that I have really explained the emotional pain of being overweight. I don’t sit about all day feeling miserable because I am fat. But I think being fat has defined my life in many ways. To an extent the fat is part of the Penny that I know and am comfortable with. I think I have a genuine fear that if I lose it I will lose something else, some indeterminate part of me, part of my identity.

A pilot friend of mine once told me that he believed he stayed fat because he was protecting his heart, all due to a difficult upbringing. Sounds feasible don’t you think?

At the same time, I feel that now it is time for me to let it all go. I am content, happy to be where I am in my life, happy to be living where I live, probably happier than I have been for many years. Spiritually content too. Its time to bless and release.

So, I am resolving to be more mindful when I eat and to focus on my health rather than losing weight. To live well and in the moment. The rest will take care of itself!

10 years ago I bopped down the aisle to marry Nigel with Zoe by my side to this song!