Monday, December 17, 2007

Weight Loss Results

Hello folk!

Here I am with our newest pet! We haven't actually decided on a name for him/her yet, so if you have some ideas we'd love to hear from you!

So far we haven't actually determined his/her sex either so our possible names are Prunella, Purple Pete or Scruffles (thanks to Katy Oke). He/she's from Vancouver, Canada and I'll be doing another posting on our recent trip to the West Coast shortly.

But now for something completely different ........

Today is my birthday. That means that it's exactly a year since I started the Weightloss for Wildlife campaign and it's time to report on "progress". I guess there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that I haven't made any progress since June. The good news is that I lost a good few pounds during the first half of the year and I've managed to keep it off since June. So, the final tally is:

Beginning Weight: 95.5 kg or 210.5 lb or 15 stone
Ending Weight: 87 kg or 192 lb or 13.7 stone
Weight Loss: 8.5 kg or 18.5 lb or 1.3 stone

Those of you who were kind enough to sponsor me will be getting a personal note or e-mail about this in the next couple of weeks. Once I hear from everyone I'll let you all know how much money I've made for wildlife projects.

The chart at left is of our weekly "weigh-ins". As you can see, John has been accompanying me on this adventure, but slipped up a bit towards the end. We're both determined to continue trying to lose weight next year. I don't suppose anyone is up for another challenge?

I do feel better for having lost the weight. Apart from my clothes being more comfortable, I find I have more energy and can move around a bit better. It's a good job I have more energy as there's an awful lot to do around here. In fact, I'd better get on with something right now!

Bye bye for now ...........................

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A trip to Paris.

Yuck! Britain is now experiencing 8 hour days and 16 hour nights. It gets dark SO early. Everything is damp underfoot, too, so it's really mucky. John and I have both had horrible colds. Mine is on the mend but he's in the middle of his. This hasn't put an end to our social lives, however. We had friends to dinner on Thursday and I went to the Food Fayre quiz night last night. My team won and I'm now charged with watching the Lottery draw tonight to see if we won anything as our prize was lottery tickets! This morning we braved the cold and wet and went out to help clear pathways on our local bird reserve. We think it did us good, but were glad to get back to our warm house and hot soup!

While we were lunching Mr. Magnificent came begging for peanuts and I was finally able to get a halfway decent shot of him.

My cold started on the way home from our visit to Paris. In all our travels I've never been there before! We had a ball! The metro and the busses were on strike, but we managed to get around quite well. It helped that we were the guests of my cousin Jaques. You may remember that he and his partner (Catherine) and her daughter (Flora) visited us in May. This was the return trip. We stayed in Flora's father's apartment, just a few blocks away from Catherines' home and Jaques' dental clinic.

It was fun to go on Eurostar from the new St. Pancras International Railway Station. This is an old and very grand Victorian red brick and glass station which was abandoned in the 60s and was nearly knocked down. It has now been renovated and supplied with a high-speed line and now it takes just over 2 hours to get from London to Paris! They've moved the Eurostar terminus from Waterloo to St. Pancras, which is good for us as it's only one stop on the tube from St. Pancras to Euston where we can get a fast train to Crewe followed by a slow train to Church Stretton! We made it back from Paris, Gare Du Nord to C. S. in 6.25 hours

Jaques picked us up from Gare du Nord on Friday night. It took us over 2 hours to drive to his place - a trip that should have taken 20-40 min. The traffic was really grid-locked because so many people who usually take public transport had to use their cars. Here's a picture of a familiar landmark taken as we drove through Pigalle. Catherine was late getting home, too, because of the traffic but she prepared us a lovely meal and it was good to catch up with them and see where they live.

We decided to do "car" things at the weekend, so they took us to Versailles on Saturday. It's a most impressive palace, lavishly decorated and ornamented. The picture is of the great mirrored gallery. It's beautifully light with huge windows overlooking the gardens. The mirrors facing the windows reflect the light into the room and give it a great feeling of space and grandeur. The gardens are interesting, even at this time of year. They are so formal - I'm not sure I've ever seen anything like it at and at such a huge scale.

On Saturday night Jaques took us out for dinner to a favourite restaurant where we had Tournados Rossini .... oh it was heavenly. The restaurant (called Sud Ouest)specialises in the cooking of south western France and was informal and friendly. There were lots of groups having family dinners and celebrations. We met Ivan and Audrey, Jaques grown up children. I hope all these young people will come to visit us here one day - they are all so polite, friendly and fun to talk to.

On Sunday we broke our fast in the traditional way with croissants and coffee and then went off to explore the old town of Paris. This included Place Des Voges and the Old Jewish Quarter where we strolled and window shopped while munching on cheese cake and poppy seed cake. While we were in the area we visited the Picasso Museum. It was very interesting to see a lot of the studies he did before he made a large painting. They also had a special exhibition about the making of the painting "Guernica" and this was also linked to some graphic and thought-provoking photographs of current atrocities of war.

We had a big lunch out and Catherine prepared another special dinner. This was "Raclette". There is a hot plate on the table and you melt a special kind of cheese which you pour over sausage, ham and/or potatoes. Yum, yum.

On Monday Jaques and Catherine went back to work and Flora to school so we were on our own. We decided to walk to Montmartre, which we did in about 45 minutes. It was interesting to pound the streets - you have time to look at the architecture, smell the food smells coming out of the restaurants, stop and goggle at interesting activities. We climbed up the various stepped streets to the top of Montmartre and visited the Sacre Coeur Basilica. It's very impressive inside and out and the view over Paris from the front door is spectacular. Unfortunately, it was a bit damp and misty and not very good for photography.

We weren't impressed by the shops in Montmartre as they were all touristy and selling tacky gifts. It was a pity as the small streets looked interesting and it might have been fun to wander around. However, we slowly descended from the Sacre Coeur, fending off pick pockets and street vendors and found a small bistro where we had a delicious lunch of lamb stew and polished off a bottle of Beaujolais. Then we took a walk down Boulevard Haussman looking into the windows of Galleries Lafayette and Printemps. These big department stores have their windows decked out for Christmas and have those wonderful moving displays we used to love as children. John and I are still fascinated by the animations and spent a good deal of time watching all the details and having a good laugh. By the time we'd finished window shopping it was time to wander home to get ready to Jaques et. al for dinner which was in a local creperie.

On Tuesday we set off on another walking adventure. We thought we might take a bus, but only one passed us and it was full and overflowing. We managed to walk from Clichy to the Tuilleries Gardens on the Seine in about an hour and a half. We were heading for the Musee d'Orsay where the Impressionist paintings are, but when we got there we found it was half closed because of the strikes so we decided not to go in. Instead we found another restaurant where we had another good lunch and then we strolled home again taking a very circular route which included walking along the left bank of the Seine, up a boulevard where we found an Art Deco church from 1938 which we found very beautiful inside and out, around the Arc De Triomphe and back along various streets and boulevards to Clichy.

It was good to be able to see Paris on foot as it meant for a more leisurely pace. Neither of us had a huge agenda to follow. There are lots of places we would like to see including the Louvre and Notre Dame, but they will wait for another time. In the evening we went to a Japanese restaurant. The food was fresh and delicious. We had sushi and skewered meats along with soup and salads. It was a great treat for us as there is no Japanese restaurant in Church Stretton.

Next day, Jaques went off to a congress so Catherine took us to the Gare Du Nord where we had lunch and then said "Goodbye". We were home by 8:30. We both agreed that we'd had a wonderful trip, the French were very friendly and helpful and we really enjoyed ourselves.