In order to do something different each week of the year, I have a list of challenges to undertake...

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Week 26 - De-clutter the Wardrobe

You do have to be in the right mood and have the good level of steely determination to chuck clothes out.

I reckon that this is partly because you've paid good money for those clothes and now you are throwing them away! That's like throwing money away!

The other reason is that those lovely clothes have been part of your life; maybe seen you through a job interview, or to a dance where you met someone special, or shared the trials and triumphs of growing food from the soil...

So when I had the required level of ruthlessness earlier in the week, I opened the wardrobe doors, and started. When did you last wear it? Does it go with anything else in the wardrobe? Does it fit? Is it still in good condition? Do you feel good it in?

And an hour or so later (trying stuff on is a must, doing this job) I had a slimmed down wardrobe and a hanger full of items destined for the charity shop.

An interesting mix, this - including

  • some black velvet long evening gloves (when would you possibly wear these?) 
  • a heavy arran tunic with short sleeves (so you can roast your torso whilst your arms turn blue with cold) 
  • a leather lace up waistcoat (I have no idea why this ever seemed like a good purchase) 
  • a mustard yellow pashmina (given up with sadness - I bought it on the QE2, and it's beautiful but I'm not a 'wrap' person and it deserves better than to languish in my wardrobe) 
  • a soft viscose blouse (lovely to wear, but always makes me look scruffy and unkempt) 
  • a matching silky cream nightie & dressing gown (a nice idea, but I don't think I've worn these more than about three times) 
  • my brother's school tie (dating back 30 years no idea why I have this) 
  • the red and black sash from a black taffeta skirt (similar vintage to the tie - no idea what happened to the skirt) 

...and various skirts and a couple of tops that have just fallen out of favour. All were bagged up and taken to the charity shop - I hope they all find a new lease of life.



So that's my week 26 challenge - done!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Week 25 - Celebrate the Solstice

I could have taken the easy way out of this one and celebrated the winter solstice (= get up to get the sun up at approx 8.15am), but that felt like a bit of a cop out, so the Summer Solstice it was at approx 4.45am instead.

Anyone who knows me will be crying with laughter at this point as I am categorically NOT an early bird - my absolute pet hate is the alarm clock, and I can ALWAYS roll over and go back to sleep, no matter what the hour is. So getting up really early to see the sunrise on the longest day is a good Challenge for me.

I looked up online how one celebrates the Solstice, and apart from going to Stonehenge, or dancing round a maypole, there seems to be a lack of traditions.

So I made some up.

Aurora is the Roman goddess of the dawn, and in yoga, I know that there is a series of moves called Sun Salutation. So what better than to go to the highest point I know (just above the Hill allotments, 3 miles away) before dawn; and perform a sun salutation as the sun comes up, and drink a toast to the goddess. 


The one problem with this scenario (apart from the obvious loony-alert of parking up in a lane in the middle of the night to do a spot of yoga in the entry to a farmer's field, then swig out of a hip flask) was that the weather forecast was very poor - black clouds and rain followed by mist/fog. Not much chance of seeing the sun come up, then.

My plan B was a compromise which would be to get up in time to get in the car to complete my challenge should the weather be fair, BUT if there was no prospect of being able to see the sun come up due to the weather, to do my observance here at home.

So come the Big Day on Friday, I was up and ready at 4.15am, and looked out into the gloom. It was misty and drizzly. Plan B, therefore, kicked in.

I padded downstairs, took a big towel outside and faced to look due east; and at just about 4.40am I stood and stretched and performed my sun salutation in the rain; then raised a glass of gin & orange in a toast to Aurora. Then I whizzed upstairs to the attic room take photos of the dawn (such that it was) as the sun (apparently) came up at 4.44am.

Well, you ain't getting pics of me doing yoga in the rain, but here's the dawn, such as it was (and the proof of the time!), and my toast.

I felt awake and invigorated for, I think, the first time ever at that time in the morning! That said, I went back to bed for a couple of hours - and could I get up when the hated alarm went off in the morning?

Could I heck.

Nonetheless, that's my week 25 Challenge: done!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Week 24 - Go Round a Maze

I don't know why it is, but I have always been fascinated with labyrinths and mazes - probably down to a misspent youth sitting round a big table playing too much in the way of Dungeons and Dragons with my big brother and his mates.

Every now and again in later Summer I'll be out and about and see a sign for a MAIZE MAZE where a maze has been cut in a farmer's field in the shape of a maze (or sown accordingly, I guess, so it grows into the shape), and wanted to check it out, but I have never got round to it.

So when I was away for a girls' weekend with my big sister Helen this week in London, we decided to spend a day in Hampton Court Palace. And what's at Hampton Court Palace? Yes - the world famous Hampton Court Maze. Hurrah!

When we got in, Helen had a Plan, and said 'let's always choose the most unlikely path - like the one going towards the outside and not towards the middle.'

Well, I said that that sounded like a really stupid idea to me, and would result in us going round and round and round until dinner time and we'd have to be rescued by the Staff.

But - and this was most irritating - she was RIGHT, and despite a couple of false turns, we eventually found ourselves in the middle! And here is Helen in the middle to prove it.

That was tremendous fun! And my week 24 Challenge - done!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Week 23 - Clear out the Kitchen Cupboards

My brilliant kitchen has only been here for a couple of years, and so is still pretty shiny and new to me.

Given that this is the case, you'd think that there was a limited amount of stuff that I'd built up, but every now and again I find a cake tin that hasn't seen action since the kitchen was installed; and the number of times I move the dust covered pasta maker to one side to reach something else...

I coupled the thought that I ought to to have a sort out with the idea of going through the cookery books I'd accumulated, and then what about the jars and packets that might be out of date; and before I knew it I had a Challenge on my hands!

Taking everything out of each cupboard in turn, I separated the contents into 'keep' and 'chuck'; wiped the cupboard down, inside and out, and put all the 'keeps' back in.

I learned some interesting facts about sell by dates - I can understand herbs and spices loosing there potency over time, but really, rice with a sell by date?

There's a pile of recipe books and (the more presentable) tins for the charity shop, and a clean, neat and tidy kitchen that I can be proud of once again!

 So that's my week 23 Challenge: done!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Week 22 - Run in the Great Midlands Fun Run

To say that I am not a runner is one of the world's biggest understatements. If you give me the choice between (a) cleaning the windows and (b) going for a run; despite the windows thing being about as unappealing as you can get, it would probably win out over the run.

I started to run a bit, though, at the beginning of last year in order to lose a pound or two - a bit further each day, until I built up my distance to about 5km at a time. I might not enjoy running, but it has the advantage of being both free to do, and is (literally) on the doorstep. I put my name down for the Great Midlands Fun Run as a motivator - got to keep it up or I would drop dead whilst trying to slog round 8.5 miles.

My big brother most certainly is a runner. He is a gym-every-morning-before-work kind of guy who would feels most miserable if he can't run - so after last year's run (after which I hung up my trainers with a great deal of pleasure), he asked if I was going to enter again this year, as he would also like to have a go.

I may have alluded to sibling rivalry previously, so when this gauntlet was thrown down, there was no going back. My training this year has been what you might charitably call patchy, until I got back from holiday at the beginning of last month and panicked - the four week intensive training schedule was on!

So in today's event, big brother beat his own target and come in after an impressive 1 hr 6 mins (he'll be in the top 300-400 finishers out of 7,000 in that time); and I came in about halfway down the field in 1 hr 40 mins.

At the start (courtesy of the Birmingham Mail) ...

And after we finished...

I may not have broken any records, but I ran the whole course non stop, and have therefore completed my week 22 Challenge!