Posted in Thoughts on life and spirituality

Coronavirus Diaries: Stay Safe, Stay At Home

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I wrote this post on May 9. Since then (June 6), lockdown has eased a little and we can now meet others outside. I met Simon for a walk half way between our two counties and my friend Caroline for a ‘social distanced’ cup of tea in her garden.

The worst thing for me personally are the negative feelings. Thankfully, these are always temporary and don’t last long, my wellbeing is generally okay, but I am aware that the pandemic and lockdown must be affecting many people in so many adverse ways.

If you’re suffering from mental illness and need help, please look up a mental health charity/services based in the country you live in and get in touch with them for advice. (For the UK, there’s https://www.mind.org.uk)

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May 9: Many of us around the world will be going through a weird dystopian phase right now thanks to a virus. In Britain, we are currently in lockdown, it has been called a ‘soft’ one as we are allowed out for exercise.

Even though this is supposedly ‘soft’, this is affecting people badly in so many ways.

In Britain we have a slogan – Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. I am working from home but for broadband reasons I work from my parents’ house. We are effectively two reclusive households (living two miles apart) behaving as one.

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I go to the small Tesco convenience supermarket about 8pm, it’s quieter then. I have walked the family dogs, Teddy and Molly, in quiet country lanes and in suburban settings, moving away from passers-by – and they from me – as if we all have the plague.

I haven’t seen my partner Simon for nearly two months. A long-distance relationship of ten years, we usually meet every three weeks. I think, hope, we can survive this uncertainty as a couple.

I stay in touch with friends via texts and messages. Maybe I will get the hang of video hangouts one day.

I spend my weekdays working and my weekends with my animals, reading through my To Be Read list, working through a course and writing. There is the decluttering which I keep putting off but needs doing as well…

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My lockdown pile of books

At night, I have started having wistful dreams of visiting secondhand book shops and going for a swim. Choosing a gym.

I am having flashbacks of previous weekends away and holidays, days out and meeting friends and family. The fear of climbing down Helvellyn and other mountains (and the exhilaration afterwards) and the simple pleasure of a pot of tea in a village cafe or browsing in a book shop for an hour.

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I miss seeing Simon and my friends.

Having the freedom to go places without stressing about social distance or ‘is this even allowed?’

I’ve worked in a precarious industry for years so job uncertainty has always been the background for me – but I always thought if and when I got made redundant, there would be other jobs, other opportunities.

Now I’m not so sure.

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Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

Seeing my parents, being around my animals, keeping in touch via technology, nature, reading and writing keeps me going. Being an introvert and happy in my own company helps.

But this is only my story, how are others faring? So far, this virus and the lockdown hasn’t touched me too badly compared to others. Others have died, lost loved ones, lost jobs or businesses… This pandemic will hurt many of us in some way.

The irony is that I felt last year went too fast, I wanted it to slow down. 2020? I can’t wait for it to be over and normality to return.

 

 

 

Posted in Environment, Environmental issues, Thoughts on life and spirituality

Our World: Coronavirus

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One of the things which is helping me through this strange time is nature. Watching the starlings frolicking about on the lawn and great tits move in and out of their bird box in my garden, presumably feeding youngsters, has helped me appreciate the simple but important things in life.

Ironically, nature is (unless you believe in the 5G theory or that the virus originates from a lab) also the cause of coronavirus.

It is my belief that cruelty to animals and a total contempt for nature has resulted in coronavirus.

The ‘wet markets’ are absolutely horrific from what I’ve heard. They sell dead and live animals in closely confined spaces and the animals are butchered on the site. These markets are extremely cruel – there are no animal welfare standards – and unhygienic. 

Is it any wonder that interfering with the natural world has resulted in this catastrophe?

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Scientists all over the world are working on a vaccine.

When there will be a vaccine, I don’t know, but in the meantime many of us are suffering.

We have either suffered from coronavirus itself; know someone who has had it – or even died from Covid-19; are stressing about our jobs; missing our freedom and loved ones; suffering from domestic violence, family tensions, a decline in mental or physical health … The list goes on.

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Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

My fear is that, for as long as we humans interfere with nature, these viruses will continue to grow, mutate and spread. We are supposed to live alongside nature, not destroy it. I wonder if this attitude of contempt will eventually destroy us, the human species.

 

 

 

Posted in Fitness challenges

Fitness Challenge: 2019

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Oh dear, the last time I wrote my Fitness Challenge diary it was last July. Now it’s February, the following year!

Here’s a quick review of the last six months, what went well, what went wrong and what I’ve learnt.

July to December 

I started having personal training sessions in June and this continued until the second week of November. A total of five months of consecutive weight-based exercise twice a week.

Now commitment to exercise has always been a problem for me. I get bored, I start wishing I was sitting with a good novel and a lovely cup of tea, I start dreaming of cake…

But this actually worked… For a while.

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The sessions were held at 8am, Tuesday and Thursday, at my local gym. They weren’t extortionate but not cheap either, so I wanted to make it worthwhile going. Paying for the 45-minute sessions and having to meet the personal trainer twice a week did made me feel accountable.  Although I did cancel a couple of times, it wasn’t as easy as just deciding “I can’t be bothered going to the gym”. I felt as if I had to have a good reason. Which is good for motivation!

So twice a week, apart from the odd time I cancelled, I headed to the training sessions. I did lunges, sit-ups, press-ups, squats, arm and leg weight exercises among others. The variety stopped me from getting bored.

During the week, I took myself down to the gym for cardio exercises.

K, the personal trainer, suggested a weight loss app and a calorie intake of 1,300 calories a day. Now, my aim was to be fitter and fit into my clothes again. But counting calories wasn’t really something I was too interested in. I still wanted to eat cake! But I did want to become a healthy and fit woman.

So I tried. For a while.

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And it worked. My weight dropped nearly a stone, my too-tight clothes started to fit again and people started to notice I was losing weight.

In all my months of fitness challenges, this was the first time this happened!

But the summer months turned into the autumn months of October and November. 6am was once a bright and light time to wake up and an apt time to let the hens out before getting fit. How constructive a morning for me and the chickens!

But by October, the hens were still fast asleep at 7.45am, never mind 6am (quite sensible too). But I felt more and more sluggish waking up at such an unearthly hour. And although it felt worthwhile after the session, beforehand I felt like I’d lost my motivation.

And of course, Christmas was coming soon, together with all its edible treats. Did I really want to continue paying for a trainer and counting calories when I would want to be eating Christmas pudding and the like?

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So I stopped, for now. I did find a personal trainer a fantastic motivation but, personally, I would prefer to tie that in with a challenge to aim for. Working with K was good in the beginning but by the fifth month, I needed a new goal as I started to feel aimless.

That’s no reflection on the trainer. As I said, it worked and I saw and felt the physical and mental effects. But motivation becomes an issue for me, especially during the winter months.

So this year I thought if I tie in personal challenges during the year with, possibly, a personal trainer for a month or so for the bigger challenges, this might work. Maybe.

Ironically, while I focused on personal training, my walk challenge didn’t do so well. I aimed for 1,000 miles by the end of the year. Instead, I walked 817. That means an extra 200 on top of my 1,000 target this year!

So my first challenge is Fitness February, with an attempt to try to do some type of exercise every day.

Posted in Fitness challenges

Fitness Challenge 2019: June/July

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JUNE – Goal: 100 miles by the end of the month

I started June on a high with the 21-mile Preston Guild Wheel walk on Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2.

And then, on the third day of the month, I had a consultation with a personal trainer.

The fourth day? I started personal training sessions.

I was on a roll.

Funnily enough, after the Guild Wheel walk, I didn’t think I would be working out for at least a week afterwards!

Meeting up with a personal trainer, and the resulting weigh-in, made me feel more accountable to go to the gym at 8am twice a week. I was getting up early for the hens and didn’t go to work until 10am, and the gym was five minutes away from my home and work so the logistics worked.

It was a pay-by-month with no contract which also suited.

In the meantime, I tried to go to the gym every day the rest of the week, allowing myself a day off. This is unlike Lazy Clare who usually bores of a regular gym routine very quickly but the convenience of the location made it much easier to drop in for 30 minutes.

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When I went to the gym, I used the treadmill, rower, cross-trainer and the bike. So far, I haven’t got bored (touch wood!)

I also went to Zumba on two occasions, one on Thursday and one on Sunday. Both were fun, the Sunday Zumba was very fast and energetic! And even better, she had excellent taste in music!

Notable Walks

Guild Wheel

A 21-mile walk around the outskirts of Preston. The ‘wheel’ is popular with cyclists, but also used by walkers, families and dog walkers. I stayed at the Tickled Trout Hotel on the Saturday after walking seven miles, and the remaining 14 miles was completed on Sunday. It was a pleasant day on Saturday, with lunch at Brockholes Nature Reserve, and a more difficult day on Sunday, with resulting tired legs.

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Wales – Bethesda to Cym Pen to Ilafar

Simon and I stayed in North Wales for our holiday this year. Our holiday cottage was located in Bethesda and, from there, we went on a valley walk along the River Afon Llafar. The setting was beautiful but not a soul to be found. Were they all climbing Snowdon instead? Curious sights included an old dam and weir, meadow pippit and wheatear. Unfortunately I wore my trainers rather than walking shoes so ended up with a blister! Ouch. Will I ever learn?!

Aberglaslyn Pass – From Beddgelert, Wales

Beddgelert is a pretty village with a tragic canine legend. We passed the grave and bronze sculpture of the faithful hound, Gelert. He was killed because of a fatal mistake by his owner, Prince Llywelyn, who assumed the dog had killed his son. The truth was that he had killed a wolf and saved the prince’s child. Following on from this poignant, if potentially legendary site, we carried on to the Fisherman’s Path, along the Afon Glaslyn River. The path is narrow here. In fact, it’s so tight that there are handholds. We then walked up Cym Bychan where we encountered the remains of old copper mines and an aerial ropework, built in 1927 to transport ore.

Rhosneigr, Anglesey, Wales

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This was a delightful, easygoing beach walk starting from the ancient Barclodiad-y-Gawres, a neolithic stone cairn dating from 2,500 BC, to the little seaside town of Rhosneigr. Along the beach we came across sea glass, seashells, wild flowers including pyramid orchid, meadow cranesbill and sea thyme. Skippers, holly blue and small heaths fluttered by.

Newborough Commons and Beach, Anglesey, Wales

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A magical place with wild horses. Our ramble along Newborough Beach led us to the tiny tidal Llanddwyn Island. An incredibly beautiful place with an ancient stone cross and the ruins of St Dwynwen’s Church. The Welsh patron saint of lovers (the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine), St Dwynwen is associated with this island.

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July – Goal 100 miles by the end of the month

Ironically I hadn’t gone to many gym classes even though that was one of my incentives for joining a gym. However, I took part in Zumba twice in July, enjoying both times.

I became ambitious and tried a virtual spin class (an indoor cycling class with stationary bikes). 🚴

The super-fit instructors were on a large screen. Alas, I was late and felt self-conscious. The class had more people than I expected, the bike had more buttons and controls than I expected and it was faster and seemingly more advanced than I expected.

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I left after about 15 minutes. I will try again at a future time, when I am fitter and more confident. I aim to arrive earlier too!

I continued with the personal training and gym sessions. The personal training is more weight-based, my independent gym sessions are cardio. By the end of July, formerly tight clothing was becoming a little looser and I had lost a few pounds.

I could now do with a new walking challenge to test my fitness!

Otherwise, apart from the two notable walks mentioned below, it was a case of walking the family dogs and walking the three miles into town.

Notable Walks

Saltby National Nature Reserve, Lincolnshire 

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It’s amazing how beautiful spots such as this nature reserve can be so quiet and feel so remote away from people. We only encountered a few dog walkers. One rescue dog we encountered had two different coloured eyes, very unusual. At certain times of the year, seals can be found but not in July. We did encounter a seal skull however. Remnants of the Second World War can be seen here too with a derelict bunker and decaying tank located on the beach.

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Stair Arms Hotel to Crichton Castle, Scotland

My mum and I visited The Stair Arms Hotel, Pathhead, while on a visit to relatives in Scotland. This historic coaching inn was a mere three miles or so from Crichton Castle. Or so the signs said. Walking along the country road, it felt rather longer than the miles stated on the sign. Oddly, the way back felt much shorter! 🚶

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90.5 Miles