Month: April 2015

So today at Zumba I decided that I’d dance with my hair lose to see what it would be like. And I am so glad I did. I felt that I really did get into it more. I felt like one of those well-toned swishing hair ladies (even if the reality is far from that) and that feeling made me dance more, lift my legs higher, swish my arms about further and jump more madly. I loved dancing with my hair loose. It was like being back in the Lemmy on a Friday night circa 1991.

I swooshed my hair here most Friday and Saturday nights in the early 1990s

Where I swooshed my hair most Friday and Saturday nights in the early 1990s

So what is the other way to burn more calories, I hear you ask?

The answer is: dance in front of a fan. Today at Zumba, due to  the warmer weather, we had two large fans blowing cool air at us and I happened to be positioned in front of one of them. This aided the swooshing feeling with the hair, and also helped me jump up and down more as I wasn’t quite so hot as normal. I felt like a Wella shampoo advert. I had a brilliant Zumba session today.

Dance in front of this

Dance in front of this

I truly believe that long hair and a fan help increase the calorie burn rate. I need to borrow one of those calorie burn rate calculator wrist things to test my theory.

Not everyone has long hair though so they won’t be able to try this method (or half of it – fans are easy to come by). To those unfortunate people, I’d suggest borrowing a wig. I am sure that it will work. It just needs to be tested before I spread the word around the world.

Is she wearing a wig?

Is she wearing a wig?

 

Comforting things

This evening I’m watching The Wolf of Wall Street and a particular scene has just now invoked a ‘weird thought’ (I’m not on the toilet as we don’t have a TV in the toilet).

This film is doing a Proust

This film is doing a Proust

The scene in question showed one of the characters driving through the night with the street lights passing over him in a rhythmic way. Watching this, I felt that sudden Proustian nostalgia, not from the taste of something but from the sight of something. This scene caused me to remember sitting in the back of the car on the way back from Worcester to Stafford as a child and feeling comforted and lulled into a cosy doze by the passing of street light beams over me, over the seat in front, over the windscreen, in a rhythmic fashion: repeat, repeat, repeat.

I love night driving

I love night driving

This prompted me to remember other such comforting things. There are a number of other pulls on my senses that I frequently come across as an adult. Interestingly, they pull on different senses.

Radio 4 is one of them. I love Radio 4. This effects the sense of hearing. If I feel sad, I feel better if I listen to Radio 4. If I can’t sleep, I sleep if I listen to Radio 4. I have two theories as to why this is. Firstly, I’m told that my mum used to put the radio at the bottom of my cot to soothe me and it was often tuned into Radio 4. Secondly, on long car journeys (day or night) my mum would sit with a large radio on her knee, which would be tuned into Radio 4 (these were the days before in-car radios).

I love a bit of Radio 4 when I'm feeling low

I love a bit of Radio 4 when I’m feeling low

Another comforting ‘thing’ is for me squash, especially orange squash, this time felt by the sense of taste.

As for the sense of touch. A ribboned edging on a wool blanket evokes comfort for me. It might be fairly obvious why this causes me comfort. These types of blankets were popular in the 1970s.

I want one!

I want one!

These objects and the feelings they provoke are all based on my childhood memories. Children find comfort easily and the memories of this comfort continues into adulthood and although we might not don’t actively seek this comfort out, when we stumble across it, it makes us feel much better.

Psychologists call these objects of comfort, transitional objects. We gather these objects as children as we come to terms with the separation of ourselves from the mother. When we are born we don’t view the mother as a separate being. As we grow from babies to toddlers and realise that the mother is not part of the ‘me’, we become anxious. Then the transitional object acts as the bridge between those two realities. Often these objects are in human form (toys, dolls) or material-based (blankets).

As adults, coming across these old transitional objects gives us the same feeling of comfort and relief from anxiety that we got as a child. My transitional objects are easy to find: street lights in a car at night, old woollen things, squash and Radio 4. Were I to find all in one sitting, I think I’d be extremely happy.

Feeling down? Have a glass of squash.

Feeling down? Have a glass of squash.

Why do we feel less bored moving compared to standing still?

This is my second weird thought of today. Today, we spent some time sitting on random benches in Aberdovey doing nothing and getting bored. This, we found, to be very boring. We also spent some time sitting on the beach, doing nothing. This was also, quite boring. However, sitting in a train without anything to do for two hours was less boring than sitting on a bench for twenty minutes. Why is that?

If only we'd found this bench we might have been less bored

If only we’d found this bench we might have been less bored

At first I thought it was because there is a window to look out of with an ever-hanging landscape. But I am also less bored on an areoplane where the scenery changes very slowly compared to how bored I am sitting still. I am also less bored when travelling at night compared to sitting still (i.e. when there is nothing to look out the window at). So why is sitting doing nothing on a plane or a train less boring than sitting doing nothing whilst being still? Perhaps it is because there is random conversation to eaves drop on. But sometimes the people on planes are sleeping (and the noise on planes is too loud for eavesdropping to be possible). So why? Why?

The unchanging view out of a plane window

The unchanging view out of a plane window

I don’t know the answer.

The myth of the good family day out at the seaside

All through the Easter holidays I’ve been promising my children that we would go to the seaside before school starts up again. I wasn’t just promising this for them, I was promising it for me too. I love the sea.

This urge became all the more intense as during the two weeks we were rumbling around at home together I saw many photographs on Facebook of happy, smiling children paddling in the sea, playing in the sand and happy grownups basking in the sunshine. I wanted to be them. So many of my friends had headed to the coast over Easter. They looked so happy.

The urge gradually became so intense that today, two days before school is due to start up again, we decided that we just had to go. So under the pretense of being spontaneous, today I got the children up earlier than normal, forced them to get dressed quickly, eat, get ready and shooed them off to the train station. We were going to have a nice, leisurely family day-out to Aberdovey.

I chose Aberdovey because I love Aberdovey. We’ve been to Aberdovey many times before, most memorably, in a snowstorm (albeit a little one). Can you tell how cold we are?

 

Do we look cold?

Do we look cold?

Do I remember that day fondly? Yes, I do. Do I remember being cold? Vaguely. But more than that I remember seeing  snow on the mountains, drinking warm coffee in a cafe and the lovely sea in October. Do I love Aberdovey? Yes, it has many great memories for me from my childhood and beyond. It is a beautiful, slightly bohemian, slightly middle-class, quaint little Welsh seaside town. It is picturesque. It has boats, crabbing, shops, Fat Face and cafes. It has plenty of sand and a long stretch of calm sea water (not quite ‘the sea’).

Would I live there if I were rich enough? Perhaps.

However, today Aberdovey let me down. I will sum up today in four words: cold, windy, moany, children.

Today, we had a crap day. I’m not usually very moany. I would say that I’m a cross between a Piglet and a Tigger. I’m not an Eeyore. But today I feel like Eeyore. I didn’t have a fun day today.

Here is how the day went:
The train journey to Aberdovey starts off well, but is a little fraught when we realise that we are in the wrong end of the train. We are in the end that hurtles off to Aberystwyth not the end that goes north to Pwllheli. That is normally a problem easily rectified but number one son finds that experience very stressful. Even after we move carriages he isn’t happy in case we are still in the wrong end.

Our train

Our train

We arrive in sunny Aberdovey at 11.20-ish, in time for a quick stroll along the beach and perhaps a sit and a play before lunch. The plan at this point is to catch the 5.30pm train home so we have plenty of time.

However, we soon see that the beach is deserted and worse than that, it is freezing cold. The sun is shining brightly, but it is cold. With the wind, it is even colder. And  also with the wind, it is like being in a desert storm. We last ten minutes sitting on the beach. Nobody wants to play.

This is Aberdovey should look like in the sunshine

This is Aberdovey should look like in the sunshine

‘Let’s go around the shops’ I suggest. The children heartily agree that that is a good idea. We last another ten minutes. They don’t like the shops in Aberdovey much (not even Fat Face). It is now approximately 11.50am. Too early for lunch.

‘Let’s just walk,’ I suggest. So we do. We walk up the street that runs alongside the sea front until number one son points out that there is no longer any pavement and he is scared for his life. I persuade him to persevere. We walk for another ten minutes. At that point number one son starts to panic that we were going too far away and there is ‘nothing this way anyway so what’s the point?’. We turn around and return to the main street in Aberdovey.

The time is now 12.08pm. Still too early for lunch. We see a nice brown bench (brown = absorbs sunlight so warm). We sit on it shivering until number three son gets bored. So we then resume our walking and as we get closer to the sea, the wind picks up again. Number two son starts to complain about the cold.

The time is now 12.25pm. We decide that we can now legitimately have lunch. The children want to go inside for lunch. However, I don’t have quite enough cash to pay for a sit-down-everyone-will-want-a-drink-as-well-as-food-and-it-will-be-overpriced lunch so I tell them that we can only really afford fish and chips to eat on the beach.  Number two child starts to protest ‘but it’s far too cold to eat on the beach!!’. But we have no choice. We walk all the way along the main street of Aberdovey until we come to the one and only fish and chip shop. We order. Everyone seems perky enough. We find another bench to sit on to eat (bench number two). However, this bench is less sheltered than the brown bench mentioned earlier and is less brown (i.e. absorbs less heat). Number three son then drops his chips all over the floor before he’s eaten one. This causes tears. So we use the ‘three second rule’ liberally and cope. We eat. The wind then most kindly blows my hair into my ketchup and batters against my glasses smearing ketchup all over them. This is not fun. I am not happy. The children moan. I moan. We all declare in unison that we want to go home. The next train is 1.30pm.  Far too early. We compromise on the 3.30pm train.

The time drags itself to 1.15pm and we decide to walk around the shops again. After a quick toilet break we walk up the hill past Fat Face and find another lovely warm bench (bench number three). We sit on it. We last twenty minutes before number three son gets bored.

‘Let’s try the beach one more time’, I suggest. We try the beach. We last a whopping 30 minutes. I’m crying by this point (with the wind and sand in my eyes).

How Aberdovey felt today

How Aberdovey felt today

Now it is about 2.30pm and I tell the children we need to head for the train station at 3pm for a 3.30pm train (it doesn’t take 30 minutes to walk there).

‘Let’s go around the shops again,’ I suggest. So we do. We manage to stretch this third shopping trip to 3pm including the purchase of sticks of rock for all and then we get the train home. We are at the train station for twenty minutes. The journey home is fine.

Today was not a good day on the beach. So my weird thought is (in the toilet of course), is it me, or was it the wind, or are all those other people on Facebook who claim to be having a fantastic family togetherness day out in April at the beach BIG FAT LIARS?

The next question to ask is: did I post a happy on-the-beach photo to Facebook today? Of course I did! The myth needs to be perpetuated.

This is our 'smile for facebook' photo

This is our ‘smile for facebook’ photo

We need a between Easter and Christmas day off

This is the weird thought I had the other day. From September ist to December 24th we get ready for Christmas. From December 26th to mid-April-ish depending on the moon we get ready for Easter. But we have nothing to get ready for between April and September 1st. We have no special holiday with presents and food. I think we need another holiday / excuse to buy presents or chocolate / excuse to have a few days off to do nothing but watch TV, argue, eat and sleep.

It took four months to get ready for this

It took four months to get ready for this

You can buy these on Boxing Day

You can buy these on Boxing Day

I suppose we could big-up Hallowe’en for want of anything in August or September to celebrate. Hallowe’en isn’t much o f an event and the government hasn’t yet granted us the day off nor do we generally give presents. I think we should. I suggest we have a day off and give each other chocolate pumpkins.

These look yummy

These look yummy

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