Scared Dentist & Fed Up Sheep

It’s raining, it’s pouring, it is fab! You really get to the stage living in Saudi when you pray for rain and in particular rain that is dust and sand free.

Well, today is the day. It is pouring in bucket loads, so much so that raining cats and dogs just does not fit the bill and raining men would be debatable under the Trade Descriptions Act.

Nope it is definitely raining in Cumbria, no question about it.


Himself and one of our really good friends have spent the morning going up Whernside and have just dripped their way back through the door – it must be pretty grotty as they came back here instead of carrying on down to the pub, now that must be one heck of a lot of rain!

So, we have wet, soggy and fed up sheep. As I write and glance out of the window they are looking pretty forlorn and dejected – not there usual cheerful, bouncing, barring selves.


So, anyway saw my inaugural visit to the local Cumbrian dentist. I am pleased and more than a little relieved to say that I am not one of those people who is terrified of the dentist and so do not have sleepless nights and tranquillisers before each visit. It is just something that has to be done – if on an ad hoc basis!

However, since heading off to Saudi we have been a tad lax with our dentistry needs and visits to have the gnashers checked have been few and far between.

The reasons for this are multiple but I have to say that we did register with ‘The Scottish Dentist’ in the centre of Riyadh – Dr Russell. As the title suggests the good Doc was of Scottish origins and had been working in Riyadh for many, many years.

I hasten to add that he was the second practice that we visited, the first one caused a massive amount of concern when on assessment they announced that I needed seven fillings replaced. The only problem with that statement was that I do not have seven fillings in the first place – let alone seven that need replacing. It really did not install a sense of confidence and led to us running at great pace towards the good Doc Russell.

Doc Russell was one of those people that carried an air of aloofness, was an enigma and a psychological puzzle – but you could never quite put your finger on why. With an ability to talk incessantly about anything and everything and continually asking questions and expecting answers while your mouth was full of instruments, every visit was always an adventure – if a tad frustrating.

Anyway, Doc Russell had, on the ad hoc visits we made, kept our teeth in reasonable order, or so I thought, replaced one filling and castigated the gruesome twosome for a lack of thorough brushing.


So, it came as a bit of a shock when we called to make another long overdue appointment with Doc Russell to be told that actually he had died very suddenly and so no, we could not make another appointment.

Now, while I am sure that this had been much more of a downturn for Doc Russell, on a note of lesser importance it left us with a bit of a quandary as we were back to square one with our dentistry requirements.

In typical fashion we acted decisively by doing nothing under the guise of looking at our options and more time ticked by. So, when we arrived in Cumbria this time it became clear that actually now that we are putting down roots here the obvious thing to do was register with a dentist in the near vicinity.

Now, as I was called in I was greeted by a young and clearly dynamic, forward looking dentist. He was initially puzzled by the address on my registration form in Lincolnshire and so the full explanation followed – including the fact that Doc Russell had shuffled off very abruptly and without warning to the great flossing zone in the sky armed with a small mirror, various dental tools and a bottle of Scotch.

Silence fell across the surgery room, the dentist recoiled slightly and even the dental nurse looked puzzled, but I thought no more of it.

As the dentist took a deep breath, gestured towards the chair and apparently invited me to take a seat I too became slightly puzzled.

As the seat sunk back the questions started about Doc Russell – it was at this point that I mentioned that he had not died while he was treating me and ‘don’t worry I am quite safe really’.

I jest not when I say that the relief was palpable – the trusty new dentist commented that he was about to dust off his insurance policies.

Anyway, one thorough assessment, 2 x-rays and much scratching of my teeth later with sharp and pointy implements and I was informed that ‘that’ filling needed replacing again and once a new appointment had been made for the treatment, then the trusty new dentist will do his best to stay alive between now and then so as not to give me some sort of complex.


No comment from the dental nurse though – I suspect she may have a strong sense of self-preservation and may well have a day off next time I wonder in through the door.

Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that ‘Sauce Wars’ is ongoing with very little advance on either side. The small man did ask me to go to ‘that’ aisle in the supermarket which I refused and since then no mention of ‘tomato ketchup’ has been made on either side.

I have to say that the current situation resembles something like Angela Merkal and David Cameron refusing to discuss  ‘Article 50’ – two kids both having a spat!

Anyway, no progress on either side is all that needs to be said.

Right, had a slight mishap in the cooker with an exploding apple and rhubarb crumble, best I go and get the jay cloths out.


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Have We Imploded Yet?…….????

Well, as predicted the world continues to spin, the world has not exploded, the UK has not imploded and quite frankly life continues on as normal.


Regulars to the EIOT blog will know that I have not used the blog to reveal my thoughts and feelings about the Referendum, other than to say that actually politics bores me to tears, I do not trust any politician of any denomination and I did not vote for no other reason than my ballot paper was sent to Riyadh – not much use when I am in Cumbria.


One of my over-riding opinions about last Thursday’s bum-fight was that whichever way it went nobody actually knew what the future held regardless of the result. Staying in, well while there may have been a prescribed route then knowing politicians then that could have been have rewritten at any moment with a complete U-turn and by exiting, well nobody knew what lay ahead on that route either.

So, here we are. The UK is to exit the EU – NOT Europe – just the EU. We found out the result on Friday, 4 days ago. So far the world has not gone bang and the UK has not crumbled to a quivering mass of a bankrupt, unsustainable island floating in a sea of ruin.

So the pound has slumped and share prices have fallen – but so what. Both have been a lot worse than they are now.

What has become apparent though is how some people, organisations and groups have shown their true colours and characters. This applies to both sides – Leave and Remain – who have thrown allegations and abuse without inhibition.


I could live with the result either way, but we need to big, brave and forward looking. What I struggle with is the back-biting, defamation, slander and vilification from people who should know better.

Social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are breeding grounds for animosity and even after 4 days my media feeds are crammed with abuse, allegations and malicious language.

I would just like to say that wake up world, (and UK in particular), we are British, we have dignity and we have honour. It was a democratic vote and we have to stand by the result. Let’s not make ourselves a laughing stock with back-stabbing, rumour-mongering and bitching at each other. We should now be impressing the wider world with our forward vision, entrepreneurship and initiative. We need to attract business from a big wide world, not present ourselves as the clowns in the circus.


Everybody is entitled to an opinion, we do not, have not and will not live in an autocratic society and everybody has a right to vote as they see fit and not as is expected or dictated.

The UK has stood up and been counted, we exited the ERM when it did not work for the UK, we resisted the Euro and benefited as a result and we passed on the Schengen system. Now we have decided to leave the EU, just another case of raising the head above the parapet.

So, for those people who have lost friendships over the Referendum, have either thrown or received abuse for whichever way they voted or have gone into hiding for fear of recrimination, then it is time to build bridges, stand tall, have faith in your belief and your decisions. Get those friendships back, do not be afraid to say sorry or give forgiveness and for goodness sake get back out into the world.


We are the UK for goodness sake, show some strength of character, be proud of your country, welcome other nationalities and don’t be cowed by the small, embittered minorities on either side.

We are better than that.

Anyway, enough of my Referendum woes, time to be slightly more frivolous.

Well, the world has motored on with us at a ferocious rate over the weekend. A mass of gymkhanas, barbecues, music festivals and birthday parties.

Yeap, this weekend was the local music festival – a new adventure for which I have to say we were anything other than prepared.

Now, as the whole world knows this weekend was a slightly larger music festival down in Somerset and quite frankly I assumed that every full-time, part-time and wannabe Hippy was there. WRONG! Nope, the sleepy, small and completely unique village here in deepest Cumbria sprung into life with a large proportion of the visitors in a multi-tude of hippy type attire and clearly intent on enjoying themselves.


The village sprung into a whirlwind of tents, caravans, beaten up motor-homes, immaculate and brand new motor-homes, music and beer.

It was fab!

If I had not seen it then quite frankly I would never have imagined that so many people could be squeezed in, but that said with the sprawling acres of fields then camping space was never going to be an issue.

Fields that on Thursday were home to sheep and cows suddenly spawned porta-loos and became home to tented communities. Flags and wind-socks took over and every trip through the village involved a game of how many flags can we spot.

The over-riding decision was that the radish wearing a hat won the best wind-sock prize!

We were out at a BBQ on Saturday evening, (a jolly fine evening with much hilarity I hasten to add), and as the duty driver I had the pleasure of driving back through the village at around midnight.

Well what an experience!

Usually, when driving through the village at anytime after 2000 you may see the odd moggy or, if you are really lucky, a stray sheep munching on the plant pot outside the pub, but Saturday was hilarious with happy, good natured people enjoying the beer and music throughout the cobbled area – simply superb.

It took about three times as long to get through the village, but who cares – people were happy. To be honest I was tempted to stop the car and join in, but as the gruesome twosome had flaked out in the back and himself was feeling slightly the worse for wear I pressed on for home, listening to Adele and her ‘potty mouth’ live on the radio from the other, slightly larger music festival down south.


This is the type of thing that I wrote about at the start of this post. This is what the UK is about, people from everywhere having fun and enjoying themselves. The local music and beer festival sums it up really – nice one Cumbria!

Right, best go put my rain coat on and light the barbecue!


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Sauce Wars, A Very Tired MAMIL & Damned Referendum…….

I can only presume that the fresh Cumbrian air, countryside, copious amounts of beer, wine and bacon and home made tomato sauce has led to an energy surge and even more extreme sporting challenges for himself.


Yeap, he is enjoying life far too much in the Cumbrian countryside and is adapting far too well to the life of a local.

This is not helped by the weather. According to the radio this morning the rest of the country is being drenched by torrential downpours – well not here. I am sat outside with the sun burning the back of my neck writing today’s missive. The birds are singing, the sheep are baaaarrrrring and the bees are buzzing.


Just to paint the picture a little further the cake making genius that is Katie’s Cakes next door is clearly producing another baking masterpiece while juggling life with two very small children as the smell of yummy cooking is wafting from her open windows to where I am sat and quite frankly making me feel a bit peckish.

So, onto himself. Well, anybody who perused my last set of ramblings will know that finally life has slowed down a bit here in Cumbria and we are able to take stock. Well, yesterday himself was slightly unsettled by this new found down time and announced out of the blue that he was going to pack his rucksack, put his walking boots on and was going to go off up Whernside.


Without any more procrastination he was off, out of the door and away. I ought to mention that Whernside is actually pretty much on the doorstep and so literally within minutes he was on his way.

No problem I thought to myself as I was off to the gym and swimming anyway.

It was a few minutes later that I remembered that himself had been planning a surprise trip over to school on his bike last night to take the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade out for dinner and I did question how he would be with the two way bike trip of quite a few miles after climbing Whernside.

Anyway, having decided that he is a big boy now and in any case I could not get hold of him to ask I went about getting ready to go out and thought nothing more of it.


I was at the gym and pool for sometime and timed my return to call in at school for the small man.

As I stood chatting to his teacher in walked the MAMIL. Yeap, he had climbed Whernside and then cycled to school for the surprise visit to the daughter.

Two thirds of the trips done, but I have to admit to being slightly concerned about the final third.

Oh well, I wasn’t going to drive back to pick him up, there was a G&T with my name on it and I was not going to sacrifice that.


Well, for all my doubting I have to say he did it. He appeared back at the cottage mid way through the Italy V ROI game, flopped onto the settee and there he remained. Well for a while anyway, when he tried to pick himself up he flopped back down again.

Eventually he succeeded, showered and then reappeared with a beer before reinstating himself on the settee.

I did ask how he felt and was greeted with those immortal words, ‘my legs hurt….’

Enough said. But on the plus side the strawberry blond hand grenade was completely taken by surprise and they had a lovely daddy/daughter meal out.

So today I have a tired MAMIL on my hands. Well to be fair not really a MAMIL, more of a middle aged man in shorts and t-shirt. However, the bike is still the focus of his attention, even if he does not have the strength to ride it at the moment.

Yes, this morning we had to go to the bike shop and buy ‘essentials’. Spare inner tubes, a water bottle with holder, a lock holder, a tool kit, a pressure gauge, pump……

All I can say is you never see Bradley Wiggins with all these extras on his bike.

Anyway, sorting out all these gadgets is keeping himself busy and out of the way. Long may it continue.

So, its referendum day. I don’t tend to get involved in politics and try to avoid controversy on the blog. The main reason for this is that I try not to cause angst – after all people are less likely to donate to the cause if I upset them.

The other reason is that quite frankly politics bores me to tears and while I appreciate whole heartedly the relevance of the IN/OUT shake it all about vote of today, I honestly do not know which is the best way to go.

My first concern is the quality of information that has been given on all sides. I am more than slightly taken aback that people honestly still think the Referendum is about voting to leave Europe. We are NOT leaving Europe! We are not geographically going to shift, it is the EU – something completely different!


You see I do not trust any of the leading lights in either campaign and more to the point I honestly do not think that anybody, (not even the most learned scholars of European Policy), actually know the true implications of either staying in or legging it out of the EU quicker than Tim Peake re-entering the earth’s atmosphere.

In short I am firmly of the opinion that in both cases we going to be groping our way in the dark but either way we will be fine in the long run. I think it is just a case of whether or not we are more copy with a grope in the dark accompanied by Boris Johnson or David Cameron – to be honest neither light my fire.


So, it is probably a good job that despite my best efforts I cannot vote today. I tried, believe me I tried. I registered before the deadline and was duly sent an email saying ‘Congratulations, You are now registered as an overseas voter’, you will be able to vote as of July 1. Anyway, after a subsequent email conversation with a lady who was clearly beleaguered, hassled and overworked with referendum questions it was clear that yes I could vote but she was bound by red tape and bureaucracy, (from the EU perhaps??), that said she had to send the standard email out that did not make it at all clear that actually I am able to vote in the Referendum.

By this point this very polite but obviously hard-pressed council employee at Wiltshire County Council had my unquestioning sympathy, so I thanked her for her time and backed off my attack – I had after all got the information I needed.

A few days ago I wondered where my ballot card was and on further investigation I found out – it is in Riyadh. Yeap, despite me making it clear that I am actually in the UK at the moment, my ballot card is somewhere between Wiltshire and Riyadh and lets be honest about the with the Saudi postal system, (which on a good day barely exists), then it is unlikely to be in our post box in anycase.

So, I am scuppered. Even if I knew the implications of the IN/OUT shake it all about vote, even if I had a vague sense of trust in any of the figures on either side, even if Nigel Farage wasn’t a sneaky, smarmy so and so, even if Boris Johnson hadn’t chosen the ‘Out’ Campaign just to further his own Prime Ministerial ambitions, (gee that’s worked – not), and even if David Cameron did know the price of a pint of milk, (or was it a loaf of bread, I honestly cannot remember), then to be honest I would not feel particularly well informed in anyway.

Then of course there is Jean-Claude Juncker – well isn’t he a little bundle of laughs…..

So, it is probably a blessing in disguise that my ballot paper is currently somewhere in the land of sand and I cannot vote. I do not trust any of them.

OK – enough of that boring stuff, onto training!

Yeap, fab training day yesterday, hours in the gym followed by consolidation of my learning last weekend in Lake Windermere. Loved it, had a great time and shoulders ache.

My resistance bands have arrived for shoulder strength work and my slam balls are down the hill waiting for me having been delivered today. I think I may need to enlist the help of himself to get them up the rather steep hill in the car, about 25KG of slam balls are not going to be carried up a steep Cumbrian hill any other way and somehow I think even the ever resourceful Katie from Katie’s Cakes would struggle to find a way of getting them up here without some form of motorisation – it would I am sure even be a step too far for her usual ‘Modus Operandi’ of balancing things on the pushchair and power walking up the hill.


No, best get in the car and head down to get them in the near future.

Right, himself has retired to his iPad and is currently googling the best way and position of attaching a bike lock holder to his bike. I expect I will see him in due course having watched several YouTube videos and joined several cycling forums on the subject and he will be completely genned up about bike lock positioning in relation to tyre pressure, chain wear, gear ratios and lycra wear and tear.

I would love to know if Mrs Wiggins has to put up with all this…..

You will, I am sure, not be surprised to hear that ‘Sauce Wars’ is continuing with no major shift in stance from any party. That said the small man did inadvertently admit yesterday that he does like himself’s homemade piccalilli – a mistake that he rapidly tried to cover up and he has since refused to even eat that.


No, the homemade tomato sauce and barbecue sauce remains untouched by the small man, (good job really with the state of his hands), but is being enjoyed by everybody else.

The Heinz Tomato Ketchup aisle at Booths remains unfrequented by us at all costs.

Right, off to fetch the slam balls…..


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There is only one Mr Tommo - thank goodness!

Vroom, Vroom……Flop……….☹️☹️☹️☹️

Listen, I don’t know what you can hear, but all I can hear is the sound of sheep in the fields, birds in the trees and oh yes, himself thudding around the kitchen on a mission to make homemade mayonnaise to go with tonight’s barbecue.

Yeap, everything here in glorious Cumbria is great and after a couple of weeks of literally running around like blue-arsed flies we actually have a few minutes to take stock, slow down and catch our breath.

The last two weeks have been chaos, between birthdays, school runs, swimming, catching up with UK stuff, school events and general niff naff and triv it has been hard to believe that we are actually meant to be on holiday.

Anyway, it could be that I am being blatantly over optimistic and hurtling towards a major disappointment or that actually we have done all the hectic stuff and can now get on with life in Cumbria for a few weeks.

Yeap, himself even found time to pull on his lycra this morning and resume his parallel life as a MAMIL. Fortunately I was not here to witness this spectacle as I was on the school run, but the sight of several traumatised looking sheep on my drive back signalled what had sped past the sheep fields on his bike in my absence.


Anyway, by the time I had done my errands and got back, the lycra had been confined to the washing pile and he was diligently researching mayonnaise recipes.

Now himself’s love of cooking and experimenting with food has led to yet another family stand off situation. Regular readers will know that stubborn stand off situations are nothing new in our lives and I am constantly puzzled and bewildered as to where the gruesome twosome get their stubborn streaks from, (yeah – right…..)


You see himself has decided that the family favourite that is Heinz Tomato Ketchup has too much sugar in it and has spent many hours researching home made alternatives ably assisted by his collection of Tom Kerridge cookery books. He allowed the last bottle of the offending sauce to be used up before a trip to the fab shop that is Booths for the ingredients, (involving emptying the fresh tomato stock in the veg section) before returning back to start his experimenting.

Now there were several different incarnations of the homemade sauce before a final version with which he was happy.

I ought to mention that alongside the tomato ketchup production line was another one producing barbecue sauce.

Vast quantities of both sauces were produced and therein lay the first problem. Being in a rented cottage we are without our usual stocks of storage containers, glass jars etc and so what to store the sauces in?  Well, being the resourceful type that he is, himself went to the recycling crate, washed a couple of empty wine bottles and beer bottles and proceeded to fill them with various homemade brews of sauces.

So, that evening with the barbecue lit, burgers sizzling nicely and sausages browning, the bottles were duly placed on the table. First of all the small man asked where the ketchup was and was more than a tad unimpressed to learn that his preferred variety had run out. He was even more unimpressed when he was told that there would be no more and the alternative was now the homemade versions that were sat in front of him, one in a beer bottle and one in a wine bottle.

Well, if you can imagine the end of the world hurtling towards in a small man at 200mph like Tim Peake re-entering the earth’s atmosphere at the weekend, very fast and on fire, then you may have an indication of the response from the small testosterone filled one.


I have to admit there were no tears, just a blank expression followed by a look of absolute incredulity.

He then proceeded to eat his barbecue dinner, without making a move or even glancing at the wine or beer bottle.

No discussion relating to ketchup or in factor any sauce was made and he just quietly ate.

The next night was a similar situation, no mention of Heinz Ketchup, or in fact any sauce, and no movement towards the make shift bottles and when they were offered to him a polite ‘no thank you’ was the only response.

So, that is pretty much where we stand. One stubborn, testosterone filled small man who despite never having even tried the homemade sauces is convinced he will not like them and is, on principle, avidly avoiding any contact with them.

Then we have a big man, i.e. himself, who is resolutely sticking to the principle of no more Heinz ketchup.


In between there is me who is trying to broker a peace treaty between the two men in my life. I have to say that I have tried the homemade sauces and they are rather tasty, but the small man, on principle, is rather harder to please…..

The mind boggles what the response about tonight’s offering of homemade mayonnaise is going to be. He has already been out and cast his carnivorous eye over the half a pig that is currently rotating on the barbecue and announced that it ‘is not really very big is it?’ His perceived lack of meat combined with the homemade mayonnaise, ketchup and barbecue sauce may just send him over the edge of sanity…

Stand by for updates on the ‘Sauce Wars’ over the coming days…..


So, to training. Well I think I am just about recovered from my baptism of fire with ‘Madfish’ at the weekend and my sinuses have just about thawed. That said, it was a fantastic weekend and I learnt stacks from it and have a yearning to drive to Windermere and throw myself once more into its waters.

However, I think the sudden deceleration in the pace of our lives over the last couple of days has hit me hard and my body has actually made a concerted effort to catch up. Yeap, all of a sudden I have sighed an enormous sigh and gone ‘flop’.

I wasn’t planning on training yesterday anyway after the exertions of the weekend but today I planned on running to school again over the fells in time for pick up.

It didn’t happen, in fact nothing happened other than me taking root on the settee in a dazed and snoozy fashion.

So tomorrow – off to the gym I go. Hey ho, hey ho, off to the gym I go…..


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If It Was Easy Everybody Would Be At It…….

Pooped, pooped and pooped again.

Not only has it been a physical sort of weekend, it has been an emotionally draining one as well.


Yeap, this weekend was ‘the’ weekend with ‘Madfish’ where I, along with around 12 others, threw myself into Lake Windermere in little more than a swimming costume, nose clip, (which was soon dispensed with), and swimming hat.

Now last weekend’s Great North Swim has been punctuated by the constrictions of my wetsuit on my shoulders and my butt’s desire to stay somewhat aligned at my rear end and so I was not expecting too many issues relating to this weekend as while the offending article was with me I was not planning on wearing it and indeed it returned back with me today in the same dry and unused state that it left on Friday.

However, there were issues but not tangible, objective issues such as restricted shoulder movement thanks to my wetsuit. No, the issues were much more deep rooted and harder to deal with.

Everybody has demons and things that cause issues, I am not unique there but this weekend has brought to the fore some issues that if I am to stride forward in the world of open water swimming I need to address – and reasonably quickly.

Don’t worry, I am not going to bore you with them , far from it – you would probably nod off after the first sentence, but suffice to say I know what I need to do.


Don’t get me wrong, the weekend was incredible, I learned stacks, want to learn more, have met inspirational people and people who I aspire to emulate – but I have areas that need addressing.

The weekend was full on, worth every penny and I can honestly say that every second contained another nugget of information for me to learn from. ‘Madfish’ is lovingly eccentric while being inspirational at the same time, (her granny shopping trolley and use of carrier bags evidences a healthy, complete and respectful disregard for others opinion), and to be honest anybody who can swim  the Channel in 14 hrs 18 mins Butterfly can, in my opinion, have a fleet of granny shopping trolleys and carrier bags and still be a legend.

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Crazy Busy, Militant Hamsters & Evil Hills……….

Good morning world! For those of you who were worried about my general well-being, if the Windermere water had got to me and I am lying in a feverish state with cool flannels being applied to my forehead by himself, I have been mauled by a mutant Cumbrian sheep or am suffering from excess bacon poisoning, well none have come to fruition – I am still here and generally on fine form.


Just crazily busy.

I have however just had a major panic as I thought the blog had been hacked so had a panic stricken half an hour while munching on a bacon butty, but panic over it is sorted and was not hacked. I suspect that the hamster on the wheel that keeps the server going had gone for a grain break and was putting its feet up while having a cheeky ciggie out the back of the building.


Normal service has now resumed.

So, what has been happening. Well, I think a full recovery from the excesses of last week’s birthday party weekend has been achieved, the cottage has been put back together and the glass recycling has been done to ditch any evidence of the excessive alcohol consumption.

The recovery from The Great North Swim in Lake Windermere is complete – just in time to head back this weekend and throw myself into it’s depths wearing nothing more than a swimming costume, nose clip and swimming hat. Yeap, no space for wetsuits this weekend and after last weekend’s wetsuit adventure that is probably a good thing, I am sure my bottom will appreciate the reprieve. It is going to be even harder work this weekend – but I am looking forward to it.

funny swimming animals 06

Stand by for updates over the weekend.

One completely unrelated concern I have is a sudden lack of MAMIL activity. On the one hand himself has been as busy as I have and so while the will may have been there, the time has not. However, on the other hand there have been small windows of opportunity……….

So, to my training. All good. I have been running. Yeap, you did read that, I have been running. The Great North Run is looming large on the horizon and as my post London Marathon training programme has concentrated on swimming and gym, (due in no small part to the Saudi Arabian heat at this time of year), I pulled on my running shoes this week and hit those hills, those evil Cumbrian hills.

Yeap, I am convinced that the hills in this part of the world grow and become more evil over time. Either that or in the dark of night there are workmen out there adding to the gradients with mischievous grins on their faces.

Well, I have taken the bull by the horns and started off earlier in the week with a gentle trot and then ended up yesterday with an 8.5 miler. To be honest it would have been longer as I was planning on running to school to meet the small man after his latest day of school excitement, (no that is not sarcasm, he is genuinely having a ball, loving every second and asking when he can go full-time!!), and then grab a lift back with the two men in my life. However, the first half of England V Wales got the better of me and so I was late setting off.

Therefore, the pace was fast, I really, really wanted to get to school before himself set off a while later in the car and overtook me but alas I had left it too late and with about a mile to go he wound down the window  as he overtook me and came out with some odd comment or other.

So, in I jumped.

To be honest for my first serious run since London I am quite happy with 8.5 miles and with over 3 months to go I am on target.

However, the sight, (and smell), of me walking into school after my run did I think take a few parents unawares and the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade who pottered over for a chat was slightly taken aback, (or was it embarrassment at her stinky, sweaty, non-street cred Mum? – most probably a bit of both). Yeap, my hair was plastered to my head with sweat, my face was like a beetroot and the odour from my armpits would have quelled any malicious intentions of England ‘fans’ in France and sent them running home to their Mums.

384d7bf81b57a612a5994d65229cd54cEven the small man declined my offer of a hug when he eventually appeared for his lift home.


Anyway, a good shower finally fixed that and normal service is now resumed.

Right, suppose I had better go and start getting ready for this weekend’s foray into Lake Windermere – stand by for updates, it is going to be interesting…….


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Wetsuit Woes, Another Medal & Absolute Chaos!

I seem to recall that I started the last EIOT post commenting about how chaotic our lives have become since heading to deepest Cumbria for a few weeks.

Well, I have to say that the situation has not improved and in fact has deteriorated further. It has actually slipped down a sheep poo, rain soaked lined slope of disarray and frantic disorder.

Yeap, deepest Cumbria is by reputation one of the most laid back areas of the UK where frenetic activity of any description differentiates the locals from the non-locals, or, I hesitate to say, the tourists.


Not that there are many tourists in this part of Cumbria, only walkers, cyclists, (yes – plenty of MAMILS), the odd lost sheep, maybe ever a stray cow, the locals and ‘us’. Not that I am moaning, it makes it even more fab.

If this is the case then I will have to put my hand up and class me and mine as ‘tourists’ as you would never, ever see any of the locals dashing around in a whirlwind of activity such as you see us all day, every day.

The weekend was largely centred around fun for the strawberry blond hand grenade whose birthday we celebrated with all due pomp and ceremony over the two days. Well when I say pomp and ceremony that makes it sound like there was a hint of organisation and planning but certain readers will be more than familiar with my incompetence in party planning of any form and how actually everything is thrown together at the last moment – usually with disastrous but entertaining consequences.


Well, this was no different apart from the fact that actually it worked and there was a reasonable lack of disasters and failings. I suspect that this was largely due to the fact that the attendees were young ladies who quite frankly were content with the Tree Top Trek adventure, ice cream, back for a BBQ, exploring the fields, getting muddy and then films while slobbing in sleeping bags on the lounge floor.

Also, it worked in no small part thanks to another genius creation by Katie’s Cakes – she is a true genius and caused many ooohhh and aaarrgghhsss among the assembled group of girls.


Yeap, there were bodies of various sizes across the lounge and when I got up at 0300 to check that all was well in the lounge I was greeted with the sight of bodies snoring gently.

So that was Saturday. Sunday was the big day, yes it was The Great North Swim, my initiation into the world of open water swimming, swimming in wet suits and a conglomeration of a mass of feet, arms and bodies colliding in the exciting waters of Lake Windermere.

I had made the decision to be at the back of the pack in my ‘wave’ of swimmers – I did not fancy a foot in the face or being torpedoed by a Michael Phelps wannabe. However, even with this strategy I did come a cropper in the early stages. One chap with disproportionally sized feet gave me a heel square on the nose in his end kick of breast stroke, new meaning was given to the phrase ‘a clip round the ear’ when an elbow from breast stroke walloped my right ear and then the lady doing a somewhat uncontrolled backstroke pretty much sunk me with a full power blow to the back of my head at the 200m point.

Anyway, I survived and got swimming.


Now it was about this time that issues with my wetsuit started to come to the fore.

I have worn wetsuits more times than I care to think about in scuba-diving, but never for swimming. I had hired a wetsuit that was waiting for me here on arrival last week and when trying it on I knew it was a snug fit but never gave the consequences of the figure-hugging attire a second thought.

Anyway, it was about the time that the the crowds thinned that I realised that actually the shoulders in my rubber suit were actually reducing my range of movement and impacting on my stroke.

It was about this time that I started to get concerned about the distances between the marker buoys.

Somehow, when looking at the route plan I had got it into my head that the marker buoys were 100m apart. So, imagine my panic and horror when there seemed to be a very long way between them – much longer than 100m.

So, imagine the scene, here I am in Lake Windermere, wearing a wetsuit that was threatening to widen the distance between my bottom cheeks with every stroke, suffering minor aches from facial injuries courtesy of a bloke’s toe nails and wondering how on earth I had managed to miscalculate the distance of my training swims so badly.


So, with a rather unorthodox stroke thanks to the reduced range of movement in my shoulders I ploughed on, I was not about to be beaten and I was going to finish.

It was now that I got a rather pleasant surprise. I was so consumed with worry about my apparent miscalculation of distance that suddenly I was greeted by the sight of the rather large pink buoy – signifying the half-way point. I was slightly puzzled by this, I had only done 400metres – how did that work? Then the penny dropped, actually there is 200m between each of the buoys – doh!


Well that was a stroke of luck!

Anyway, I ploughed on and finally finished. A slow time of 57 mins for 1 mile, but gee when you are trying to preserve your butt cheeks in their natural position the time really does not matter.

Anyway, completed, the wetsuit is off, (after much wrestling, swearing and cursing), and I can tick that box.


Next? Well, the swim camp with ‘Madfish’ at the weekend – wish me luck, it is going to be interesting!

So, it has dawned on me that The Great North Run is starting to loom large on the horizon, so best I strap my toes up, (the hoofing big great pain killer injection has well and truly worn off), and get out into the Cumbrian hillsides pretty soon.


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Inebriated MAMIL & The Big Swim Test……

If somebody had said to me how hectic our Ramadan break in deepest Cumbria was going to be, then I would have laughed – but no, it is hectic and bordering on chaotic!

busy as usual

Every day there is something, usually several things in the diary, and with himself’s new obsession of his ultra fab road bike and displaying things in lycra all I can say is thank goodness we have an alternative form of transport.

The last couple of days have focused on several things – not least of which was my swim assessment down in Loughborough.

Yeap I abandoned himself with bike in Cumbria and headed down to Loughborough and then onto Manchester to the storage unit to collect all the things that we had forgotten to collect while we were there on Saturday. I have reached the grand conclusion that having a storage unit is like going to the supermarket, you have to be prepared to accept that there is always a second and maybe a third trip required as you will never remember to liberate everything from the depths of the unit. By the time you have got everything that you needed in the first place, requirements have changed and you now need to go back again to get the next tranche of stuff and so on.


Now, driving long distances does not bother me and I was prepared for yesterday. Himself had to go and discuss avionics and aerodynamics, (sheer excitement I suspect), with the CCF unit at the senior school and as it was clear I was not going to be back in time to collect the small man from school he had selflessly volunteered to cycle to the prep school and absolve the staff of all responsibility for the gruesome twosome.

When questioned about what he would do when he had taken over responsibility for them, he simply said they would walk to the village pub and wait for me there.

So, armed with his lycra shorts, (much to the embarrassment of the strawberry blond hand grenade), he chained his bike to the railings outside the boarding house and marched the gruesome twosome to the pub.

I hasten to add that in order to appease the daughter he did don a pair of trousers over the lycra.

So, there they all sat for around two and a half hours while I battle my way through Manchester traffic and back up north.


Well, I will leave it to your imagination about what greeted me in the beer garden of the pub. One inebriated MAMIL, one small man whose school uniform had been oh so tidy first thing in the morning now looked like he had been rolling down banks of earth and grass in his once white school shirt that was making a half hearted break for freedom from the back of his trousers, the hem had come down on his trousers, his shoes had been discarded under the table and there was clear evidence of food and juice inhalation all over his face.

The daughter was glancing up at events with all due disdain while immersing herself in her Kindle.

Anyway, the bike remained chained to the railings outside the boarding house until this morning as we piled into the car to head back to the cottage – yes with an inebriated MAMIL.


Anyway, I am pleased to say that my long journeys of yesterday were well worth the effort and a good day was had with ‘Madfish’, aka Dr Julie Bradshaw.

It was a bit of a shock to the system to throw myself into her ‘Endless Pool’ in her back garden, a generously sized lido, (not public I hasten to add), to swim against an artificial current and pretty much go nowhere.

I have to say that it was also a shock to the system to meet somebody for the first time and within 10 minutes be in my swimming cossie, nose clip and goggles in her kitchen and about to swim.


Even more so a little while later when I was drying my legs off so that I did not drip chlorinated water up her stairs carpet en route to changing back in the bathroom……

Swimming in an ‘Endless Pool’ is comparable to 24hrs on a Spinning® bike – you peddle like hell but stay in the same place.

Anyway, after a couple of attempts at mastering the art of not getting thrown out of the current and ending up at the side where you then actually do go forward and end up head butting the side, I sort of got the knack – albeit a tad wobbly.

I have to say that the swimming portion of the assessment was over pretty quickly, I used the mirror in the bottom of Madfish’s Endless Pool to keep in the right place while I was filmed for analysis.

Once changed we went through the film, (which again was a bit of a hock to the old system – I have never seen myself swim before – obviously) and advice was given.

This advice was practised this morning at the granny minestrone pool and I have to say the results were pretty spectacular. I also have to say that there were not that many grannies there today so it was ideal for practising my new skills without being mown down by the blue rinse brigade.

So, was the day worth it – definitely. Will I be spending more time with Madfish? Yes, definitely not least because I am doing her swim camp next weekend. Have I got lots to work on? Yup, lots and lots. Am I inspired to do more? Yup, unquestionably.

So, what’s next? Well, Sunday is The Great North Swim over in Lake Windermere – whoop whoop! A bit nervous but to be honest I am more nervous about getting into the wetsuit and more to the point getting out of it again.


In the meantime though we have friends of the strawberry blond hand grenade coming over from school for a girly night of films and sleepover. The two men in my life have decided that the prospect of a cottage full of girls is too much to bear and so are planning to set up camp in one of the sheep fields.

However, it is raining and while this may not bother the small man, (he would be happy anywhere other than in a house full of 11 year old girls), the MAMIL is getting nervous and about to start making excuses. I wouldn’t mind but in the military he spent a good deal of his life under canvas in appalling weather and has since camped in everything from snow to storms to heatwaves. I think he is going soft in his old age.


Right, off to the strawberry blond hand grenade’s swim gala in a few minutes, best I make sure that himself is not wearing lycra…..


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My Husband’s Deep Dark Secret…….???

Himself and I have been together for longer than I care to think about. We have had our ups and downs, somehow produced two children, done some crazy things, (including the two children), grabbed every opportunity that has come up and pretty much had a fantastic time.


However, yesterday was an eye opener – literally. It was graphically proven to me that actually there is a side to himself that I had never seen.

Yeap, yesterday I learned that my husband is actually a closet MAMIL.


Now, I have to admit that I have been aware of his semi MAMIL tendencies for some time thanks to Spinning, but I never thought he would be an open air, self confessed MAMIL.

I suppose I had better elaborate – at great personal, emotional expense I may add.

Himself has been talking about acquiring a road bike for sometime. The ongoing head-to-head midlife crisis with the legend that is Tommo has inspired yet more crazy training ambitions and that along side the stunning Cumbrian countryside has led to a yearning to hit the road.

So on Sunday he paid a visit to a large cycling shop and left mulling over the various combinations of frames, tyres, pedals etc.

Yesterday he returned and this time came out complete with bike, helmet and a big grin.


Little known to me he had smuggled his Spinning shorts in the suitcases out of Saudi and before I knew it there he was, clad in lycra and about to hit the country lanes of Cumbria.

What a vision.

Even the sheep looked slightly alarmed as they looked up from their grass.


Anyway, ride number one completed, the speed and capacity of the bike were a shock to his system and he did admit to a couple of episodes of sheer terror at the bike’s tempo and dexterity.

So, ride number two today as I have given him a fait accompli – I am snaffling the car to go to the gym, (yes, my slightly heavier driving licence is back and in my hand), and he has to be somewhere else this morning, get on you bike bud! Just don’t scare the sheep again!

Well, today is the strawberry blond hand grenade’s birthday. Yeap, this time eleven years ago we were wondering what had hit us and now we have a tall, gorgeous, rapidly growing up young lady. Cake number 1 will be making it’s way over to school this afternoon thanks to the wonderful skills of Katie’s Cakes. Then we will be graced by the presence of the strawberry blond one for the evening who has found time in her hectic schedule for her old Mum and Dad before several other young ladies join us for a sleepover on Saturday.

The small man’s inaugural day at his sister’s school yesterday was a massive success – despite a small meltdown at drop off time. Anyway, a beaming young man greeted us at pick up time and promptly gave us a full debrief on his day. ‘But what was the best thing in the day?’, I naively asked, the answer was a brief, ‘the food Mum, the food’.

Oh well.

Right, in the chaos of bikes, cars and school yesterday my training was a casualty and I am now pining the gym. So, off to the gym I go with a small detour to take the small man to school.

Big day Thursday – the big swim assessment! Just a tad nervous……..



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Bombay Sapphire, New Barbecue & School Uniform….

Well, we have arrived and to prove it we are here.

Yeap, we have landed in the beautiful world of remote Cumbria. The sun is shining, the sheep are in the field, the cows are scaring the living daylights out of me, the gruesome twosome are permanently covered in mud and himself has wine and bacon.


All is well with the world.

Oh yes, we have also been out this morning and bought a barbecue, so himself is doubly happy.

Himself and the small man are currently assembling the barbecue, along with Leatherman – I am just not looking. The strawberry blond hand grenade is filling her time picking flowers and making beautiful floral displays. She keeps disappearing over the horizon to reappear a while later along with tree blossom.

As for me, well I am writing today’s blog accompanied by a large Gin & Tonic – yes, the Sainsbury’s order arrived on time and with a full compliment of the required provisions.


So, on the one side of me I have the two men in my life assembling the barbecue, on the other side I have floristry genius underway and I have a G&T – and relax!

Yeap, this morning I went swimming after my three days off. All good – well that was until the lady of more mature years decided to join me in my lane. If the pool had been busy then fair enough, but no. The pool was about as busy as an Asda Superstore when England are playing at the Euros, it was empty.

It was like one of those occasions in an empty car park when the only other car makes a point of parking in the spot next to you…..

So, why on earth did the lady of more mature years decide to join me in my lane, (one of the lanes designated for faster swimmers), when actually a waterborne sloth with sore shoulders would have been faster.

Anyway, by this point I had already done a mile complete with paddles and burning shoulders and had completed several lengths of the bottom sinking stroke, (backstroke), and as the gruesome twosome and himself had raised themselves out of bed extra early on a Sunday morning to get me to the pool early, I decided to call it a day. (You may be wondering why they had to get out of bed to get me to the pool early on a Sunday, well my driving licence had been on a brief break having 3 points applied thanks to a slight oversight on my part back in March and so when we collected the hire car on Saturday I was sans licence and therefore unable to drive – hence my reliance on himself to drive me at the moment. I hasten to add I have my slightly heavier licence back now and will be independently mobile again as of tomorrow).

So, I decided to let the lady of more mature years have the lane, (and the rest of the pool for that matter), and called it a day.


So, best I start to get my head around the daughter’s birthday celebrations of this week. The longterm readers of the blog will be well aware that birthday celebrations are not my forte, (click here for the full gory story), and so actually planning a week before the event is somewhat impressive. However, the extra sword in my armoury is the lady next door who creates the most incredible cakes as well as looking after two children under 2 and a farmer husband. Yeap, Katie’s cakes, (click here for more info), to the rescue and already a masterpiece is underway for this week and another for next weekend. Photos will follow.

Right, the small man is starting his half-term at his sister’s school tomorrow and after yesterday’s trip to the school uniform shop some alterations are required. Not quite sure after two G&T’s that is a good idea but time will tell. The shortened legs on his trousers may be slightly wonky. I wonder if Katie’s Cakes skills extend to sewing?????

Right, the G&T in my glass is running low, the barbecue building is being accompanied by many expletives and the gruesome twosome are playing with matches.

Think I need to stock up on the G&T!


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