Perfect Puglia Days – 1


I’ve been going through some photographs form earlier in the year and realised that some summers in Puglia are best spent doing nothing more taxing than sitting on the beach and watching others expend their energies.  This year was rather like that.  The joy of being in the area around Ferragosto is that the flags are out and everyone wants to relax and play.


On days when the wind blows too hard for long swims there is nothing better than watching the wind surfers and kite boarders, I admire their strength, they play in the surf for hours… until everything stops for lunch – then they hop off their boards and restore all that burnt energy.


IMG_6642Talking of energy, I didn’t just sit, I have taken up running and the area around Casa Mare is ideal for early morning runs.  Back in the summer I was still at the jog/walk phase of a C25K programme called Get Running, I recommend the app, it is well designed and motivational.

Even in the summer months the coastal roads are quite quiet in the early morning and the cooler air by the sea is welcome – the added fun of running through the markets as they set up and wondering what the traders think of a runner, of all things, coming through, makes the effort worthwhile.


Another fun activity has been sea walking.  I hadn’t realised that the ladies who walk in the sea are taking quite a full on exercise regime until Debbie and I decided to start walking in the sea from Casa Mare to Lendinuso, it is a great workout for the legs. The beaches in the area are perfect, with long sandy stretches, you just need to look out for the odd rock.


As I said, everyone loves the beach in summer, including the Casa Mare cats, who on days when there aren’t too many folk around love to join in the fun.  Casa Mare is already booking well for next year as Ryanair have started to list flights.  Bob and Debbie’s other villa, Villa Rosa just a few kilometres away in Casalabate is also taking bookings so if you fancy some sea and sun in the south of Italy why not take a look?


My Camel is a Wetsuit or… How I spent £5 and lost 35lb

My Camel is a Wetsuit

It has taken me a long time to decide to post this. I was worried that it is quite personal and also that some people might think it was just a little weird. However, enough people have asked me how I have lost weight and it takes a little while to explain, despite it being really simple, so I decided that blogging it would be a good idea. I also hope that in using this blog, with its history, enough people will see it to know that it is genuine – those of you that know me face to face will know that anyway.

A disclaimer at this point – I use a free blogging service, this means I cannot control any ads that appear on this page, please only follow the links I have embedded in the main text of this piece – nothing else!

For those that want the short easy to read version – I used an app called Easy Loss Virtual Gastric Band, it cost me £4.99 and it works.

For those that want the slightly longer version here goes….

Remember the Wensum swim, the reason I didn’t wear a wetsuit…? ah I didn’t mention that did I.  I burst my wetsuit zip!  Specifically trying to get into a wetsuit in a multi-story carpark and the zip fell apart.  When the wetsuit came back from repair, I could not get into it at all.  That should have told me all i needed to know, I had steadily put on weight over the years, not unusual and despite long distance swims and bike rides I was just fit and fat, rather than fat, in fact fit and with a massive appetite.  Then I hurt my back and had a year of no where near as much exercise. By the end of that year when I saw picture of myself I was wondering who the middle aged lump was.  I couldn’t do anything about being middle aged but maybe I could shift the lump. It was whilst thinking about that I happened upon the Easy Loss Virtual Gastric Band app and on a whim bought it.

The system (it defiantly is not a diet), consists of hypnosis track and four simple rules.  You listen to a track a day and follow the rules – its that easy.

Easy Loss - 4 simple guidelines

What the tracks do, through the use of imagery, is to help you to change your thinking about food. None of it is rocket science and you almost certainly know it already, but the repetition through the use of hypnosis embeds it in your thinking and and allows the more helpful thoughts to dominate. You find yourself thinking not ‘go large’ but have a regular americano (not latte) and a glass of water. Before I knew it my breakfast had changed from two weetabix, with milk and sugar plus a glass of juice to one weetabix with the juice on it.  These little changes driven by only eat when you are hungry and stop when you are no longer hungry make little changes giving on average for me a 2lb loss per week.


In addition to the original app I also downloaded a track called ‘Self sabotage’ and used it once, I found it very powerful.  There is a Facebook closed group to support the app, people there are very supportive and some have gone on amazing weight-loss journeys. I shan’t divulge any names or related stories here other than saying that one of them involves a camel and within the group that has become a thing which you want to be able to do (in this case ride a camel) but can’t because of your weight. In my case it was wanting to get back into that bloomin’ wetsuit!

Before you ask, yes I have exercised quite a lot too.  My back is recovered, I’m back in the pool (now the lake), on the bike etc. I started out doing a 30 day squat challenge, every morning when I boiled the kettle starting with 50 and by the end of 30 days managing 250.


In January I did Janathon, in February I took part in Get over Yourself, I use the 7 minutes app when I have no other exercise during the day and I walk, walk, walk, so it goes on, I’m currently building up my stamina for the Bantham Swoosh.  I started in mid November and by mid February I had to throw away all my clothes and start again.


When my summer clothes came out of storage they all had to be got rid of too.  By Easter I was happy with my weight and switched to the Bikini App, I didn’t lose any more weight but didn’t put it back on either.  I now use either a session one track from the VGB or a bikini track to help keep me on the straight and narrow.

The great thing is you don’t actually need to buy anything other than the app (and new clothes) but these would be my top tips…

Bracelets.  Start on left wrist, each time you drink a big glass of water transfer to right wrist. – It is possible that you are not hungry, just thirsty.


Small plates, bowls and cutlery/chopsticks.  You’ll eat more mindfully, slower, and can still go back for seconds but only if you are hungry.

Freezer/Fridge boxes.  Food goes to waste if you eat it but don’t need it – ie it is stored as fat in your body who wants to store fat?  So put it in the fridge/freezer and you have an extra free meal available for later in the day/week.  You’ll save money and gradually learn to cook or plate up less.

MakeIMG_5962 big batches of soups etc and have a Sistema box (other brands are available) to reheat it in for work etc, I also have the one designed for sticks and dips which I take a half wrap and tomatoes in.

Insulated beakers.  I now have three of these from Paperchase.  They follow me everywhere, one at the end of the kitchen table and one wherever I’m working plus one for the garden. Keeps water fresh and cool and as they are metal lined none of that nasty plastic taste.

Something to do.  I used a ‘learn to draw’ book, if you are inclined to eat cheese from the fridge more out of boredom than hunger have something to do.  You will find online lots of lists of ideas of things to do in place of boredom eating.

My other big tip is at the start take a picture of your self both fully clothed (then you have something to put on a blog page) and in bra and pants (for you and no I am not putting it on the blog page!). Also take your measurements I failed but have gone from a large size 14 to a size 8-10 UK in clothes.  Also photograph your wardrobe, nearly everyone I follow on the Facebook page finds they are wearing brighter and more trendy clothes.  So no photos of me as such but a weight graph and some apparently deflating trouser legs….


IMG_5695 IMG_5757 IMG_5811 IMG_5842 IMG_5969_2 IMG_6092

My Camel is a wetsuit…(and this was part way through)


Fritton Lake and the New Season!

Fritton night swim

Very excited that the new Open Water season starts at Fritton Lake next week – full details here, the picture above is how I left it at the end of the season – I can’t wait to get back, I’ve already registered and raring to go!  As a little warm up I used the ‘first night nerves’ element as the start point for a writing exercise at our group today.  We had been asked to write a piece which didn’t use the eyes……

A squelch of air against skin damp with sweat, the result of much huffing and exhausted gasping.  

‘If the aim is to burn calories, we’ll be stick thin before we hit the water.’

The final grinding noise as zips are tugged into place and a series of snaps as neoprene cuffs are flipped into their final resting places. A round of giggles, a scraping of plastic boxes dragged off benches and the team are ready to hit the water.  The air is warm.  Smells of freshly mown grass mingle with coffee and hot chocolate being drunk by family, friends and supporters who mutter  depreciating words of support.

‘You’re clearly mad.’  

‘Mind the pike don’t get you.’

‘Have you signed that life policy yet?’

This is it.  The first training session of the new open water swimming season and a group of novice swimmers are about to be inducted into the pleasure of immersion in water at 25 degrees below their core.  Noradrenalin and adrenalin are released into the bloodstream, heart rate and blood pressure increase; head, sinuses and chest pound, like an old convict banging on a church door for sanctuary.  An overwhelming urge to pee brings temporary relief, as the wetsuit is warmed from the inside.  Then a realisation that the effect is short-lived.  The pee chills and the body starts to retain fluid, swelling and stiffening, becoming less responsive.  Add to that the induced insulin impairment of the stress resulting in an inability to mobilise glucose in the bloodstream effectively … The good news is, they can train and reduce the effects, dip and repeat, twice a week and before they know it the screams of fear and pain will be whoops of delight.

A new dawn and a broken heart – confessions of a bad blogger

New DawnJanathon has been going well. I have managed to stick to the some exercise every day element but it transpires I’m a rubbish blogger at the moment. Therefore I thought it was time for a summary and to explain about the walking in a onesie. I often walk very early in the morning, sometime ago I bought myself a boiler suit and rather than change out of my pjs I put the boiler suit (my onesie) over the top, then I can come home and shower after my walk – too much information? The blessing is I live in a very rural area so none much sees me!

During one slightly later walk I found a broken heart, the downside of helium balloons they do leave detritus behind.

A broken heart

Summary of my Janathon so far:

  • Walking 74.61 km  
  • Cycling, transport  60.29 km  
  • Swimming  1.60 km  plus 1hr aquarobics
  • Squats 1,155

Janathon Day 5 – On yer bike!

Ups and downs


The warm up on the bike yesterday was well worth it, I had forgotten how much I love cycling – usual rules – my speed not other people’s. So today I’ve done plenty. Two dog walks total 3.77km, in my onesie for the morning walk.  Then two bike rides (to an event and back) total 40.3km plus my 100 squats.  Think I’ve done my bit!


Janathon Day 4 – Running in a onesie!


Today was a rest day. On the squats chart it says ‘rest’. I walked the dog to the end of the lane and back, then did a spot of ironing gym – each time an item is ironed it gets taken upstairs. This process makes for very broken movie watching, mind you my current dvd is The 100 Year old man who climbed out of a window and disappeared – have you seen it (or read the book?), I would attempt to describe it but you wouldn’t believe me. I also decided it was time to get the bike out ready for tomorrow so peddled to the end of the lane and back.

Nearly forgot to mention the onesie, Cathy would like us to run in a onesie or dressing gown – I don’t run, but I do wear my onesie every morning or pjs…. I’ll explain in another post…another day :)

Stats for the day –  Walk:  1.82 Km  Cycle 1.82km  Steps 8,833 – which bearing in mind the lack of distance covered isn’t a bad showing.

Janathon Day 3 – The Iron Horse

Iron Horse

Day 3 of Janathon – it peeeeeed down this morning, so dog and I didn’t go further than the chickens at the end of the garden. The forecast was good for later so we went out as the weather was clearing and managed 6.13km.  The puddles were the colour of greek coffee, the roads churned up by beet lorries and the sounds of clunking and banging echoed across the prairies as beets were shifted from clamp to lorry. Apparently there is oversupply of sugar this year and the factory cannot take everything as it is produced, there are still beet in some of the fields, luckily the frosts have not been too severe and they seem to be holding up ok. As dog and I made our way back past the clamp the image of one of the pieces of equipment looked like the Iron Man’s own Suffolk Punch standing ready for the next day’s work.

Total for the day 6.13Km and 80 squats.

Thank you for the visits from other Janathoners – I’m off on a tour to see what you’ve all been up to. I think as I am logging walks not runs they will not show on the overall totals for the month.


Janathon Day 2 – weight loss!


Today was another day of walking and squats. The dog needed her annual vaccination at the vets, so I decided to walk her there and back, via the coop in Framlingham.  Total walk of 12.31km and 75 squats.  But… there is a weight loss issue, the dog is 0.5kg down, so being an oldie I need to add fresh protein to her diet, she still trots along quite happily but there is less of her (she’s only 5kg in total), now if only my weight loss percentage was the same.

Janathon – Day 1

janathon-participant-logoThanks to Cathy for talking me in to taking part in Janathon again this year, a great way to start the year.  The basic idea is that you take some exercise each day in January and blog it. This morning I was feeling somewhat morning afterish (old enough to know better) so I decided to walk the block.  It’s a biggish block across open countryside.  For the last few weeks we have had beautiful sunrises but today was just overcast and very blustery, with no traffic though the walk was really pleasant and the puddles of the last few days were thawing rapidly. The perfect way to blow away the cobwebs.Squat Challenge I am also doing the squat challenge and am on Day 5 – so 70 squats today I didn’t wear blue hot pants for the squat challenge. Totals for day 1 – walking  11.78km [10km morning walk 1.78km evening dog walk] plus 70 squats

Puglia revisited…. Cartapesta

Cartpesta Lecce

I’m recently back from Puglia and have been enjoying some time looking over photo’s from previous trips. In amongst them I found this selection of cartapesta making in Lecce.  Cartapesta is a paper making technique used for creating flowers and models, frequently angels and religious figures.

Cartapesta LecceLuigi and Maddelena Baldari continue this traditional craft and I was lucky enough to be part of a group shown the process of production from making the paper to crafting the models and then given a chance to create a cornucopia to take home. They are a wonderful couple, so much fun and enthusiasm for their art and wonderful teachers.

Luigi and Maddelena have recently transferred their cartapesta making to Squinzano and can be found at the Wine and Olive School.

The tour was organised by Ylenia who can create a variety of different experiences for groups.  Please take a look at her website there is far too much on offer to list here!

CartaPesta Roses

CartaPesta Roses


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers

%d bloggers like this: