October book review(s)

Book number 17

Book read: Grand Adventures by Alastair Humphreys

A short but HUGELY inspiring book which has given me loads of ideas for my own adventures! Alastair is enthusiastic and he explains how, with an example of a £1000 budget, you can set about planning all kinds of exciting trips! As I was reading this book I started to jot down some ideas:

  • Drive across Australia
  • Drive across Canada
  • Drive around Europe
  • Travel by land and sea from London to Sydney
  • Travel across Madagascar independently by train
  • Climb Kilimanjaro
  • Trek the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal
  • Cycle Eurovelo routes
  • Cycle and wild camp around Iceland
  • Drive the Wild Atlantic Way (Ireland)
  • Walk the length of New Zealand
  • Walk to Rome
  • South West Coast path
  • UK Coast to Coast
  • Pembrokeshire Coast
  • Bibbulman track (Western Australia)
  • Routeburn track (New Zealand)
  • Dolomites trek

(Some of these are not new ideas but I thought I would capture them in any case)

 

Book number 18

Book read: Walk Sleep Repeat by Stephen Reynolds

This book was somewhat tame by comparison but still an enjoyable read. Once I got into it… I started to become a bit irritated by “Dear Reader” references on almost every page but I got used to this as being the author’s writing style. Although when he started waffling on about which flavour Weetabix drink to have in the morning I did start to question why I was reading the book…

Whereas the likes of Alastair Humphreys and Chris Pountney fill a book with a 12 month plus cycling adventure, this was an entire book about a one week trek along the 100 mile West Highland Way.

However as I continued to read I found I really like the way Stephen Reynolds writes. He has a lovely descriptive manner that makes you feel you are walking the West Highland Way right next to him. Which is nice.

He is really likeable and I started to think of him as a mate, an honest, down-to-Earth kind of chap, someone you would like to sit in a pub with at the end of a busy day and exchange stories.

And on a positive note, if he can string out a book from a week of walking, a popular walk that many thousands have done in the past, I’m sure there would be a market for my 2016 adventures!

  • Walk the West Highland Way (just adding another adventure…)

 

 

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Sober October… half way point

Exactly two weeks into my four week teetotal challenge! And it has been a challenge this week… firstly being away for work in Liverpool and visiting the Spanish tapas bar which does the best ever Margaritas… drinking ginger flavoured Elderflower Presse doesn’t quite cut it…

Secondly being away on a walking weekend in Suffolk where everyone was drinking alcohol… I felt better when I had my non-alcohol ginger beer served with ice in a large goldfish bowl glass instead of a boring straight glass… at least I could pretend there was a shot of gin in there too…

On a positive note I slept far better in Liverpool than on the previous two occasions (in August and September). And I didn’t have to do the Sunday walk with a hangover!

I’m hoping that as I’ve reached 2 weeks without alcohol, my liver is starting to detox itself and get rid of any fatty things…

 

 

Sober October: one week down…

The first totally alcohol free week I’ve had in months, since early January in fact when I did a detox week!

It seems that many middle aged adults, me included, drink alcohol as part of their lifestyle. I am in a habit of opening a bottle of wine while cooking, drinking wine while out for a meal and generally drinking whenever the opportunity arises.

Last week coincided with our first ‘organic veg box’ delivery which encouraged Chris and me to cook more at home and cook more healthily. This would usually have been the ideal time for a bottle of wine!

On Friday evening we complemented our dinner with a bottle of alcohol free wine, which was actually quite tasty. Then on Saturday we discovered ‘alcohol free gin and tonic’ from M & S! Freshly chilled this was actually really tasty and gave us that drinking experience of having something a bit special with our dinner but without the alcohol.

Public Health England and Drink Aware recently launched a campaign called ‘Drink Free Days‘ to help people to reduce their alcohol intake. This will most likely be my approach once Sober October has finished where I’ll aim for 3 alcohol free days a week 🙂 Lets see how things go…

 

 

 

Organic fruit and veg box

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Our first organic fruit and veg box arrived yesterday and I was delighted that, other than the pack of salad leaves, there were no plastic bags in sight! The grapes were in a cardboard container and the rest was loose in the box (which we can return to the driver next week).

At £18.75 this isn’t a cheap option however from what we’ve tried so far the fruit tastes delicious and being organic it has to be healthier! We’ve already planned some creative meals to ensure we don’t waste any of this fruit or veg. This may even result in a more cost effective option if we plan our meals properly and stay at home and cook more often rather going out for something to eat several times a week.

While shopping for the extra ingredients for these planned healthy meals, today I made a conscious point of reducing plastic for example by buying black olives, tomato puree, herbs and spices in glass jars rather than plastic containers 🙂

On another note, Chris ordered a bar of shampoo for us to try rather than using plastic bottles.

Go us! We’re on a roll….

 

 

 

 

Sober October starts tomorrow…

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Chris and me enjoying a bottle of wine recently

My husband Chris and I are both doing a sober October challenge meaning today is the last day of alcohol for the next 4 weeks (ours is a ‘4 week October’ challenge to end on Monday 29th…)

No more bottles of wine to accompany meals… no cocktails when I’m in Liverpool again soon and no alcohol on a forthcoming walking weekend… maybe it should be ‘somber October’…

The main reason for this challenge is health in order to give my liver a rest and a chance to repair itself. Drinkaware has some guidance on this and its quite shocking that a woman who drinks a couple of glasses of wine a day for a couple of weeks can start to develop ‘fatty liver’ where the liver gets “stuffed with fat”… this doesn’t sound too good however the promising thing is that if you stop drinking alcohol for 2 weeks the liver starts to shed this excess fat!

I’m not sure if I have a fatty liver or not (quite likely as I probably do drink a couple of glasses of wine a day on average), but I’m hoping that 4 weeks should give it a chance to become much healthier.

Alcohol is also connected to 7 types of cancer so another good reason to reduce my intake.

I’m also interested to see if my sleeping improves… last night I had a large glass of red and a Cointreau and then found myself wide awake from 00:45 to 03:45.

Will provide an update in due course…

 

 

Plastic reduction update

According to Greenpeace, 12.7 million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans each year, choking turtles and seabirds and ending up in the stomachs of sea creatures such as whales.

I’ve made some small changes throughout this year to reduce my plastic footprint:

  1. Using a refillable water bottle rather than buying single use bottles of water. The only exception I can think of was during my week in Cuba where I didn’t have my water-to-go bottle with me. In Croatia last week I drank tap water from our apartment’s kitchen tap every time which was apparently safe to drink… well, I had no ill effects throughout the week 🙂
  2. I was annoyed with myself for recently buying a 3 small packs of pineapple chunks which were supplied in 3 lots of plastic tubs. What an idiot… I could have brought a single fresh pineapple for the same price and with no extra plastic used.
  3. I’ve finally got myself organised and have just ordered an organic fruit and veg box from Riverford Organics. Riverford have an environmental policy for their packaging and use cardboard boxes rather than plastic bags. I’m hoping this is going to be viable to do on a weekly basis… my concern is that I have to be at home to take the order so I need to fit around my ‘work at home’ days which vary on a weekly basis…
  4. I use soap instead of shower gel… sometimes…
  5. I buy chocolate wrapped in foil and paper and try to avoid plastic wrapped chocolate. For example, a few months ago I brought a large bag of Dime bars from an airport and it only occurred to me when I got home that each of the 80 or so dime pieces were wrapped in 80 small pieces of plastic…

I haven’t done any research but from my own memories of the 70’s and 80’s, fizzy drinks and milk were supplied in glass bottles, sweets were put into small white paper bags, chocolate bars were wrapped in paper, fish and chips were provided in newspaper (and not placed in a plastic bag), packs of toilet rolls were produced in a paper outer wrapping, parcels arrived wrapped in brown paper (rather than plastic bags) and fruit and veg came in brown paper bags.

I feel I still have a way to go before I confirming I have significantly reduced my plastic consumption but will continue working towards this…

 

 

 

Job app news…

… “you have not been shortlisted on this occasion…”

Second job applied for and no interview for this one either. At least this one didn’t inform me that I must be disappointed! I was politely wished ‘every success’ in my future career!

I’m still thinking of this as a ‘win win’ situation… I now have an up-to-date CV and 3 pages of my work achievements all nicely summarised so if any future opportunities arise, it wouldn’t take long to put in an application.

And as a director role it would have meant more pressure, more responsibility and probably longer hours. At the moment I’ve got an excellent work/life balance and I’m in no hurry to work late or work weekends or have a stressy job.

Unless it pays a big fat salary… as this one did…

But all is good! I’ll continue to enjoy my current job and maybe apply if any more ‘exceptional’ opportunities arise.

 

 

September book review

Book number 16

Book read: Cycling the World Part 2: Into the Sunrise, Sydney to Mori by Chris Pountney

Another amazing adventure! I read Chris’s first book, part 1, Paris to Sydney in February and this has been one of my favourite books, if not my actual favourite book since I began this challenge in January. While I enjoyed ‘part 2’ immensely it didn’t quite have the same style of writing as the first and I found myself skim reading over small sections of it. Maybe I’ve just been reading too many cycle touring books this year?

 

 

 

Job app number 2…

Second job of 2018 has now been applied for! I’ve decided on my job application criteria… as I enjoy my current job, it pays me enough money to travel fairly often and it gives me an excellent work / life balance I will only apply for and consider exceptional opportunities.

This job is pretty exceptional and as ‘Director of Digital and Technology’ would be a substantial promotion. The closing date was today so fingers crossed and lets wait and see…

 

 

Preparing for a sober October…

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Or that is the plan!

I often have difficulty in sleeping which is usually worse after a few glasses of wine. (Probably an age thing… ) Also, having had several recent trips away and lots of excuses for a few drinks I’m starting to get concerned that maybe I am exceeding my safe drinking limits?

According to drink aware, to stay within healthy limits, an individual is supposed to consume no more than 6 glasses of wine or 14 measures of spirits a week!

A quick estimation of my alcohol consumption last week reveals:

  • Monday: 1 glass of red wine
  • Tuesday: 2 glasses of red wine
  • Wednesday: (In Liverpool on work trip) 2 glasses of red wine
  • Thursday: (Liverpool) 2 x Margarita cocktails and 2 x Baileys = 8 spirits
  • Friday: (Liverpool) 1 glass of white wine
  • Saturday: 2 glasses of rose wine
  • Sunday: 2 glasses of white wine

Oh dear… this equates to 10 glasses of wine and 8 measures of spirits. And I mostly don’t have any days without having any alcohol…

I am determined to look after my health and give myself the best chance for a healthy ‘next 50 years’ and drinking too much alcohol isn’t going to help…

So, on the basis I can’t really see myself getting my fortune told this year I’ve swapped this challenge out and have set myself a new ‘Sober October’ challenge. Although this is also a ‘Health’ category, this is going to be potentially a bit tough so I’ve put this in the ‘Challenge’ category.

A little bit of a tweak however…  I’m just going to do this for 4 weeks rather than the whole month… so will start on Monday 1st October and end at midnight on Sunday 28th October.

The term ‘Sober October’ comes from the MacMillan cancer fund raising site. I’m happy to give a generic donation related to money I’ll potentially save during October but I’m not keen on sponsorship… in fact I’m against the idea of asking people for sponsor money. It can put them in an awkward position and it feels like a form emotional blackmail i.e. people can feel guilty if they don’t actually want to sponsor you or give their hard earned cash to charity. And I haven’t signed up as I’m concerned about getting bombarded with emails…