Tag Archives: thought

Apparently…I have abs!?

30 Oct

Apologies for this very long overdue post, as usual I have my often tried and tested pathetic excuse at the ready…I have been very very busy.

In all fairness I have genuinely been very busy. I hold down a full time job that isn’t exactly a nine to five deal, I have a post as the company social and charity officer with my lovely Lou supporting fundraising and social events, and I’ve been planning a charity auction and Christmas party for like one hundred and fifty people.

On top of this I also try to enjoy a bit of a life as well on the sly, this involves visiting my family and hanging out with my friends, making my annual trips to the cinema, doing my midnight walks and going shopping. (Hardly a chore but hey it still all requires time).

Spend a week with me and it’s easy to see why amongst the hectic pace of my life, there is a pile of books in the corner of my room that are waiting to be alphabetised and placed on my overflowing bookshelf. Why the candle that kind of exploded still hasn’t quite been dealt with yet, why I still haven’t found the mysterious absent partner to my favourite sock, and why despite knowing that the wiper blades and the electrics in my car have been causing some genuine concern to both me and other motorists, I still haven’t had them fixed.

Look at my to do lists at both work and home, and they are populated with tasks that range from the ludicrous and small, to the large and random. For example, at the moment my list at home has tasks ranging from ‘move that spider in the corner to outside’ (it’s more likely to be plural now…I have a dodgy feeling it may have nested or something…) to visit ‘Tresco Abbey Island’ and ‘bleed radiator.’

I often joke with my boss (who luckily seems to share my cavalier attitude towards life) that we currently function in a state of barely organised chaos, we both laugh…I am deadly serious. 🙂

Mind you, this week I finally got one thing off my to do list that has been on there for over three months, ‘get back in to the gym and attend bootcamp with Becca.’

I wouldn’t ever say that the sporty streak runs through my veins. My cousin is a silver medallist European champion gymnast, with more medals and titles under her belt than letters in her name. My dad is an ex body builder/copper who has a professional home gym in his renovated garage, and my brother despite his twenty a day fag habit, is still fairly fit from his manual job and football training.

I have never been, and in all honesty am never likely to be a fitness fanatic. At school the ever famous BG and I were notorious, and would take it in turns to come up with inventive excuses as to why we had to be excused from P.E. that week. (They slowly became more and more outlandish).

Since then however I’ve grown up a bit. By the time A- levels went by and university came along, I began flirting with fitness.

My flirtation with fitness has been an on and off love affair from the beginning. When I first joined the gym I was so self-conscious I could have died. The girls treated it like an opportunity to model spandex based sportswear, and there was not a chance in hell I was ever going down that route. My faded baggy t-shirts and paint splattered jogging bottoms certainly made me stick out like a sore thumb, but they were staying.

At one point I was down the gym three to four times a week and I was fairly pleased with myself. I would never look like the girls I use to aspire to, but I was lifting weights I hadn’t been able to and I was working out harder and longer than I ever could before, and because the gym was wearing me out physically, my usual bouts of insomnia were less frequent.

Anyway, life happened, unemployment happened, crappy part time jobs and volunteering happened, no money happened, living between houses out of a suitcase and a bunch of other stuff happened in between.

By the time I had sorted out a proper job and some life stability, I had completely lost touch with the gym, and my level of fitness had decreased to the point where even I couldn’t even recognise it, as for the insomnia, it was worse than ever.

I started going walking for an hour every day after work but it still wasn’t enough to de-stress, feel fitter and control the insomnia.

Later on in the year Becca joined Taylor Rose and had enrolled in what sounded like some sort of military fitness conscription, and knowing that I wanted to get a bit fitter, encouraged me to join her. Now those of you who know me, will get that I always have a to do list a mile long and I barely manage to keep on top of it, which is why ‘get back into the gym’ had never really materialised even after months of trying.

Still, Becca kept gently (I use that term loosely people, very loosely :)) encouraging me to come along to bootcamp and so finally after a month of reminders every day, I decided it was quite literally now or never. (I am actually very grateful that she did, so cheers mate).

At the time, making the commitment to attend seemed so far away and as a ‘here and now’ kind of girl, it never really occurred to me that eventually it would be Wednesday, and I would have to attend.

I spent most of the day terrified; surely classes like this weren’t made for people like me? Just the word bootcamp sounded so intimidating. I had visions of a how Steph Bristow visit to bootcamp would most likely go…a man dressed in khaki yelling directly in my face ‘drop and give me twenty’ whilst I got on the floor, handed over my purse and put my hands over my head crying silently. It didn’t help that when I casually commented to my mum where I was off to that evening, she replied ‘are you sure?’

Would I actually be able to even participate in this class? At least when I worked out in the past I set my own pace (even if that jerk rowing next to me always did make it a competition).

However as I continually seem to find in life, what I imagine is rarely reality.  (An example would be when I imagined electric blue eye shadow looked good, the reality was somewhat different).

So Wednesday evening…

Becca and I arrived at the gym and after my third attempt to make it through the pod, (something everyone else seems to manage first time by the way) we made our way upstairs and I was introduced to the regulars.

It was surprising yet reassuring, that although some of the girls looked scary fit, there were others there similar to me as well as Michele and Massey, all of us instantly recognisable by that mix of terror and anticipation on our faces as to what was in store that evening.

Christian (who runs the bootcamp alongside Andy) had promised that he would go easy on me, the newcomer to this world of fitness, and after seeing him push the others I have to say he kept his word!

The truth is that I found the class challenging on every level. We did circuits of various cardio and weight exercises and although I found the weights just about manageable, by the time we were on the second round of the circuit, the cardio exercises had transformed me into something which I imagined closely resembled a highly unattractive human lobster.

At one point I leant over to a woman on the mat next to me, who reassuringly looked equally out of breath and said ‘I think I may throw up.’

Still Christian persevered with encouragement and enthusiasm for getting exercise out of me, which can only be described as admiral considering the hundreds of PE teachers who have tried and failed miserably. He ensured that I made it through the class with the knowledge that at least I had managed to do an amount of every exercise on the circuit.

I walked out feeling exhausted, clutching on to the banisters along with Massey as our legs went to pieces wobbling down the stairs. But I also felt a small sense of pride and achievement, that I had conquered my fears and taken my first step back into a world which I would usually avoid like the plague.

On the drive home, I sat in the car with a strange aching sensation in my stomach, which provided a distant reminder of my past excursions to the gym long ago, telling me I had worked hard. Becca said to me that tomorrow I would experience muscles aching I didn’t even know I had, identifying what apparently appeared to be my aching abs (I had abs…who knew?) I expected she would be right.

It won’t be easy, but I’ve agreed to go every Wednesday from now on, and considering Becca works with me…there really is no escaping it! 🙂

For anyone out there like me who has always flitted in and out of fitness I encourage you to get back into it again, and if you want details on the particular bootcamp that I attended let me know, no sergeant majors screaming at you in this one I promise!

If I, a self-confessed fitness phobic can do it then you certainly can, it’s a great deal of fun, there’s a real sense of community and you always leave feeling unusually exhausted and energised at the same time.

I fully expect to be crippled tomorrow, and have to beg my colleagues to roll my chair around the office like some demented fairground ride so I can move about, but hey…we all have to start somewhere right?

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The Crazy Bear

18 Aug

I know I haven’t posted in a while and I am afraid the only deplorable defence I have to offer, is that I have been incredibly busy recently.

Its rare that I have a social life that matches the intensity of work, but currently, my life is divided between working my butt off five days a week, and using the weekend to see my favourite people 🙂 Oh yeah and sleeping, I do a lot of sleeping as well.

If you work in an office with me (god help you) or happen to be friends with me (equal sympathy for those poor souls) then I will have been driving you all crazy with my excitement at the visit to the Crazy Bear in Beaconsfield, which  is truly one of the most unique and opulent restaurants/hotels I have ever visited.

Happy 30th Adam!

Happy 30th Adam!

My uncle was turning 30 and has a certain taste and flair for experiencing life’s events with style, so he invited the now countryside located branch of his family down to London with the rest to celebrate.

The weekend before the meal, my nan and I were walking around Queensgate agonising over what on earth we would wear. Doing our homework, I checked out the Crazy Bear website to get a feel for the place, and my immediate impression was that I would fit about as well in that setting as a Skittle in a bag of Malteasers.

My uncle and friends in the Moroccan waiting room

My uncle and friends in the Moroccan waiting room

Initially, nan and I had shrieked with laughter at the mirrored ceilings in the hotel rooms (kinky), at the £200 caviar on the menu as an appetiser and the clay pigeon shooting, whilst at the same time awing over the general prettiness and luxury of the place (I make us sound like the Beverly Hill Billies, but we’re not I promise).

The Crazy Bear is certainly luxurious

The Crazy Bear is certainly luxurious

However, faced with the prospect of arriving and being turned away at the door, we suddenly became motivated to do some shopping.

I settled on an Oasis dress (literally the most expensive dress I have ever bought myself, I love designer but my bank account only accommodates the more homely and down to earth of dress sense).

Pleased with the general appearance of the dress on me as I’ll ever be when standing next to my stunning and modelesque like cousins, I found a bag that matched thanks to the suggestion of Jenna, and was feeling much more prepared.

Sunday morning and I was standing in front of my mirror giving myself the last look over, making sure I hadn’t tucked my dress into my knickers or left bread or tinfoil in my hair again (yeah you laugh but it does happen) and surveying my appearance with a sense of acceptance and general satisfaction, I got in the car to pick my grandparents up.

We had only been on the road for less than half an hour before the usual Steph Bristow calamity took place. At the time it seemed fine that I had selected a wrap dress with a button securing the top half. However in hindsight, I should have taken into account the normal disaster variables that tend to surround any choices I make, however small they may be. The button securing the top half of my dress had broken, leaving me incredibly exposed. I’m insecure about my appearance at the best of times, but the idea of essentially continuously flashing 25 dinner guests, giving them a prime view of my bra, I think is a lot for any girl to handle. Particularly when half of them are family members and the other half complete and utter strangers.

Cursing a great deal in my head, and desperately trying to fool myself with the illusion that the button on my dress was still functioning, I tried everything I could to pull it together and keep it that way. But without that button, essentially it was like going out in only a skirt. However, let no one say that I am not inventive in a crisis, taking out my earrings I pinned my dress back together and after a few attempts managed to get them to hold. Moving anything other than minimally and with incredible caution was going to be dodgy…but I decided at that point in the car that it was best to address that issue later for my own sanity.

I may not have looked the part but I enjoyed the Crazy Bear all the same

I may not have looked the part but I enjoyed the Crazy Bear all the same

So we arrived, and despite the dress debacle I was still fairly excited to be there. The entrance was strangely hidden adding to the allure, mystery and exclusivity of the place. Stepping in it was like a different world, a handsome man in a suit was playing a piano, the marble floors, chandeliers and lush purple curtains elicited thrills from the snob that apparently lies inside me.

Even the bathrooms are an experience! Its mega dark and mirrored in there!

Even the bathrooms are an experience! Its mega dark and mirrored in there!

My nan and mother however had more pressing issues than just admiring the surroundings, mainly, where were the facilities. Pointed in the direction of a staircase that would have looked at home in a grand ballroom, the three of us made our way down the twisting stairs only to find ourselves met with a dead end and four mirrored walls. Thinking we were obviously in the wrong place we checked and no, apparently somewhere down the staircase were the bathrooms. Reaching our hands out against the mirrors, my nan began to feel her way to the bathroom, finding a mirror that gave way we charged into the dimly lit (and I mean it was bloody dark in there) bathroom (also covered ceiling, floor to walls in bloody mirrors) that was when nan charged straight into a man and began shrieking. In the end I found a mirrored door hidden behind a purple curtain that turned out to be the ladies ( so obvious really) and after we found the actual cubicles (again covered in mirrors) we had a great time experimenting with the falling water from the ceiling, that ran into ornamental bowls.

The Staircase

The Staircase

Laughing ourselves stupid, we joined the rest of the party and then made our way past more luxurious surroundings to the ‘library’ themed room, where our private party would be eating. It was lovely, we had our own private waiter, and the meal was marred only by the fact that I had to keep getting up to re-adjust/re-fix my dress every time I lent forward to reach my wine glass. Despite the fact that my body movements were limited from the neck down, I still managed to enjoy myself.

I have to admit that even though I have visited some luxurious hotels, restaurants, countries and places in my time, I can still occasionally feel fairly uncomfortable in expensive settings.

I think its because I always feel as if someone is going to find me lacking some required quality, tell me I’m not good enough and kick me out. I’m definitely the original ‘she must have climbed under the fence to get in’ girl.

The library was a beautiful setting

The library was a beautiful setting

But I did enjoy myself, seeing my family is always fun and the Crazy Bear is both a beautiful hotel and restaurant. I would recommend going just for the experience, it is a wondrous place 🙂 I have included the website here in case anyone does fancy doing something a bit different and would like to go. As long as you are sensible, the menu and drink aren’t too expensive either.

If you do go though, take a fashion tip from the wise…don’t wear a wrap dress you’ll only regret it…and if you do, make sure you have your sowing kit handy!

http://www.crazybeargroup.co.uk/beaconsfield/

A lavender themed dessert

A lavender themed dessert

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