Glimmers of Life

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So it’s August Bank Holiday weekend and as usual we had nothing planned. What could we do that will entertain my daughter, not cost a fortune and make the most of the lack or rain (knowing that it’s on the way) – that isn’t the local park…

Head into town for the Manchester Day Parade, or is it the Pride Parade – I don’t know but whatever you decide to call it, you include the word entertaining!

The trip into town in the car past Spinningfields and towards the top of Deansgate was very straightford. It seems the Council/Police decided to close the roads at the last minute which is to be commended.  Arrived at 12.30pm to take my place on the pavement not far from the Hilton, and at 1pm on the dot (according to my phone) the parade came round the corner from Liverpool Road onto Deangate – let the fun commence!

45 minutes of bright colours, thumping base, quirky characters, free flags,whistles and sweets and it was all over. My 3-year-old summed it up with a short and sweet “that was great wasn’t it mummy”… I have to agree.Thanks to everyone involved!

And the rain didn’t start until we were back in the car stuck in a little bit of Manchester United traffic… Bonus:-)

It’s been one of those mornings where nothing quite seems to be going to plan. Where you wake up before the alarm clock, switch it off and then end up snoozing ten minutes past when you needed to be out of the shower. Where you arrive at the tram station just as the tram is pulling in but just as you turn around with your ticket and change the doors start to close and there’s no way you can make those two short steps to the get through the doors in the 3 milliseconds before they close.

But at least I’m having a better morning that one woman that I’m sharing a Virgin Train carriage with…

Manchester to London trains on a weekday morning are busy, busy at Manchester but even busier at Stockport when all the people who got on at Manchester have to shuffle round to accommodate all the people who get on at Stockport with actual seat reservations that have not been displayed in the carriage.

This is what happened this morning, as usual but it didn’t pass without incident. As a group of 7 colleagues all got on with one marshalling the rest to their reserved seats, that’s when it happened. A drink was spilled… A man, suited for a full day of ‘business’, stands up claiming that a drink was spilled down his back. He demands no only an apology but that the culprit (one of the colleagues being marshalled to a seat) clean the spoiled shirt. Now this was an accident, in the gap between the seats, known to most as the aisle but not really wide enough for any bride to saunter down, the squeezing and manoeuvring had caused a shoulder to tap an elbow, which nudged a hand that tipped a cup causing the liquid to leap free from its confinement and onto said businessman’s shirt.

The woman stood, neither producing the requested apology or cleaning facility, this made the man angry. And with his anger coursing through his veins he raised his bottle of coke above her head and emptied the contents on her hair. As the drink trickled down her behind her ears and onto her white shirt, again she stood – but now she too was processing feelings of anger, only able to muster, “are you joking?!?!?! Have YOU just done that?!?!?’ before the physical response kicked in.

At that point Marshaller stepped in, squeezing past her Coke-soaked colleague she stood up to the effervescent man who was still demanding an apology, calling the act ‘uncalled for’ and commanding that train security be called. They did the very British thing and took it outside (well to the slightly larger space by the doors) and had their words there with the conductor as referee. In the meantime the carriage was alive with chatter recounting what happened, and the other colleagues complimenting the Coke-soaked victim for being so calm, as they would have ‘decked him one’ in her position.

As the train, smoothly races through the cityscape it takes a good ½ an hour before the ripples from the incident die down…
Before the colleagues stop using terms like ‘wanker’ and farce.
Before the jokes stop flying ‘what did he expect her to do, produce a washing machine right there and then!’
Before the deeper accusations stop being flung ,” it’s a good job you didn’t hit him, he looks like th type of man who would have hot you back” Before the next steps have been discussed, “do you want to call the police when we get into Euston’, “it’s all on CCTV you know’.
And eventually of course the victim is considered: “Can you buy a shirt in Euston station, there’s a Marks and Spencer there”, “No I don’t think so, they just sell food.”

Well with a start to the day like that it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the day goes…

When it comes to exercise there are loads of options out there, and in my quest for fitness (read: killer abs and a size 10 figure) I have tried quite a few. I think ultimately what I’m looking for is something that’s a balance between midless jumping around and yoga – where you feel like you’ve had a workout, i.e. actual sweat is produced but that you’ve learnt something too. Two weeks ago this led me to try Capoeira…

I had seen a poster or two for a Capoeira class in Hulme at the Zion Centre on a Thursday, but I never made it. Then I happened to pop into the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale and there was a poster for a new class starting on Tuesdays at 7pm… so I thought I’d go along. Thinking about it now I didn’t really know anything about Capoeira before I went, there was some notion of Brazillian dance floating around in my sub conscious maybe?

But Capoeria is (and here’s the science bit) a combination of dance, ritual and martial arts that developed out of the Portugese trade of African slaves to Brazil the 16th century. In my two weeks of participating I’ve learnt that’s actually a sort of game where you use kicks and blocks in a flowing movement, and it helps you discover moves and muscles you didn’t know you had!

When going to a class, the first move you need to get your head round is the ‘ginga’, which is where you take one step to the side and then put your other leg behind while your arm comes out in front, then you repeat this moving from side to side. Get that and you’re well on your way – although if co-ordination is an issue then it’s not as simple as it sounds! You also need to prepare yourself for working at different levels, i.e. plenty of bending and squating that works those thighs and gluts.

Oh and you should also prepare yourself for revisiting some of those childhood moves you never thought you’d see again… especially sober.. such as the hand stand and the cartwheel – I’M NOT JOKING! When the instructor explained what he wanted me to do, flashbacks of junior school gymnastics and the fear that went with it (even though I did reach a BAGA 4) came rushing back; but when faced with the embarassment of not doing it I managed to rustle up some semblance of a cartwheel. The good news though is that it’s not a big deal – it’s not about straight legs and pointy toes but the movement from one position to the other so if your cartwheel looks more like a bunny hop – it’s OK.

After the first class I was warned about the muscle ache (and yes it did come despite the post class hot bath), but the sense I pride I had from doing a cartwheel (sorry to go on but it had been over 20 years since I last did one) and the fact that I was learning about a different culture all fuelled my next visit, and my fizzle of excitement for going again this week.

There are classes across Manchester, the three I know about are:

  • DanceHouse, Manchester City Centre (Oxford Road way) – Tuesday 7.30pm
  • Zion Arts Centre, Hulme – Thursday 6.30pm
  • Waterside Arts Centre, Sale (next to Sale Town Hall) – Tuesday 7pm

Try it and let me know how you got on! I would say that if you’re looking for a new challenge with your exercise regime then this is definately worth a try (usually first class is free) as it uses muscles you often don’t use in typical gym/dance classes. More active than karate, not as high impact as Zumba but easy to get into. It should get you into a mild sweat and feel like you’re working (possibly even toning) your muscles – I must be on my way to those killer abs...
(although I should say that this is just my opinion and I am no expert)

Yesterday hubby and I found ourselves hungry in Liverpool city centre at about 2.30pm. We agreed that we were hungry but then where to get something to eat? The conversation went something like this:
Me: So what do you fancy then- sandwich? Sausage roll?
Hubby: I fancy McDonalds
Me: Well I haven’t eaten there for 2 years and I’m not going to start now. How about
Burger King?
Hubby: hmmm ok but the last few times we went there it’s been disappointing.
Me: Well I’m not that bothered. If we could find a KFC we could go there… But you don’t really like KFC…
Hubby: I dislike it less than you dislike McDonalds.
Me: ok well how about we look for somewhere local and independent?
Hubby (dragging his feet): If we must…

This is only about the third time we’ve been to Liverpool city centre in the past 3 years so we don’t know the area very well. So at the next available side street I took a left and hubby came tumbling after…

Ended up at a place called Clarks… which looked like a butchers but sold sandwiches on ‘bin lids’, baps and baguettes of various hot and cold varieties. It was like an oasis in the desert (even though Subway was just round the corner). And it was there dear reader that we spend nearly £10 on 2 sandwiches (turkey breast with bacon, stuffing and cranberry sauce and a hawaian on brown) two drinks and a pastry.

Hubby said: is this where you convince me to have something that’s less tasty than yours… Let me have a bite.
So I said: Me?! You chose it! Fine here you go…but it’s got pineapple in (he doesn’t do fruit)
After taking a recklessly large bite of my sandwich he says, contented: No mine’s better.
Hubby and I agreed again – the balance was restored…

I’m not sure when I first became aware of Wicked… maybe it was Defying Gravity being covered on Glee, maybe it was an interview heard from the lead about how long it took to “get green”, or it could even have been a review from a friend. I don’t know but what I do know is that I’d been waiting to see it since January, and the anticipation has been building since then.

I tried to arrange a trip to London to see it with my friend, but as the costs stacked, train, hotel, ticket price etc my friend’s enthusiasm waned until it became no more than a “did I say I would go to that?”. I then turned to my partner to rescue my dream and whisk me off to see it, but from his rather lacklustre “yeah we could do that” suggesting it would be  next century rather than next month I didn’t hold out much hope. So when I had to travel to London for work on my own with an overnight stay the spark was rekindled and a plan hatched.

I raced off the train at Euston at 7.25pm running on excitement navigated to Victoria, stepped out of the station to be greeted by the HUGE Wicked sign, took a quick gasp and ran in front of a taxi to get to the entrance (who put that road there?!), only to be told that they wouldn’t be able to sell me a ticket because the show started 20 minutes ago. Excitement drained, joy lost I went back to the station and made my way to my hotel and watched Grand Designs instead.

However I went back the next day, got a ticket and was sat in my seat ready for the show from 7.10 (show starts at 7.30pm). Lost in a Hugh Laurie article I hardly noticed when the lights went down… But before long the music started and at last I was watching WICKED!!

I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’d watched a musical on stage but I was thinking that it’s usually more well engaging. Don’t get me wrong, I was enjoying it, there was comedy and emotion and I was happily along for the ride but I just wasn’t feeling it. Then just as I was feeling the pinch of disappointment defying gravity entered the story and that was it. I went from ‘weeeeeeelllllllll’ to ‘Wow’ and by the time the interval arrived I was thinking ‘bloody hell’ that was fantastic. Defying gravity was the song that I was aware of, but it was just a song like any other, but then in the show it soared and took me along for the ride, by the end I was sat hands clasped in prayer position and neck stretched straining to keep my head from floating off into the rafters with the music.

To be honest, nothing else lived up to that moment – if it did I don’t think I could have contained myself! But I definitely relaxed into the performance bit more and got more out of it because of that moment. Really glad that I finally got round to seeing it. Although on the downside there really should have been an encore… guess I’m gonna have to make do with the memories and an Original Cast Recording (which I purchased using my phone before I was out of the theatre!).

Heidi Klum revealed this week that she finds the hair of her mixed raced children a new challenge… reportedly explaining in the Huffington Post:

“Having four children, with one having straight hair and three curly, it’s a bit of a new world for me. Growing up with straight hair myself, that was all I really knew how to work with. It was pretty straightforward: wash, air, dry, done.Henry, Johan and Lou – my three youngest – have super-beautiful locks. Their hair definitely requires a different kind of care than my daughter Leni’s hair.”

Taken from this article on Made for Mums

Welcome to the club Heidi! I remember reading someone’s blog last year that disparagingly talked about white mothers with mixed race children who did not understand black hair… but actually I am black and I don’t understand my daughter’s hair – it’s another thing to add to the list of unexpected aspects of parenting.

I remember in the distant past having those “what if” conversations with my partner, what if we had a child, would they be this or that colour, what if they had hair like this person on the TV or that person in a magazine. And I also remember saving an article from Black Hair magazine that talked about different hair types… all way before my daughter was born. What didn’t cross my mind is how I would care for whatever hair any child I had would have.

So my daughter was born and when we first saw her she was very light-skinned, with straight dark hair and blue eyes. I couldn’t help but notice how not-black she was which was disappointing but I was a little relieved that her hair was straight. As the months went by people assured me that she would get darker and that her eyes would turn brown but the only thing that was changing was the straight dark hair was getting longer and fuzzier as it curled up into a funky little mohawk. Now two years on she has a full head of sandy brown hair (like her father) except that the texture walks the kinky line between her father’s and mine. Funnily enough her father calls it ‘fro but it really is a far cry from the full on afro that I have sported throughout my life. And despite me trying to educate him by regularly comparing strands of my hair and hers he persists in this misdiagnosis, and proudly tells his friends and his family about his daughter’s “cool ‘fro”.

In the meantime it is left to me to care for this new hair type that has entered our family. At the moment because she is young and prone to change I am not doing anything drastic (or chemical). I just use a child’s conditioning spray on a day-to-day basis (occasionally a bit of Pink) to make it easier to comb, then wash and condition it once a week with my shampoo and whatever conditioner is handy and monitor the results. Oh sometimes I oil it too but have only done this 3 times I think. It’s not fallen out yet and mostly looks shiny and cared for so I must be on the right track…(oh I say “mostly” to cover the days when she’s put sand, mud, paint, flour or some other substance in it). My plan is to take her to a hairdresser when she’s a little older for some expert advice (and a hair cut but don’t tell her father!) – although unlike Heidi I don’t have a celebrity hairstylist in my circle of friends who I can call on for an expert consultation, so I’m not sure where I’ll go yet but always on the lookout. Does Angela Griffiths (the woman who’s been in Corrie as Steve’s girlfriend, Cutting It and had her own chat show on Sky) still live in Manchester? Maybe she can recommend someone for me???!

So I thought I would just share my experience of trying to lose weight after having my daughter. The reason I thought I’d share is because it’s not been as straight-forward as I thought it would be.

About two months ago I joined a gym. It was supposed to be a distraction while I found myself a hobby that was much more engaging, but as you may be able to tell from my previous post on the subject, I am hooked. It’s the feel good feeling… Or is it the feel good feeling of being able to eat several biscuits in a day but maintain my weight… I’m not sure. But I thought a by-product of more exercise would be a certain amount of weight loss.

I really am not one for diets. I think they’re pointless because you eat in an uncomfortable way for a while but then when the diet is finished you go back to your old ways – and you hear so many people say they’ve put on the any weight they lost dieting, so why start? My “diets” are based on one simple principle – eat less, exercise more get skinny.  So when I started with my “balanced” lifestyle (biscuits for exercise) I wasn’t expecting much. Then I thought if I just eat a bit less then I’ll lose weight – so I banished the biscuits. However this had no effect. So I started skipping lunch and having a bit of fruit instead. It had no effect. I just stayed the same. Then about 6 weeks in I had a breakthrough – I’d lost 2lbs – fantastic, just in time to spur me on. But then the next week I had my period and was horrified to discover that I seemed to have put on 5 lbs. Probably dodgy scales I assumed but when I went on the next day the reading was the same – I was gutted.

However all the while I was concentrating on my weight people were telling me I looked like I’d lost weight. I also felt as if my clothes were a little looser.

I kept going to the gym, working harder and eating less. I found that I was unnervingly delighted if I had been busy and worked through my usual eating breaks. Then I picked up a tummy bug from my daughter and when I weighed myself after that I’d lost 8lbs.

This is not the right way to lose weight. But the reason I am sharing is because I am surprised at how quickly I became obsessed. I wasn’t even that bothered about losing weight when I started at the gym, but then this insanity just sort of took hold. I really like food. Right or wrong I know I use it as a bit of a comfort – treating myself to “something nice” if I’ve done well, feel down or can find some other excuse. This meant that surviving for a whole day (til dinner) on two slices of toast was an alien experience, but I got such a kick out of it. What particularly worrying is that I can see myself doing it and I know it’s stupid but I just want to the boost.

This weekend I’ve enjoyed a take away and biscuits so no doubt I’ve already started to put the weight back on…

But this experience has taught me a few things…

1. I don’t need to consume as much food as I think I do.

2. That losing weight somehow doesn’t automatically mean a better figure.

3. The plank (the stationary press up type exercise) seems to have more impact on shaping my figure than losing weight.

4. That whether I’m losing weight or not I like exercise.

Not sure if this will help anyone but it’s something to think about.

p.s. tummy still wobbly so there’s still work to do!

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