How the sea cadets is helping me with my fear of heights…

So, I may not have mentioned before how I volunteer for the Sea Cadet Corps. I enjoy it, obviously or I wouldn’t do it.

Gods, it can be challenging and maddening and stretches your patience. However, it challenges me and that’s something I’m after. I didn’t have the greatest start but after a change of unit (there are many units around the country) things clicked in to place.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering about the title of this post. I was asked to become the store keeper at my unit. Sure, said I. Cheerfully going to the tiny store-room – where are the rest of the uniforms?

Well to cut a long story short imagine a very rickety looking ladder leading up to an attic. I am not the lightest of people, I also dislike heights (long story, geology field trip accident, I’ll go into it in a few years perhaps) The ladder flexes and groans as I step on to it. Heart in my mouth I climb repeating the mantra ‘I saw so and so (who is bigger than me) climb this ladder, I saw so and so climb this ladder’

I reached the top. Promptly smacked my head on the thankfully padded ceiling at the top. I think since that day I’ve been up and down that ladder about 40 times. Now, the step down, there I’m going from the flat floor to the ladder and searching with my foot for that first rung, is the only part that causes me fright.

I tried to avoid going up and down at first then realised it was affecting my stores keeping, gave myself a stern talking to, put on my adult pants and just got on with it.

In my everyday life I don’t climb ladders. Eventually, like all fears that you are repeatedly exposed to, the fear will fade and the ladder won’t scare me anymore.  I don’t think I would have ever realised my dislike of heights extended to ladders, nor would I have (almost) overcome it without the SCC.



Checking in again

So, it’s been a very eventful few months.

Nothing massively groundbreaking, more just mentally busy.

Just wanted to check in and assure you I’m alive – I’ve also had some non-teaching job interviews so looking forward to possibly being done with teaching.

A few years on

Three years ago I was employed, a full-time, yearly renewed contract but it was still ‘proper’ employment.

Things hadn’t really been going well, work was very stressful, I was being forced to teach something I felt unqualified to teach – I tried to explain I couldn’t teach it and was told I was being ‘inflexible’ and where I worked people who were inflexible did not get contract renewals. Marking was getting on top of me, I had over 100 students doing BTEC and some of them were not passing the unit I was struggling to teach. I was going to work at 7am and leaving at 9pm, my weekends consisted of grunting at my partner during meals and then getting back to marking or lesson planning or tracking.

I also had had time off to get married (that made me popular – not) then, three days before the Easter holidays I was at work at 7:30am and my mother called me sobbing – my grandfather died. I had to leave and go back to Yorkshire and care for my grandmother, help arrange the funeral, view the body, the body with half the face smashed from where he’d fallen. We’re a close-knit family and I’d told the place I worked I wouldn’t be back before the Easter holidays.

I was told not to worry about it. So I didn’t.

I should have.

When I returned I was told I should have returned the next day. I was told that I had let my students down. I was told that I had let the other staff down. When I’d explained to my students why I had been absent I was told how dare I make them feel bad for asking why their work hadn’t been marked? Slowly I began to realise I wasn’t welcome in my department anymore, several people began to blame me for things, the others began to close off from me. I’d suddenly become the department scapegoat. I had to reinterview for my job and I didn’t get it. Friday afternoon the week before final deadline my boss told me that she’d finally IV’d my Unit two marking and none of it was up to her standard. This was a shock to me as I’d marked it the same as the year before and when I asked why she hadn’t said anything in January (as that’s when it should have been IV’d) I was told she couldn’t find it then and all my students would have to re-do, resubmit and I would have to remark anything above a pass in one week.

That day as I drove home I stared at the trees along the route and found myself thinking “If I drove into one of those trees…I wouldn’t have to go to work on Monday” I was so desperate not to go back to that toxic environment that I was willing to seriously injure myself. I didn’t want to kill myself, I could never do that to my partner and family, but I wanted to hurt myself so badly.

The Saturday I treated myself to the local Pick your own and went to pick strawberries. A few hours in the fresh air would sort me out I thought. I don’t remember how it happened but there I was in the middle of a strawberry field, on my knees in the hay just sobbing my eyes out silently.  I don’t know how long I sat there, I an remember it so clearly, the bees, the smell of strawberries, the green of the plants and the bright blue sky but I do remember thinking ENOUGH.

I drove myself to the local walk in clinic and sat for an hour in the waiting room barely holding on.  I explained everything, the nurse was brilliant, she listened and I was a blubbering mess she prescribed me some Valium to get me through the weekend as I hadn’t been sleeping and sent me home with strict instructions not to go back to that place.

I called my two best friends as my partner was away. Please I need someone here with me I begged them and they came. They stayed the whole week with me, they fed me ice cream and didn’t complain when I ate the whole lot myself. They made sure I slept and took the medicine the Dr prescribed me. They drove me to that Dr on the Monday morning and she made sure I knew that I wasn’t in the wrong, she told me it was okay to feel how I did and she also said she’d wanted me to take a fit note when she’d seen me in March but I’d refused saying I’d tough it out.

I love my friends. Someone I don’t speak to anymore called my partner and explained everything to them, including how I was feeling and what had happened and how they could help me.

The medicine I was taking knocked me out, dead on 2pm every afternoon. I started in May 2014 and the whole of May, June, July….I would fall asleep at 2pm, that’s how exhausted and sleepless I’d been. I started therapy, I didn’t think it would help, I hated filling out the survey every week asking if I still wanted to hurt myself. Some weeks were better than others.

As I’m writing this I’m sat in a library at university. A library I probably wouldn’t have been sat in without the support and help of my friends, partner and therapist. I felt so low and useless I wouldn’t have even considered doing a Masters.

Yet here I am, two years in to a part-time masters, I’m sat in the library surrounded by the books and papers I’m reading for the literature review for my final project. The lowest grade I’ve gotten so far was 69%. I still have bad days, I’m currently crying as I write all this out – it’s like poking a wound that’s inside, it causes an ache in my chest even this many years on. My experience has damaged my love of teaching, it damaged my confidence and it’s damaged how I work with other people to a degree.  I couldn’t even drive past the building at first.

It took over a year of therapy, and it was only in September 2016 I took the last of my medication to the pharmacy for disposal. I’m better than I was, and one day I hope to be able to talk about it without being angry or crying.

One day.

A teacher who needs someone to talk to? Call the Education support network 24/7 08000 562 561

Their website: here

Eating a Pomegranate

So for the first time I ate pomegranate!

I’ve always wondered what pomegranate tasted like, my mother told me once it was her favourite fruits but has never had the chance to show me how to eat one.

So, as I’m trying to eat healthier I decided that I’d try new things and there I was stood in Lidl and there was a pomegranate sitting there. Into my basket it went.

Have to admit I was a little nervous, what if it tasted horrible? What if I’d wasted my money?

So, I typed in ‘how to eat a pomegranate’ and clicked on the first video that came up – This one. It was fairly simple to do in the end.


Firstly I cut out a cone from the top of the pomegranate.  As you can see I wasn’t as neat and nicked a couple of the seeds with my knife – if your knife skills are better than mine you shouldn’t get that red staining. I also sliced off the bottom


Score along the ridges of the pomegranate, but not too deep of your pomegranate is going to bleed!


Teacherwashere SMASH!


How beautiful are these little gems?


I ate them with the seeds in and the taste was unexpected! A very sharp almost cranberry taste. Really good for a tiny acidic fruit hit and surprisingly theraputic picking out the seeds.

Until next time!

Fifth week (fifth weigh in) 8.4.17

So, in case you’re wondering you’ve not gone mad and I can count. Last week I did not weigh in as I was away for the weekend.

I was determined –  DETERMINED to not gain and also to hit the stone mark. Well, it was hard work but I managed it! I’ve lost just over a stone (I lost 4.5 Lb) those who have been counting will know how much I’ve lost.

Alas, over the weekend the boys came over and what can I say, I rather spoilt myself Saturday and over ate! That did mean I managed to put 2lb on over one day.

Now one of my interim targets was to weigh less than 23stone so that I could finally play/exercise on my WII fit. I am really enjoying playing on it again although I think it’ll be a while before I am back up to doing the levels I used to.

This week I’d like to lose some more and keep heading over to my club 10% target we shall see!

Third week (Fourth weigh in) 25.03.17

I have had a bad week last week, I ate a lot of awfully ‘synful’ stuff. I can’t say I regret it (except the awful burger at the NEC  Weatherspoons – ultimate burger my pineapple!)

To say I wasn’t looking forward to getting to weigh in is a slight understatement. I was hoping to maintain or at least to have put only a little on. I lost 3lb! Very happy with that.

That brings my total up to 12, meaning I only have to lose another 2lb to have lost a stone of weight. Next weekend I can’t make my normal weigh in and because I’m so busy every other evening and daytime I can’t go to any others….so holiday time! With the 12 weeks free I get with my deal with the council I get 12 weeks for free at slimming world and also 2 holidays to use.

So, one holiday put in and now I can focus losing those few pounds.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about upping my physical activity. I tried doing more walking and running before and I was doing well but I kinda trailed off…

So, this morning I’ve downloaded zombies, run! 5k (a couch to 5k program) I’ve used the Zombies, Run! App before (which is free to download) but I decided I need to actually work up to running rather than just ‘walking with purpose’. I also realised I don’t own a pair of trainers so gave myself a small budget to get some running shoes an socks. At least now I have some decent footwear, well appropriate anyway. I also stopped by some charity shops in the local area and went tennis racket shopping. Less than £4 later I am the proud owner of two lightly used tennis rackets 😀 Alas most charity shops don’t have tennis balls due to people who have dogs buying them (apparently). The tennis balls cost me more than the darn rackets! I live walking distance from a  park with a tennis court so now all I have to do is kidna…..*persuade* my partner/other person to come play tennis with me!

Sounds doable right?

Second week (third weigh in) 18.03.17

Yeah, I know it’s Thursday the 23rd but I’ve had a bit of a hectic week, this is just a quick update! My third weigh in went a lot better than I expected. Friday was a bit of a bust, I bought a doughnut at the school I worked in (it was for charity!) – totally not worth it. Seriously if you’re going to spend the syns on a Jam doughnut get them fresh from Morrisons. Other places may do nicer other types of doughnut but Morrisons is IT for Jam ones.

Also, my poor partner brought home pizza and cheesy garlic bread which, to be fair, they didn’t bring me any. I just happened to eat half the cheesy garlic bread pizza at 16 syns a slice. So yeah, over 60 syns on Friday I wasn’t expecting good results for weight in Saturday.

I lost 2lb.


I also won slimmer of the week. (which included among other things a bag of misc syn free food. This is a lot


That means I only need to lose 5 more to have lost a stone. I will admit this week has been slightly off the rails so far but I’ll write about that another day!

cowboy hotpot 12.03.17

As I mentioned in a previous post I bought a couple of cookbooks from the Slimming world group I go to.

On Saturday I decided that this week we’re really going to try to cook meals from these two books and with some help from my partner put together a meal plan for the week.

As my partner is away for a course I was trying to find something that was easy too cook for me, and on page 32 of Family meals on a budget I found: Cowboy hotpot!

I won’t go through the ingredients and how to make it as I don’t want to get in trouble for copywrite and it’s not available for non-members on the website… but let me tell you it’s delicious and herby, tomatoey and full of beans. It was also my first experience with the slimming world sausages. I don’t think they’re as nice as the butchers own sausages that are my preferred from Tesco, but as they’re syn free I think I’ll cope in this.


What did surprise me is that it’s meant to be for 4 people with a side salad. You could quite easily feed 8 people with this I feel!  I’ve been a little greedy and I ate a rather large portion (not pictured above) to myself which would have probably fed two people but I didn’t have the salad. I did also eat the contents of the dish to the right for lunch today, but with a side salad it would have done two adults quite nicely. The dish on the left is going to go into the freezer for a day when I can’t be bothered anymore (or am broke)

Cost wise, I make it about £4.12 from Tesco for the ingredients and £3.00 for the six sausages. Divided by 8 that’s less than a pound per serving. I’d also like to point out here that part of that cost was a large bag of potatoes which didn’t all go into this dish, so it was probably cheaper than that.

The only change I made to the recipe was in regards to the sausages, I changed it from slicing them each into three to slicing them into about half cm slices. This meant I could enjoy more protein per bite.

Anyway, Cowboy hotpot – Delicious, filling and syn free! I recommend it!

(Excuse the pale potatoes, I was really hungry by this point and didn’t want to ‘brown them’ in the grill!)



OOF Sunday treat

Today is Sunday and my partner is off down south for a course. ‘Let’s go out for Sunday dinner before I go’ they say.

Now, they did want to go to the local pub but I looked at the menu and there were a lot of ‘honey glazed’ this and ‘deep fried’ that with ‘mashed’ other. Now I could sit down and work out every syn for every part and to be quite frank with you I couldn’t be bothered today.

So instead I asked if we could go to the Toby Carvery nearby, there was a slightly grumpyness at this but *shrugs*

Anyways I had the king size and trimmings, should point out at this point I gave one of my Yorkshire puddings and the sausages to my partner though so don’t stress out about that!

sunday lunch

So according to my working:

Carrots = free (speedfood)

Cabbage (red and normal) = Free (speedfood)

Peas = Free

All meat had the fat trimmed off – pork,beef,turkey = free.

Gravy 1 portion = 1syn

Onion in gravy = 0.5 syn

Yorkshire pudding (I gave one to partner) = 4.5 syns

Roast potatoes x 3 = 2 syn per potato so 6 syns.

and a nice pepsie max (0 syn) so all in all 12 syns.

Doable if you’re on 15 syns a day, I think I’d be tempted next time to splash out and have another yorkshire pudding and some mashed potato but I’m pleased that I am under syns for the day. I have something nice planned for dinner and nothing else with syns planned for the day so we’ll see how it goes.




First week (second weigh in) 11.03.17

Today was my second weigh in, or rather my first if you discount the initial one last week.

I’d tracked my food, counted my syns and still as I walked to the group session I felt panicked. I had to stop half way there, my breathing was labored – I couldn’t catch my breath and the edges of my vision went grey. The hell? I thought to myself as I leant against a handy bus stop. After breathing through my nose and managing to fill my lungs that way and a rather stern talking to (internally – don’t want people to think I’m mad as a box of frogs) I set off again.

As I got nearer to where the group meets I joined the people walking towards the 8:30am session and chatted to people. This made me feel better and breathing was better – so, armed with my leeks for the slimmer of the week basket (What? I like leeks!)  I headed in.

I was slightly early at 8:20 but after a couple of minutes and popping their head in from where they were inducting a new member the consultant let us start getting weighed in early. I was pleased to see the woman who started last week with me giving me a wave across the room and chatted to a couple of people in the line as we waited to get weighed.

I forgot to mention last time that slimmers world has gone digital with a membership card that contains all your details on it. Mine now says I have 10 sessions left, ten sessions to decide if I can afford to continue :-/ However, I’m not worrying about that yet.

You’re probably all wondering by now how I did on my weigh in? Well I’m pleased to say that I had lost 7lb (just over 3kg in new money). I was/am pleased but I’m not getting over excited because I know my weight goes up and down like a yoyo.

Had a wonder into the book section and bought myself a couple of the SW cook books ‘Family feasts on a budget‘ and ‘free & easy‘. I just need some inspiration to flick through when I’m meal planning (yes I’m aware I can get them online but it’s not the same!) Pleasantly surprised that both books came to under £10! I’ve added links to buy them from amazon but they’re not as cheap online as at your local club. So, at this point I realised that  I hadn’t gotten any raffle tickets (see last weeks post) turns out I’d misunderstood last week – you actually have to buy the raffle tickets. Ah well, I can’t really afford to be buying raffle tickets on top of everything else!

The meeting afterwards was nice, I can see how some people would not like it – it can be a little ‘give everyone a  round of applause’ but I like it and find it encouraging and leaves me enthused for the coming week. I also got my first certificate! 1/2 stone! The lady who joined last week also did really well and lost 1/2 a stone – however neither of us won slimmer of the week *boo* what can I say, those leeks did look tasty 😀

I also heard from across the room someone saying about ‘club 10’ – turns out this is when you lose 10% of your body weight. I have 27lb before I can join that particular club. Ah well.

My fave recipes from this week are as follows (please note if they won’t load up it may be because you have to log on):

Tangy grilled chicken Dijon style – Loved this, so simple and easy! red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, chicken. Wham together, grill in the oven. I had it with some pasta and some cold for lunch the next day. May add less red wine vinegar next time as it was a bit runny and I want more of a paste. The taste wasn’t as strong as I thought it would be which is nice as both red wine vinegar and dijon mustard are quite strong usually!

Adrakhwala chops (spiced pork chops) – I have to admit I left it to my partner to cook this. They and I agree that next time we’d not add the water and possibly grill rather than stew in the casserole dish to intensify the flavour. My partner also fried some shallots in frylite and made a carrot and cumin crush (like mash but no butter/milk etc) to go with it. I love pork chops so couldn’t really complain.

This week I have synned heavily on some days…there were roast potatoes on the Sunday, a rather nice cookie on Thursday and…a delicious cheeseburger on Friday. However, I never spent all of my 25 syns so I haven’t been that bad.  One of the things I did struggle with this week was snacking and lack of sweet things. So I bought some of the hi-fi lite bars (Salted caramel pack and also a rocky road pack) They came to £3.90 for two boxes of 6 at group and are 3 syns each or you can have 2 as a healthy extra B. I would have added amazon links again but they’re retailing for about £10 a box on there and to be frank that’s ridiculous!

This week I’ve got meals planned, my partner is away for part of the week so I’m cooking for myself. Good practice for when they’re away at sea I suppose.

Well, until next time!