Sugar Free September – The End

Yesterday was the last day of ‘Sugar Free September’. Did I start today with sugar laden cereal or go for coffee and cake to help me stay awake after very little sleep (thanks to my son)? I could if I wanted to, the challenge is over but no, strangely I haven’t headed for the sugar…..

The last month has been a real eye opener. Thirty days of no sugar, pasta, bread and dairy. Thirty days of eating clean. I love a challenge and I’m pretty hard on myself so there was no way I was going to give in. Even last week, with 17 people in my house for a Macmillan coffee morning and enough cake for about 50 people. I didn’t so much as lick a stray bit of cake off my fingers. I’ve found it all pretty easy apart from those first few days. What I have really noticed is how many things contain sugar. I have had to cook pretty much everything from scratch. It’s made me look more at what I’m giving my children as well. I don’t have a problem with them having sweets or chocolate as a treat occasionally but I want to be the one who controls how much sugar they are getting. When you start to look at how many daily food items have so much added sugar you realise how it’s been taken out of your control and you are actually giving them much higher amounts than you intended. My major concern is sugar laden cereal and I am going to stop getting this for my children. It’s difficult because they have a routine of having milk and dry cereal every morning as a pre-breakfast and the proper breakfast is wholemeal toast, fruit or porridge with raisins (no added sugar). I am going to have a chat with them and hope they understand.

I didn’t take on this challenge to lose weight but the 10lbs loss has been an added bonus, I have also lost the following inches:

Bust 1 inch
Waist 3 inches
Hips 2 inches
Arm 1 inch
Thigh 1.5 inches

I feel good, less bloated, have more energy and I’m strangely calmer. I don’t know what I expected but it certainly wasn’t feeling like this.  My taste buds have definitely changed and a dried fruit bar that was a bit tasteless to me a month ago now tastes really sweet to me.

The future is the hard part for me, my idea is that I continue to live like this whenever I’m at home but if I’m out and really feel like a treat I can allow myself that. I can’t forget day two and three, going through withdrawal from sugar like it was a drug.  It was awful and I don’t ever want to go through that again. I want to keep that memory for as long as possible to help me stay on the right track. I am going to try to make some cakes that don’t contain sugar.  I’ve tried baking a few in the past and they have been pretty awful and inedible but that could just be my cooking, I’m certainly no Nigella.

So I want to leave you with some things to consider. Do you know how much refined sugar you are actually consuming? Are you feeling tired, irritable and bloated? Do you think it could be time to cut down your sugar intake…….

Sugar Free September – Week 2 1/2

Life got in the way last week so apologises for my late post.  Week two has come to an end, week three is in full swing and I am surprisingly still sugar free! It seems to be becoming second nature to me now. I am not tempted at all and don’t crave sweet things like I used to, the way I eat has completely changed.  I ate out for lunch one day this week as I write reviews on kids menus for http://www.welovebrighton.com and it was fine, I just didn’t have a dessert (my daughter did).  I am feeling very positive and upbeat even with more things on my to do list than there are hours in the day.

I still haven’t completed any of the exercises that are part of the challenge but I walked 2 hrs on Monday and 45 mins on wed as well as taking part in my little girls first dance class. She was glued to me so I had no choice but to join in.

For breakfast I alternate between a banana omelette (with ginger and cinnamon), scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and avocado, coconut milk yogurt with fruit and almond slices or occasionally I have my granola (No added sugar granola) with coconut milk and fruit.  I used to get up (between 6am and 7am) and immediately have a cup of tea and then breakfast.  Now I start the day with a big glass of water and then don’t have my breakfast (with my cup of tea) until around 8.30am.

Lunches are normally lentil Dahl soup, couscous with roasted veg, salad with avocado and sliced almonds or leftovers from the night before.

Dinners  have been gammon with masses of veg, chicken stir fry with brown rice, steak and salad, smoked haddock with stir fry veg, tuna steak with homemade bean salad or homemade chilli with brown rice.  I often have some fruit straight after.

You are not really meant to snack but I occasionally do with a handful of nuts, a coconut yogurt or a ‘raw bite’ bar which are delicious.  I’m trying to make this sustainable for me and to go from a grazer to only eating 3 meals has been difficult so I think a little snack every now and again won’t hurt.

I have lost another 2 lbs making me lighter than I’ve been in over two years.  I am shocked because I’ve been struggling with diets for the last two years, diets that have been hard work, diets that have left me hungry.

I will be coming back to you at the end of the month and right now I am a little nervous about this coming to an end.  While doing the challenge people will excuse the fact that I am not having a slice of cake or a dessert after dinner but in every day life its much harder to say no.  I know I shouldn’t have to come up with an excuse for people but its easier and better sometimes than coming across as a fussy eater or that you’re being difficult or boring.  Anyway I am not going to worry about that now, I will continue with the challenge and see where it takes me.

 

Sugar Free September – Week 1

I took on this challenge because honestly I love a new fad diet and that’s really what I expected it to be. I didn’t fully look in to what was involved, I just signed up. It is the ‘Sugar Free September Challenge’ with Rachel Holmes.  I thought I ate pretty healthy food, lots of fruit and veg with meat and fish but like many people I’m sure, I tend to ignore those biscuits, cakes and chocolates that I eat! I have to add that the last 2 months have been stressful. Moving house and my son starting school have meant stress, takeaways and chocolate.

Before I started the challenge I warned my husband of the potential rage that could be heading his way as it had with many of the diets I had tried over the years, that left me starving and craving naughty treats. He has been really surprised at the outcome so far….

The two days before I started the challenge, I consumed my own body weight in donuts, sweets, desserts, chocolate, more than I normally eat but it was the thought of not being allowed all these delicious things that made me want them more. This was obviously the worse thing to do because my body then struggled at first to give up sugar.

Day one was fine, I honestly didn’t struggle at all. I felt positive about things to come. Day two couldn’t have been more different. I woke with the worse headache and had to force my breakfast down through nausea. I felt so bad I had to come home from work and sleep, it was either that or throw up at my desk, it was that bad. Even once the nausea passed my head still felt like it was going to explode and no amount of medication helped. This continued to day three and I considered throwing in the towel. Then day four came around and suddenly I felt great, no sugar cravings, in fact my appetite was much smaller than usual. My energy increased even though I wasn’t sleeping so well.

I should admit that I haven’t done any of the exercises I was meant to do but I did walk 30 mins three days this week so that’s better than nothing. I have given up sugar, refined and natural (but not fruit) and pasta, bread and most dairy. This is all part of the challenge. I’ve been eating eggs, meat, fish, brown rice, potatoes, coconut milk and coconut milk yogurt, nuts, fruit and of course lots of vegetables.

As the days have gone on I have continued to feel amazing which wasn’t what I expected at all. I have actually found it easy. I even went out to dinner with my husband last night and while I didn’t have a dessert I did have a starter and main course. Alcohol is a judgment call, I was allowed to have it if I really wanted to (although not advised) but chose not to and it wasn’t a problem at all. Today I have spent the day as a volunteer for the Rockinghorse Appeal, helping children to decorate cup cakes. Surrounded by cakes, icing and sweets, and yet I didn’t feel tempted…..I don’t recognise myself.

An added bonus of this is that I have lost a surprising 7lbs in one week which is crazy. I feel amazing and the sleep problem has passed. I don’t know whether it’s the novelty of it, because it is still early days, but right now I feel like this ‘diet’ could really become a new way of life for me. I’m calmer, more relaxed and feeling so positive, let’s see if I’m feeling the same when I write next Sunday or whether the dreaded sugar has won me back.

Reflections…….Then and Now……

Today I supported my brother at a funeral of an old friend. A funny, kind, caring man who left this world too soon. We were told how, through all of his suffering he never complained and remained a real rock to his family.  I remember him fondly, spending time at our house when I was a young teenager.  He left behind two beautiful children and his wife read a speech written by his daughter, a part of which really struck a chord in me. She said that ‘although goodbyes are hard, you have to look at them not as endings but as new beginnings’. Wise words from someone so young.  It made me think of a Maya Angelou quote that I used to have pinned to my office wall at an old job ‘If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.’ Life doesn’t always go the way we plan and it’s not always within our power to change things and we have to accept this at times.  While death is hard the one positive that it can bring, I think, is it makes you look at the life you are living and decide whether you need to make changes and whether you are living life to its full potential. It makes you appreciate the people you have in your life and it makes you reflect on the past, be it good or bad.

I’ve been reflecting a lot recently, reflecting on decisions I made in the past. I was invited to a school reunion and while I really wanted to go, a big part of me was scared to.  School didn’t end well for me, I won’t blame it on anyone but myself. I made some bad decisions, got my priorities wrong and as a result I lost most of my close friends. Sixth form was tough for me, by the end I dreaded every day I had to go in. I had alienated myself from the people who really mattered to me. This is one of my biggest regrets in life and something I’ve thought about a lot especially now we have the world of Facebook. I was happy some of my old friends accepted me on Facebook but in some ways it made things harder. Seeing pictures of them at each others weddings, holding each others babies etc. it makes me feel sad. It shows me everything I missed out on. So because of this I made myself go to the reunion and I’m so glad I did. I felt physically sick driving up, but when someone came straight to me at my car and was genuinely friendly it made me feel at ease.  Everyone was lovely and while it doesn’t change the past it helped me let go of my regret and move on.  It helped me change the ending of the story.

Life is too short and in the blink of an eye you can lose the ones you love. Spend as much time with your loved ones before it’s too late. It’s easy to use the excuses of a busy life but you have to make time, make plans and stick to them. Don’t put yourself in a position where you are regretting the time you missed out on. I ask anyone reading this to reflect on their life. Do you need to make a change or do you just need to accept the things you cannot change?  I think I need to do a little bit of both……..

Carry On Camping

House buying this year has meant that Mediterranean holidays are just a daydream right now. The reality is, four days camping in Sandy Balls. Yes, this is a real place! It’s in the New Forest but we didn’t get around to visiting the actual sandy balls so I’m still none the wiser as to the origin of its name.

I have very vivid memories of camping for my Duke of Edinburgh award as a teenager. Mostly memories of being cold, there were fun moments of course as my friends were there but the main thing that really sticks in my mind is being colder than I had ever been before. The zip of our tent frozen together, wanting to stay in the same clothes for three days to minimise the exposure to the elements, eating frankfurters for breakfast (why?!?!). Looking back it wasn’t that bad but being a teenager at the time meant it was obviously the worse moment of my entire life!!! I no longer exaggerate quite as much as I did then but my pure hatred of being cold is still very strong today and probably always will be.

Every inch of our large car was filled with bedding, toys, clothes, potty etc.  and we were ready to go. The journey was surprisingly pain free because both little ones slept for the majority of it. We arrived to the joyful sight that is, an erected tent. My dad and his girlfriend had been hard at work putting it up and judging by the need to drink wine at 4.30pm on a Thursday I’m thinking it was a pretty tough job. They were sleeping in their camper van and we were in the tent, I could barely contain my excitement at the four nights that lay ahead. Four nights in a tent with my husband and two wriggly children, four nights on an air bed, four nights of using the toilet block, who needs an all-inclusive resort in Lanzarote when you can have all this!

After unloading our essentials and exploring, we decided that we would eat at the campsite restaurant. I know it’s cheating but we were on holiday after all.  As I sat sipping Prosecco and eating an amazing Tapas I thought that maybe this camping business isn’t so bad after all. Of course I didn’t realise that at that very moment our air bed was slowly deflating in the tent. The first night was mostly spent awake due to the volume of my dads snoring coming from the camper van and the slowly deflating air bed and as I walked to the toilet block at about 6am I was mesmerised by the lodges that the foot path insists you walk past. You can hire lovely looking lodges at Sandy Balls. These lovely looking lodges weren’t so friendly though.  As I walked past they were taunting me with their curtains and lights, bathrooms and beds, and most importantly, heating.  They were showing off and my goodness they looked like heaven at that very moment in time.

The day was packed with outdoor play, swimming, pub lunch, indoor play and a wonderful magic show where my quiet four year old volunteered to go on stage and laughed so hard he could barely speak. I have never seen him like that before and it was a total joy to watch. The day ended with a BBQ, a few drinks and a Snickers bar, pretty damn perfect. The rest of our trip carried on like this, eating, drinking, hanging out outside enjoying each other’s company and there were plenty of crafts for the kids to do to (arranged by the campsite). Because dad had his camper van we got to sit inside for our morning cup of tea, dad and his girlfriend even cooked us a wonderful fry up one morning and the kids had a place to hide from the little thunderstorm while watching Frozen on the iPad.  Of course there were a few tantrums and fights but I’m pleased to say they where only involving the kids, and of course there was that ever deflating air bed that needed pumping up every night. It was cold at night but a pair of socks and a sweatshirt solved that problem and the weather was unusually glorious most of the time.

So I have to say that I actually enjoyed every minute of it.  I just loved seeing the kids spending time with my dad, exploring the outdoors and growing in confidence. It might not be the Med but my son said he wished we could stay forever and that’s good enough for me. I didn’t think I would say this but I would actually do it all over again although I think the lodges might be calling…..

Positive thinking – Are you helping yourself ?

There are hundreds of self-help books on the market that promote positive thinking. People turn to these books when they are in the middle of a crisis or struggling to get where they want to be in life. While I myself have never felt that the help I required could be found in these books, I do feel that the ultimate message is good and that people helping themselves is never ever a bad thing. I want to make it clear straight away that I am not talking about people with depression. Depression is a very real illness that you can’t just ‘snap out of’. It must be handled with sensitivity and care, and with the assistance of doctors.

Some people are luckier than others in what they are born into, but really it’s about our actions.  I struggle with people who feel the world owes them something. For most, things aren’t just handed to us on a plate, it’s about hard work, it’s about drive and focus. Discovering what you want and then doing everything in your power to get it, not waiting around for it to happen because it rarely does. Look at some of the great entrepreneurs like Sir Alan Sugar and Steve Jobs, they didn’t have privileged backgrounds but worked hard, had vision and have accomplished so much.

I have a friend who lost her mum at age 16, was passed around family members and separated from her sibling, a long and painful story but not my story to tell. She is now 19 has qualifications, a great job and pays her own way in life.  Even though she had every reason and every right to lack motivation and to give up, she didn’t. She pushed herself and she really is a true inspiration to me. There are times when she herself says she feels ‘lost’ but she just keeps on going. She has managed to turn her life around in the last three years and she has done it all herself, she should be so proud of what she has achieved.

Then there is Stephen Sutton, who I’m sure many of you have heard of. A brave teenager who has been battling an incurable cancer for three years. He has been making sure that the time he has left is being put to good use and has now raised over three million pounds for the teenage cancer trust (https://www.justgiving.com/Stephen-Sutton-TCT ). People like this make you truly grateful for what you have and give you motivation to go for what’s important to you.

I am not naturally a positive thinker, if I’m honest the glass is always half empty in my mind and I am really trying hard to work on that.  To help with this I set myself a little task.  Every day in April I had to note down at least one event that I needed to be grateful for, ‘Grateful April’.  At first I really struggled to find one item a day because my mind-set was to focus on the bad occurrences. After a week I was putting at least 3 good things a day and I honestly found that by concentrating on the good, the bad seemed less important. The good things didn’t have to be massive, some examples of mine were the sun was shining, an impromptu child free night out with my husband and a lie in until 7.30am (my son is usually up before 7am). Although a huge thing that did happen was my husband had a sickness bug and I felt no anxiety.  If you have read my post on Emetophobia you will understand why this is such a big deal to me. I could have looked at the negative but actually a negative situation showed me how far I’ve come with my phobia and that was by far the most positive experience in April.

While I don’t believe that sitting around thinking positively can get you what you want in life, I believe that positive thinking helps you motivate yourself to go get what you want in life and enables you to dwell on the negatives less.  Help yourself to help yourself, by believing, striving and achieving. Success is all the more sweet when you’ve worked for it.

Love for the 80s

I was only 11 in 1989 so I don’t remember the 80s and yet strangely I feel like I do. I feel so much affection for that decade. In my mind I was there but in reality most of what I know and feel about the 80s comes from American 80s movies. Last week we caught up with the rest of the world and joined Netflix. The day after it was movie night in our house, and my choice for a change, but instead of choosing a new release, box office, Bafta winning hit I chose Pretty in Pink. This is one of my absolute all time favourite 80s films (along with Heathers, a film which I can sadly quote most of the words). I didn’t particularly love any of the characters (apart from Iona who was quick witted, warm and changed her style daily), but it drew me in. I remember watching it in my teens with my friends, wearing our pjs and eating malteasers. As I watched it again last week I got that feeling that I can only describe as the feeling of coming home. That feeling of familiarity, security, comfort and happiness, I had to stop myself from smiling all the way through it. I love how a film, like a song, can evoke such strong feelings in people and take you back in time. Even after the film had finished, the soundtrack was going round in my head as I lay awake in bed. 80s films taught me that the clothes were awesome (although I do feel they should stay in the 80s), that hair (women’s and men’s) with that much volume took a lot of mousse, blow drying and hairspray to achieve, that there was a massive divide between rich and poor (in high school anyway), and that everyone drove cars that my husband now calls ‘classics’.

There was so much more to the 80s though, it was a decade of excess and the decade that we finally witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It was the decade that really paved the way in technology to the world we know today, a world of mobile phones and home computers. We were introduced to such high-tech innovations as 8-bit gaming consoles (personally I could have definitely lived without these!), compact audio systems, mobile phones and portable listening devices. Where would we be today without some of these things, it’s hard to imagine.

It was an outstanding decade for music, the icon that is Madonna came on the scene. Who knew then that she would become one of the great queens of pop. Although Prince released his first album in 1978 it was the 80s that really saw the genius in him that now holds him up there among the greats. Of course how can I not mention Michael Jackson, he could do no wrong back then and we could not have predicted the controversy that would surround him in the future. There were so many great songs, so memorable that they have managed to stand the test of time and are still enjoyed en masse today, songs by Culture Club, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Duran Duran, Human League, Whitney Houston, Wham, the list is endless and no party is complete without a few of their tracks.

The 80s were cool, I hate to use that word but it really needs to be used in this case. I only wish I was old enough to have properly experienced all it’s greatness. I can’t change that so I guess I will just have to keep watching 80s films and listening to my Purple Rain album unless Doc really can create that time machine……..

Take a Pretty Picture

This morning I went on the beginners photography course with the City Photography School (www.cityphotographyschool.com). I took a train to London at ridiculous o’clock in the morning and wondered why I was putting myself through this. I got my camera for Christmas and have taken a few mediocre pictures on auto but any good pictures were really only down to luck. I was hoping this course would help me take my camera off auto and take some pictures I can actually be proud of.

I arrived at Waterloo with my fellow students, all of us looking like camera tourists with our huge SLRs round our neck, eager to see what the morning had in store for us. The sun was shining and London was looking at its best, showing off, asking to be photographed. The tutor, Andy Fallon, took us to our first location and told us a little bit about himself and it was reassuring to know that he is an actual working photographer with plenty of knowledge to share. He was warm, funny and really interesting, not what I was expecting at all to be honest. I was expecting a large booklet of dos and don’ts, but photography is very different to anything else I have ever studied. Instead of a class where you are just told what to do, we were told why we do it and what we hope to gain from those adjustments in our pictures. We discussed apertures and shutter speeds and then used our cameras to take pictures that illustrated how they affected the light and clarity. What struck me was how passionate Andy was not only about photography, but also about helping people get the best picture possible. The 3 hours flew by and I enjoyed every second of the course. The key is to have a direction and purpose for your photography and really think about your subject matter. Don’t just aimlessly take random pictures, think before you snap.

I went on the course hoping to learn how to use my camera, I left wanting to be a photographer. Ok I don’t really want to be a photographer but Andy did inspire in me a desire to take pictures that matter. Pictures that tell a story and have depth, and when I have managed that I will proudly show them to you all. I would totally recommend this course to anyone who has a camera and wants to take pictures a little less ordinary.

Valentines Day – dedicated to my husband

The history books give various reason as to why we celebrate Valentines Day but the cynical side of me feels it is just a total waste of money, that we are being taken advantage of as consumers. We are bombarded with valentines day related advertising showing us trips we should be taking and gifts we should be buying. In our house we don’t buy presents or go out to dinner. When we first met we used to go out for dinner on valentines day but it never felt romantic, to be honest it made me cringe. A restaurant full of couples, it felt really unnatural to me. I absolutely love going out to dinner with my husband, trying new restaurants or firm favourites but the shine seems to be taken off it slightly on valentines day.

However I have to say the other (and slightly larger) side of me, loves the idea of valentines day. Scheduling in a day when you have to take the time out to appreciate each other, especially once you have kids and get bogged down in day to day life, it’s a lovely idea. Maybe we should schedule in this day once a month though instead of only annually.

On valentines day my husband cooks, this is a rare occurrence. We sit at the table (instead of, in front of the TV), we eat, we drink and most importantly, we talk. We talk about our past and plan our future together, we put the world to right. I love valentines day because every year it makes me appreciate what a truly wonderful man I have, without whom I wouldn’t be writing this today. He has supported me in everything and anything I have wanted to do in my life. In the early days of our relationship, I remember him saying to me ‘stick with me and I’ll see you right’, I did and he has. I am so incredibly proud of his achievements and the man he has become. He is quietly confident, a closet geek, very handsome (and it is sickening to say but he seems to be getting even better with age), and he really is a true gentleman. He lets me be me and I hope I let him be him and I think that’s the key. We have changed so much during the time we have known each other but luckily we have changed together.

A few years ago we went to the French alps for a beautiful wedding and a speech made at the wedding has stuck with me ever since. I am very thankful that the writer has given me permission to quote this:
“To digress for one moment into metaphor – think of two trees growing side by side. If they are too close, clinging to one another, whether they know it or not, they begin to compete for the things they need – their leaves fight for scraps of light, their roots for the water and nutrients in the soil. Perhaps one tree will assert its dominance, outgrow the other, and while that tree may seem magnificent, the other is left stunted and permanently in shade. Or, alternatively, the contest might have no clear winner, only serving to prevent both trees from reaching their full potential. However, if there is sufficient distance between the trees, if they can each stand in their own light, if there is room for their branches and boughs to spread out in any direction they choose, you will end up with two strong, healthy trees standing proudly side by side, complementing each other, ready and fit to face the tests of time.” Hearing those words spoken (and written) by Philip Makatrewicz gave me goose bumps. He managed to capture beautifully and so eloquently, what being in a loving relationship should be like without being overly sentimental as is often the case.  In a relationship, we must be given the freedom to pursue our own dreams, not just the dreams we have together.

There have been times in our 11 years together that I have to admit I haven’t always appreciated my husband, we’ve had our ups and downs like most. However, as time goes on I realise more and more how lucky I am, not just because of the way he treats me or because he is an amazing father to our children but mainly just because of the man he is. I love him more than I ever thought possible. Happy Valentines Day my sweetness, I know I am not the easiest person to love at times, and to everyone else, sorry if my declaration of love to my husband made you feel a little bit queasy, I promise it wont happen again!

Out with the new in with the old

I grew up in a beautiful Edwardian house on a leafy road in West London. I didn’t realise how much I loved living in that house until many years after we said goodbye to it. It was home for those important teenage years, holding memories, both good and bad, that will stay with me forever. It was full of old furniture my parents had brought over the years, magnolia walls, expensive exotic patterned wool rugs and soft furnishings of dark red velvet and dark green. I hated most of it and longed for a more modern existence, a world of white Ikea furniture and clean lines, a life without clutter (although my bedroom said otherwise).

I remember having to sit in the back of my dads open top Citroen 2CV holding on to this large old table from one side of London to the other, freezing cold hands gripping on to the table while the wind rushed through the car because the table was too big to fit in the car without the roof down. It was a teenagers hell, I hated being cold, I hated that aqua coloured Citroen 2CV (especially if dad dropped me to school in it) and I hated that table. I guess being a teenager meant I hated a lot of things about life in general. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t just get a new one delivered. Little did I know that years later, I would be coveting all things old, vintage, shabby chic, whatever you choose to call it, I love it. How did hate gradually turn into love without me even being aware of the transition? I wondered whether it was just my age but I really don’t think so. I still have no love for exotic patterned wool rugs and soft furnishings of dark red velvet and dark green so I haven’t turned into my parents just yet.

The first property my husband and I purchased was a fairly new flat, finally I was getting my wish. We filled it entirely with furniture from Ikea “Like everyone else, I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct. If I saw something like clever coffee tables in the shape of a yin and yang, I had to have it. I would flip through catalogs and wonder, “What kind of dining set defines me as a person?”.” (Fight Club, 1998). At first I loved it, I really did.

However, as the years went on I was craving an old property with quirky shaped rooms that were sometimes difficult to fit your furniture into. I wanted a property with character and after that, slowly, without my knowledge or consent, it happened. Over the last couple of years I have been gradually selling all my ‘new’ furniture and replacing it with used old furniture. It all started at a carboot sale. I was by myself selling my junk when I noticed a beautiful old mirror a few cars away. I watched all day and as it was still there when I was packing up, I just had to buy it. It needed a bit of tlc and I won’t pretend that I am any good at the tlc bit but luckily I have a really handy husband. It looked stunning on the fireplace and started my journey of charity shops, eBay, Gumtree etc and we now have some really lovely pieces. Mixing old with new to perfectly complement each other. Suddenly I started to appreciate the workmanship that had gone into every piece. I like the idea that this furniture has had a life before me , that it had witnessed the highs and lows of another family. I hate to admit it but I guess it was my predetermined destiny to love old things, old furniture, old houses and there was only so long I could fight against that.