Physio score!

Well, believe it or not, all that cake eating on holiday has done my arthritis no harm at all.

Yes I am being cured by cake!

Well maybe not. Let’s say the stiffness in my hip is easing and I’ve been doing my physio exercises everyday and my yoga every day and eating enough oily fish to lubricate the stiffest of joints.

But my hips are definitely wearing the odd slice of cake.

At physio my hips were almost even. Possibly one more session. Woohoo.

Of course being off work I’ve been doing a lot of yoga.

At yoga school we were asked to make a structure out of 11 sheets of the Guardian that could stand up. It was part of a team bonding exercise.

IMG_2802

Meet Wellington. (Our yoga school sessions are in a chapel on Wellington Road).

And if you look carefully at his ear, I’m pretty sure Mel has managed to twist the paper to say ‘bark’…

Good times, Slovenia

All good things must come to an end.

Even holidays with good friends in Slovenia. And Italy. And Austria.

Saturday street market in Ljubljana

Saturday street market in Ljubljana

But not before buying last treats. For me that means stocking up on Slovenian salt. Which seriously rocks (salt joke – gettit!). You know how people go on about how ‘special’ salt tastes really different, not like the usual stuff? I thought it was all a bit of a myth, but you can taste the difference. Use in homemade soups, liberally. Rub a chicken in olive oil, then rub in some of this stuff and your roast chicken will be beyond tasty. And super golden and crispy.

After I’d stocked up on enough salt to see me through the next six months we met up on The Beach (which isn’t a ‘beach’, but is where everyone goes to sun themselves) in Ljubljana’s city centre for final coffee and cake.

Noisette cake in Ljubljana - yum

Noisette cake in Ljubljana – yum

I didn’t need any lunch.

Ah, Slovenia, how we miss you. Good times 🙂

Big smiles at Lake Bled

Ooooh Vienna

Ultravox really ruined Vienna for my generation. For those of us who were too cool for school, Lead singer, John Foxx, was positively heroic. Bone thin, almost divinely pallid, he droned his way through our bleak existence like a Keats, romance for the drum-machine-driven orchestration of our bleak early Eighties teenage years. Ultravox so nearly had it all. But then he left. And then some pencil-moustached whippet from Scotland turned up, fresh from a baseball-themed band called Slik, and it all went horribly wrong. And popular. Which, when you are too cool for school is pretty much the same thing.

Vienna was kept off the UK charts’ number one spot by Joe Dulce with the utterly dreadful Shutuppa Your Face. This annoys Ultravox a lot. They mention it in every retrospective pop rehash for which they do a talking head spot. Like Vienna is Beethoven or something.

Vienna the city, however, is utterly gorgeous and that dirge by Ultravox is an affront to its charisma, its vastness and its architectural grandeur. Its cracks in the pavement, frankly. It’s one of the must beautiful places I’ve ever been. Here’s some buildings and statues:

Belvedere gardens

belvedere gardens

Vienna

fountain, Vienna

And then we went shopping. So much fun. We went to Tiffany’s. Have you ever been? I’m not a jewellery person. I’ve always considered it nice for other people, but not really for me. Books are for me. But Tiffany’s. Goodness. So many diamonds. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s Holly Golightly says that Tiffany’s is the kind of place where nothing bad could happen to you. I don’t know about that but I did come out all relaxed and ‘Ahhhhh’ like they put something in the air vents. I now have a fantasy shopping basket on line with a 1.5k engagement ring in it!MrM had better get working, that’s £21,000 worth of ring 🙂

Shoppng: Tiffany's is on the right here

Shoppng: Tiffany’s is on the right here

Shopping in Vienna

That’s me in the blue

And we went for coffee in a famous Viennese cafe where they make amazing cakes. Those lilies on the cake in front, they are all make from icing sugar. Those guys can bake.

Cakes in Vienna

Cakes in Vienna

And here’s some other random Viennese pix

Tram in Vienna

Vienna skyline from hotel

St Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna

In St Stephen’s Cathedral, the light from the stained glass bathes the cathedral in coloured light

Oooh, and we went to see The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. It’s an amazing picture in real like – seven foot high, four feet wide. I gasped at the sight of it. It’s in the Belvedere. A beautiful place.

At the Belvedere

A cuddle for the Kiss

And then we drive back to Slovenia. A big of a car journey – some five hours, but such an amazing city. We want to go back for at least four days. I want to see the Ferris Wheel from the Third Man, that famous Orson Wells film. And visit some of the other museums and galleries. And not think about Ultravox at all.

Yoga school

Namaste people

On Saturday I got up early for yoga school. It’s not really called yoga school, it’s called British Wheel of Yoga Foundation 1. Snappy. So in my head it’s yoga school.

I’ve been on this course since last Autumn and loving it. I’ve learned about aspects of yoga beyond asana such as pranayama, mudra, dhyana. It’s like reading a great book and then someone saying ‘oh, didn’t you know that’s just one in a whole series?’ And then suddenly you’re tucking into the other books and being blown away by how the story unfolds.

This is me at 6.30am on a Saturday morning. Don’t ask me what my hair is doing, but it is clean.

Asleep? Almost...

Asleep? Almost…

This is what I need to eat to keep me going until lunch time. A lot of porridge, with nuts, seeds and fruit.

Brekkie

Brekkie

This Saturday we did lateral extension and twists – focusing on asanas like triangle and sage pose, which are great for the muscles around my arthritic left hip.

arriving at yoga school

arriving at yoga school

Muscles which, I think, are slowly but surely releasing. It’s a real lesson in patience, regaining mobility in muscle stiffness. But it is possible.

This foundation course ends in June. I’m going to miss the women from the course. With them I’ve learned, laughed and expanded my understanding, of life, the world and how to manage the stresses we are subject to as we try to earn a living, manage our homes and relationships, plan for our futures…

And I’ve eaten a lot of cake. Oh yes, cake. Several women in the group are great bakers. Mel, I swear, is a baking goddess. Her lemon drizzle… unbelievably moist and zesty. I didn’t think I even liked cake!

Relaxed running

You know, I got up this morning, I made a cup of tea and I thought, ‘Wow, I am really relaxed’. I felt calm and serene and quite post-yoga chilled. What a difference some time to ourselves makes. And lots of sleep.

With no work until the new year I can run when I want to too. In daylight, even. It was a brightish, sunny morning with a stiff breeze, which seemed to be constantly blowing at me. Why is the wind never behind you, eh 😉

Paula Radcliffe; she’s the same height as me – 5ft 8in but there the similarities end. She runs twice as fast as me, for 26 miles at a stretch. Today I ran six miles in 1h 12m, a 12:07 pace. The last half hour was bloody murder but I got there, which is the point isn’t it. Small but significant steps forward in the right direction all add up to giant strides in the long-term. If running teaches you anything it’s patience – and how to endure pain.

I’ve got a niggling tight muscle in the top of my left thigh that nags in that irritating way that makes you grimace when it’s bad and limp slightly till it warms up. A sports massage would no doubt do me the world of good but I can soldier on with paracetamol until then. Elite athletes are an inspiration, but I don’t envy them. I bet Paula can’t curl up on the sofa with a large slab of Christmas cake in the afternoon and I shalln’t be plunging myself into cold baths, I don’t care if it does aid muscle recovery. Give me steaming hot bubbles, a cup of tea and runner’s world every time. I know, rank amateur – and I love it! 🙂