Every Saturday morning at 6.30am my husband gets up and goes and plays golf, this is something that he has done for about three years. I don’t know if it is the fact that I worked nights for many years and perfected the knack of slipping around unheard while others sleep, but I find that no matter how hard he tries he is not a quiet person. I don’t know if it is just my husband or if in fact they are all the same, but I would hazard a guess that all men are inherently, unintentionally clumsy and so, no matter how careful he is he always wakes me up.
For a long time I worked on a Saturday morning, I was up anyway so I figured I might as well, but more recently I have found a much nicer way to spend my Saturday mornings.
Each Saturday I meet with a group of wonderful female friends, we drink coffee and we talk about our week, catch up with what has happened and talk about what we have planned for the next week. Most importantly we chat about how we are going to get to (or keep at) a healthy weight and what plans we have in place to help us to pursue a healthier lifestyle. We support, encourage and cajole each other into action!
I worked in the weight loss industry for five years and heard every excuse going, we all do it, the: “I couldn’t plan a healthy meal because I got home late from work, I couldn’t go for a walk as the weather was awful, my baby/child/dog/cat was unwell so I ate my body weight in chocolate, my husband/partner/mother pee’d me off so I cleared the refrigerator”. We are full of them, some would call them reasons why they couldn’t do ********* (fill in the blank) we call them for what they are ~ excuses.
We are all good friends which allows us to be honest, we slap each other when we hear the utterance of an excuse and jokingly because of this our Saturday get together has become known as the meeting of the ‘Saturday Slappers’ and that has stuck.
A couple of weeks ago it was suggested that it would be a nice idea for ‘The Slappers’ to try some new experiences, push ourselves out of our comfort zone a little. Given that this year I have set myself the challenge of doing fifty new things I was all for this idea, hence at 7am this Saturday morning we headed off to climb (and descend) Jacobs Ladder.
Jacobs Ladder was built in 1909 by Joseph Huck and Sons. Plans provided by Perth City Engineer Henry Payne. Originally a straight 46 metre staircase of 274 Jarrah steps down the side of Mount Eliza.
Now 242 concrete steps with platforms breaking the climb, or if you are really unfortunate, your fall!
The original Jacobs Ladder as mentioned in the bible is a stairway that angels would use between heaven and earth. Perth’s Jacobs Ladder was named the same as a joke by a real estate agent because the views and real estate at the top of the ladder were often likened to a piece of heaven.
The first thing that struck me was that despite the early hour and the chill in the air there were loads of people there and I mean loads! Mainly the young, hard bodied, fitness enthusiasts and they were not walking the ladder but running it! Yes running! I have never seen so much lycra in one place outside of a gym and frankly felt very soft, pudgy and a little inadequate alongside them!
Our group is a mixed bunch, our age range goes from 30-60 and we have varying levels of fitness.
We were lucky with the weather as the previous three days had been very stormy, howling winds sent to rip fences from gardens. This morning was chilly but very calm and the wintery, watery sun was peeking through the clouds encouraging us along. The views from the top of the ladder were amazing as long as you didn’t look down you were good! The descent was easier than I had expected given that I have the starts of osteoarthritis in both my knees. We got to the bottom in no time at all and were pleasantly surprised to find buff young men ‘stretching’ at the Jacobs Ladder stretching station! God bless whoever invented lycra! The stretching station is what can only be described as children’s climbing frame with huge elastic bands attached to assist those wanting to stretch. Knowing that these fit young bodies are flexing and stretching at the bottom is incentive enough to make you climb down the ladder just to watch them and reminisce about our youth. These young men are the ones who run the ladder so any thoughts of chasing them back up again quickly evaporate as they move very quickly!
So now you have the ascent! It was surprisingly difficult which is testament to my lack of fitness but just steps really so one foot in front of the other until you are done. Keep to the left or be trampled by the young and fit.
We all finished it in surprisingly little time, three of our team went for a second go and for me another thing done that I have never done before.
I am a real ‘foodie’, I absolutely love to bake and I love to eat even more. The age old question ‘what does a woman want’? I can tell you straight, what we want is to be able to eat what we like without getting fat! Seriously.
My love of food means that I have to pay particular attention to watching my weight, staying at a healthy weight takes daily consideration and often restraint. Honestly, restraint is not something I am good at!
I love trying new things, new flavours and different textures, there is little to compare with biting into something that makes your taste buds tingle, something that makes you breathe an ‘Mmmmmm’ of appreciation. Food glorious food. There is something so very sexy about it. I am not talking about a hurried sandwich or a bowl of cereal, but food that has had thought and love put into its preparation and appreciation… it’s very seductive.
My love of food means that it is quite likely that some of my ‘fifty new things’ this year will be around food.
Today is one of those days and number five is making Brandy Snaps.
I saw them being made on ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and it gave me a taste for them.
It is far more fiddly than you would think.
The final result tastes lovely but they don’t look nearly as nice as I had hoped, I thought they would be more ‘lacy’ and I have taken some advice to ensure a better result next time.
What to do:
55g Soft Brown Sugar
55g Golden Syrup
50g Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice.
Put the sugar, golden syrup and butter in a small pan and heat gently until all the sugar grains have dissolved. This take approximately five minutes stirring all the time. Cool for 3-5 minutes.
Sift the flour and ginger into the sugar mixture and beat until it is a paste. Add the lemon juice.
Cook in batches: Line baking trays with NON-STICK baking paper. Blob four teaspoons of mixture onto each baking tray, well divided as they expand quite dramatically. Level the mixture out and bake for 8-10 minutes at 200c.
WATCH them closely as they burn in a heartbeat. Remove from the oven when they are a rich golden colour and allow them to cool fractionally before handling. At this stage you will need asbestos fingers as you have to roll each biscuit around the handle of a lightly oiled wooden spoon to get the desired shape. They become hard and very crispy as they go cold so if they are still warm when you set them on a plate they will sink, keep an eye on them! You can keep the shape as they cool with the spoon handle. If they cool too fast and become hard before you have the desired shape pop them back in the oven for a few seconds to re-warm’ and they become mailable again.
Things I learned:
I could have heated my sugar syrup for longer before adding the flour.
My oven needed to be a little hotter too (first batch I did at 180c – not so good)
Both the above ensures the sugar caramelizes properly and ‘pops’ in the oven creating the lacy bubble effect.
Level off the mixture before popping in the oven (don’t rely on the heat alone to do the job)
I have recently been told that there will soon be a new policy at my place of work stating that tattoos must be covered. Is it just me who hears this kind of statement and wants to go out and get something bigger?!
I know I am old enough to know better and honestly I should be grown up enough not to take it personally as a judgement, but isn’t that exactly what it is? It got me thinking about how many people judge others purely on appearance?
I have six tattoos, five of which can only be seen if I take my clothes off, they are on my torso (as a coroner would say!) but I have one very obvious one on the inside of my right wrist/arm.
To look at I am not your run of the mill fifty year old I guess, a little alternative maybe. But I am also a mother of three wonderful young adults, who have never been a day’s trouble. I have been with the same partner for nearly thirty years, I have two degree level qualifications, we share our home with four rescued animals and a Patrick (I will explain him another time), all of these things you would never know if you judged me purely on my radically short bright red hair, piercings and tattoos!
It frustrates me that in this day and age we are still judging people on the superficial.
I will give you that twenty years ago it was different, well certainly in the UK it was and I have a perfect example of this. My neighbour was burgled, being heavily pregnant at the time I was clueless and although I looked one of the culprits right in the eye as he knocked on my neighbours’ door, I didn’t put two and two together when I heard a loud bang a short time later.
When the police later spoke to me and heard that I had seen one of the offenders they asked me to come to the police station the next day to look at ‘mug shots’ and see if I could pick him out again. So off I trooped down to the station and sat with a very hopeful young police officer (misguided as it happens as I was eight and a half months pregnant and awash with hormones) and we scrolled through pages of photographs. And here is the example of exactly what I am talking about; each and every one looked like they’d sell their granny for a tenner. Angry, glaring, tattooed and unwashed, every one of them! Perhaps it was the environment we were in but honestly they were all worryingly very similar.
Twenty years ago you might have made an assumption based on such details and been not too far off the mark, but today, two decades later I would like to think that things have changed, but have they?
I would cautiously suggest that at least a third of the population here in Australia has a tattoo even if it is not always visible at first glance.
My best friend has had a big tattoo on her back for about four years, affectionately known as her ‘tramp stamp’ (!) although she denies this as hers is vertically placed on her back and not horizontal which apparently makes a difference.
Her parents don’t know, she is not far off my age and cannot tell her parents, they would apparently disapprove and be disappointed in her, so it is easier for her to keep it from sight.
I wonder how many people do the same thing and keep their art from sight for fear of judgement?
So I have to ask the question ~ are we really still judged and should my tattoo need to be covered?