Monday 16 February 2015

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”* *Benjamin Franklin Yesterday afternoon as I sprayed our fruit trees with a winter wash, as natural insect control, I looked at the forlorn bare branches and wondered what this season would hold for them. We have apples, pears, peaches and plums, […]

Sunday 15 February 2015


Well my BBC Hereford and Worcester radio interview on Fri went well. I went over to Worcester to the studio and was live on air with Malcolm Boyden at just after 10 am. I had more than 10 mins chatting to him live on air. And yes it was great to be back in a studio doing live press stuff again :)

Programme link HERE

I get introduced at 04:28 and then the interview proper starts at 08:28 - 20.08

 BBC H and W have also put my story and some photos on their public Facebook page HERE

I do hope that other people hear and take on board the story and that it helps them as that is the only reason I have done this media stuff in the first place. I have had a lot of interested comments from people I know around here about my weight loss and I hope my message is helpful to those listening.

I am just so grateful that I finally took control of my diet and health  as I feel so much better, now.

  As I write this post, the snowdrops are at their most beautiful and are appearing in clumps and swathes all over the county.  Seeing their crisp, fresh colours always reminds me that although we are still feeling the wintery … Continue reading →

Friday 13 February 2015

 I have featured in the local media today :)

You may recall my recent post about how I have lost a lot of weight in the last 7 months - well as a result I have been honoured with the title of "Harcombe Diet Champion" by Zoe and Andy Harcombe - there are many others featured on The Harcombe Diet forum. I feel proud to follow in their (ever shrinking!) footsteps :)

So far I have been in my local paper the Ledbury Reporter; I am in other papers soon and - who knows what else? I have also done a live interview with the BBC local radio station today and will blog about that some other time. But for now here is the link  to  the online version of my bit in the local paper.

If you want to join my private blog about my weight loss please send me an email.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Now… I know you’re not surprised that I LOVE this whole idea… the tropical colours, the pom poms, the versatility… it’s just so jolly! When I saw this beautiful post on Mr Printable’s blog, I knew I had to give it … Continue reading →

Monday 09 February 2015

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”* *Samuel Johnson I received a Tweet recently that said that they loved all that we are doing, guessing we were tucked away in the countryside, then on realising that we were here in […]

Sunday 08 February 2015

  … Wimborne Minster … Golly it was cold when I took these pictures and my poor fingers could hardly operate my camera properly. Even so, I was so entranced by the prettiness of Wimborne Minster that I stayed outside, taking … Continue reading →

Wednesday 04 February 2015

Before Christmas I was sent one of these weather stations  to try out and review.

Weather at home 

The Wireless Weather Station with Weather Alert allows you to monitor local weather conditions on your smart phone as well at the station itself, using Bluetooth. This wireless weather station brings you all the vital weather information you need to plan your day. The Weather Alert feature also shows you at a glance what to expect; heat, fog, frost, rain and wind /storm, displaying both indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity, and a 12-24 hour Weather Forecast.

I am very impressed with this device. We have a display with a sensor inside and a sensor outside under the garage eves.

This means I can be in the sitting room in the warm but see if it has gone cold outside and go and shut the Seramas in their house, or cover up Juniper the Guinea Pig or cover up tender plants.

I have also had endless fun using the app on my mobile phone and tablet to look at weather statistics and trends for here. (yes I know, I am a geek :) )

The one I was sent retails at £59.99 and at the moment there is an offer on the website of a free sensor if you buy a Weather Station from Oregon Scientific.

Disclaimer. I was sent a Weather Station to review. All opinions are my own and I was not paid to write this post.

This little piece of crochet loveliness solved a bit of a conundrum for me this week… which all started with lunch boxes.  For about a month now, I have been desperately searching for a trendy-looking lunch box to take with … Continue reading →

Monday 02 February 2015

“I came all the way in a lifeboat, and ate marmalade. Bears like marmalade.”* *Paddington Bear This year, I may have more in common with Paddington Bear than ever before. We both live in West London, wellies are a favourite footwear and, of course, a jar of marmalade is always close to hand. However, this […]

Sunday 01 February 2015

I gave up alcohol for January as part of Dry January 2015. I have not drunk any alcohol since Jan 1st 2015  and I am fundraising for Cancer Research UK :)

I did it! And I am looking for more donations to my fundraising page. Please, if you fancy sponsoring me, why not donate £5 (the price of a bottle of wine or a couple of pints) or more if you are feeling very very generous? 

You can send your donation  by texting SBDJ99 £5 to 70070. And don’t forget to claim Gift Aid to increase your donation by 25%, at no extra cost to you. 
Or you can visit my just giving page and donate from there
Sarah-Blenkinsop-dryathlete2015  Thank you !

… Dorset Uglies, by sculptress Emma Mauger … As I drove towards the home of Dorset Uglies creator, Emma Mauger, I didn’t quite know how I was going to feel once I was confronted by her collection of ‘Uglies’.  I tend … Continue reading →

Saturday 31 January 2015

I had a busy day today, I took Compostgirl to the stables for a day of riding and then I headed into Hereford to return various stuff and then drove to Monmouth. I took the back road from Hereford and was rewarded with a spectacular view of snow topped Welsh mountains.

I love Monmouth and would like to live there one day. I went to the Craft Fair which was held in the Town Hall. I met up with the lovely Emma from Ffolkyffelt and we chatted for a while and discussed various upcoming events. I also bought a beautiful felted fairy as a gift for Compostgirl - who has hung it up in her bedroom.

I popped into Waitrose and picked up a few bits of food and took advantage of their free coffee and newspaper offer using my Waitrose card. I then ate my lunch in the car. I always carry food in the car in a rucksack, just in case I can't find anything I want to eat when I am out and about. It is a bit harder to eat out when I can't eat dairy or gluten as so much of the food on offer is bread based. So I always have a light meal's worth of food handy just in case I can't find something I can eat.

Then it was home to collect Compostgirl from the Stables, lock up the chickens and settle down for the evening in front of the fire.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

I had a very poor night sleep last night - I ate some 90% cocoa solids chocolate before bed time and it was obviously a bad move as something kept me wide awake until 4 am. I became tired of lying in bed, not sleeping, by 1 am so I got up, went downstairs and did some chores. I washed up a lot of bottles and jars and then did a lot of mending by the fire.

I went back to bed at 4.30 am and apart from briefly getting up to see Compostgirl off to school I did not emerge from my bed again until 11 am!

Unfortunately we had a power cut from 9 am so I decided to go out to Hereford and try on some clothes. I stocked up on fleeces and brought some new waterproof trousers in the Sales.

Last week, I took a lemon loaf cake to a bring-and-share lunch.  I was impressed with myself for putting in that little bit of extra effort to provide a homemade offering.  Saying that, I didn’t actually get time to ice … Continue reading →

Monday 26 January 2015

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”* *John Dewey We had a lovely surprise in the post last week; this thank you card from the staff and students of The Holmewood School. It’s been a privilege to build a relationship with this school, that has a vision to be a centre of […]

Sunday 25 January 2015

 ...but it didn't stop us going to Archery practice :)

  … the view of Hambledon Hill from the North Dorset Trailway … This is a fantastic piece of Dorset that lots of locals know about (so I’m sorry if you know all of this already, just enjoy the pretty pictures). … Continue reading →

Friday 23 January 2015

Warning, this is a long post :)

I used to be "not fat". In 1985, when we got married, I was really quite slim :) 

and although I put on some weight over the years, even in 1995 I was still  "a little bit plump" rather than morbidly obese.

 I was fit and healthy, very active with a full time and demanding job, a house and garden ( not Compost Mansions but a smaller house and garden in Worcester) and Compostman and I spent weekends from March to October out competing in Speed Hillclimbs and Sprints in our racing car. We were pretty good at it as well :) Weekday evenings were spent fettling the car for the next event, or digging the garden and yes! there was composting involved even then :)

But, as some of you may know, a few years  after we moved to Compost Mansions in 1997 I became  very ill as a result of an adverse  reaction to an antibiotic, while being treated for an infected gallbladder.  Overnight in Feb 2001 I developed an auto immune, rheumatoid condition called Erythema Nodosum, along with various other unpleasant ailments. Although I took all the medication on offer I struggled to even walk or grip a mug or wash myself, felt terrible all the time and expended what little energy I did have, to make sure Compostgirl (a baby and then small child at this time)  did not suffer because I was unwell. 

Despite being so unwell I still did all sorts of stuff with her, looked after her as a SAHM, we went out to parties and play sessions and had friends round  and I was very good at struggling on and putting on a "brave face" to everyone bar a few close friends and Compostman. And then, after Compostgirl had gone to bed, I would collapse. I was advised by the medics to rest as much as possible but realistically, how can a parent with a young child, AND a house, AND animals and any kind of work, (we lived here so there was always work to be done outside) manage to "rest" ? I used to ask the medics that, but I could never get an answer!  

We had no living parents or siblings or other relatives to help us - so it was just my wonderful Compostman who shouldered most of the extra work, along with a couple of good and lovely friends ( you know who you are :) and I love you  forever for helping us in our years of need) To be truthful I don't like to remember how awful that period was, as apart from having Compostgirl, life was pretty grim.

Anyway, I spent several years on many different medications, and in and out of hospital, being seen by all sorts of different specialists and having many, some very unpleasant, tests. The most alarming was when I had a scan which required me to become radioactive beforehand - I swallowed the drink with the isotope in, and THEN I was told to go off into Hereford for a couple of hours while it was absorbed, but "not to sit close to anyone" and also "not to cuddle my baby or breast feed her for 24 hours " because I was radioactive !!! 

I was not impressed with this.

To cut a long story short, I was very ill and very incapacitated for several years and on top of everything else was also additionally diagnosed with CFS.

June 2006
By 2006, by dint of applying holistic therapies, an organic diet, pacing myself and conserving my energy whenever I could (and dropping the medication in favour of herbal and aromatherapy pain remedies - it worked for me but check with your GP first!), I had recovered enough to get back to a small amount of work (as opposed to the unpaid work I do, and did then,  here, day in day out!)  so I volunteered as a Master Composter, then became self employed - first teaching Organic Gardening and running Eco clubs in schools,then in 2008 I trained as a Forest School leader and finally in 2010  trained as an Adult Lecturer. You can read about all this elsewhere on this blog :)

I still felt exhausted a lot of the time and I would be flattened by any bugs "doing the rounds" but on the whole I had a bit more of a normal life.  At least until the evening, which was when I would collapse.

eApril 2008
I was VERY active both at work and on our smallholding and I continued to eat apparently very healthily and also lead a healthy lifestyle -   but still was gaining weight. Eating less and doing more did not work for me.

March 2010

By mid 2013 I was feeling worse and worse again, brain fog, joint aches, bloating after meals, passing wind, itchy eyes, itch skin and all sorts of niggling ailments which were "nothing in particular" but which made my life miserable. It was a struggle to keep working. I just wanted to sleep all the time. I also would be overcome with the desire to eat endless slices of wholemeal toast and Marmite, even after a couple of slices for breakfast  - I would crave more all day. I did not often have any more, but it was there in my mind. I also craved sandwiches and pasta and potatoes. 

July 2013

Oct 2013
As the months went by I got fatter and more bloated, despite (as far as I could see) not eating any more food than before. My weight and mood would fluctuate quite a bit and I was SO tired, all the time. I assumed this was the extra weight I was lugging around as well as  "just" the CFS affecting me.

Feb 2014
The first half of 2014 was horrible for me - I was getting fatter and more unwell but couldn't seem to lose any weight however much I tried ( and oh how I tried) . 
The turning point finally came when I was rushed into hospital on 28 June 2014 due to an infected Blandford Fly bite. My arm had turned sceptic and my blood pressure had rocketed to more than 220/135 – that’s stroke and heart attack range!  I was admitted and spent a few days on an iv antibiotic drip, which helped the septicaemia. I was also put on medication to try to get the very high BP figure down. In addition I got a friendly but very serious talk from a consultant about how much my weight was affecting my health - all stuff I knew but had chosen to go "la la" and cover my ears about.

This time, I listened. I was in a lot of pain, very ill and veryfrightened. I was in an acute admissions ward, surrounded by some seriously unwell people, I had to listen to a crash team working for many hours on the lady next door.  Listening to people die around you tends to concentrate the mind a lot on mortality - I knew I had to do something to change the way things were with me,  or I would be dead soon. So this time I vowed TO DO SOMETHING about the mess I was in.
After discharge from hospital I spent another two weeks recovering at home, on lots of medication and mostly in bed, with lots of time, and serious reason, to have a good hard think about my life and the way I was treating myself. The BP medication was making me feel even worse and I did not want to take it forever, which is what I was being told I would have to do. 

I had a copy of  Zoe Harcombe's book " Stop counting calories and start losing weight" by my bed - I had read it the previous year and found it interesting but gave up on Day 3 of Phase 1 as I felt so dreadful. This time, I read it properly and suddenly it all clicked into place. This time I was motivated to do it properly. It was summer, I had unlimited organic salad growing in the garden and poly tunnel so I had no excuse. 

But mainly I was frankly terrified that if I did not do something about how fat I had become, I might not be around those I loved much longer. My mother sadly had a stroke, the first of many, when I was only 11 and she spent the rest of her life (another 15 years) in hospitals, paralysed and in a wheelchair, unable to speak and with brain damage.

The thought of putting my family through what I had gone through as a child, growing up without my mum, finally spurred me into action to improve my own health. I did not want to die of a stroke or heart attack!

I had not had any alcohol since the day I was admitted to hospital and did not start drinking again so that helped. My diet was 'apparently' very good - lots of wholemeal home made bread and wholemeal pasta, organic meat, dairy and veg (lots of the veg home grown) but looking back my food was very heavily carb laden, especially wheat (even though it was organic and wholemeal!) I had lots of symptoms of Candida/Food Intolerance which I thought were just the CFS, and although I did not eat many sweet things my savoury choices were still carb laden and I also mixed fats and carbs all the time.

I think my food choices were feeding the Candida, to be honest.
So after two weeks of convalescence, where I did not eat as much (was sort of doing THD Phase 2 ) or drink any alcohol I got on my scales - and I had lost 16 lbs !!! Ok I thought, this is good but I knew I needed to lose a lot more weight to get my health back on track. And I had been very ill so had not had much appetite etc.

So, I decided to do things properly. I signed up for THD 30 day Blitz package that day and got started on Phase 1 properly on 12 July 2014.

I felt dreadful for the first five days without caffeine and I could have killed for toast, butter and Marmite (my food of choice) but I figured as I still felt dreadful anyway, due to recovering from illness, I would just keep on and stick to what the book said. And then...I started to feel livelier, more clear headed, less sluggish and my sleep was deep and refreshing. Each day, I felt a little better.

29 July 2014In the first month I lost 27 lbs

Sept 2014between July and Sept I lost 4 Stone.

Oct 2014
Since then I have slowly re-introduced various foodstuffs, one at a time. As a result I have identified that I have a real issue with wheat, as even organic, wholemeal bread seems to make me bloated with achy joints and pain in my stomach. I have more recently found that dairy products also disagree with me so have now cut out milk and cheese. Fortunately I still seem OK with butter!

Unfortunately drinking even small amounts of beer upsets me (shame!) However, drinking my home-made organic cider does not. So that’s my new “cheating” tipple of choice!

My former diet was “apparently” very good - lots of wholemeal home-made bread and wholemeal pasta, organic meat, dairy and home-grown veg. However, looking back, my food was very heavily carbohydrate laden, with lots of wheat based foods. What I now know is that my food choices were feeding the Candida lurking inside me and my wheat intolerance made it all even worse,  hence a lot of the bloating.

Oct 2014

Xmas Day 2014
Seven months in, and I can honestly say that I have not felt this good for more than a decade. I feel SO much better! I sleep well and wake up raring to go and keep active all day. I bounce around full of energy, and my BP is now within the bounds of normal so I am off the medication.

 24 Jan 2015

I look in the mirror and I am so pleased with how healthy I look. I’ve lost seven stone and dropped four dress sizes since I started this way of eating. I can finally wear clothes that I stashed away years ago!

I recently put on my ’bum bag’, with the waist-strap set from the last time I wore it, back in mid-June 2014. I had to adjust it in by 12 inches!

My family are delighted and very relieved at how much weight Ihave lost and how much healthier Iam. Friends have commented on how good I look, how clear my skin is and how bright my eyes are. My nails are no longer flaky and chewed looking, but long and strong. I have even started varnishing them for the first time in 10 years!
Yes, I have a lot more weight to lose but I know that if I just carry on doing what I have been doing, I will get there eventually. I also have the joy of being able to buy "normal" clothes and underwear from mainstream stores. Sounds trivial I know, but it made my life miserable not being able to just pick up a pack of knickers or a tee shirt from a High St shop!

I am now more than 2/3 of the way to the weight I want to be. I am happier, healthier and fitter than I have been for 15 years - since before I first got ill back in 2001!  I am "on target" to get back to where I was 15 years ago - and I know I can do it.

Still inside the house at night in her basket by the woodburner but outside during the day ( if it is warm enough)  and finally feeding herself from the ground. Also enjoying a cwtch with me as many times a day as she can manage :)

Omlet Cartoon