What Can Possibly Go Wrong…?

I’m sat at home, feeling deeply apprehensive, and typing to occupy my racing brain.



Back in November, in a fit of bravado, I agreed to accompany my friend on a 10-week block of running sessions for beginners, through JogScotland. We’d encourage each other. We’d motivate each other to keep going. I’d be the Eric to her Ernie; the Ball to her Cannon (I run like a hand-whisk). The idea made us chortle, over a gallon of coffee and a mountain of biscuits and scones. Not so much ‘New Year; new me’ (I rather like the Old Me, thank you very much! It’s taken 45 years of grafting to get me like I am today!), more: this might be funny, what can possibly go wrong?

Well, it’s Day 1 Week 1 for us in just over an hour. I didn’t even ask how long the session will be, because it’s mere numbers: my flabby, middle-aged body will just respond with ‘too bloody long!’ no matter how many minutes it lasts. I haven’t run since I failed a bleep test spectacularly back in 2009. I think this is going to hurt. A lot.

On the positive side, unlike in 2009, I no longer have a big diastasis recti to battle against, nor crunches and sit-ups. I worked hard at the 12 week MuTu System and now my DR is only about a finger-width apart at its widest (where I have an umbilical hernia that’s not causing me any bother at all, so I’m leaving it alone). So my core muscles are stronger than they were 7 years ago. Years of wearing barefoot / flat shoes have given me far stronger ankles and feet than I had back then.

But I’m 7 years older and a whole stone heavier.

Yeah, this is going to hurt. And be cold! It’s windy, rainy and it’s currently 3degC and falling.

Have you any top tips for a beginner jogger before I go?!

Today’s the Day!

I’m bashing this out on my phone, so I’m sorry if it’s not got pretty links and photos (see my GrumpyOldTrout Facebook feed for those!) I just wanted to remind you that the MuTu System programme’s annual big discount of a whopping 45% is TODAY only!

See my last post for full details, or go straight via this link. You don’t need a code, the discount is automatic https://pz138.isrefer.com/go/homepage/GrumpyOldTrout

Putting Up A Pesky Fence With A Pesky Cold

Thursday 7 April, Day 6 of the Easter Holidays

In spare 15 minutes here and there, I’ve been turning some of our front lawn into a fruit and veg garden. I have a 5 year plan that I’m working towards. I find it frustrating not to have it all dug into raised beds YESTERDAY, but there’s only me doing it, and I have a lot on. As a result, it sometimes resembles Steptoe’s Yard. I persuaded The Boss that a nice little low picket fence would be just what we needed to hide the veg garden behind: discreet and distracting. And it would make an awesome windbreak for tall vegetables, like broad beans and my lovely brussels sprouts.

Well, I’ve been waiting since September to get The Boss to help me get it in the ground, along with a load of plants I’d bought. They’ve been clinging to uncertain life in too-small containers all winter while I’ve waited on the fence’s erection. The arrival by post of 2 big carnation plants was the last straw.

Finally, today, I coaxed him into life with the promise of saws, drills and other power tools. It’s been too cold, wet and windy for the girls to have much interesting in helping, so I helped. I sneezed whilst I held fence and spirit level, and coughed while he wielded the mallet. And… It’s up, it’s straight and I like it – it’s pretty inconspicuous. Satisfyingly I also got 10 dianthus and 40 gladioli bulbs planted along it, and a line of snapdragons planted behind it: the idea is that the fence will be softened by the flowers. Now I just need a big arch at each end of the fence. I’ve given The Boss my strict directions and told him to Make It So. Maybe before the end of 2017…?

Glasses Go Gishhhh



Porca Miseria Hanging Lamp by Ingo Maurer. Photo from http://www.designophy.com 

Must be a High Gravity day here at Garrison Grumpy – my Trout underlings are smashing glassware like a Greek tourist dinner party. I spent most of this evening hugging a sobbing Midi, who lurched from one disaster to another; Mini precariously balanced bowls on the final micron of the edge of the table for others to look at the wrong way and send plummeting to their fate; then The Boss did his usual smash-it-all-into-the-dishwasher so it would only wash whatever survived.

On the bright side, the floor’s now swept spotlessly clean.

Power Cuts

Photos to appear later. This post is from January 20:

Power cuts are annoying. A power cut on the coldest night of the year, at 1845hrs on a Sunday night before the kids have finished eating dinner, is more than a tad annoying.

Thanks to last winter in a cold, dark farmhouse, the minxes remembered their drills: after squealing, “It’s a power cut!” (in case me or The Boss had failed to notice), they stood still until we managed to find some torches and came to get them. The Boss emptied my white plastic IKEA bucket that I use for catching sewing ends and waste and put a torch in it – it made a brilliant lantern for the table! So we had light to finish making pudding (Italian trifle: a mix of panettone, mascarpone, amaretti and peaches (plus amaretto for adults)).

At 1930hrs I phoned the power company, just on the off-chance they didn’t know about it, and to get perhaps a little heads-up on when the power might come back on. After checking whether we were ok (thanks for caring, but really, we’re just fine), I was told that Brian and Steve were on their way to the village and given a rough timetable of likely events. Did I want a call-back if the power was likely to be out longer than 2130hrs? Crikey! That’s all unexpected – yes, please!

So we placed little touch-button LED torches on top of bookcases and bathroom cabinets to give some ambient light and got the kids through the conveyor belt of shallow baths in the last of the hot water, teeth brush, into fleece all-on-ones, then into bed with spare blankets. I tried to knit and quickly realised that pale grey 2 ply lace yarn and shiny silver knitting needles is a right bugger to see in dim light. So by maybe 2030hrs I was drifting off to sleep myself.

We never got a call back, but it wasn’t essential. I couldn’t think of any neighbours needing help, so drifted off to sleep kicking myself for not filling a flask with hot water as I’d gotten into the habit of doing after 3 or 4 short power cuts this month alone.

At 0015hrs the power came back on with a bang: all lights blazing, washing machine and tumbler on, dishwasher on… And because I’d had a nap, I was WIDE awake. Again. Just like last week. So I got up and pottered around: did the huge Sunday night pile of school uniform ironing, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, cleaned down the manky surfaces, blah, blah, blah. I seriously thought about baking something treaty for breakfast, but figured the noise would wake one or more minxes. I let Killer Cat out, laughed at her skidding on the ice, let her back in and reassured her I’d not been laughing at her, then finally went to bed sleepy at 0445hrs.

0700hrs and back on duty with 3 loud little girls wasn’t much fun… So I had yet another morning when I was so glad to be at home – I cancelled everything I’d planned and bunged dinner in the slow cooker while the kids ate breakfast. After dropping them off at school and nursery I got home, set the alarm for the lunchtime school run, got into bed and passed out. I’m definitely too old to pull all-nighters like I used to!

Wash, Wash, Wash

Still clearing out 92 (!) unpublished drafts. This one’s from Feb 16. I think it was waiting on photos – maybe later, maybe never:

We moved most of the kitchen and living room into the bedrooms for Midi’s birthday party on Sunday. Re-messing the place back up again afterwards, I realised that the girls’ dolly stuff was filthy. Last year I terrified the neighbours by washing and pegging out all their dolls clothes (“4 little girls? Another baby Trout?! That’s it – we’re moving!!“). So I really only had to wash things like the dolls pram, cot and buggy fabrics, play change bag, that kind of thing. Half a washing machine load. How bad could it be? So I put it on a sports clothing cycle, 30degC wash. Within 5 mins the detergent suds were a grimy brown. Ewwwww!

I wonder if cleaning these will have any affect, whether good or bad, on Mini’s skin? I think I said already that she’s had a huge flare-up of eczema. It flared as the same time as mine, around 17 December. Whilst Mini’s always had dry skin, she’s never had eczema. And I only get it on my fingers and occasionally my eyelids. This was over my entire torso and down my arms; hers was all over her body. I tried to discover the culprit (food? new wash-powder? new fabric conditioner? new clothes? swimming pool?) but couldn’t. Whilst mine mostly died back over the next 6 weeks, hers hasn’t, just coming up and down in waves.

I took her back to the GP on Friday to see whether it was actually eczema. The GP agreed with me that 2 round discs on Mini’s legs looked fungal rather than eczema, but said the rest was eczema. I was advised to change to non-bio washing powder. I kept my opinions on this to myself (the UK is the only country that sells the stuff; what’s so special about our skin?!) but took the point that Mini’s inflamed skin didn’t need any additional irritants that she’d normally cope with. Hmmm. I’m mystified.

Edited To Add:
I kept using the same old washing powder I’ve been using since before Mini was born, but I do now routinely give all washloads an extra rinse. Mini’s eczema still seems to have no obvious connection to anything. In a past life I was a reasonable analyst, and I do think pretty logically. Even so, sometimes she goes swimming with no flare-up, other times her skin explodes; sometimes she plays under the dusty beds with no itching, other times the itch is intense; the cat doesn’t seem to cause flare-ups; we can’t find any triggering food; milk isn’t a trigger; lack of sleep and stress seem to play no part, either. She needed antibiotics for something else in April, and that seemed to calm her skin right down for nearly 10 days before it came right up again. She was referred to a dermatologist then, and I’m still waiting to hear anything (it’s now end June) – all we got was a letter saying she was on the waiting list. Poor thing – it really disturbs her sleep.

Just posting a bunch of non-published drafts…

April 3: I was up at 4.30am this morning. Sometimes persevering with sleep is pointless. Mini came in to our bed first at about 1am, then Midi at about 3. Mini slid in carefully, gently patted my cheek and kissed it, then twisted and turned till she’d snuggled into my own contours, and fell fast asleep. Midi, however, thumped and bumped up the bed, stood on The Boss’s head, elbowed me in the stomach, claimed to have had “The worst nightmare ever. Ever! EVER!!” then star-fished the night away. It’s the first night of the Easter holidays so I don’t mind having a sleepless night muddled up in Minx, but The Boss has one more day to work. Tackling the A90 numpties is best done with some sleep at least. So I got up to plot more recipes to teach the nursery kids next term while The Boss and Mini snored on (Midi was persuaded to shift back to her own bed).

Mini’s blood test to maybe find out what caused her skin to explode in head-to-foot eczema was fine. It took a couple of attempts, but the nurse was kind and gentle with her, and I do a good line in distraction (I parked my nose at the end of hers and demanded an incessant stream of “Mini, how many freckles have I got? How many wrinkles? Which is my deepest wrinkle? How many red bits in my bloodshot eyes”). The Magic Cream made the inside of her elbows flare up in bright red eczema immediately, but a bit of Eumovate sorted that out. Pity about the other red patches…

End of Term Quick Catch-up

So what’s going on at Trout Towers just now? Well, it’s getting close to the end of term…

She's so cool and she doesn't realise it

She’s so cool and she doesn’t realise it

Every work surface at home is covered in Mini Minx’s finger-painted cards of bunnies and chicks, Midi has been experimenting with hard-boiled eggs and Maxi has started taking the instrument home from school that she’s been learning to play. It’s a double bass. She can barely lift it. I struggle not to use it to corral the kids like a shepherd. I am, yet again, also glad that we live only a short walk from the school…

Scary sight. And the egg's a bit frightening, too

Scary sight. And the egg’s a bit frightening, too

Midi was tasked with decorating a hard-boiled egg like a book character for homework tomorrow. “OOoooh”, I enthused, “You’ve got about a hundred permanent colour Sharpies that Grandma got you – you could use those!” So Midi being Midi, she slouched in her chair for an hour, meticulously colouring in her egg as Toothless, the all-black dragon. I suppose I should be glad that she drew it smiling, which is vaguely normal.

Her second bit of homework was to construct something around the egg that would allow it to be rolled along the playground without it cracking. I’m not sure that covering it in a ton of bubble-wrap is really what the teacher had in mind…

One or 2 chicks...

One or 2 chicks…

Mini, meanwhile, has a blood test later this afternoon to start investigating why she’s now covered head to foot in eczema. It came on overnight in the middle of December, as did mine. It seemed obvious that it therefore was because of something we ate or touched or did. But it’s beaten my analytical skills – I can’t figure it out at all. We didn’t eat anything new that week. We’ve never changed washing powders, fabric conditioners, shower-gels, etc. – I’m really boring and stick to the same ones year in, year out. We didn’t go anywhere special that week. My eczema took ages to clear up. Hers hasn’t. She’s been covered in moisturisers and moderate strength corticosteroids since, glugging antihistamines night and day. The only thing that’s made any difference was taking erythromycin for an infected ingrowing toenail*. Her skin cleared up briefly, but it’s coming back in bright red patches again.

So: because antihistamines seem to have no effect, I don’t think it’s an allergy to anything. You never know, though, so I guess it makes sense to start checking there while we wait for the dermatology referral to come through (crikey, that hospital will be sick of the sight of us Trouts, trouping back and forth…). Today’s drill, then, will be applying ‘Magic Cream’ and taking Mini to the nurse. I fear I’m still a little traumatised from the last time she had a blood test.

I’m starting to plan Maxi’s birthday party. When I asked her what she wanted to do, the poor girl sadly said, “I’d love a birthday party, but I’ve got no friends”. My heart broke. So I’m planning a movie night for just a couple of the kids in her class. I’m not sure that they’ll come, though, because it’s in the Easter holidays and they’re much older than her. I figure that a Movie Night is less like a child’s party and a wee bit more grown-up, would be fun regardless of whether she has 5 guests or just her sisters, and therefore is low pressure for Maxi.

She’s still having a tricky time at school. She decided to quit a pupil-run dance club because she was getting fed up being ordered about by the older girl leading it, hated the music, thought the dance moves were silly, and had had enough of having no say. She said the other kids were fed-up too, but were too frightened to quit because the older girl threatened them with all manner of trouble and ire. I told Maxi just to quit: “No-one can force you to do anything you don’t want to do. I completely endorse your wish to have your lunchtimes outdoors again. Go for it”. The older girl didn’t like this at all, and has been crowing to anyone who’ll listen that she kicked Maxi out, rather than that she quit. Maxi’s very vexed with the lies, but I gave her another coaching session in how to shrug and smirk to devastating effect. “The less bothered you look, the angrier she’ll get, because there’s nothing else she can do”, I advised Maxi. “Smile sweetly at her, shrug and say nothing. And gloat inside”. Oooooo, I’m such a bad mother!!

Finally, my long-haired trio now all sport neat bobs. Maxi started it last year, and her bob has been getting shorter and shorter. It’s now chin-length. Midi had her waist-length blonde locks cut into a chin-skimming sharp cut that makes her look very grown-up. Even Mini’s ginger frizz is now swishable for the first time in her 5 years. Ah, they’re growing up so quickly, now.