for making my first mid-life crisis, empty-nest adventure so wonderfully brilliant. From Hanoi to Hue to Ho Chi Minh city, I have fallen hopelessly in love with this wonderful country and it’s people and quite honestly I can’t wait to go back.
And yes, despite being fifty-something, we did survive with just rucksacks and we didn’t need half of what we took. We didn’t get sick, as everyone said we would and we definitely didn’t need the help of an organised tour, which quite frankly, having watched many shuffle by, looking knackered and miserable, we are soooo glad we avoided.
Because that’s the beauty of modern technology. If you can use the internet, all the information you need is available to book your own itinerary. We trawled through Trip Advisor, Booking.com and Air B&B, making notes, reading reviews and finally pulling a trip together that we hoped would tick as many of our boxes as possible in three weeks. We booked a mixture of Homestays, overnight trains, budget hotels, treks, cruises, street food tours, cooking courses, taxis, internal flights, mopeds and even a posh hotel, all from the comfort of our kitchen before we left, our accommodation when we there or even the airport at last minute.
And amazingly, nothing went wrong. Not one single thing. It all turned out to be a brilliant adventure from start to finish, all of which I will tell you about and pass on tips in my next series of blogs.
I know I keep harping on about it but life is short and there’s a big amazing world out there, offering experiences that you can’t ever really describe but which enrich your soul and hopefully make you a better human being. This fifty-something window of opportunity is too good a chance to miss especially if you’re still fit enough and brave enough to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.
So follow my blogs over the next few weeks as I try and show you that life at fifty doesn’t have to mean a Thrifty Fifty Travel card or a Saga Holiday. It’s not too late for an adventure and it’s never, ever too late to chase a sunset!
Now I’m the wrong side of fifty, I notice that I’m getting more intolerant, although if you asked Mr D, he would probably say I’ve been an intolerant old bag for years. But let’s be honest, life seems to be getting more and more complicated in this 21 century where technology is supposed to be making things easier. Sadly I have a massive list of things that piss me off these days, but the one that’s really getting to me right now, is light bulbs.
This morning I stood in front of a shelf in Sainsbury’s, trying to retrieve five dead light bulbs from my handbag without looking like a shoplifter, feeling completely and utterly useless as I tried to find new bulbs that vaguely resembled the ones I had in my hand. It used to be simple once, 40w for lamps, 60w for your average overhead and 100w if you didn’t care about unflattering harsh lighting or going blind. Most were bayonet, occasionally you had to buy a racy screw in. Now, quite frankly, it’s bloody ridiculous. How can there possibly be such a huge selection? Every lamp in our house seems to require a different bulb and I can’t even work out what wattage they’re supposed to be. Led, halogen, GLS, Eco, long life, C rating, E rating, A Rating Eco Stick, blah blah bloody blah. Even the box doesn’t give a clear picture so you have to take a massive risk and open the box hoping you’re not going to drop it on the floor, then measure one against the other while trying to juggle the dead ones, a handbag and a basket. And when you give up and in desperation ask an assistant, they don’t know either.
Thankfully in our wee Highland toon, we are fortunate to have Pat Fraser’s TV and Electrical, a proper shop that has the answers to all things reliant on the national grid and if it hadn’t been a Sunday that’s where I would have been, handing over my dead bulbs and in an instant they would have been replaced and I would have headed home happy. Instead I headed home in a very bad mood with a random selection of bulbs, of which I now know two are wrong. Frankly I’m past caring, it’s easier to light a frigging candle.
So whose fault is this? How did it start? How have we gone from three bulbs to what seems like a lightbulb free for all? Why do we need so many? Who is to blame? Europe? The French? Donald Trump? It must be Donald Trump.
And I’m not exaggerating. It literally only takes five minutes to throw together a cocktail of goodness with the added benefit of hardly any peeling and no cleaning apart from a quick rinse under the tap. Such is my love for my Magic Bullet, and no it wasn’t purchased from Anne Summers, that I seriously miss it if I have to go away. For so far over the past year, it has kept the bugs from my door, improved my skin and hair and most importantly helped to keep the dreaded hot flushes at bay. It’s not the only factor, that’s in the next post, but by adding the right ingredients, it has certainly helped.
I am aware that it’s an investment, the cheapest I can find at the moment is £79.99 from John Lewis but I can honestly say that my purchase of the Nutri Bullet, that was wisely recommended by personal trainer Jim Russell, goes down as my best buy of 2015 along with my tickets to Cafe Mambo s opening party. It has now become part of my life and trust me, I have the patience of a rabid wasp, so if I can find five minutes a day to throw this goodness together, anyone can. We all know we should be eating our five a day, green leafy veg and all that, but quite honestly it can be a bit dull munching through it all when our lives are busy and we’re struggling with our culinary creativity. Well the joy of the Bullet is that you could get twenty a day if you wanted to and still make it taste like a pina colada.
The trick is to keep it simple and don’t go marching in all Lara Croft and hard core at the beginning. One third veg and two thirds fruit is the best option, as if you wade in, all kale, broccoli and cabbage for your first smoothie, you may never touch it again. You can keep it simple by buying frozen berries and veg. Not only is it cheaper, it’s easier. You won’t get much waste, you will always have ingredients to hand and they contain just as many nutrients and arguably slightly more than the fresh variety. The other joy of the Bullet is that unlike other juicers and blenders, you don’t have to do much peeling or chopping, obviously use a bit of common sense, no one likes avocado peel, and you can throw in seeds and nuts and frozen stuff and it just blends it to a lovely, yummy, healthy pulp.
So my suggestion for starters is:
2 balls of frozen spinach
2 large florets of frozen broccoli
handful of frozen or fresh berries of your choice
1 small banana
A dollop of natural, full fat yoghurt (it’s not fat that’s the issue it’s sugar and it’s great for your digestion)
a handfull of mixed seeds, especially linseed as it’s great for menopausal symptoms.
water or pressed apple juice
add mint as it will make it taste like a mojito!
If you buy the bullet you get a recipe book and there are loads of ideas on line.
Now, if you put in a lot of fruit, your smoothie will contain a few calories so I would suggest that you have it in the morning as a breakfast substitute or take it to work. It is perfect if you have it half an hour before exercise. You don’t want to be drinking it in the evening after a meal while watching the Telly. I usually make it up the night before so it’s ready and waiting for me in the fridge and if you are using frozen ingredients it won’t be too baltic to drink.
It’s not a miracle cure all, it won’t stop you going grey or turn your husband into Brad Pitt but it will help to keep your immune system healthy and balance your hormones. As I said, it’s part of a jigsaw and getting exercise is equally important as well as cutting down on a few bad boys with a record of triggering hot flushes such as caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol. Sorry but you can’t have it all ways, there has to be a bit of give and take.
But that’s for another blog……one step at a time girls, one step at a time.
……but trust me, it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a way out of this conspiracy against women, this curse that could actually make you believe that if there is a god, he is definitely a man. No woman would inflict such torment on the female race at a time of their lives when all the hard graft of child and husband rearing,( although that could be classed as the same thing in some cases), is over. Just when you think your body and life is your own again, bam, it hits you like the proverbial bus, a torrent of volcanic heat that burns you up from the inside out, usually without warning and with blatant disregard for the appropriateness of the situation. As we all know ladies, its hard to hold a sensible conversation over a cocktail when your face is the colour of the cranberry juice, perspiration is trickling through your cleavage and all you really want to do at that moment is rip your clothes off and run naked from the room.
I have been so pissed off about this, as I like to be in control, and I have always tried to work health issues out for myself with diet and exercise. I’ll try any alternative before I take the chemical option but that’s just the way I am. So I’ve been doing a bit of an experiment over the last year and I have some conclusions that I am going to share over the next few blogs. My hot flushes are now negligible, I now get a full nights sleep and life is bearable. Yep, if you want to give it a go it will take a bit of effort and a few lifestyle changes but hopefully if it works for you too, you will also lose a bit of weight, if you want to of course, get fitter, feel happier and generally set yourself up for a healthier and more energetic old age. Because quite honestly, I don’t want to have to check into any hospital if I can help it and I also want to boogie my way into retirement not shuffle.
But a word of warning. If you are going to take up the challenge, take it with a friend, as there’s nothing worse than having bags of energy and feeling great, wanting to dance all night in Ibiza and then having no one to groove with.
So watch this space or preferably follow this blog or like my Facebook page, if you fancy giving it a go, as I would love to get your thoughts on what works and what doesn’t. Because life’s too short to be spending it in a pool of perspiration and stiff joints. Yes, I may drop dead tomorrow, as I’ve already outlived my mum and my granny, but if the only sleepless nights I get are in Ibiza and I breath my last breath on the dance floor, then that for me will be just perfect.
When one of your kids utters those immortal lines, “for God’s sake Mum, you’re so embarrassing, you’re not 15!”, you just know you’ve had a really good time and as I reflect on the night that the gorgeous Mrs W introduced me to Dubsmash, it still makes me laugh. Quite honestly ladies, this phenomenon should be prescribed on the NHS. It should be a part of every girls night out or even better, a spontaneous girls night in fueled, of course, by a sip or two of Prosecco.
For those of you unfortunate enough not to have discovered it yet, obviously because “you are far too old“, Dubsmash is the app that brings the age old art of miming with a hairbrush in the bedroom mirror straight into the 21st century. What’s fab about it is you can mime by yourself and annoy your friends,( my little sister thinks I’m funny), or what is much more fun is to gather some pals, then record, trash, re-record, trash, re-record etc etc to your hearts content until something resembling perfection, or more usually, complete carnage is achieved. Then you can save your efforts and bore your friends senseless with them on facebook. And trust me, it is seriously funny watching them back. I, for example, had no idea I was such a nodding dog and I plead guilty to complete over-characterisation whereas Vikki was the expert, the glam coordinated one, the Posh Spice of the group assisted by Victoria, who managed to look cool, beautiful and serene despite knowing absolutely none of the words.
Seriously though, if anyone had told me that an app had the capability of entertaining three grown women for five hours and reduce them to tears of giggling hysteria, I would never have believed you, but it did and for that I am eternally grateful. I am also grateful that our creative offerings ranging from DJ Pied Piper, Baccara and The Spice Girls to Doris Day, Tammy Wynette and dodgy lines about beautiful lips from Abigail’s Party, performed prone on the sofa by this point, can be saved and churned out again and again and again to make us giggle once more. Luckily for you, dear reader, I can’t seem to upload our productions, which is mercifully a very, very good thing.
Yes, my child, I do realise that I am, in fact, 52, but for five hilarious hours I was 15 again and back in my bedroom, and as far as I am concerned, there is nothing wrong but absolutely everything right with that.