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Day 41: A Lightbulb Moment Regarding Strength Training

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I plan to try and blog daily again. I used to, but with one thing and another, I slacked off, but really think I would benefit from getting back to daily blogging.

I found in the past that leaving the blogs until the evening often left me tired and unable to summon the energy to write one, so I'm thinking about writing earlier in the day, and making it about the previous day, to see how that goes instead. To that end, therefore, the title is Day 41, even though I am typing on day 42. Now watch me thoroughly muddle myself between the things I've done and my thought processes! LOLOL

Day 41 (Friday 26th Aug)

Approaching our August Bank Holiday Weekend, so naturally the weather is atrocious! LOL It rained most of the day, but as a consolation, the sky was a mass of lovely clouds instead of just one enormous grey sheet.

Exercise is being experimented with. (I do love experimenting with exercise, :-) ) I had the cardio set at 45 mins daily, but was regularly going past that, and consequently had the fitness tracker shouting at me in red telling me to make adjustments or I would find I wasn't eating enough to sustain my efforts! It particularly hated my day out in Constable Country, as you can imagine...

"Over 9 miles? What were you thinking? Do you have any idea how many calories you should have been eating in order to walk that far? I'm surprised you didn't pass out from starvation!!!"

Hey, calm down Fitness Tracker! A bowl of cereal, a banana, and a sandwich worked just fine for my day out! And I had a nice chunk of cake and a cuppa when we got home, plus a decent evening meal, so don't sweat it, ok? Sheesh!!!

So, as it doesn't seem to scream at me so much if I set high, and fall under my minimum, I've upped the target to 60 minutes of cardio daily. I now aim for 45 minutes before breakfast, strength training for at least 15 mins after breakfast, and another at least 15 mins of cardio later in the day, if I have the time or the energy. As I am back playing the Just Dance and Just Dance 2 Bingo games they are nicely filling in that bit of extra cardio around tea time, as I dance around in between washing the dishes. Well, it makes the dishes less of a chore! :-)

Changes subject briefly (insert Twilight Zone music)

...oooh, I momentarily wandered into Twister (the film) territory ... the wind suddenly getting up, and the neighbour's windchimes getting VERY loud, and it all going dark and gloomy all of a sudden... But the wind has died back down again and it is brighter out there now. I think I've been watching too much Irene coverage, worrying about friends potentially in her path. :-) If you are in her path, please keep safe!

And it turned out to be the precursor to a little thunderstorm! :-)

Anywhoo, as I was saying, I've been playing with my exercise. And I've noticed that a lot of cardio includes a level of strength training as well. This interests me greatly, as I have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to ST. I especially struggle with core work. I cannot comfortably do crunches from a lying down position, so any other way to get my core crunched is going to be a big help. I looked up standing crunches on Sparkpeople out of interest, and there doesn't seem to be a demo.

There also seems to be conflicting advice on the messageboards about whether sit ups and crunches are even worth the bother anyway, as they can be ill-advised for those with back issues, plus they only work the abs, and not the full core. As I want a stronger core generally, but am not trying for a six pack, maybe I should be looking elsewhere for core exercises.

I have read enough now to make me even more curious about how much core work I get in during Cardio and Strength Training, and so I have been taking a closer look at Wii Fit Plus, Just Dance, Zumba, and the Cardio Videos I do with Leslie Sansome's walks and Kendell Hogan's Cardio videos.

It turns out that I do a lot of waist twisting, and bending over, and standing crunch-type moves scattered throughout these exercises, not to mention the upper body moves, and lower too. So, now I am building up lists of Upper, Lower and Core, and adding to those lists any songs, videos, etc that have an element of ST in them, appropriate to that area of my body. I hope, once they are complete, to not just include Strength Training in a weekly: Upper - Lower - Core - Upper - Lower - Core - rest pattern, but to arrange my Cardio videos, dances, etc so that they also complement the part of the body I'm targetting on any particular day.

I also think it will help me get more out of my cardio, and help me make sure that certain items, like my aerobic step for instance, don't languish behind my sofa gathering dust, and instead get used at least once a week as part of the strategy. I must also remember to add into the exercise info the places where I can either hold light weights or wear my weighted gloves for added benefit.

Now, am I making sense to anyone?

My exercise for Day 41 consisted of:

11 Zumba Routines (inc a cool down stretch one) = 45 Minutes
3 Just Dance Bingo dances = 9 mins
Lower Body (Yoga and Muscle) on the Wii Fit Plus = 16 Mins
Cardio Burn video - Kendell Hogan = 10 mins
Total steps = 7918 = 3.6 miles

And, as I was interrupted by the storm, I am going to have to call this a night or I won't make it under the midnight deadline! :-)
Hugs to all, specially those under Irene's blanket!
Lex xxx
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CARLA-216 8/29/2011 2:54PM

    You are the master at mixing it up and I admire that so! I tend to get stuck in my same ol' same ol'....

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ZURDTA- 8/29/2011 10:23AM

    Nice to keep it mixed up...

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BOVEY63 8/29/2011 12:13AM

    It's great how you have a good variety of exercises to keep you going.

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SENATOR9 8/28/2011 10:04AM

    Another great blog emoticon

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SCREWIE 8/28/2011 7:52AM

    I'm glad you intend to post every day again. Reading your blogs kind of pushes me to do a bit more too :)))

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MARYMO22 8/28/2011 7:12AM

    Hi and great blog again

There's a crunchless core workout on spark videos - which is pretty good

Does your tracker increase your calories when you increase your cardio?

I'm off out for a walk before it tips it down again!
Happy bank holiday weekend!

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_LINDA 8/28/2011 1:01AM

    The walking with weights DVD I do does all standing core exercises. It has a 25 minute segment with the weights, a 10 minute pure cardio and a 10 minute core focus using weights. Called Kathy Smith Power Walk to lose Weight Matrix Method. Its pretty good and doesn't bother my back. I love it because the music is catchy and moves are smooth and easily done and has a terrific desert background :) Something I like seeing in my cold winters. Crunches are bad because it compresses the lower spine. Planks are where its at. Most of my workout videos use those instead of crunches for ab work..
Keep up the great work!!
Linda xxx

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SASSAFRASY 8/27/2011 9:51PM

    Great Blog Post! When I do Zumba it feels like I work every single solitary muscle in my body! It has definitely strengthened all of my muscle groups and talk about a waist whittler!

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MOTIVATED@LAST 8/27/2011 8:22PM

    Planks are a great core exercise. They are easier on your back, and work a much broader range of core muscles than crunches..

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SHERYL_B 8/27/2011 6:58PM

    You should try Turbo Jam. It's my go to set of dvd's, although I am currently doing Supreme 90 and loving that. Turbo Jam has cardio, but there is also AbJam - a half standing / half floor ab video and Booty Sculpt - a strength training video (with a short, intense ab workout at the end).

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A Day Out In Constable Country (with pics)

Friday, August 26, 2011

So, Mum's Day Out! How thrilled was I to realise that Constable Country was close enough to visit for a day out?

Very thrilled! :-)

After some searching on the internet, we found that a ten minute ride on a train would get us to Manningtree, and that from there it was a two mile walk across Cattawade Marshes to Flatford, the area where many of Constable's most famous paintings can be seen for real. :-) And from there, it was only another mile and a half of walking to Dedham. So, a seven mile circuit walk in return for a fascinating day out in glorious countryside. Well worth the price! :-)

I was really excited, and at the same time a little worried, because a huge weather front was threatening to wreck our day out. You see, I had hoped to do the trip on the Wednesday, but when Bry said she was staying till the end of the week, and one of the friends only really had Wednesday free for lunch, we had to swap over and do the lunch on Wednesday, so our family day out became Thursday, and this expected rain could potentially ruin our day out, stopping it before it even started.

However, I'd been keeping a close eye on the clouds and the weather forecasts, and they were expecting the front to hit our destination around mid afternoon. I figured that if we got a reasonably early start we'd be ok, and if we got a little wet on the way home, well, that wouldn't matter so much. :-) So I was on everyone's case to get a move on, and we were out the door and starting the 30 minute walk to the railway station by 10.15am (early for us! LOL)

The train was on time, and we were heading for Manningtree by 10.55, and standing outside Manningtree Station by 11.10 am, eyeing up the car park, and searching for the start of the footpath to Flatford. Spotting it ahead of us we set off, me pulling the girls back for a photo by the sign before we headed onto the trail. (Doesn't Bry's hair look lovely?)

It was at this point that I realised that I'd left the map and info I'd printed out at home, on top of the printer! Doh!!!

Well, I had a few moments of kicking myself, causing some passersby to look and then hurry past in case they caught something (kidding! LOL) I'd looked at the map so many times on Wednesday evening that I could almost see it all in my head, and as a bonus, the footpath was well signposted for the most part, so we set off and took our chances.

I took loads of photos as we meandered down the lanes...

between fields...

and up and onto the Marshes.

We even saw two hawks hovering in the distance (in one of the pics as a teeny speck or two) as we hit the Marsh path. The path itself was really single file, so we walked along, me hanging back to take pics...

and occasionally calling the girls to get them to let me catch up. :-)

At the other end of the Marshes we found our first clue that we had reached National Trust land:

The National Trust looks after Flatford, and leases the properties out to the Field Studies Council, and they hold residential art courses amongst other things. It is possible to stay in Flatford or nearby, and the thought of trying to do that some time sounds like a great idea to me, although they'd struggle to get me to leave at the end of my stay! LOL

Anyway, we walked across the flood defences...

and along a path until we found ourselves opposite Flatford Mill...

which is featured in a number of his works, before continuing along past the lock (from the painting 'Boys Fishing', aka A Lock on the Stour):

to a view of the tearooms (more of which shortly)...

to the bridge from another of Constable's paintings – View on the Stour near Dedham (still to come), and Bridge Cottage, which currently houses the Constable Exhibit. I really wanted to go and sit on that bench and watch the world go by! :-)

Bridge Cottage from the other side of the Bridge:

By this time it was noon and the girls were hungry. There is a teashop and giftshop run by the National Trust, which had a sign outside apologising for the large number of wasps hanging about. I was surprised that they felt it necessary to do that, but was also a little concerned, because I was badly stung by wasps as a kid, after my brother whacked their nest with a stick, and I've always been very nervous of them as a result. So, seeing that Bridge Cottage (once owned by his family and leased out to two other families, hence the extra door) housed a Constable Exhibition, I persuaded the girls to hang on for food just a wee while longer, and we went into the exhibition first.

It was lovely to see prints of some of his works, and copies of the tiny little sketchbooks he used. It is a lovely old wattle and daub property, well maintained, and it has been used for several different purposes in its lifetime.

Then we went into the tea room ... and realised why the wasp apology board was out front. They were everywhere! I tried to be brave. Bry and I chose sandwiches, and Tara wanted cake, and Bry went to pay for them and get coffee for her and tea for Tara and me, while we went to grab a table. But there was nowhere that didn't have wasps buzzing around. In the end we picked a table nearest the exit for a quick getaway and Bry brought our food and drinks over. We sat there for about a minute and I got one bite out of my sandwich, and then the people at the next table started flapping at the wasps and that was it for me. Scared as I am of them I NEVER flap at them because if you get them cross they are more likely to sting, and often the person they sting is NOT the flapper!

I got up and Bry suggested we try taking our food round to the front which seemed less waspy. So we piled everything back on the tray and walked outside and round to the front of the teashop. Tara had already wolfed down her cake, and Bry was halfway through her sandwich at this point. I decided to keep my sandwich and eat it on the way to Dedham, so just had my tea to drink. Bry had a couple of mouthfuls left of her sandwich when a wasp turned up, sniffed around that, and our drinks and then left, only to bring a mate back a few seconds later. By this time, Tara and I were standing at the gateway, gulping down our teas. Bry joined us after finishing the last of her sandwich (brave girl) and she returned the tea things to the shop while Tara and I went into the gift shop.

I love National Trust gift shops! They always have wonderful foodstuffs, practical and pretty kitchenware, and in this case a lot of books, including two I really wanted – The Butterfly Isles by Patrick Barkham, and The Cloud Book by Richard Hamblyn in association with the Met Office. But I couldn't justify buying both on my limited budget, so as I'd been eager to read the butterfly book ever since Bryony told me about it (she met the author at one of the Ways With Words Literary Festivals she helps to organise), I dug out a tenner and bought it, plus a selection of postcards of Constable paintings. Tara bought a couple of packs of cards – Happy Families, and Top Trumps British Wild Animals, plus a rubber snake?!?!?, and Bry bought a couple of handy bags in pouches, one of a William Morris print and the other Art Nouveau style.

Then we left to walk the fields to Dedham.

We walked back over the bridge, and this is a view from the bridge back to the Lock:

Start of the Dedham section of the footpath:

It was a wonderful walk, through a field full of cows – standing, so we knew we weren't going to get wet just yet - and past pollarded willows, and over a bridge before walking alongside the river, past lightning-blasted trees.

It is amazing that this tree is still standing considering the extent of the damage!

We reached the end of the fields, opposite The Boathouse Restaurant at Dedham, and decided that as the sky was starting to glower a bit, it would be wise to leave exploring Dedham itself for another time. So we sat on the bank of the river for a short break. It was great fun to watch people trying to row up and down the river. I ate my sandwich while the girls munched on crisps and fruit, and we watched a colony of House Martins swooping along the river, just above the surface of the water, snatching insects before wheeling round for another run.

Nearby, a couple of girls threw the remains of their picnic to the swans:

I threw a few bits of my sandwiches for the ducks, and then we started the walk back. As we reached the last field I realised that most of the cows were now lying down and told the girls it would be raining within about twenty minutes, so we needed to hurry and leave. We would be halfway back across the marshes I reckoned, by the time it started to rain.

I did, however, want to briefly pop back into the National Trust shop first, and get the Cloud Book. I had pretty much talked myself into buying it during the walk to Dedham, and knew I'd regret not snapping up a copy. Bryony decided to wait outside the shop so as not to be tempted by anything else, so I turned to go in, and as I did so, a lady in a National Trust T-shirt came up to Bry and asked her if she wanted a map of Flatford. This turned out to be her opening pitch, as she was luring unsuspecting people into having a guided tour of Flatford. LOL

Bry and I looked at each other and I asked how much, and she said £3 per adult. I then asked how long the tour took – about an hour, she said. We had the perfect out, so I thought – much as I would have loved to do the tour – and I said we'd love to, but had to head back to Manningtree Station across the marshes, and that it was about to rain. The lovely lady's response to that was that they lend umbrellas to those on the tour, and that she'd make sure the guide kept his talk to an hour for us, and that he was very entertaining and well worth spending the time with! Evidently the National Trust's secret weapon, this woman!! What could we do? Bryony handed over £6, and we were told to meet the guide by the corner of Bridge House at 3pm.

That just gave me time to pop back into the Constable exhibit to photograph some of his quotes for reference, and then pop into the shop for that cloud book (having been previously distracted from that plan by The Secret Weapon).

Bang on three, The Secret Weapon reappeared, bearing umbrellas as promised, and as she handed me one I felt the first raindrop on my cheek. I knew cows were good forecasters! :-) We met the other tourists she had bagged – a couple, and a father and daughter. Then Gio (pronounced Joe) arrived. The Secret Weapon introduced him to us, then pointed to me and said “Keep it to an hour this afternoon Gio, because this lady and her girls have to walk back to Manningtree across the marshes to catch a train!” Gio replied, “No problem. I'll give you a lift to the station after the tour, and then you won't have to have the short version! Win Win!”

This sounded like an ideal solution. Much as we weren't worried about the walk, it wasn't going to be much fun in the pouring rain that had been forecasted, and was indeed already starting. So we set out on the tour. Gio first had to do the Health and Safety bit:

“This is a road. Cars. Fast. Dangerous. This is the river. Deep. Wet. Dangerous. So, shall we go?”

And that began about an hour and a half of standing under umbrellas in the (by now) pouring rain, listening to Gio tell us things about Constable and his art that were absolutely fascinating! He also had prints of his more well known works from around Flatford, and would take us to the spots where Constable would have made his sketches for each of them in turn.

Unfortunately, my phone died part way through, so some of the pics are from the booklet Bryony bought for me.

Gio started off by taking us to the boatyard that the National Trust uncovered in 1985, with the remains of a barge in it, and a ton of rubbish!

Painting: Boat Building Near Flatford Mill

This is a dry dock, with wooden slats at the end, and a large plug – yes, a plug, I kid you not. The idea was that the wooden slats kept the river out of the dry dock while you built your barge, then you lifted the slats one by one to let the water in from the river, and then you floated the barge out of the dock. Of course, you then had a wet dock and not a dry one. You might then float another barge in for repair, replace the wooden slats, and then pull the plug out to drain the dry dock through a culvert that ran under the river and released the water in the lower area beyond. Very clever, very effective! :-)

Gio told us that they flood the dock every winter to keep the weeds down, and that in the spring a Moorhen built a nest in the reeds at the side of the water. Unfortunately, when they drained the dock, it left the nest high and dry, two feet above the ground, and that the chicks had a somewhat bumpy start to their life when it came time to try and leave the nest ... but they all survived! :-)

As some of us thought he was joking about the plug, we were taken to the river end of the dry dock, and, sure enough, he bent down and pulled up a large sink-type plug on the end of a chain! I should have taken a photo, it was huge! And it gave us all a big laugh!

As we were standing there, he drew our attention to a view of the Bridge...

Painting: View on the Stour Near Dedham

Dedham Church, seen in the distance has remarkable properties, and you should never use Constables paintings to try and pinpoint your position. The reason for this being that Dedham Church is on castors, and slides around the landscape at Constables convenience! It even has the ability to grow larger or smaller if necessary. A very remarkable building! LOL

It is believed that the lady on the bridge is Constable's wife. She was considered too good for him by her family, and they went to extraordinary lengths to keep the two apart. Constable travelled wherever she was sent around the country to different relatives, and he was regularly turned away, but they finally found a friend in one relative, and when Constable inherited after his father's death, her family finally gave permission for them to marry. Or they married without permission, and she was disinherited. I wasn't clear on how that panned out. Either way, they married. :-) They had seven children, and every one survived to adulthood, a remarkable feat in those days. Sadly, she died of consumption a short time after the last child was born.

From looking at the bridge with the lady on it, we then walked round and stood there ourselves, looking back past the dry dock to Flatford Mill for another famous painting view:

Painting: Flatford Mill: Scene on a Navigable River
As you can see, I captured a photo of the painting in front of the view! LOL

On the way, Gio ran into Bridge Cottage to get his wet weather gear, because it was bucketing down, and he only had a shirt on. We had taken turns trying to keep him dry under a brolly, but we hadn't had much success! So there we all were, in the pouring rain, standing on a bridge, looking at the trees that now obscure the view to the Mill, and the occasional person dashed by, looking at us as if we were completely crackers!

Hey, this is England people, if we stopped every time it rained we'd never get anything done! LOL

And this was when my phone died on me... *pout*

We walked a little way down the path to the right then, for another view of three of Constables paintings, namely:

Boys Fishing (A Lock on the Stour)

A Boat Passing a Lock

Flatford Mill from the Lock

I was going to use photos of the booklet but they didn't come out well. So the rest is largely bereft of piccies I'm afraid, but we do plan to go back there in a few weeks, so I'll get the rest photographed then. :-)

So, Gio took us back over the bridge, past Bridge Cottage, and the tea rooms, and on to the outside of the Mill. We couldn't go in there because it is leased by the Studies Centre, so there are only a few tours of the buildings of Flatford each year.

We were also allowed to stand under a tree just inside the gate of the Valley Farm property, and then we were standing outside Willy Lott's House, and facing the site of what is arguably Constable's most famous painting – The Haywain. Only it isn't! It isn't a haywain! Honestly! Apparently, Constable made sketches of the area but was painting the picture elsewhere, and finding himself short of information about the cart crossing the river, he asked a friend for some information, and as a result of the information he painted a timber cart, not a haywain! Also the name of the painting wasn't down to Constable anyway. He named it Landscape: Noon. When he became popular, rather than controversial, a number of his paintings were renamed with more eyecatching names. Including this one.

Yes, Constable was controversial! He had an instinct for what would work regarding clouds and colour that was way ahead of his time, and the Royal Academy and he had many clashes over the years before he was finally accepted as a full member.

Incidentally, Willy Lott's house is the one to the left of the Haywain painting. You can see the house, but the water is now stagnant, and there is a flood barrier built and blocking the view over the fields. The waterway is sandwiched between Willy Lott's house and Flatford Mill. Willy Lott was quite a character, only famous because his house featured in a number of Constable's works. He was a local farmer, who lived his entire 80 years in that house, barring only four nights! Apparently he liked a drop of ale and would often be found dancing on tabletops in the local alehouses! :-)

The haywain:

Willy Lott's House today:

This last stop concluded our tour, and a thoroughly drenched group of us meandered back to Bridge Cottage where we said our goodbyes, Gio and the dad having a quick chat about football, much to the daughter's chagrin. She was remarkably restrained though, and didn't hit her dad with the brolly. :-)

Tara and I followed Gio into Bridge Cottage, where he set us to drying off the prints with a tea towel, while he went to get his car. Bryony, meanwhile, had dived into the gift shop again in search of a book about Constable's life. When she came out she had what she was after, plus two copies of the National Trust's Constable Country booklet – one for her and one for me. :-)

By the time we had finished wiping down the pictures and leaning them against the furniture to dry without leaning against each other, Gio was back and clearing out the backseat of his car to fit us in. We then got the Extended Tour. :-)

Between Flatford and East Bergholt, were a number of lay-bys with stunning views over the Stour Valley, and then there was East Bergholt itself, also with strong Constable associations. By the time Gio pulled into Manningtree Railway Station, we had learned a great deal more about Constable, including the fact that he was great friends with the Bishop of Salisbury, who commisioned him to paint Salisbury Cathedral. Constable painted a marvellous painting, with wonderful architectural detail, the view being from the Bishop's garden. The Bishop and his wife are seen in the left of the painting and the bishop's walking stick is raised, pointing to something of interest. When Constable presented the painting – his first commission, all paid for in advance, the Bishop refused to accept it because Constable had painted a cloud over the cathedral, and he considered this to be unacceptable! He told Constable to take it back and paint a blue sky instead, because no clouds ever appeared over Salisbury Cathedral! :-)

Whether Constable actually did as asked I don't know. All I do know is that it is one of my favourite paintings of his, and the beautiful clouds are very much in evidence. It has been said that even if Constable sold a painting, he would ask for it back, or make alterations to it, pretty much without permission, as he still considered them to be his, no matter who had the paintings or how much he had sold them for. Constable was not a blue-sky thinker, and he knew his clouds intimately. He was still a young man when the first official cloud classifications were created in 1803, and before long he had his own much-thumbed and annotated copy of the book to refer to. Also, as he had apprenticed as a miller, and had to set the sail daily according to the predicted weather, he had learned to read the skies from an early age, so you can look at his paintings and see just how authentic the clouds look – probably the main reason I love his work so much. :-) Well, you know how I love my clouds! :-) The paintings look so authentic you can actually tell whether the day was building up to rain, or not. :-)

So that was Constable Country Day. :-) We had to wait about twenty minutes for the train, and it was a long and very soggy walk back to our home from Colchester Station in the same downpour we had already been in at Flatford. It followed us home! We were three drowned rats by the time we got back, because we were very good and returned the brollys! :-)

I hope you enjoyed this rather extensive stroll through Constable Country. It took quite a while to put it all together for you. :-)
Lex xxx
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Has to be arty LOLs...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CARLA-216 8/29/2011 3:33PM

    Oh my goodness, what a wonderful day out at such a beautiful place! Looks like just the kind of thing I love to do. Thank you so much for sharing with us this day!

Gio sounds like a real gem. I am so glad he gave you a lift back to the station in his car so that you didn't get even wetter!

And YES, I love Bry's hair! Beautiful!


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ANNEMAC5 8/28/2011 2:48PM

    Great blog never had time to read it earlier. I have been on the A12 between Chelmsford and Ipswich lots of times and seen the signs but we have never got out and walked. If we get the chance hopefully we will visit Constable country properly before winter. Great way of getting your fitness mins. The weather is so unpredictable but we are lucky to have the car so no waiting in the rain for trains. Thanks for sharing

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SCREWIE 8/28/2011 8:52AM

    Lovely pictures, and lovely places!

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SENATOR9 8/27/2011 9:02AM

    Great pictures emoticon

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LINDABENEDICT 8/27/2011 6:57AM

    Beautiful photos, great art and history lessons... reading your blog was the perfect way to start my day !!! Thank you so much !

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_LINDA 8/27/2011 12:37AM

    Thank you so very much for all the time this must have taken you to post!! Absolutely stunning photographs!! I can see why you like this gentleman's paintings so much!! I too, think clouds help make the painting. Blue sky is just too dull!! What a gorgeous place to walk in!
Enjoyed this trip very much!
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Linda xxx

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BOVEY63 8/26/2011 11:26PM

    What an awesome day - such beautiful scenery. And and awesome walk too!
Your girls are beautiful!

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ZURDTA- 8/26/2011 2:22PM

    emoticon love Constable... beautiful area too.

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BOE4LIFE 8/26/2011 1:00PM

    What an awesome day out. I so want to jog on that path I just know it would be oh so relaxing. Thank you, thank you, thank you oh so much for sharing.

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SHELLYCOOK 8/26/2011 12:55PM

  Wow, very interesting blog! Thank you for the art history/geography lesson emoticon. I have never heard of Constable or this area of England before but I will Google it here in a minute! Lovely scenery and sounds like you had a nice day!

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Day 37. Had a week's Holiday ... kind of :-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

It was lovely having Bryony here all last week, if a little exhausting. :-) I tried to keep up with my exercise routine of 45 mins Cardio daily plus my 6 days of strength training, but...

Well, it turned into a bit of an unexpected holiday! :-)

She arrived on Sunday, early evening, safe and sound, and sporting a terrific new haircut!

We had a pleasant evening eating curry and catching up.

Monday was chillout day for her, so we messed about with the Wii Fit Plus, Zumba, played board games, and munched steadily through the kitchen cupboards. Or rather, she did while we watched! LOL She has the metabolism I used to have, where you can eat and eat and eat and not put on an ounce! :-)

Tuesday was Best Friend Day so Claire arrived around 11 am, stayed for a cuppa and a chat, and then the two of them headed off for the afternoon while I did some clearing up. They came back around 6pm and I cooked us all a nice meal of Chicken in Soup - a family staple with a twist as I can't use the oven at the moment, so I modified it for the cooker top.

Wednesday was an invitation to more friends to lunch at our place, courtesy of Bry, who cooked Bangers and Mash and Peas for us all. Well, cooked bangers and mash anyway. The peas were forgotten but we managed to fast-cook them before it was too late. Can't say they liked me very much, being practically raw. They did the same thing to me that sweetcorn does, and I'll go into no more detail than that they were totally identifiable at the other end. ;-)

Anyhoo, Alice arrived first, with her recent acquisition - a black and white Springer Spaniel pup (now 8 months old). Sophie was most thrilled to have a friend visit, although after a while it was clear that she wasn't getting a lot of attention as everyone was oohing and aahing over Alfie! But they got on well together, Alfie being most confused when Sophie got on the sofa as he isn't allowed on the furniture. :-) He chewed his way through a couple of Sophie's old tennis balls, but to be fair they were ready for the bin even before he got his teeth into them, and Alice kindly donated one of Alfie's balls to make up for the fact that we only had a selection of remnants left when he'd finished. LOL

Adrian arrived shortly after Alice and Alfie, and after lunch was all munched, we had a game of Monopoly.

I am not playing Monopoly with Adrian again. He won't do deals with me!

I got so bored that I threw a pretend tantrum in the end and quit the game.

Truth be told it was only so I could play with the dogs before Alice left! LOLOL Much more fun than Monopoly to my mind, and it confused the gang no end, because they didn't realise at first that I was mucking about. They thought I was really miffed with Adrian! LOLOL

Around 5 pm Tara and Adrian were the only players left and she resoundingly thrashed him, which pleased me no end! Evil LOL

Ade left about 6pm to meet up with friends in town for a meal and to see the new Harry Potter film, and Bry left for a friend's house for a Harry Potter Quiz Night. I was left dealing with a disappointed Tara who had wanted to go with her sister, but aside from the HP thing it wasn't her cup of tea, what with the Mexican food and them all being a lot older than her. She was soon over it though, and we did our own mini Potter night because Who Do You Think You Are was featuring J.K. Rowling, and it was really interesting. :-)

On Thursday morning we were up bright and early because it was Mum's Day Out time. :-) I got to choose where we were going, and I chose … Drumroll …

Constable Country!

And I'm blogging separately about that because, well, it is a long story with pics galore. :-) Suffice to say it was a wonderful day, and we all slept soundly that night! :-) We amassed over 20,000 steps that day, which was well over 9 miles!

Bry and I were up at the crack of dawn Friday morning because she had to walk into town to catch a coach to go home, and she said to me, “Do you want to walk in with me? Like you haven't walked enough already yesterday!” LOL What could I say? I walked in with her.

And were my legs screaming at me! But I managed it, and was a little disappointed to realise that the coach had dark windows so I couldn't wave her off. Whose bright idea was that, huh? Now we all get to stand and wave goodbye to total strangers because we can't see who we're waving to!!! LOL

So we hugged goodbye and on my way out of the coach station I remembered the ball situation vis-a-vis Sophie, so popped up into the precinct to the pet store. I grabbed a pack of four balls, and tried to pay for them but the owner had no change in his till, so I went to the corner shop, gasped at the horrific prices of everything from polos at 50p a packet upwards, grabbed a magazine I was reasonably likely to read, and bought that so that I could give the pet store guy the right money for the balls. (NOTE TO SELF: Add magazine to 'To Read' pile by side of bed or it'll sit where you left it, gathering dust until next millennium!)

Then I went home via Waitrose for a few bits and pieces, knowing that I was unlikely to want to leave the house again once I got back. And boy, was I right! My legs gave up on me and so did my consciousness! I was so tired that I was doing a passable imitation of a zombie for much of the weekend. That is why it has taken until now for me to blog. :-)

How I stayed awake for the rest of Friday is a mystery to me. :-)

So, how did I do with my Fitness and Nutrition last week? Remarkably well, as it happens. :-) I did a minimum of three miles / 6600 steps every day for the week. I ate a little cream, on a large slice of Tarte au Citron. Nom! :-) Other than that I ate mostly my normal foods and in sensible quantities. :-)

Exercise Breakdown:
Sunday: 1 hour Cardio - 8554 steps
Monday: 30 mins Cardio, 28 mins Zumba, and an upper body video – 10444 steps
Tuesday: 70 min decent speed walk at Highwoods, and 30 mins Cardio – 9506 steps
Wednesday: 30 mins Cardio – 6978 steps
Thursday: Constable Country Day Out – 20217 steps! 9.19 miles!
Friday: Town and back walking – 7650 steps
Saturday: 55 mins Cardio and some Wii Fit Plus games – 7999 steps

Weight dropped as low as 12 stone 6 3/4 lbs by Saturday, although on Sunday morning it was up to 12 stone 7 3/4lbs. The joy of variables. :-)

Oh yes, and for three days in a row (Wed, Thur, Fri) I didn't get on Altzie first thing for my daily Body Test. Altzie, in case you are wondering, is the name Tara and I have given to the animated balance board in the Wii Fit Plus game. Short for Altzheimers, he has earned this name - according to Tara – because he is always forgetting what he has already told us and is forever repeating himself! LOL

I have completed Route 66, but to be honest, I did a shoddy job when it came to checking in daily and missed several days-worth of postcards several times, so I plan to do it again and pay more attention next time. :-) Part of the reason for doing it was to learn a bit about the area, so breezing through the way I did would be like walking through Constable Country with blinkers on! Not the best way to see the sights! :-)

As far as the land's End to John O'Groats walk is going, I am doing well. I am currently on stage three of the journey, and am 4.6 miles from Exeter. I have walked 140.4 miles in 37 days, which is an average of 3.79 miles per day! I am approaching my aimed-for average of 4 miles a day goal quite nicely. :-) And as this is literal steps taken, I feel very accomplished. :-)

And that is about it for news, apart from the Constable Country day out, which is going in a separate blog partly because there is so much to tell you, and partly because we are being threatened with a storm-filled, weatherfront and may well have to shut down the computers fairly soon, for the night. :-)

So I will leave you in peace for now. I'd better go and get our dinner started. :-) Also, this week I will try and catch up with how you are all doing, and read your blogs. I have a mountain of emails in my inbox! Nearly 400!!!
Lex xxx
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SILLYHP1953 10/12/2011 9:22PM

    I'm glad you got time with both your daughters, sounded like fun.

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MNOT2THICK 8/23/2011 6:54PM

    Busy,Busy, Busy. Sounds like you had a great week and no slouch on the working out. Looking forward to your pics. emoticon

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CARLA-216 8/23/2011 1:33PM

    What an awesome week! Sounds like such a great time was had. And it looks like you still got in a respectable amount of exercise every day.

Looking forward to the Constable Country blog. Over 9 miles of walking...amazing!


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SCREWIE 8/23/2011 8:22AM

    Wow, what a week! It sounded like you all had a great time, hopefully the weather helped too!

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ZURDTA- 8/23/2011 4:09AM

    What an amazing week - simple family pleasures and what fun :) Lovely xx

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_LINDA 8/23/2011 1:08AM

    What a fantastic week!! have a good rest -you have certainly earned it! Looking forward to your next blog and photos of your big walk about!!
Linda xxx

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BOVEY63 8/22/2011 9:57PM

    That sounds like one awesome week with your daughter - great job on all the exercise you got in.
I love how you and Tara name you workout equipment!
Anxious to see your pics of Constable Country.

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Day 26: I just got a new Cardio toy...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

His name is Kendell Hogan! LOL

He is free to play with you too, any time you like, at:


This morning I did his 10 minute Cardio Shape Up, which includes lots of squats and stuff, followed by his 10 minute Cardio Burn, which was so much fun that I immediately did it again, so I got my first thirty minutes in before breakfast. Later in the day I couldn't resist, put my trainers back on again and did his 30 minute Slim Down Cardio Burn. I was laughing so hard and enjoying myself so much that time flew by and I hardly noticed how hard I was working!

Go on, give him a try! :-) British friends, think Mr Motivator on Speed! LOL

In other news...

This blog was almost finished when SP somehow or other ate it, so I'm doing my best to remember what I'd written. *sigh*

I have officially lost two stone since the day I stood on my brand new weightwatcher scales and saw 14 stone 7lbs between my toes and swore to do something about it! In fact, the scales are saying 12 stone 6 at the moment, so I'm a pound in hand just in time for TOM to play havoc. :-)

I have run out of holes in my belt! :-)

I still can't sit comfortably in my new size 16 jeans, but I can do them up with ease now. :-)

I have used 5lb weights for the first time this week in a couple of my upper arm exercises. I've come a long way from starting my SP journey with 1lb weights. :-) I'm using mostly 3lb weights now, with one or two exercises still only using 2lb weights, so the 5lb was a real boost to my ego. My shoulders are feeling it tonight! :-) But I am really glad that I have paid close attention to what i can manage weight-wise with each exercise. I think my strength training will be more effective now.

Have quit using the nutrition tracker. I seem to be doing fine without it for now. :-)

However, I have been playing a great deal with the fitness tracker. I was excited to find a lot of the Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports have been included in the Cardio list at SP. So I decided to stop tracking miles and use the 'add cardio' button instead.

But here we are a few days later and I'm back tracking mileage. First of all, SP forgot the cycling game, which I use a lot. Secondly, I couldn't see any way to accurately save things like some of my cardio videos without translating the steps into miles to gauge the speed of the workout. I have decided that I like accuracy on my tracker and some general 'dance, fast' comment doesn't cut the mustard when I have several different dance types I use and they vary in intensity. I want to be able to see exactly what I did on any given day, not have to try and guess from a vague description. :-)

Just call me a control freak! LOL

My lovely older daughter is popping up for a few days next week, and I'm really looking forward to seeing her. It may also be the last time we get to see Adrian, family friend and 'adopted' son for a while. He has finally had his interview for getting a visa to live and work in the USA, with his American wife. The interview went well, and it seems that once the last couple of bits of paperwork are in place, he'll be away!

Sadly, my lovely Son-in-law can't make it due to work, but he has had some good news too. He is a driving instructor and has applied to be a Test Examiner. Well, an opening has come up and he get to do the course at the end of October. if he passes that he's in, which will be wonderful, because in the current economic climate, much as he enjoys teaching, the income isn't regular. Examiner comes with a salary. :-)

So, it is good and late thanks to the chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out SP Blog Monster, and I needs some sleep, so I'm off. Looking forward to the morning so that I can play with Kendell some more. emoticon

Have fun!
Lex xxx
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SILLYHP1953 10/12/2011 9:18PM

    I can use a five pound weight for some things, three pound for others.

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MNOT2THICK 8/23/2011 6:55PM

    Thanks Lexie, I think I want to visit with him for a while.

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CHERIRIDDELL 8/17/2011 1:03AM

    As usual your blog brightened my evening and congrats on the weight loss!

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FISEFTON 8/16/2011 12:55PM

    Congrats on the 2 stone loss and the wonderful achievements.

Good luck to son-in-law with the driving examiner thing. My husband is a driving instructor too and I *know* how sporadic the income is. My husband thought about applying to be an examiner but decided against it as he would get really P**d off having to fail/pass borderline learners (it happens and we know it does) and he likes to concentrate on fleet driver training rather than learners anyway.

Here's to the next achievements.

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SCREWIE 8/14/2011 5:55PM

    Thanks for the links, and congrats for your weight loss :)))

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ODDLASS 8/14/2011 5:24AM

    Hiya, All good stuff there Lexie!! I will give Kendell a test drive later this week. I am hoping that after the next couple of weeks I SHOULD have a bit more ME time back and will have a proper look at my sparking (which has had to take a back seat for a little while)

As to the bolg monster .. ahh I know him well! But I have a cunning plan! I never do my blogs or mail messages right onto the spark page (unless the are short ones). I write them on a word file on the computer (that way I can keep it and add to it if I want to before posting) Then I just copy and past it into the blog, SO if the monster eats it, i just copy and paste it again. I have lost nowt and the monster has to open a tin of beans for lunch.

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SENATOR9 8/13/2011 12:19PM

    Sorry not my kind of toy I like more the opposite ones emoticon

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CARLA-216 8/12/2011 11:48AM

    Awesome, awesome progress, Lex!

Enjoy Bryony's visit and best of luck to Rob on the Examiner position. Nice photo to go along with that! Best wishes to Adrian, too.


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CHEVY63 8/12/2011 9:58AM

    Wow - that sounds like an awesome workout if you keep wanting to do it over and over!

Congratulations on all your success - you've been doing great!

Enjoy your visit with your daughter and friends emoticon

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ZURDTA- 8/12/2011 6:30AM

    Brilliant - Mr Motivator on Speed! OMG, lol lol lol!

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_LINDA 8/12/2011 1:42AM

    Well done on your progress! I will not give up the Nutrition tracker, keeps me honest, but if you tend to eat the same things over and over again, it really wouldn't be necessary. Shame about the Fitness Tracker not able to be accurate for your needs. You are supposed to be able to enter your own workouts in it but it sounded too technical for me, needed to measuring HR and know all your stats etc to calculate your actual calorie burn performing any exercise. But maybe that is something you need to be doing to satisfy yourself and make sure you are getting a continued calorie defecit based on what you are eating ;)
That's awful losing the blog :( Do you not have a word program you could work on it before copying it to Sparks page?
If I didn't have such a lousy slow conncetion, I would be very intersted in checking this dude out, but not ready for any jumping around yet any way :(
Enjoy!! Have a fabulous Friday!!
Linda xxx

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LIBBYFITZ 8/12/2011 12:50AM

    Kendall sounds like fun! emoticon emoticon

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BOVEY63 8/11/2011 10:13PM

    Have fun playing with Kendall! You are doing so awesome!
Enjoy the time with your daughter and the others. Best of luck to SIL on getting the promotion at work.

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LINDABENEDICT 8/11/2011 9:32PM

    Thanks for posting the exercises...Glad to hear you are doing so well !

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Day 22: Photo for CHERIRIDDELL and Chopper, plus some other stuff.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Hi Cheri,
Thought you'd like this pic after reading about yours and Choppers antics at the library. Tara found the pic so gets due credit too. :-)

In other news...

Had a good week with the steps I did. :-)
As I said yesterday, I'm up to a minimum of 6600 a day now, which equates to three miles on my particular system.

Sun. 7135
Mon. 8194
Tue. 13728
Wed. 9232
Thur. 8403
Fri. 11861
Sat. 8269

Total: 66822
Average per day: 9546

And if you think that was good, I lost a bit of weight too........

Drumroll please:

Last Sunday I weighed 12 stone 9 1/2 lbs
This Sunday I weigh 12 stone 7 lbs

And today I had a Wii Exercise day:
I did 33 mins on the Wii Fit Plus, 18 mins with Just Dance and Just Dance 2, and 26 minutes of Wii Zumba. :-)

It was a Wii-ly good day! :-)

So, I am a firm believer in things coming in threes (she says, changing the subject). A lot has to do with all the threes and multiples of three in my date of birth. there are two 3s, a 6, a 9, and three 1s - not necessarily in that order. LOL So three has played a big role in my life.

And when something happens, good or bad, it tends to happen in threes. For instance, one memorable weekend at college I found money on the ground three times:

The Friday evening I was walking home from a disco in Plymouth with a mate and spotted a twenty pound note, soaking wet, in the gutter. The next morning in Exeter, I opened the car door, put my foot out, and quite literally stepped on a five pound note, and that same evening, I found a fifty pence piece underfoot. Ok, so the amounts tended to shrink as I went along, but you have to admit that was not a bad haul, plus no one claimed the cash (I was brought up to turn money bigger than coins into the police station in case the owner wanted to claim it) so I was nice and rich and able to treat my friends and I to a great night out when I got the money back. :-) Disco entry for 4 and drinks all night (£20), a taxi home for all of us (£5), and a 50p tip for the driver! LOL Memories of a wonderful night ... priceless!

Well, these things happen all the time to me, and this time it has been a weird twist of a threesome event. Three things in my home going partially wrong but still being serviceable.

First, you may remember a couple of weeks ago that my oven packed up, although the rest of the cooker is working just fine. :-)

The following week my bedside lamp gave up the ghost as far as lighting up my life was concerned. However it is also an alarm clock and radio, and they still work just fine. :-)

This week it is the turn of my Brita water filter jug. the electronic gizmo that indicates how long the filter has left to live just died on me. But I can, and this is absolutely astonishing... I can still ... fill the jug up and drink the filtered water!!!

Amazed? So am I! Who'dathunkit?

This three fetish has overflowed into every area of my life...

Favourite kids story?
Three Little Pigs

Favourite Film?
Three Coins in a Fountain

Favourite song?
Three Times a Lady

LOL, I'm kidding, thought they are on my list, and I love Trilogys. LOL

Even my mild OCD where safety is concerned has a three element, in that I check stuff three times when I'm stressed.

And three is a powerful number in Druid Circles, so it isn't surprising that I fit right in there either. :-)

And you can't have failed to notice that almost every blog has three emoticons followed by three LOLs at the end, rarely more than or less that three. :-)

And talking of which, I must leave you in peace and go find the threes to complete this blog.

Happy Sundog!
Lex xxx
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In the mood for more WOWs?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SILLYHP1953 10/12/2011 9:16PM

    I finally did some Wii fitness and Just Dance tonight. Took a break cause I think I had gout in my foot. Actually went to a doctor, but she couldn't say for sure. It is better finally.

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CHEVY63 8/11/2011 11:48AM

    Congrats on the weight loss - glad to hear all is going well!

As always, absolutely love your pictures!!! (I almost only did 2 ! but then realized that I needed to make it 3!)

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    3 is my lucky number!! I just love your corgis. They were my mum's favourite dog. We had two - a boy and then a girl.

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_LINDA 8/9/2011 12:14AM

    I have heard the saying good things come in threes, must be true! I am still waiting for the first thing though LOL.
Love the corgi cartoon :)
Keep up the great work!
Linda xxx

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CARLA-216 8/8/2011 3:14PM

    Congrats on the weight loss, Lex!

I agree about things coming in threes, too. Along the lines of finding money, on our 3nd trip to Ireland, I found money three times during that trip. Hmmm... :-)


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CHERIRIDDELL 8/8/2011 11:41AM

    Oh I adored the corgi pics.Thank Tara too! Things come in threes in my life too.

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LIBBYFITZ 8/8/2011 9:31AM


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BOVEY63 8/7/2011 9:37PM

    Thanks for sharing your threes - I enjoyed reading about them.
Congrats on the working out and weight loss!

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SCREWIE 8/7/2011 5:35PM

    Ok. So, my internet packed up two weeks ago. My home telephone went on the blink earlier this week... I'll expect my mobile to mess up soon!

I've never noticed if it's threes, but yes, usually I don't get one offs, good or bad. I get runs of the things!

And is Eugene the Hutz? emoticon

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