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Friday 3 December 2021

My Sabbatical Month Off: Sentence a Day, November

 Long horn cattle on a frosty November morning in Epping Forest. Photo: Gail Hanlon Is This Mutton

A very busy month packed with fun things - I was on sabbatical!  This is four weeks' paid leave which my company grants us every four years. I had originally planned to go to South America but travel restrictions put paid to that. Find out what I did instead. 

Monday 1 November

Lovely blue sky day so spent it in the garden, planting bulbs, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Have never planted so many spring bulbs! This is what the garden looks like today. Still quite a lot in bloom. 

Tues 2 Nov

Another lovely day. Had booster jab, then went on a walking tour of Secret London.  Fascinating to see the tiny alleyways of Cornhill and places like Simpson's Tavern, which are so atmospheric, some with original outdoor gas lights. 

London alleyway, Cornhill area of the City

Weds 3 Nov

A beautiful day with a frosty start. Did forest walk 5 miles. Saw the cattle unexpectedly. I was bending to take a picture of the frost on leaves when the cows suddenly appeared through the trees (top picture) to cross the trail. 

Thurs 4 Nov

Cloudy, cold. Went to the Victoria & Albert Museum to see their exhibition of handbags. The nearby Natural History Museum has a festive set-up with an ice rink and Christmas tree outside. 

Friday 5 Nov

Blue sky, cold. Met up with John's sisters and Don for a  trip to the Natural History Museum to see the  wildlife photographer of the year competition entries. Then had lunch at the Hereford Arms. Very enjoyable.  In the evening had dinner at the Kings Head, five minutes walk, with John's daughter and her husband. 

Sat 6 Nov

Drove to Newbury, 88 miles, for a meet-up with nine colourful women from the Kettlewell Colour Club. Interesting to see Newbury again - I lived there more than 20 years ago.  Boy has it changed.  

Sun Nov 7

My birthday! Sunny. Blue sky, not so cold. Did walk, saw cattle. John and I had a lovely lunch at Dinner by Heston, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.  I wore my new black dress with tartan collar.  Starter was meat fruit  (the "tangerine" is pate) and main course was duck. 

Mon Nov 8

Busy day getting ready for my holiday. Wrote and scheduled 2 blog posts, did an online shop, 4 loads washing,  housework, shop. Chilli for dinner. 

Tues Nov 9

Packed, made a salad for J's dinner  (he is staying at home to look after the cat) and set off to Plymouth to stay with my Mum for a few days.  Left 1030 arrived 3.40pm.

Weds Nov 10

Drizzly but mild. Mum went in town to meet friends for coffee and we arranged I would get the next bus and explore the Box ((museum) before meeting her for lunch. Unfortunately the bus didn't turn up. Got the next one but had to meet mum, so no time for Box. Lovely lunch at Quay 33. Got towels at M&S ready for boot camp, having forgotten them. 

Thurs Nov 11

Cloudy, mild. Walk. Thrilled to see the village church, which closed a few years ago and was originally earmarked for flats, is now operating as a church again, Romanian Orthodox.  Went to Otter garden centre and had quiche and chips. Was hilarious when mum started talking to another woman, thinking it was me, and she was answering.  My brother and his family came over in the evening 

Friday Nov 12

Windy, cloudy. Wore the new pink jacket J gave me for my birthday.   Took mum to new deli/coffee shop. We stayed in today, did some reading, reminiscing.

Sat Nov 13

Journey to the boot camp, which is approx 48 miles from Mum's. Was dreading it a bit in case everyone was a lot younger and/or fitter. Journey was OK although satnav took me down more single track roads than was necessary!  Met those who had arrived yesterday and moved into the cottage where I'm staying with three others. Did a boxing class. Not as much exercise as I'd expected, so far.  Lunch was pea soup, dinner was a pepper salad with halloumi. We watched Strictly in the evening in our cottage's spacious sitting room. 

Sun Nov 14

Cloudy but mild. We did a short local walk of 45 mins. Breakfast was savoury beans with a poached egg. Lunch was tomato onion cucumber salsa.

Mon Nov 15 

Over 20000 steps today.  The day started in the pool for an hour, followed by a coach trip to Instow and a walk to Bideford, 6.5 miles.  Had a crunchy salad with a poached egg for lunch and delicious chicken Thai curry for dinner. 

Tues Nov 16

Cloudy. Very tough day. Started in gym with 40 mins cardio. Then step and cycle, alternating, high intensity. Also had a strenuous session with kettle bells. In the afternoon had an  hour in the gym on the weights machines. Lunch was cumin, broccoli and chilli soup. Dinner was turkey satay and cheese Cauliflower puree. Had session in the jacuzzi.  Fitbit has given up the ghost. Ordered a new one. 

Weds Nov 17

Felt quite depleted through the 2 hour gym and pool sessions. We are intermittently fasting, so breakfast is 16 hours after dinner. It was worth waiting for, a wonderful smoothie with nuts, coconut and full fat yoghurt and berries. 10 rounds of 6 exercises with 10 reps was our punishing red zone workout. I skipped boxing and tried to do some work in the gym, but quite sore and fatigued. Beetroot and feta salad for dinner. 

Thursday Nov 18

Last day! More energy today. We did an hour in the gym - 10 min circuits on the cardiovascular equipment - followed by a swim, Pilates and a fitness test. I was proud to to be able to finish the 12 rounds along with a handful of others, most of them half my age.  We also has an aerobics class. Breakfast was a rasher of bacon, poached egg, half a tomato. Lunch was crustless quiche. Late dinner of cauliflower mash and meatballs - delicious. We were then presented with our certificates and a hug from Justin. 

Friday Nov 19

Up early and we were measured (and weighed, if we wanted it). Lost 6 pounds and 3 inches off waist plus 2 inches off each thigh!  Thrilled. Set off for London at 8.30. Did some food shopping at Epping on the way home.  Poor old cat so pleased to see me. Lots of deliveries to open!  Booked MOT for car. Steak for dinner.

Sat Nov 20

Set up new Fitbit. Did walk, 4 miles.  Forest looks quite different, a lot more leaves on the ground.  Cows still there.  Falafels and salad

Sun Nov 21 

Lots of washing and tidying up. Roast chicken. 

Mon Nov 22 

Walked to Tesco. Thanks to a bulging rucksack my heart rate was in the right place on way back  (between 120 and 150 BPM). Determined to keep the weight off. 

John and I went to Tate Britain to see the Hogarth exhibition. Very busy. Was amused by this painting, "The Flea" by Crespin. 

Had lunch at a pub nearby. They only had 2 healthy options, soup or chicken breast with beans and kale. Chose the latter and it was awful! 

Tues Nov 23 

Walk, getting colder. Did forest walk. Had lunch at a carvery with John's brother and sister, and their partners. Festive atmosphere.  Had roast turkey with gammon (ham). Dinner was cheese and biscuits as we ate lunchtime. John (end of table) and his brother (on the left) look alike don't they? Their sister Sue is on the right. 

Weds Nov 24 

Turned v cold. Had  breakfast at the normal time - am experimenting with what I can get away with, to maintain weight!  Did a longer walk including Yates Meadow. Saw the horse and pony. Although it was quite steep and I tried t walk faster, my heart rate didn't go above 119. Published post about my boot camp experience.  Chilli

Thurs Nov 25 

Aargh. 2 pounds on. Reverting to intermittent fasting!  Sunny but cold. Walked to Buckhurst Hill (5 miles round trip) to collect sparkly purple dance shoes, then took them to cobbler for re-soling so they can be worn outdoors.  Put car though wash  -it was absolutely filthy - and rejoined Nuffield gym.  Salad with Falafels and houmous.

Sparkly purple dance shoes

Fri Nov 26

Those 2 pounds gone. Phew. Did 1st session at Nuffield, cardiovascular and weights. Didn't work as hard as I did at the bootcamp. Clearly need peer pressure! Packed 2 Christmas shoe boxes for Samaritan's Purse. Made the yoghurt smoothie from the bootcamp for dinner - it's full fat Greek yoghurt with toasted mixed nuts throughout, coconut on the top, and frozen berries. Delicious. 

Sat Nov 27

Very cold. Did shortish walk of 3 ponds with J. Unfortunately fell over,  wasn't hurt but my cream jacket got very muddy. Collected purple sparkly shoes from the cobbler's. Steak

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton with husband on Epping Forest walk

Sun Nov 28

Rest day. Did a lot of blog photography which didn't go well, the conservatory lighting was terrible.  Tried a new pub, Duke in Wanstead,  for Sunday lunch with R and S. Had roast pork. Very good - lovely crackling!

Mon Nov 29

0 degrees and frost. Did forest walk. First day back at work. Relatively quiet, catching up on emails. Just three meetings.Salmon for dinner. 

Tues Nov 30

Drove to the office in Cambridge.  Christmas decorations are up, and a pavilion being built in one of the car parks as a winter wonderland that opens next week.  Had a lovely Christmas lunch in town with the team. As you can see, not many of us ate our sprouts!

Sharing this post with #Linkupontheedge at Shelbee on the Edge, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings,Rena at Fine WhateverFabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey Brunette  


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