Monday, 29 April 2013

One reason I prefer to keep iguanas:

because they make me laugh. Zorro is momentarily (a long momentarily, I fear) in mating season and therefore rather restless. He's particularly fixated on my slippers which have hearts on them. Every time I approach his vivarium, he's going bonkers and wants to jump on them, to sink his teeth into one evil slipper and shake it around. Madness, pure madness. However, he never fails to make me smile or even laugh with his odd behaviour or the looks he gives me.

Ssssh ...
What is it, what is it?!

I consider myself very lucky to have such a beautiful comedian animal. I can't believe I've had him for five years already, which means he's about eight years old and getting pretty big and heavy. It also means that my beloved little girl died five years ago. She was beautiful inside and out, very gentle and never aggressive. Everyone who met her fell in love with her, because her personality was so wonderful. She was the friendliest iguana you could meet and loved a cuddle. Yes, iguanas can get very close to a person.

I found a sunny spot!
My girl
From about three years or so, she lived to freely roam in the flat. Something I wouldn't advise on doing. It was one mistake I made, as she never really got the humidity needed. She was house-trained, but accidents still happened, particularly when she was gravid as she always had difficulties with egg-binding, hence my decision to sterilise her at some point. She became fifteen, which may be 'old', but still not old enough for an iguana. I miss her very much.

Having a relaxed sunbath
My former mistakes make me all the more determined to do anything I can to make sure Zorro will die of old age when his time comes. He's my everything; even though not cuddly at all, his character won me over from day one. I ask you: seriously, how can you not fall in love with such an incredible creature?

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Dear self-published author,

I don't care if you think your, your friend's, your husband's, your sister's, or your dog's book is the best thing ever been written; I'm not interested in reading it as I'm 99% sure that I'd stop reading after a few chapters. You know what really bothers me? People like you, who feel challenged by my statements that I'm done reading self-published books; and that you, cocky as you are, offer me a copy for free so I can waste even more time reading more drivel. You see, I doubt that your, your friend's, your husband's, your sister's, or your dog's book will be the book that grabs me by my throat and keeps me glued to my Kindle; the book that steals my sleep, or, when I wake up, has me excited to read on; the book that has me forget the world around me, leaving me dazzled when I'm forced to put it down when being dragged into the real world; the book that is the exception to the rule, the book that wakens the desire to tell everyone about it. Why can't you just accept that I'm done with self-published books after deleting more than I'd ever thought I would? Why do you have to try to convince me that I need to read your, your friend's, your husband's, your sister's, your dog's book? And what would you do if I read it and hated it? Huh? Or if I found all those little things that make self-published books unreadable for me? Tell me, what would you do then?
Quite frankly I don't care how much you love said book, or how many positive reviews it received, I'm not interested in reading it, got it?
And why, Indie author, do you feel the need to message me on Facebook, telling me that you've seen my comment about your book, which really was criticising your editor, who recommended it in the first place, and who did a marvellous job messing up the manuscript with so many italics and ellipses that even reading the opening made me dizzy, to tell me that you'll upload a newly edited version soon, suggesting I'd give it another chance? I'll let you in on an open secret: those kind of approaches don't sit well with me and have the opposite effect, and no, trying to be my friend won't lead to my changing my mind. I'm selective when it comes to my Facebook friends; authors usually mean spam fests and that's the last thing I want.
There, I said it. Thank you for your time and attention.

Best regards,


Friday, 26 April 2013

Meet the new man in my life: Shawn

Meet Shawn
You curious? Either that or you're thinking along the lines 'Well, finally, that seriously underfucked bitch will ease up a little.'
I'm sorry to disappoint, and although Shawn's a good ride ... Okay, enough of the silly innuendo. Can't stand it anyway, but it just begged to be done.
Right, you wonder, who's Shawn, then? A horse? Hardly. Nope, it's a racer. No, still not a horse. It's a bike.
Vintage Shimano gear shifters
As you know I'm a keen cyclist and rather chose to pedal than hop on a bus. For the past five years, my trusted MTB (mountain bike for those of you who aren't familiar) Richard (shut up!) has carried me safely through London, but it wasn't very good for longer journeys. So in the spirit of losing weight and the summer finally coming out, I decided it's time to make one of my smaller dreams come true and get myself a racer. I had my eyes firmly on a new one (to order online), but happened to just pop into a 'shop' of a funny old guy who fixes and re-sells things for a living. I asked him about racers and he showed me a few. One in particular caught my eye: a red one, looking like it was just the perfect size for me. I quickly sat on it and sure enough, it was a great fit. It feels as if it had been waiting for me. I went home and mulled it over, then thought, sod it, better recycle than get a new one and, if I'm honest, I was already in love anyway. Went back to buy the bike and it turns out to be a Viscount, although I'm not 100% sure. Love the vintage Shimano gear shifters, though. Doesn't matter anyway, it's such a difference to cycle on it. I checked with a magnet if I may be in danger to crash due to the infamous 'Death Fork', but it seems to be okay. If anyone has some knowledge about it, please let me know in the comment section.
Not perfect, but great grip now
Gorgeous old brake levers
This afternoon I spent some time to wrap the handlebar--a tricky thing if you're a first-timer--then cleaned the whole bike, at least the bits I could easily reach and took it for a spin. I cannot even describe the feeling of riding a racer. It's amazing, light, fun and most of all: fast--not that I can make too much use of the speed in London's chaotic traffic.
Anyway, I feel like I want to give that old boy a good overhaul: a white saddle is on its way; the one that came with the bike has seen better days. At some point I would love to exchange the black cables for white ones and give the frame a new look with white/red. I'll keep you posted.
Watch out, people, if a woman with a blonde mane flashes past you on a red and white racer, it may be me.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


View from the roof
Right. I have some good news to share. Okay, it doesn't affect you, but I'll tell you nevertheless.
I've been to the doctor today (nasty infection, and no, that's not the good news) and used the opportunity to step onto the scale. Now here comes what I'm so excited about to share: it revealed that my efforts are indeed paying off. I've lost 9kg (about 19.8 lbs) since December, 6 of them since February! Yes, I'm living proof that it's possible. I guess I lost more in fat and gained quite a bit of muscle (all that skipping and abs training), and I'm rather proud of myself. There was a moment of disappointment when I worked so hard and the scale didn't show much improvement, but it's most possibly down to muscle gain. I knew I had lost some more since my last weighing in March, but didn't realise how much. Roughly about 6kg. That put a smile on my face. 1kg more until mid May and I've reached my set goal for the first leg.

The next 10kg should be gone by end of this year and then I'll give myself another six month until I've reached my target weight. What's interesting is that I'm feeling much better, walking or cycling is easier and my agility has improved. And it's visible to others, which is always a nice compliment to hear. Unfortunately, I need to set out skipping for a while as I've been overdoing it. The pain I have every time is terrible, so I'll go back to cycling and walking in the park instead. Once the shin splint (I assume it is what causes the pain) has healed, I'll go back to skipping. The weather's fabulous and that calls for outdoor exercises like short sprints on grass or using the outdoor gym. I think I mentioned before that I'm starting with Boxing (recreational training) soon, so that will help me on my mission to shed some more kilos as well as get rid of penned up energy. Can't wait, to be honest.

Omelette with chives and salad
As usual, I don't diet, but continue to eat healthily as well as more controlled. Chocolate, biscuits, and wine (in moderation) is also on the menu. Can't live without it, you see?
Sundays, I've decided, is my omelette day; like this delicious chive omelette I had last Sunday. That and a
huge mug of tea was the perfect breakfast. Next Sunday, I'll try one with mushrooms. It's low in calories and protein keeps you full for longer. Plus it's really quick and easy. The lettuce, by the way, was from the garden, as were the chives. We've already started to grow tomatoes and mixed lettuces, and I've sown spring onions. That will soon make that breakfast not only fast and easy, but also cheap. What's not to like? Hope you get some inspiration and get your arse off the couch; go for a walk, take in nature, and lose a few pounds on the way. :-)

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Sweat, no blood, but almost tears.

Cloudy London in April
When woke up today and saw the absence of rain--although my friend Fifi insisted that it would rain this weekend--I decided to take a little cycling trip to the west of London. It's a good exercise and since I'll be more often in the west--Hammersmith to be precise--I thought it would be nice to test the way and time.
Well, after studying the maps for a mere thirty minutes, I was nowhere more clued-up. As you know I'm terrible with directions. And yes, I'm one of those women who hold a map upside down to know where they have to go. Not that it would help matters, I still have a 99% chance of getting lost.
However, I was determined to make it happen; the trip, not getting lost (!) and, after a good breakfast and one more look on the online map, I was ready to go.
Cycling Guides for free from TFL
It's been a while since I cycled to Camden, and I must have pushed the excruciating uphill experience I had the last time I did it deep into the back of my head, only to be confronted with it today. By the way: I have no idea why, but a guy started a conversation with me, making me jump. It's the second time in two weeks that that happened. I've been cycling through London for the past five years, but all of the sudden men start chatting me up, randomly. And I swear this time it couldn't have been my arse crack. He first talked about the weather, then started firing questions at me. I wonder what tickles someone to start a conversation with someone's back; I never had the urge to talk to someone when cycling. I may mutter something under my panting when when I'm fighting my way uphill and someone, much faster, overtakes me, scaring the shit out of me, but I normally listen to music and am in my very own world.
No, don't worry, I pay attention. I can sing along and still cycle safely.
Anyway, I managed to get to Hammersmith, sort of directly, if it hadn't been for the stupid one-way streets in
Camden that forced me to push my bike for a while until I reached Regent's Park. Was a little miffed I didn't bring money as London Zoo was calling out for me. I left it behind and cycled through the park, then went on to get to Hyde Park and finally was on the right way along Kensington High Street. Gee, I tell you, it felt like the longest road ever. All I could think of was: urgh! and I have to cycle all the way back, too.
The Royal Albert Hall
To make matters worse, I began to feel thirsty and hunger started to nag at me. When I reached my destination after 1.5 hours, I turned and cycled back, passing The Royal Albert Hall. Since I've got good memories of one of Einaudi's concerts there, which I
visited with a friend, I sniggered to myself and took a picture. Mind you, still cycling, scaring that poor woman, who, I guess, is a tourist, and probably thought I'm a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
I got lost in Regent's Park's Inner Circle, which means I literally cycled in circles and was ready to sit on the kerb and cry. But since I'm writing this now, you know that I've made it home safe and sound, I fed and watered myself, but I'm proper knackered. Three hours cycling through London is recommended if you have difficulties sleeping. I know I will sleep like a log tonight.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Sunshine and a beer

Omelette and salad from the garden
Finally! Although belated, this weekend, spring has showed its shy face and it was too wonderful to stay inside. After a healthy breakfast: omelette and a side salad of yesterday's freshly picked lettuce, I took the opportunity to spend a little longer in the garden, weeding, cleaning up and rope skipping.
To be honest, since I've started with my exercise regime, I can't bear sitting inside anyway. If I don't get at least twenty minutes of outside activity, I feel terribly guilty. Quite interesting as I felt the same guilt when I didn't write or work on one of my books every day. It seems I've replaced one obsession with another one--a fairly common trait of someone with ADHD. Then again, I think both 'obsessions' can easily live alongside each other. One day. For now I want to concentrate on getting fit(er) and reach my target weight. It may take longer than expected, but the results so far didn't go unnoticed. And my trousers are sitting loosely again, plus I can tighten my belt a hole more. Very good results indeed.
I'm very much looking forward to the warm season, the gardening on the roof, the chats with the people in the building, reading, having a beer and barbecue high above London. It's still my little oasis up there. 
Today, we've planted all sorts of greens and vegetables like shallots, peas, cavalo nero, mixed lettuce, mizuna and beans. I'm always excited when I see the little seedlings come up, because I know I'll have the fruits of our labour on the plate one day.
I even carried a 20(30?)kg bag of manure up the stairs (6th floor, ladies and gentlemen) that's quite the workout. We then had tea and biscuits, and I had a beer, holding my face towards the sun. I think I may even got a slight tan. Very weird to have the heating on again tonight, but I have high hopes for the summer to arrive. Eventually.