Month: March 2011

Letting go of coffee.

I have given up coffee. It was my latest trip to the dentist that did it. Coffee dyes my teeth brown, so much so that the dentist asked me if I was using Corsodyl mouthwash, which I am not. Staining my teeth dark brown and then having the dentist attempt to scrape it all off is not really a good thing at a time when my teeth are in such generally poor shape and I am having a lot of work done on my gums.

Goodbye Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Nero. Goodbye to the pints of soup-like, industrial-strength coffee that I would make at work and at home. Goodbye lattes, espressos and Americanos. I loved you all very much, but it is time to say goodbye and send you on your way, same as my cigarettes.

I have not had a coffee of any description since about 10.30 on Tuesday morning. I am drinking tea, although not much of it, and I have never been a big consumer of cola or chocolate. I don’t make that much tea and when I do, I forget to drink it. In contrast to coffee, which I loved (quite a lot) more than food and would guzzle in pints all day long. So while there is caffeine in tea, my caffeine consumption must be down to a tiny fraction of what it was. Which is good, right? Good for reducing one’s blood pressure. Good for general health. Good for my new-found running hobby.

I think I am having caffeine withdrawal symptoms. I am not having nasty headaches, for which I am very grateful, but I am congested (caffeine is a bronchodilator) and I am practically narcoleptic. All my extra physical energy from quitting smoking has vanished and I am really struggling to stay awake during the day, even though I am getting a solid 8 hours sleep at night.

Gah! I hope it doesn’t last too long. I consulted the mighty internet and my conclusion is that I should expect it to last for ‘a few days’, whatever that means.

I am a right little health nut, aren’t I. I think I am going to have a Health point for this most unanticipated act of virtue.

Running Mate

Let me tell you about my latest running adventures.

I am doing the Couch-to-5k programme, there are many versions in existence but they all aim to build up your strength and stamina slowly by putting you on a schedule of walking and jogging, where the jogging bits gradually increase. Also, couch-to-5k doesn’t make you run every day (I don’t think most beginners could hack that, I certainly couldn’t), it specifies 3 runs per week but I am actually going out on alternate days so I guess that averages out at 3.5 runs per week if you can be bothered calculating these sorts of things. I think I am afraid of turning back into an inert blob of jelly if I have two consecutive days off.

Today, because I know I am going to be busy this evening, I got up super super early and went out for a run round the park before work. Bloody hell. If that doesn’t merit an Achievement Point, I don’t know what does. When I returned home and got in the shower, I felt very virtuous indeed.

Now my legs feel funny. They don’t hurt, I have had no muscle soreness at all, which I attribute to being fairly responsible about stretching. But I think today, the day of my third Run (or in C-to-5k language, Week 1:3) is the day that my legs received the message that this is going to be a regular thing. Those last two runs weren’t just freak events involving unmissable buses. Oh no, legs. We are going to be doing this a lot. I can almost feel my weak, flabby muscles making an effort to bulk themselves up a bit in preparation for what’s ahead.

It is not getting any easier quite yet, this jogging business. I still gasp for breath near the end and resemble a tomato in a tracksuit. But I will keep at it.

As I stagger round the park, I listen to the Running Mate podcast, which you can download via iTunes. I hear the NHS equivalent plays a lot of BritPop music to run to, which does not strongly appeal to me. Running Mate plays the sort of music that you would be more likely to hear at a rave, probably after having swallowed some Ecstasy. This is something I can get along with. So I trot round, listen to that, and from time to time the coach’s voice comes in over the music to tell you to begin either running or walking, depending on how many minutes  have elapsed.

And that’s all today’s running news.

Dentist again.

I hate going to the dentist, it is never free from some degree of pain and it makes me feel afraid and sick. Mind you, by the end of this year it ought to feel like my second home, what with all the work I’ve got to have done. Went again this morning, earning 1 Health point.

At the park.

Second exercise session today. Went to the local park and did a couple of laps in accordance with my iPhone’s instructions, alternating jogging and walking. It was good. Lots of other people were there doing the same thing. Some of them seemed even more unfit than me, most of them were about average, and only one girl zipped around looking superlatively athletic. I will go there again. 1 Health point.

I went outside and jogged around.

Yesterday I went out for my very first day of Week 1 of the Couch-to-5k Fat Noobs Running Programme. Yay! It was okay, I didn’t go purple or collapse. I had the podcast with me on my iPhone and in Week 1 all you have to do is 30 minutes of moving around outdoors, of which only 8 minutes is actual jogging. The rest is brisk walking. So that was terrific. I am going to go out on alternate days, meaning that I will repeat the formula tomorrow. 1 Health point.

In other news, I have earned a Chinese point by dedicating a significant part of today to study.

Playing hostess, 25 weeks in

25 weeks in and this is the first Saturday I’ve had at home in nearly two months. My house guest has gone out shopping and I am grabbing the opportunity to do some Chinese homework. Hostessing is more or less a full time job, you have to eat a lot of actual meals and generate very large volumes of light conversation. All the more so since there is no TV.

All right, let’s try to get the house parent-ready.

There is no part of the house that is even close to presentable and I am procrastinating. There are no sheets on the beds, no clean plates and there are bags of rubbish in all the rooms. I think I have been childishly putting off getting started today because (whisper it) I don’t really want to be visited for a week. I have had an extremely busy couple of weeks and I would strongly prefer it if I could just have some peace and quiet while getting things around the house sorted out in my own time. But it is not to be, so here goes with a mammoth amount of housework, which all has to be done before I go to bed tonight. I reckon I should be finished by around midnight if I keep at it. I am going to do the beds first and I will check in here to note my progress.


  1. Go to son’s room. Pick up rubbish and use an entire kitchen roll cleaning the filth off various surfaces.
  2. Now make his bed.
  3. Hang up his clothes, finish dusting, wiping & mopping at the door end of the room.

Now stop. That was Hour 1 and I’m not doing anything else in there, it will have to be good enough. 10-minute break.


  1. My bedroom. Put sheets on the bed, dammit.
  2. Pick up rubbish, put lots of things away, put clothes & clean laundry away.
  3. Sweep and dust.

That was Hour 2. Stop dusting and have a 10 minute break.


  1. Living room. Hoping to find my kitchen timer around somewhere. Pick up rubbish, put things away.
  2. Pause to eat a baked potato: 10 minutes and no more.
  3. Start the clock again and resume above task. Wipe desk & tables.

Stop. I am sweating. There is still a great amount of dusting to do in here and I haven’t mopped or swept the floor, so I will have to come back in here later. That was Hour 3. Have 10 minute break.


  1. Kitchen. No question where I need to start: wash up.
  2. Wipe & scrub surfaces, not forgetting the grubby doors.
  3. Sweep the floor.
  4. Throw out food that’s gone off.

Stop and have a break. I am having 15 minutes this time. My energy is starting to flag. That was Hour 4 and it was a long hour.


  1.  Make several trips downstairs with bags of rubbish, then go to the main bathroom.
  2. Put away items littering the counter.
  3. Clean toilet, sink and mirror.
  4. Clean surfaces and floor.
  5. Very good. Go to smaller bathroom and repeat.
  6. Clean shower.

15 minute break. That was Hour 5.


  1. This next hour is going to be about the hall and also living room redux. First task: put away clean laundry and then the clothes drying racks.
  2. Sweep then mop hall floor. Clean surfaces and doors.
  3. Finish dusting the living room.
  4. Mop the hard floors.
  5. Get the dust and hair out of the rugs (it seems this is what they are mainly composed of).
  6. Take the last big bag of rubbish downstairs.

Stop. Go and get a glass of wine. That was Hour 6, and it is twenty past midnight.


You know it’s time to stop cleaning when:

  1. It is past midnight and is therefore a different day.
  2. You are starting to resent the outrageous cheek of people wanting to come to your house.
  3. You consider shaving off all your hair so that there will be less of it to clean off the floor.
  4. Fatigue is affecting your memory. Each time you put down the duster, it becomes lost.

1 massive Home point.