Thursday, December 29, 2005

It's cold...

I'm back, and I'm freezing my arse off. I had forgotten, briefly, how cold this country is. Well, I remembered when I set foot outside the airport at 1.30am this morning.

If there's one thing I like to do it's get every second's worth out of my holidays. So that's why I set off for the airport 10 days or so ago at 12.30am on a Saturday to get an early flight out to Spain, and why, despite being due in work for 9am this morning, I found a late flight back that got me to an airport 4 hours drive away from home at 1am this morning.

Yup, it was another of those 2 hours of sleep nights. But then if you have to go to work, you may as well see the sunset thousands of miles away with your family before you bow to the inevitable.

But lack of sleep is no bar to blogging, oh no. You see, while I've been away I've jotted down a couple of random thoughts which I am now going to type up before I go to get some well deserved sleep, just because I wanted to pop in and say hi. And as I was reading through them I realised that, although this post is going to be long, it kind of encapsulates a lot of what I've learned this year. The things that I see differently now compared to where I was this year. It's the end of the year and a good time to take stock of such stuff, and I think that this little lot is a good place to start with that.


You wouldn't buy a recovering alcoholic six bottles of vodka for Christmas, and you wouldn't buy an ex-smoker a bumper quantity of cigarettes. So why on earth did my family decide to buy me a shed load of turron, mazapan and chocolate covered nuts? I'm no calorie counter, but I do keep a vague eye on how many calories I'm eating, so I can compare different things more than anything. So I added it all up. I got, in total, 10,824 calories worth of sweets and stuff.

10,824 for fuck's sake. That's not a nice box of chocolate, that's a container load of the stuff. Why? What were they thinking? I mean, I know I like the stuff, but I really don't need that amount, not least because they are solely for my consumption. It's not like I'll be sharing them, seeing as I live alone and they're in my house, with me. No, they'll sit here until I eat them. I could throw them out, but they're presents, and I don't like the feeling of ingratitude that would involve. I feel duty bound to eat them. And that's a very bad thing.

OK, so this year I might eat them a little slower, but eventually, I'm sure I'll have eaten them all. Pointlessly and needlessly. Did they just not think? Did they not notice the absence of 6 stone of fat and the fact that I don't eat that stuff any more. Or at least when I eat it I only eat it in small quantities. Not over 2kg at a time.

If anyone wants any, give me a shout!


That links to the one thing that really annoys me about Christmas, the needless consumption of it all. It's one thing spending time with your family, but does that really have to involve constant eating? I wasn't as bad as some of my family, and turned down some of the food, but wouldn't going for a walk in the sand dunes on a lovely sunny day be preferable to sitting on the sofa, inside, passing the Ferrero Rocher from one end to the other, and back, while watching a DVD?

Then again, spending time with each other without ready made entertainment might require us to, God forbid, actually talk to one another, so stuffing stuff in our mouths always seems to win.

And the same with the presents. I don't need stocking fillers. I got what I want (my lovely new digital camera), and I don't need sweets to fill it out to make it look like more. Don't just buy me that stuff because you want to make a good pile. Give me one thing I'll really like, and I'll be happy.

When did I become the sort of person who craves fruit and vegetables? When did I start being disappointed when a plate of food arrives unadorned by any sort of veg, a solid mass of meat and starch? Or pizza, fried breakfast or burger, the staple foodstuff of package holiday hell. I used to dream of that sort of meal. Something that I could eat without having to worry about funny green stuff and whether I'd like it. Meals I didn't need to dissect, pushing the carrots to one side, out of my way. But now it just seems strangely lacking. I feel disappointed if I get through the day without eating a decent amount of fruit and veg. Not because it breaks the "rules", but because I just want it on a deeper level than that. I'm even getting more adventurous with veg. Desperate times, you see. In a sea of veg free nothingness if I see something that I mainly like with a veg I've not tried before I'm getting more willing to order it, purely because it has to be better than more chips. That has to be progress.

I am now the sort of person who tries to get away from my family for the day so I can raid the supermarket for fruit and veg for a packed lunch. I remember when I used to try to escape them on holiday so I could drink, now I try to escape them to find a juice bar. When did that happen?!
But seriously, how do people survive eating that stuff day in day out? How did I survive? Stupid question. You can see it on their waistlines, their stomachs and their thighs. Warm(ish) weather, shorts and beachwear emphasise the effects like nothing else. Hardly a person walked past without me realising exactly the sort of harm I had been causing to my body. I don't want to be like that any more, and it seems that my tastes have changed so I don't have to be.
The same applies to my mother's cooking. Huge portions of stuff, and with questionable nutritional value. I just feel really awkward about raising it, so I don't. I put her feelings ahead of my (and her) health. The stupid thing is that when she's with me she scrutinises what I eat and tries to emulate it, but when she goes back home and when I'm over there she just reverts to the old ways. My sister's cooking is little better. She seems to burn it off OK, but her boyfriend was talking about how he's put a load of weight on since they started living together. Even my mum's cat and my sister's dog are getting fat. Any ideas of how to put it tactfully gratefully accepted.
More ponderings on trying stuff. Why is it that when offered a new cocktail I've never tried before I'll plunge right in there and drink it up. But offered new fruit or veg I'll turn my nose up because I don't know whether I'll like it. Even when, and this is the killer, the new fruit is precisely the same thing as was included in the new cocktail, but without the added attraction of alcohol. I must sort that particular habit out, although maybe cocktails are a way to introduce new tastes into my diet without it seeming painful!
(Seriously, if I want to try something new I quite like incorporating it into a treat. So I might have a vegetable pizza with some new veg on it. The pizza itself might not be great, but the fact that I've tried something new is better long term and it feels like a treat. So maybe if I say I can have cocktails as long as they have a new flavour of fruit juice in them I might be onto a winner. Or am I just making excuses in advance of my next drinking session?)
I am now officially addicted to shopping in Spain. I just love Mango and Zara (which are over here too, but more expensive), and I've found a couple of other shops I like too. And it all seems so cheap. The good news is that I actually bought sensible stuff this time, cord trousers and jumpers and simple t-shirts rather than the sparkly stuff I've been buying so far that's gorgeous but not really every day wear. And for the second holiday in a row I came home wearing stuff I didn't own when I set off. The weather may not be perfect this time of year in the Canaries (or not every day at least), but the shopping certainly is!
Exercise. Must try harder. I took my trainers and my tracksuit bottoms and my sports bra, but did I wear them and actually go out for a run? Erm, no. Did I swim at all? Not exactly. I walked, a little, but there's room for big improvements there so that maybe next time I won't gain a shed load of unwanted holiday weight.


But one final, non-whingey thing. What Christmas should be about. Not cielos de mazapan y chocolate, but proper family stuff. My best non-camera present? A framed photo of my sister and me from when we were small. My sister actually put some thought into it and bought me something that, although it was relatively cheap, actually means something and brought a huge smile to my face. That's what Christmas should mean, not all the eating and drinking.

So, to finish, 2 photos. First me and Annette when we were little, and then on Christmas Day this year. I'm on the right in both photos, enjoy!


Blogger kathrynoh said...

Welcome back.

I didn't spend Christmas with my family this year, but when I do it tends to be all about the eating. Christmas lunch is complete unless you are stuffed fuller than the turkey and then topped up for the next few days with raids on the fridge. I'm glad I avoided it this year.

My mum is particularly fond of the stocking-stuffers. She goes to discount stores and buys a huge pile of stuff that is basically crap.

Presents like the one your sister gave you are so lovely - it really is the thought that counts, the thought that someone puts into the gift not the size or cost.

8:40 PM  
Blogger bdesantiago said...

Hello! Glad you made it back safely even when traveling so early in the morning!

I also spent time with my family but I swore I would eat right this time. Didn't happen. I watched as my mother fried many foods and was glad that we don't do that at home.

Like the last comment, it IS the thought that counts and am glad that you did see that :-) This inspired me to ask my mom to send me pics of when we were little so I can scan them, get them printed and create a scrap book for both my sisters and maybe even my mother. I think they will love it.

3:40 PM  

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