It’s all about the Granola – and a Horse Fly

Last time I wrote about food it was my unhealthy obsession with grilled halloumi, specifically the M&S halloumi kebabs intended for the BBQ. You could get them in either the sweet chilli version or the pesto. Both are delicious.

After gorging myself all summer on the damned things I can no longer look a halloumi kebab in the eye. Life became bleak. There was little of interest on the TV, the nights were beginning to draw in and I had to face the consequences of a carefree summer eating the contents of the M&S chilled aisle.

The treat cupboard was emptied. Grim lists of vegetables, salads, fruits, and healthy meats were drawn up. The weeks stretched joyless ahead.

Until I remembered my chocolate hazelnut granola.

Five years ago when I was in the thick of my journey to knock off the weight and bring down my blood sugars it was the only thing that kept me going.

As long as I didn’t inhale the whole jar and accompanied it with some thick, creamy and delicious full fat greek yoghurt it kept my blood sugars stable. It’s not a low fat dish but the fats are relatively healthy ones and it’s packed full of nuts and flax seed so lots of omega oils too.

I don’t usually approve of that very very dark low sugar chocolate (cheap box of Milk Tray will do me) but it works in the granola giving a chocolatey richness without being too sweet.

Chocolate and Hazelnut Granola Recipe

So this afternoon I spent a few hours mixing it all together and it was delicious. Now all I have to do is keep the children away from it. Rob keeps coming in saying, ‘they’ve eaten a kilo of Greek yoghurt. A KILO … I only bought it this morning…’ before shaking his head and walking into town to buy more.

Dog, it turns out, adores Greek yoghurt too and watches every mouthful consumed with unnerving intensity. Woe betide anyone who leaves their bowl unattended …

Rob and the Blog

I started this blog a good while ago now. It doesn’t seem possible but my first post was in December 2017 – almost five years ago! Well, in that time Rob, my darling husband, never read it. He wasn’t my target audience to be fair, and with the loss of his father and his struggles with depression, he never got round to it.

The good news is Rob is much, much better. Off the meds and is happy and purposeful. It’s fantastic and joyful and I am remembering the fun we had when we first met before tragedy hit, and the children reached that ‘difficult’ teenage phase. A side effect I wasn’t quite expecting is his guilt at not being more involved in my writing and this led to him reading my blog.

Every.

Single.

Post.

Rob has steadily worked his way through nearly all of them in the past week, This is a tremendous feat of tenacity as there are almost a hundred on here. He also had to put up with me saying ‘did you like it?’ ‘What was the best bit?’ ‘What line made you laugh?’ every time he reached the end of one.

We did have a slightly awkward conversation about my Norman Reedus articles. I’d forgotten all about them so seeing Rob read an article where I wrote about my inappropriate middle-aged crush on a B movie actor from ‘The Walking Dead’ was a little uncomfortable, but we got through it.

It wasn’t like I tried to hide anything, I hasten to add, in fact Rob is such a fantastic husband he actually paid for me to meet Norman Reedus at a Comicon event for my birthday. I had a blast and thought it brilliant he trusted me so much, but hadn’t quite taken into account that Rob hasn’t read the article.

I think this proves how strong a marriage we have, and I was delighted when Rob then read his way through all three of my books offering insight and tremendous support.

The best bit was it made him realise how brilliant I am (Ha! About time!) and reading posts like this helped him to understand how difficult it can be to live with a partner with depression.

He felt bad, which he didn’t need to do as I love him, of course, and I think we have learned to forgive each other for our flaws and weaknesses, but I was very pleased that he wanted to buy me something beautiful – two bracelets that I accepted with great grace. He showed real taste and I adore them – what do you think?

They are from Missoma and made of a gorgeous green stone called malachite. I’ve never heard of it before but it is now officially ‘my stone’ and I want lots of ‘pieces’ made from it.

The Horse Fly

Less good news has been the effects of a particularly nasty horse fly bite on my foot, I will spare you the photographs but be assured I have an entire album of photos on my phone tracking the progress from initial, innocent looking ant-bite to huge swollen trench-foot like monstrosity. It still hurts now, four weeks later.

I started thinking something was wrong when I woke up to find a strange puffiness around my toes. By the end of the day the whole foot was throbbing angrily around the innocent looking dark red spot left by (I presume) a horse fly.

As I hobbled into work a colleague asked what had happened. When I mentioned I suspected a horse fly he gave a gleeful description of how a horse fly bites. ‘It might as well take a dirty knife and fork to your skin!’ he said. ‘Filthy things, all sorts of bacteria swarming around in their jaws. They don’t sting you with a needle like a wasp, they have two blades in their mouth – they lacerate the flesh by chopping it up and then they use their labella – the softer part – to suck up the pool of blood.’ He nodded down at my swollen foot. ‘Looks nasty,’ he said before walking off. Bloody Biologists.

Look at those blades!! All ready to chomp at your skin.

By the end of the day I was in agony. Every time I put weight on my foot I felt the pressure would burst it open, like an over-cooked sausage. I took endless photos, much to the family’s disgust.

‘Urgh, Mum – leave it alone! Stop picking it!’ they would say before edging away from me. None of them seemed to be taking it very seriously.

Happily, the next day I was seeing the Doctor for a (gasp!) face to face appointment. I’d booked months in advance and after passing through three gateways of telephone interviews, the promise of my eldest child and an hour’s tutoring for the nurse’s daughter, the receptionist graciously allowed me to meet my GP in person.

‘I suggest you go to A&E about that foot,’ she said as I limped to the door in my flips flops.

‘Oh, no really?’ I said. ‘Can’t you give me something?’

She glanced at me from her seat at the computer. ‘It’s infected and may lead to sepsis. I suggest you get them to have a look, you may need an IV antibiotic.’

‘Wait. What?’ I said, immediately panicking. As readers may remember, I have slight issues with hypochondria. I was filled with visions of them sawing off my foot.

‘I’m sure it will be fine,’ said the Doc. ‘But better safe than sorry.’

The treatment I’d had from the GP involved extremely strong pupil dilating drops. At this point I couldn’t walk and I also couldn’t see. Fortunately Rob was nearby to manhandle me over to A&E where they examined my foot and thought I’d be OK with some oral antibiotics.

I was slightly alarmed when the nurse drew a line around my ankle with my biro. ‘If the swelling goes beyond that line,’ she said, ‘you must come straight back into A & E.’

Cue me spending the next few days obsessively checking the swelling as it inched towards, but thankfully not over, the biro line. I panicked a bit when it got washed off in the shower but luckily I’d taken eleven billion photographs of my foot and ankle so could redraw the line.

The Run

Luckily, I was on the mend by the time I got to the long awaited Race for Life 5 K run. I’d signed up for it months and months ago and was training well but never quite got to the full three miles. ‘It’s actually over three miles,’ Rob kept reminding me, annoyingly.

As the day approached I cursed my stupidity in encouraging some of my pupils to sign up. It’ll be great! I thought. We’ll raise some money for a brilliant cause (Cancer Research UK) and it’s a good example to set to the other pupils!

Of course I’d forgotten they are lithe 17 year olds who do eight hours of sport a week. I started to worry when one of them said, ‘I might do the 10k, Miss, is that OK?’

‘Fine! Of course! Great! Good for you!’ I replied, my heart sinking. Would I get round the course? Would I be the last one to trail in as the girls failed to hide the pity in their eyes? I was old enough to be their (glamorous and youthful looking obvs) grandmother! Oh, the humiliation!

Of course it was fine. 10k pupil bombed around the course and managed to make the top ten. The rest of us started off and I shouted ‘go on ahead, you three! Don’t wait for me!’ and lowered my head to start running up the giant hill that started the run.

As I pounded up it, panting like an old warthog, I realised the track looped back on itself and in what felt like about 30 seconds I saw my three pupils merrily skipping back down the hill not a bead of sweat between them.

‘You go, Mrs Warrior!’ they shouted with a triptych of grins lighting up the grey day.

And I went. I plodded around, blasting ‘You gotta work, bitch’ by Brittney Spears through my AirPods. I got into my stride and was powering along. I ignored the fact I was being passed by people who were walking. As far as I was concerned I was doing a steady jog, maybe they were just very quick walkers.

Dripping with sweat I kept going, I even got into a bit of a rhythm. I took a gasp of air and inhaled a fly. It better not be a horse fly I thought grimly as I got to the final bend. I spent a good five minutes trying to hack out the fly before giving up and washing it down with a bottle of water kindly proffered by a volunteer.

It wasn’t quite Chariots of Fire, but when I saw the finish line I sped up a bit. I took out my headphones as I realised I could hear shouting. There they were, my pupils who’d run and the others who had come to support, lined up all pink faced and cheering.

‘Go on, Mrs Warrior! You can do it! Woo hoo!’ they yelled.

It was the best thing. I soared to the end and managed to knock six minutes off my best time. I have decided whenever I go for a run I need a full entourage of whooping supporters. It’s a great confidence booster.

I made sure to take lots of pictures with the pupils holding up their medals. The school wanted me to send them over to put on their webpage. I tried to hide behind the pupils but they’re so dammed slim I didn’t have a chance.

Oh, well, I thought. There’s loads of us, I’ll be at the end – they’ll crop me off.

Not only did they not crop me off, one of the featured pictures in the article they’d cropped all the pupils off and zoomed in on me so I appear, centre stage, hair tied back, bright pink, sweat dripping from my eyebrows and jaw with a cross-eyed grin that shows off my crooked front tooth.

However! I ran over three miles, in my quickest time, and between us we raised £1,869 for a brilliant cause. Well done us!

And finally … Books!

A couple of recommendations. I really, really enjoyed these. Have a look, you won’t be disappointed.

And I cannot tell you how lovely this is. I’ve never read anything like it – a gorgeous, sumptuous read.

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