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Monday, 8 January 2018

2018 Filofax/ Planner Diary Inserts.

Every planner/Filofax user will tell you that the inserts they use are very important to them.  The most important insert is, of course, the diary.

There are so many different types to choose from and they range from the original Filofax brand through to the cheap, barely known brands that you can buy online. Of course there are many other brands and Etsy has a large range of handmade inserts all in different designs. If you follow the Philofaxy blog you will know that they also do a brilliant range of inserts which are easy to use and easy to adapt with your own personal touches.

This year I discovered that Paperchase is no longer doing their diary inserts. (I was told this in my local store and checked online. Sadly my email to Paperchase was not answered.) I decided to look on Amazon and find the 3 different diaries I needed.

My personal diary/planner is a pocket size which I can carry with me. For this I chose a Collins diary insert. This is a week on two pages and I use it in conjunction with a page, half page or post it note inserted for urgent reminders. I like the clean lines and uncluttered look of the Collins diary and the obvious demarcation of the days. I also have a section in the front with “to do” pages which I check every day. The Collins paper is nice to write on and not too thick. As I carry this one with me I don't want to make it heavier than necessary.

Week on two pages pocket size from Collins.

For my A5 work Filofax I ordered an unknown (to me) brand, NBplanner. A week on one page is enough as, once again, I also use a “to do” section and lists so that I don’t forget anything. The NB paper is not the best paper but still perfectly fine for my work Filofax.  I also use two fold out vertical year planners from Filofax for various sets of dates that I need to keep for work. This saves space on the daily diary pages and means I can look up certain things in one place. 

NB planner A5 week on a page.
Filofax vertical year planner.

My final set of diary inserts is for my A5 Blog Filofax. I like to record what posts I have done, when I  have posted them, etc. I decided to splash out of a Filofax Stripes refill pack. I did get this on offer on Amazon and wanted to see what it was like. The paper quality is good and I like the bold design. Each month has a different colour and there are also separate plain or lined pages too.

I don't think I really need a week on two pages for my blog diary, so next year I will probably go for a week per page. I do also have a planning section so do not use the diary for this as I make pages of notes when I plan.

Filofax A5 Stripes

Two different months

Various pages from the Stripes pack.
As I use a fair few “to do” pages, I decided to use some from the fabulous Philofaxy inserts and change them to suit me. The free downloadable files on the Philofaxy blog are so useful and there are many different ones to choose from. I print on A4 and cut to size and can get 4 pocket size pages from one.

For Christmas lists I added gingerbread men down the sides and  for general use I added orange flowers. I will probably make various other ones depending on my mood, but this was a good start. It has also encouraged me to experiment more with the files on Philofaxy.


Look out for more Filofax/ planner related posts and my previous Filofax posts by typing Filofax into the search bar.
Any comments on my blog can be sent via my email address: 

Sunday, 31 December 2017

One year with no sugar........How I did it and what the future holds.

On the 28th of December 2016 I decided that enough was enough, I was overweight because I could not stop eating sugary foods and had to do something about it.

A year later, after not eating any chocolate, cakes, sweets, biscuits, puddings etc, I am 32 pounds lighter, I have lost 6 inches off my waist and feel generally healthier.

I battled on and off for years with my weight and my eating problems and have only ever found short fixes. I have lost a couple of stone on several occasions but always put it back on quite quickly. I could not do without copious amounts of sugary food and it was always my downfall. I don’t drink, have never tried drugs or cigarettes but was clearly addicted to sugar to such a degree that I would regularly binge on sweets and biscuits; ripping packs open to get to them.

Over the years I have tried many ways to lose weight including diets, exercise and hypnotism. I paid a hypnotist to stop me overeating and it worked for a short time. I also tried Paul McKenna’s Think Yourself Thin. This was successful for a while but there was still something missing.

In December 2016 I discovered Paul McKenna’s new weight loss book and CD, Get Control of Sugar. I read the whole book in one sitting and was blown away. He had worked out that the missing link in his previous book was targeting sugar addiction. He did this  alongside some very interesting facts about the evils of sugar and it made total sense to me, I felt totally in control. 

At first I also listened to the hypnosis CD every night. After the first few weeks I listened to it twice a week, then down to once a week. Very quickly I was listening to it once a month and now only if I feel I need a boost.

I lost the first twenty pounds in four months just by cutting out all sugary food.  I was still eating fresh fruit as that contains natural sugar, but not even having jam or honey. I was walking a lot as I always have and it is something I enjoy, but still not attending a gym. I do exercises for my back every morning but these are not fat burning or toning.

The pleasure I got from seeing the scale go down and my dress size dropping outweighs the enjoyment I used to get from sugary food. To be quite honest, I was previously eating so much sugary food that it had, primarily, stopped tasting good. As with many addictions, it becomes a compulsion, something I had to do, it was a part of me.

The weight loss did slow down but stayed off and not eating sugar was easy. I was astonished that I did not miss the sugary foods at all, I didn’t even have cravings and that surprised me the most.

In September I had a double foot operation and was unable to walk for a few weeks. I worked from home and then got lifts to and from work. I was on crutches and special shoes for seven weeks. In this time I only gained one and a half pounds. I have since lost the one and a half pounds and carried on losing more. I had reached a plateau after losing twenty seven pounds then seemed to have a natural kick-start when I started walking again.

I am currently only able to walk small distances so hope that increasing this when it is medically possible, will help me lose more. I would also like to get fitter and more toned but have not yet decided how I want to do this. I should really lose another seventeen pounds to be an “ideal” weight; however I would be happy to lose another eleven pounds.

To feel healthier, to have less reoccurring illnesses and to be in less pain has been a very important part of losing the weight. Yes I have caught the dreaded lergy this week but no one can avoid all germs. My skin has been clearer for the first time since I was a teenager and I have a lot less headaches.

The psychological effects of weight loss have also been of great benefit to me. It is easier to feel happier and more content when your body is not weighed down with something that acts like a poison inside you. If you eat or drink anything that makes you ill then it is as silly as knowingly consuming poison. Some people can eat sugar with no effects and some people, like me, should steer clear.

As well as cutting out all cakes, sweets, biscuits, chocolates and puddings I have avoided processed food as much as possible. I do a lot of cooking from scratch so that has been easy. However, I know it slips into the occasional thing and a sauce in a restaurant could contain hidden sugars. I do still eat a little bread, a couple of times a week usually, and that contains sugar. I do think that the large amount of sugar that I have cut out has made a huge difference to my health.
I still bake but don’t try what I am making. This is a heinous crime in cooking but that was my decision. I still have only had positive feedback on my baking so must be doing ok.

In the book Paul McKenna does say you can go back to eating small amounts of sugar and really enjoy it. I have decided to stick to what I am doing for now, but never say never. I may one day fancy a piece of chocolate or a slice of cake and would try it with caution. I may introduce honey back into my diet but, right now, I am doing alright.

I have NOT substituted sugar with sweeteners of any kind as this is not good for your body either. I have always preferred diet drinks if I really fancy a fizzy drink or the occasional glass of squash, but I do not believe sweeteners are healthy. I have never liked sugar in tea or coffee so that made it very easy for me.

Personally not eating sugar is a way of life for me now. I do bang on about it quite a lot because it has had a huge effect on my life, but it is normal for me not to crave sugar.  I eat loads of vegetables, a bit of fruit, some beans and pulses, some meat, fish and dairy and some unrefined carbs like potatoes, sweet potatoes, a little bread, crackers, rice and quinoa.  I drink a fair bit of black coffee, the odd latte and a lot of water. I still eat fairly low fat as I had to have my gall bladder removed when I was 30 but I do enjoy the food I eat and make sure it is full of flavour.

I believe that the only way to lose weight is to find that system that works for you and stick with it. It took me many years to do this and the Paul McKenna Get Control of Sugar book and CD is perfect for me.

Below are pictures showing my weight loss journey. The first one was taken on NYE 2016. The second pic is after losing about 25 pounds. The last two were taken in the last few weeks.

I have no affiliation with Paul McKenna or his products; this is purely my personal view. I have no medical or dietary qualifications, everything in this article is my personal opinion.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas message

Happy Christmas and a fabulous New Year to all my wonderful readers.


Big apologies for the lack of posts recently. I am writing several pieces right now but it is a busy time of year........ many birthdays and Christmas and, quite frankly, a large pile of books to read. J


Thursday, 16 November 2017

Missing Autumn

Autumn has always been my favourite time of year. The colours, the smell, the way the air feels and the change in the atmosphere. I like the way the autumn drizzle glistens in the yellow light from the street lamps, splashing rhythmically on the hard, grey pavements as I walk, the air cold and crisp round me. Autumn is the colours of the leaves, the way they crunch underfoot, and the way they create a multicoloured carpet on the ground.

Sadly this year I have missed most of autumn. On the 14th of September I had an operation on both my feet. I had a bilateral scarf osteotomy with lateral release. In other words they cut out bits of bones, removed my bunions, stuck pins in my feet and made them a little narrower.

I was very lucky to have a fabulous surgeon, a very unpretentious man who told me straight what operation I needed, the probable outcome, the recovery times and possible risks etc. I was also very lucky that the NHS had some clinics and operations at a local private hospital, the care given was fantastic. As well as being impressed with the surgeon’s manner, I also believe he is a brilliant surgeon as the pain was minimal, the scars are neat and the mobility in my feet is excellent.

Despite my family and friends being lovely and helpful, I found it incredibly hard not to be able to do things for myself after the operation. I am a very independent person and not happy being immobile and unable to do things. I missed walking incredibly and am grumpy when trapped at home. Don’t get me wrong, I love my flat, but I also love my freedom. The first time I walked outside alone, after nearly seven weeks, I could feel myself morphing into Mel Gibson in Braveheart. “They can take my bunions but they cannot take my FREEDOM!!!”

I had the first 10 days off work sick and then worked from home from another couple of weeks. I was only allowed to walk round my flat in the special medical shoes and had to sit with my feet up as much as possible. I had to use crutches in the flat too as the shoes did not make for good balance. To be honest the pain was not great and was definitely more comfortable than the constant pain I had been in with the bunions and osteoarthritis.

My family and friends helped by looking after me, doing the things that I couldn’t for the first few weeks, cooking, cleaning, shopping etc. I had lots of visits and messages from people and was very grateful to all my family and friends who helped me. I also realised which of my “friends” were not that fussed.  The 30 seconds that it takes to send a what’s app message, Facebook post or text, can make a difference when you are feeling down.

I went back to work after 3 and a half weeks but was lucky because my boss collected me and took me home every day and I didn’t have to walk much in the office due to the kindness of my colleagues.

My two trips to town in a wheelchair with one of my lovely friends, were hilarious, much laughter and messing about occurred. Though I was surprised at how much people can be rude, stare or just be generally unhelpful and obstructive. On the other hand, there were other people who were lovely. Apparently when in a wheelchair you should not say you are “going to get your crutch out”...... I meant crutches so I could walk!!!! J

Rationally the longest until I get back to normal is 6 months. At the moment I am walking short distances in boots that are 2 sizes too big. (Due to the swelling) and I have a slightly odd gait. Apart from that I am not in a lot of pain and I have lovely straight feet.

I know there is nothing to be done about the osteoarthritis, but the pressure has been taken off and I am only dealing with one problem. Having 50% of the problem removed has been amazing. I hope to be able to buy normal shoes or shop bought wide fit shoes instead of EEE extra wide fit shoes online. I will admit that, in desperation, I even considered buying shoes from Cosyfeet. I am 47 years old FFS!. I think that was the point at which I knew I had to beg for medical intervention.

Today is 9 weeks since my operation and my goal right now is to be able to get back in normal footwear and to walk as far as I like. I would like to be able to dance on New Year’s Eve, but I can’t see that happening realistically.

I will be honest, that the best thing about this amazing operation is that I can now drive. Now I haven’t tested this theory because I haven’t got a car, but my surgeon definitely said I would be able to drive after 8 weeks. Astonishing, because I couldn’t drive before the operation. J J J

"Want that one" 😃

A big thank you again to all my family and friends who have helped me, and continue to help me while I have been less mobile.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Beautiful Books

Anyone who knows me is aware that I love reading and I love books. I am not a reader of electronic books, I like proper books. The internet and electronic devices have many uses but reading a book is not, in my mind, one of these. I will do research online but reading fiction or reading a whole non-fiction book (rather than brief research) has to be done with an actual, physical book.

I read a lot of books but nothing warms my heart more than a book with a beautiful cover, a fabulous flyleaf or colour tipped pages.

I have been looking through my books recently and found that I have quite a lot of gorgeous looking books.

All the books mentioned here are ones that I have loved reading, I only keep ones I enjoy and will read again. 📙

Not only is The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho a brilliantly written book, this edition is beautiful on the outside too. This copy was a charity shop bargain, a hardcover smaller than a paperback and my favourite colour. The orange is clearer than it looks in the picture and the writing is very evocative of the style of the book. The art work on the front, back and the spine add to the overall beauty of the book. This particular edition is illustrated by Jim Tierney. 

I was very lucky to pop into Waterstones with a voucher at exactly the right time. This beautiful hardback edition of The Muse, by Jessie Burton, was not only on offer, but signed by the author. The artwork on the cover is stunning and the red patterned inside covers compliment the front cover beautifully. There is a lovely black and white design on the flyleaf and also Jessie Burton's signature. Even the bookmark that came with the book is the same design. The artwork is by Lisa Perrin.

The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern is one of my favourite books. There are many different copies out there and I have two. Both are beautifully illustrated by Vania Zouravliov. There is something enchanting about this story and also the illustrations. My first copy was the white copy with the red pages, but when I saw the black copy for ninety nine pence in a second-hand shop, I just had to buy it. I have seen some fabulous copies online but I do like my black and white copies. 

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street was not only a brilliant read but has a delightfully different cover; very evocative of steam punk design. The cover is beautiful but when you open it up the hole in the front reveals the watch (from the cover) overlaid on a beautifully drawn map. 

A Life in Frocks by Kelly Doust is charmingly illustrated by Zoe Sadokierski with a light and stylish feel. I love that there is so much going on yet it does not look cluttered. Every illustration is necessary whether it is on the front, back, spine or inside. If you take off the paper cover the book also has illustrations on the front and back covers.

Shopping for Vintage by Funmi Odulate, is full of fabulous artwork from Richard Merrit. From the bookmark that fits in the indentation on the front of the book, to the wonderful purple, flowery inside covers, this book is beautiful. Every page is jam packed with fabulous illustrations and information.

I have included The Grand Tour in this piece because it is, simply, a beautiful book. The author of this book, the late Harry Seidler, filled it with outstanding photographs of amazing architecture. This is a brilliant book to dip in and out of and the pictures are fabulous. 

The Goddess Guide, by Gisele Scanlon has a tactile, luxurious, flock cover and glossy, stylish pages, every page is full of well laid out, colourful, interesting pages full of information. Each page is like a fabulous journal of fashion. The design and illustrations are by the author, cover text design and photography are by Peter O'Dwyer and the rostrum photography is by Thomas Ball. 

Body and Soul by the late Anita Roddick, founder and champion of the Body Shop, has a simple but stylish hard cover and a splash of interesting picture on the inside cover. The content is mainly writing with inserts of pictures where needed. it may not be a full on artistic explosion, like some of the other books I have included, but the cover design has always appealed to me. 

The last two books are two more fashion related books but with quite simple covers. Sometimes simplicity can be quite beautiful.
The Fashion Book and Handbags are brilliant reference books, fabulously illustrated inside but with basic, bold covers. 
Fifty Dresses That Changed the World and Fifty Shoes That Changed the World, have very uncomplicated, elegant covers with gorgeous, simple silhouettes inside the covers. The books don't need to be overdressed to illustrate the marvellous information and pictures inside.

I do still love my vast collection of paperbacks and they have beauty in their own way, as do all books. The books I have included are though, quite beautiful.


Friday, 29 September 2017

Coming soon

Sometimes you can judge a book by it's cover and it's contents. 

Another part of my life......or is it?

What is he wearing this time?

and finally....... how I coped with 6 weeks on crutches.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Shin Kick Muay Thai..... “If you do not have authority, you can’t expect respect.”

Just off Walton Road in Woking there is a fabulous kick boxing gym which I discovered purely by chance. This friendly, family run, yet professional business is run by Jesse Saunders and his wife Liz. When I first went into Shin Kick to make enquires I met their 13 year old daughter who wowed me with her brilliant knowledge of the business and their little one who was clearly running the reception desk with a lovely big smile.

As well as being a former professional fighter, Jesse is a renowned referee and judge, a director at IBMTO (Independent Board of Muay Thai Officials), a BMTA Muay Thai instructor, a level 2 fitness instructor, a level 3 personal trainer and a qualified TRX instructor.

Liz Saunders is the lady running the entire business side of Shin Kick and she is also a massage therapist and a mummy too.

Jesse first got into Muay Thai through a Thai friend in Guildford when he was 14 and this sparked his love of the sport. He has been out to Thailand to train many times in the past.

Jesse Saunders
The gym has excellent facilities and runs classes for children and adults from beginners upwards. They also offer one–to-one private trainer sessions which can be tailored to your level of fitness.

Muay Thai is a combat sport which originates from Thailand, so essentially, Shin Kick is a fighting gym but you can learn self-discipline, self–defence, balance and co-ordination, get fit and learn a new sport. If you want to get in the ring you can, if you don’t want to you don’t have to.

Children attending the gym will be more self-confident and get fit; it is a much better option than sitting on the sofa watching TV and playing computer games. Also, belonging to a gym can make a child feel included and part of something good, which is especially necessary for a child who needs their self-esteem boosted. (Children can start from age 5)

Shin Kick is a gym where you can pay as you go and there are also membership options. Clearly membership will ensure you get off the sofa and go, always a good incentive. If you can’t commit to membership, then the pay per class is brilliant. If you are not sure whether Muay Thai is for you, you can ask for your first class for free.
  • Personal training sessions are £40 a session but can be bought in blocks of 5 with the 6th session free.
  • Adult classes are £12 per class or included free in membership from £70 a month.
  • Children's classes are £7 per class or included free in membership from £35 a month.

Classes can consist of pad work, technique work, clinching techniques, light sparring, body conditioning, abdominal work, burpees, sit ups and more.

There are also Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes taught at Shin Kick and they are good for self defence, cardio workout and general fitness. These are also taught from total beginners to the advanced fighters.

Since the gym first opened in 2007, Jesse has produced many English, British and European champions and top ranking fighters so if this is a path you are interested in, then Shin Kick is definitely a brilliant place to train.

When you first go to Muay Thai there is spare equipment you can borrow, however they also sell a fabulous range of clothing and equipment so you can treat yourself. Let’s be honest, we all want the correct kit and to look the part. Your normal shorts and t-shirt will be great, but once you get into the classes you need the right gear and you will want to buy the MDK branded clothes and equipment.J

The enthusiasm and camaraderie is evident at Shin Kick and there is a good spirit of helping each other with things like pad work and bag work. This is a good place for adults and children alike and you shouldn’t be put off because Muay Thai is a combat sport, there is absolutely no atmosphere of aggression in Shin Kick and you will definitely feel more confident after a few sessions.

For information on this fabulous gym please go to their website: or find them on Facebook at Shinkick Muay Thai
The gym address is: 86 Walton Road Woking, Surrey, GU21 5DW and their email contact is:  

Thank you to Shin Kick for providing the photos and for answering my endless questions.😊