Monday, August 31, 2015

The Rise of Dark Ages for TV

The Dark Ages aka the Anglo Saxon period/The Vikings/ per-Norman Conquest is experiencing a revival in the popular conscience. There are no fewer than 3 major television dramas currently set to explode on the small screen in the coming months.
First is The Last Kingdom, an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's best selling series.  Cornwell was of course responsible for Sharpe. The Last kingdom stars Alexander Dreymon and follows the first book of the current 8 book series. It is due to be shown on BBC2 in October and starts on BBC America on 10 October. It is produced by the same people who did Downton, so I am expecting a quality production.  This the  trailer:

Then there is Beowolf: Return to the Shieldlands for ITV which is due to premiere in January 2016. multi award winning actor William Hurt (Humans, Kiss of the Spider Woman), acclaimed actress Joanne Whalley (Wolf Hall, Jamaica Inn), Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey), David Harewood (Homeland, Blood Diamond), Ian Puleston- Davies (Coronation Street), Lolita Chakrabarti (My Mad Fat Diary, The Casual Vacancy), Elliott Cowan (Cilla, Da Vinci’s Demons), Ellora Torchia (Indian Summers), Gisli Orn Gardarsson (Spooks and Spirits), Susan Aderin (The Last Detective), Kirsty Oswald (Ripper Street), Laura Donnelly (Outlander), Edward Hogg (Indian Summers), Alex Price (Father Brown), Jack Rowan (Silent Witness) and Itoya Osagiede (Okora: The Prelude).
Kieran Bew Beowolf:Return of the Shieldlands
This is a retelling  of the Beowolf Story complete with dragons. It stars Kieran Bew as Beowolf but boasts of such actors as
You can read more about the cast here.
In short ITV are spending a bob or two on it. It is currently filming in the North East until early October.
Then there is the  14th century epic The Bastard Executioner about the Marcher lords and the Anglo-Welsh borders for FX Networks. This the trailer for  that series:

Of course there has already been Vikings.
And then  there is  Game of Thrones which operates in a quasi- Dark Ages world.
So why now?
Among other things, the Dark Ages was the last time Northern Europe experienced the ravages of a barbarian horde. Historical fiction does hold a dark mirror up to society and by examining the Dark Ages, it is possible to examine what happened when there was a clash of civilizations. Also we are now in a post-Christian world. It is therefore  to look at the Dark Ages from beyond the prism of Christianity brought civilization. It is possible for pagans, if you will, to be good. And then there is the stirring of the break up of the United Kingdom. The Dark Ages is when the Four Nations were formed. Understanding the reasons for the formation and what went before is something people are curious about. And besides, it is a chance for a rollicking good adventure.

My fingers are crossed that others continue to realise the potential for this time period. I am currently hard at work on my Anglo Saxon queen trilogy and am hoping that it will be well received once it is published. Until the tenth/eleventh century, women welded power in a way that has not been appreciated. Elfrida's reforms of the church, in particular her insistence on the seclusion of nuns contributed to a decrease in political power for women.

Anyway, I am excited to see the television and therefore  popular public conscience is turning towards the Dark Ages. It is ironic that  ten years ago Publisher's Weekly published a piece saying that they thought Vikings were a time period that would never return.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Scoring a win

Yesterday, I managed to sort out my father in law getting into respite care. As a carer, I am entitled to a week's holiday a year.  I contacted Social Services a while ago and we have now jumped through the requisite hoops and it is a go!
My father in law continues to get frailer. He has given up on his daily walks, preferring instead to tend his flower pots. He times his tending so that the postman is due to arrive and often has a few seconds of chat. It is a shame  because when he used to go out for his walks, he would encounter other people. And although I have offered to take him to various meetings etc, he always refuses. Once I had arranged everything so he could go to the Retired Men's Club but he apparently sat up most of the night worrying so that ended that.  Going to a care home will force him to interact. I do worry about him becoming a shut in and mostly only talking to me! But you can't force people.
And he had to be gently guided to admit that yes he does need help. He sometimes forgets the little practical things that are done for him -- such as his towel being put pout every morning, his clothes being washed, his meals prepared etc etc. So the man from  the SS and I went through it and we detailed everything. It was the first time I heard my fil admit that he knew  he couldn't cope with his old house and had no idea what to do. Last year when it was being sold, I was treated to the *I just don't want to sell* speech many times. It had to be sold to fund my mil's care and my fil can't live on his own.
I made the point that it is only respite care. He is coming back. The SS get v nervous as they often think it is code for  -- we want him in a care home permanently.   But after doing all the hopes, the answer is yes, he can go for respite.
Anyway, it feels like a victory. And I felt that someone was on my side for a bit.
And my daughter will be looking after the house and animals -- recovering from her dissertation.

Central Spain beckons in a few weeks time.

Friday, August 28, 2015

4 Years of the Tracy Anderson Method

I started doing the Tracy Anderson Method on 25 August 2011. First her bootcamp and then her metamorphosis.  Currently, I am redoing her continuity, having completed Y3. I didn't go on to  4.1 because I didn't want more weight on my back and many people said that it was just plain tough. I have enough dvds.  While Tracy would like all her clients to graduate to her Streaming, I have issues with it.I know it works for many people but I want to re-do.
I have the dvds and I want to see what is going happen. I figure my body won't remember the moves.

I have completed 1.2 which is where I started with my re-do.  Meta is v beginning and 1.1 is advanced beginner but I had memories of 1.2 being hard.
And so it proved. L3 with is its same side collasping plank  has probably the hardest plank of all continuity.There were bits I didn't remember at all. However, I was able to do all the exercises from day one. I added weights because I am used to wearing ankle weights now. On the two levels where TA wears the lighter weights, I wore my heavier ones. I am sweating far more and my form is far better. I find I do ache.
And I am now doing 1.3 with the ball. Level 1 is in some ways an easy level BUT it is also a subtle level and I find I have to concentrate to make sure my leg is turned in the right direction etc. It does make a difference.
There is a myth that TAM has constantly new moves all the time. It has variations and the sequencing is never the same (the sequencing is hugely important).  1.2 has many of the same moves that I encountered in Y2 and Y3.  The shock and ow level & for example is the first time you meet many of the moves which will be common place in 2.3 and up to Y3. I can do the moves so I can now really concentrate on the fine detail, rather than on clinging on my fingers nails for the first four - six days and then improving by the 10th.
Am I changing still? This is hard to say -- I am in menopause. My metabolism went south suddenly last winter. What has helped increase it has been going  back to drinking a pot of green tea (4-5 cups) and taking the tomato juice twice a day. Things seem to be getting under control but I can no longer eat what I want when I want and trust TAM to keep my weight down. Bad habits had developed.
And fueled by the low level anxiety, I began to eat. There are reason why I am grateful for the tomato juice.
So at the moment, I have banished all snacks and really scaled back on the portion sizes. I have started drinking the green tea again. Thus far my tinnitus doesn't seem to be returning (I had given up on all caffeine to control the ringing in my ears). This seems to be getting my metabolism moving again.
 After a bout with cellulitis at the beginning of the month, I have started rebounding. Rebounding is supposed to be excellent for the lymph system. I have a compromised lymph system which manifest itself as lymphoedema on my left arm. This was the first time I had cellulitis since I discovered the problem/condition. So after a course of strong antibiotics (I managed to avoid the hospital by the skin of my teeth) I am taking a course of probiotics, increasing my magnesium and calcium intake and generally taking care of my arm better.

I started TAM for very shallow reasons -- I wanted to lose weight and I have kept the vast majority of the weight off. I continue doing it as it makes me feel good. I like exercising -- the stress relief is immense. And yes I like looking good in my clothes but I am never going to be perfect. I had 3 children and am 51 for goodness sake. Why would I want to look like a 23 year old model? I like how I look.

Personally because I am enjoying the re-do, I don't see any need to pay more money for the streaming (even though I know  lots of women find it amazing). We shall have to see what I think once I get further into my redo.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Life of an outsider

Caught on the inside, looking out
I realised that come 5 September I will have lived in the UK permanently for 27 years, basically all of my adult life. My memories of the US are stuck back in the Reagan era, pre-internet. Yes I have visited family and friends since moving over here but I haven't live there. I have lived in the North East. And yet every so often, someone says to me -- you are not from around here.
My accent is somewhere over the mid Atlantic, so I don't sound like a Geordie or even posh Northumbrian. To someone who isn't British, I sound British. To someone who is, they can hear the American. In that sense, I am not from around here, but the statement still galls.
I have lived in this house for 19 years. Small saplings have grown into trees. I had all my grown children at the local hospital when it still had a functioning maternity ward. I can even remember when they had a pediatric  ward.  I can even remember the Hexham Mart and when where Tescos at Hexham is now was just a small nursery (we still have the green plastic watering can I bought there). My children were all locally educated.
And yet, when people say things like you are not from around here, I nod my head and inwardly cringe. Because deep in my heart  I worry...maybe I don't belong. This is nonsense of course. I do. And to be fair, I have had friends who were from Devon who have had the same treatment -- of you are not from the North East. Some people are just insularly rude.
But I am American. I have just the one passport. I still celebrate American holidays and love lots about America -- even if at the moment I have no intention of going back there to live. I am part of the 8 million migrants who now reside in the UK. I am here legally. My husband and I jumped through many hoops 27 years ago to get me my visa and right to reside here permanently. I do believe migration should be managed and have little time  for illegal migration. I like to think I made and continue to make a contribution to the local area.
Maybe I just like the life of an outsider. I am not sure but what I am sure of  is that I am not going apologise for it any more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Anxiety and menopause

It is one of those things that creeps up on you on cat's paws, softly and without warning. Some of it I am sure is down to most women's situation during the change of life.  For me, my children are grown and are busy flying the nest. Like all fledglings, they do return and demand feeding, care and attention. One day, every soon though, I know they won't come back or only for brief little visits.
It is why I tried to cherish all the moments when they were growing up. Sometimes I did it better than others. My daughter takes  delight in reminding me of occasions when either I was a good mother or a very bad one. She also reminds me of various rants I have had and why I have to keep on my present course.

Then there is the situation with my in laws. Although my mother in law is in a care home as her dementia progressively worsens, my father in law has moved in with us. Some days it works better than others. The Social Services phoned this morning to say that we do qualify for respite care so he will go away to a home for a week while I am on holiday. I have become his principal carer. And the emotional upheaval of all this really knocked me.

And with the change of life added in, I found myself becoming less and less sure. When I was angry, I would want to curl up in a little ball and do nothing. In years past, when I was angry, I would write. The curling up in a ball came on gradually and I just thought it was something that was gone. However, once I start drinking the tomato juice, I found when I was angry, I wanted to write and the words flowed. I could put my anger to a productive use.

One of the reasons I have avoided writing single title is the necessity of finding an agent. It is just easier to have one. Yes, I know publishing has changed in many ways but it is still good to have someone in your corner. And it is hard to find the right agent. The Crows of Doubt really sound loudly every single time I try.  I tried before I was published. I tried a few years ago but then got busy fulfilling my contract. But now that I have written my Anglo Saxon queen story, there is nowhere to hide.  It has to be done. So I have started to send out queries. This time, I am taking my time -- one per week. And I an not curling up in a ball or feeling like I should be scurrying back and writing another HMB. (Yes I know people like my HMBs but my daughter thinks my Anglo Saxon queen is far better than my Vikings -- it is good to have her in my corner.)

I looked back a few years on the blog and was surprised at how much I used to write. Somewhere I forgot about it and so I plan on trying to update the blog a bit more.
It is getting that can do attitude back. I am amazed that drinking the tomato juice has helped in this way.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tomato juice smoothie to help with menopause

Sometimes it gets boring drinking tomato juice in the morning. I am continuing with my tomato juice to keep the hot flushes at bay. And thus far, I haven't had another. My anxiety has really decreased which is good.
The other day I decided to jazz the tomato juice up a bit. I combined --  8 oz tomato juice with half a cucumber, an apple (cored and sliced)  and half a lemon (pips removed, skin washed).  Blitz in a blender. It is quite thick but then I like it being thick. If too thick, you can add water. It tastes very fresh.  It is basically a meal in itself. I felt very full afterwards.
The apple does make a difference and adds the sweetness to counter balance the lemon. The second time I made it, I forgot the apple and it wasn't nearly as pleasant. You could add a stick of celery and/or a handful of spinach to the mix and really get your nutrients up for the day, but I like it as it is.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Tomato juice, menopause and me

I have reached that time of life. Menopause or at least peri-menopause is upon me at 51. There are a number of annoying factors like my metabolism going south and feeling lethargic. Hot flushes. Difficulty focusing. Wanting to curl up into a small ball and tell the world -- stop I want to get off.
I have a Mirena coil which is supposed to help alleviate the symptoms in any case (except for hot flushes and boy when they come, they really do come)
I am looking forward to being through this whole thing and getting on with the rest of my life.
So when I read about  tomato juice helping symptoms of menopause. (Yes I know it is a Daily Fail article)  I thought it worth a go. This was  on about 10 June 2015 so I have now done  8 weeks. And you know what? It does work.It took about a week and then things became much better.
My hot flushes are practically gone. I find when I am annoyed or upset, instead of curling up into a small ball, I can actually write. Life is suddenly easier again. My anxiety has decreased.
Is it a placebo effect? I am not sure. All I know it is working. Tomatoes are rich in lypocene and it has a bunch of antioxidents.
There is another article about here: 
The fact is that the research was only released in early June.
It is working for me and I figure that it is better than a lot of things.

I am still keeping up with my exercise (redoing TAM and now rebounding -- good for the lymph system)

So if you are feeling overwhelmed and are in menopause or peri-menopause, you might want to try tomato juice  twice a day. It is simple and effective (or at least for me)