Monthly Archives: July 2014

Fruity favourites

I don’t remember nectarines featuring in my early years. If they existed, they were probably a little exotic for the mainstream supermarkets.

From what I can remember, fresh fruit used to consist of the basics; Apples (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious or Cooking), Oranges and Bananas. It was regularly supplemented by the tinned variety in syrup, a healthy desert option, with cream or ice-cream.

Other fruit appeared on special occasions only; Grapefruit was a regular feature at my Grandparents; Satsumas appeared at Christmas; Grapes were a special treat (usually lasting minutes “post shop”). Soft fruit was a seasonal delight; sometimes hand-picked, occasionally home grown, always tasty.

You can’t go wrong with fresh, ripe soft fruit!

Peaches used to appear in summer, but they never quite did it for me. While I have always enjoyed the ripe, juicy flesh, I was never that big a fan of the texture of the skin. For me it always has undertones of a dropped sweet, too good to waste, reluctantly recovered from a hairy lie. While skinning a peach is always an option, the riper the fruit, the more messy the task. My tactic has generally been avoidance.

Nectarines are another kettle of fish! A smooth skin and tasty, succulent flesh; they have all the benefits of Peaches without the downside. Where were they all my life?!

Since my Heart Attack I have been eating a lot of fruit. As well as being good for me, it has filled a gap left by my abstinence from evening nibbles; crisps and nuts used to be one of my main food supplements. While the basics are good, a bit of variety always goes down well; Nectarines, Blueberries, Kiwi Fruit and Plums have all become favourites.

Fortunately the all-inclusive buffets over the past couple of weeks, while we were on holiday, featured lots of fruit. Although it was slightly limited in variety, it allowed me to keep up my fruit intake.


The illusive nectarine… what’s not to like?!

The buffet even featured Nectarines on Day 1… a result! Unfortunately, it flattered to deceive, despite much anticipation they didn’t make a further appearance (perhaps they were too popular!), replaced instead by plenty of hairy Peaches. It was all very disappointing! Never mind… it just provided another reason to look forward to getting back home!


Catching up

Having arrived back from holiday there’s a lot of catching up to do…

We’ve had a lovely couple of weeks of relaxation, chilling in the sun in a variety of locations around the northern Mediterranean. For me it’s back down to earth with a bump as I prepare for the red-eye flight to London tomorrow morning.

It’s easier to catch up with some things than others; snail mail and email were dealt with in the small burst of energy that I experienced when I arrived home.

I guess the pile of mail could have been worse

To be honest, the burst of energy almost wasn’t enough. Having dug our way through the mail at the front door we discovered that the house was experiencing an ominous lack of power… while we were away the main fuse had tripped.

On the up side, the freezer needed to be de-frosted anyway. We had been saved the pain of conjuring up innovative meal ideas from the assorted remnants and left-overs in the freezer. However, we did have to decant the contents, in various states of “fruity” degradation, into bin bags. So although the timing was far from perfect we did more than catch up, if anything we got ahead!

I’m sure we’re not the first to discover the “auto-defrost” setting on our freezer

One thing I don’t have energy for today is exercise, but it’s definitely another area in which I have some catching up to do. I would describe my athletic pursuits over the past few weeks as “staying active” this is on the scale of:

  1. Sedentary
  2. Staying active (Often reserved for the older generation who wish to remain “sprightly”)
  3. Regular exercise
  4. In training

With only 6 weeks to go until Ride the North I need to redouble my efforts to prepare for it. I have managed some exercise over the past few weeks, but the level of intensity is far from what is required. I’m confident I’ve got a good foundation, but the training I do over the next few weeks will make the difference between it being a tough slog and a fun outing.

The girls have catching up of their own to do, although it appears to consist mostly of TV programs that were recorded while we were away. I’m sure it’ll take some time for them to work their way through this too, but until they do we’ll only be able to guess at the full extent of the carnage caused by the power outage!




It’s not often that you get a chance to see into the future.  The long term impact of exercise and healthy living can be hard to quantify.  Conversely, it can be hard to understand the potential negative effects of poor life choices.

I have friends whose lifestyles have been heavily influenced by their parents prematurely suffering with poor health.  I am lucky in that my parents and in-laws are all fit and healthy, able to make the most of the opportunities the “Third Age” offers them.  They are reaping the benefits of an active lifestyle in which treats are still considered a treat and excess reserved for special occasions and grand-children.

You could argue that having a Heart Attack should have been enough to open my eyes; after all it could have killed me. To a degree this is correct.  However, death wasn’t necessarily the worst-case scenario, not for me at least.  Long term incapacitation would have been worse, my quality of life could have been compromised, and with it those around me that I care about most.  I was lucky.

Island Escape

The Island Escape… it’s not much but we like to call it home.

I am now four days into my first all-inclusive cruise, and it’s really helped bring things into focus.  A little close personal observation (nosiness!) has provided a unique opportunity to see both the negative impacts and some of the underlying choices that have may have contributed to them.

The passengers on the cruise are a different demographic than on our holidays to date; they are primarily couples and slightly older.  One of the overwhelming features is a lack of mobility; knee bandages and walking sticks are essential travel companions for many.  The general level of fitness appears to be extremely low with some of the physiques having been “carefully nurtured” over an extended period of time.

Even Cardiac Rehabilitation didn’t give me such a powerful insight; I was aware that only a small fraction of people take up the opportunity to participate in rehab.  That means that the majority are either unwilling or unable to attend, presumably choosing instead to rely on medication and / or luck for their recovery and future wellbeing.  I suspect some of the non-participants might also be on-board!

It’s scary… scary for the individuals who seem to be struggling to perform basic everyday activities.*  It’s also scary that until recently I was also on that course.

Fortunately everyone seems to be mobile enough to take full advantage of the “all-inclusive” part of the cruise… if you are unable to carry your plate or glass there always a helpful member of staff to assist.  Ironically, the only constraint I’ve discovered is on the Cardiac Setting in the gym… limited to 5 minutes… for health reasons presumably!

Cardiac Workout (Max)


* I appreciate not everyone has a completely free choice, but most of us are fortunate enough to have at least some level of influence over our physical well-being even though it may frustratingly diminish over time.  I also appreciate that I am very lucky to have more choice than most having received my “wake up call” so early!