Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Oh no, not just climbing to the bridge. No. Literally climbing the bridge. From bottom to top, across then down again.

When this was originally suggested as something we’ve “got to do”, I thought the world had finally gone mad. Then when I suruptitiously looked up the details, the rediculous cost involve and it is probably all booked up, thought I’d sealed the deal for not doing it…

“Think we should go for it.”

So, after much thought and consideration… (‘Think of all the clothes/posh handbag I could buy with the money?’), I agreed to climb the bridge. It will be a good workout, if nothing else.

‘We can go on any day, and most times are available.’ Hubby joyfully informs me…

History

Since 1912, J.J.C. Bradfield, “Chief Engineer of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Metropolitan Railway Construction” was keen on the idea of a bridge. At that time it was deemed prudent to spend money on the war effort.

After World War 1, Bradfield went to investigate tenders and decided an arch design would be beneficial and the work was given to NSW Department of Public Works for their design. Dorman Long Co Ltd was given the contract,  because of their experience with the Tyne Bridge, also an arch.

The “turning of the first sod” ceremony was held on 28 July 1923 and arch construction of the abutment towers began 26 October 1928.

The two halves of the arches joined on 19 August 1930. The first vehicle crossed the bridge on 19 January 1932 and the bridge was officially opened on 19 March 1932.

The total length of the bridge is 1.149 metres, width 49 metres and cost AU£6.25 million which wasn’t paid off until 1988.

Sydney Harbour Bridge connects Sydney central business district (CBD). Apart from practical transportation uses, it  also has become a tourist attraction and is used by tourists, including myself, for them to partake in climbing to the top of the arches. 

When arriving in Sydney you quickly realise the enormity of the construction. You are able to see parts of the bridge, from many areas of Sydney.

The Experience

It was FANTASTIC! Couldn’t have enjoyed the experience more. You are given all the gear and instructions and off you go. Everything is attached to your boiler suit, including one’s glasses, and you are not allowed to take anything with you (including cameras, phones, etc.). Our guide was Scott. He is a funny, outgoing chap who clearly knows what he is doing and instilled confidence in everyone.

First you climb up ladders, have a brief (history) chat then a walk along towards the arch. Photography is undertaken throughout the session including a team one and it is enormous fun. The exercise didn’t faze me at all and neither did the height. The whole jolly expedition is well worth doing. The stories and history about the bridge are fascinating (which you are told about as you go along) and I would highly recommend the experience.

Onwards towards Melbourne now.

 

 

 

Sources

http://www.bridgesdb.com/bridge-list/sydney-harbour-bridge/

https://www.nfsa.gov.au/collection/curated/sydney-harbour-bridge

Cap d’Antibes – Coastal Walk

This walk captures the beauty of the Cote d’Azur and is a superb way of ingratiating yourself into the natural environment of this area. Plus the simple fact that your can park for free at the Plage de la Garoupe beach and then feed your soul with the magnificent 5k walk. It only takes about a couple of hours and is well worth doing. The walk can be rocky in places so do wear trainers or sensible footwear.

Cote d’Azur is known for magnificent properties, manicured gardens and superfluous wealth but this walk is surprisingly simple and enjoys a wild natural landscape. Also, you have the Mercantour National Park and the Estérel mountains to savour as you scramble carefully over the rocks.

On one occasion, I nearly fell because I was so busy looking at the clear blue sea, mountains, flowers and resplendent landscape. Parts of the path are properly built pathways but then dissipate into rocks, beach, and steep steps so can be precarious.

The limestone cliffs are very pretty because they are covered in glorious vivid flora, olive trees, exotic cacti and the cumbersome agaves. The blend of crystal clear blue water, rocky coves and mother nature is spectacular.

The final part of the walk is along a road called Avenue de Beaumont and then along Avenue de la Tour Gandolphe. Make time to enjoy the gardens and general serene landscape of this gorgeous vicinity, and then when you locate the beach, you can then enjoy some refreshment at the beach café and languish some more. Great fun.

Chilham, Bluebells and Whitstable

Chilham Castle in the distance…

 

We decided to venture out for a day in Chilham for a bluebell walk which was organised by the RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry). Luckily, we were blessed with a warm, sunny day and arrived an hour early due to my husband’s keenness for punctuality! The village is small with a medieval square overlooked by the impressive and imposing Chilham Castle. We wandered around hoping to find a tea shop open for a quick cuppa, but nothing opened until ten o’clock. They maybe missing a business trick here. It didn’t matter, it is wonderful to stroll around and take photos including the Tudor houses and St. Mary’s Church.

Chilham

Everyone arrived and met at Shelly’s tea shop, which was also irritatingly shut, and we introduced ourselves and ventured forth towards King’s Wood. The landscape and woodland around Chilham is truly exquisite and the bluebells just seem to become more impressive as the walk continued.

The walking folks were very friendly and I discussed my interest in health and fitness with a lady called Kate who was into fitness and yoga, and a possible hope to do a charity 10k run in the Autumn. Everyone, was very encouraging, but I’m still considering the challenge because trust me, it will be a massive task for me.

Some scientific conversations did ensue and we heard an interesting story about how nerve gas doesn’t dissipate into the atmosphere and could be doing the rounds on our currency! Then we were told a tale about when currency is scientifically examined, all sorts of drug traces are found…

The walk was fun and it is always interesting to chat to new people and hear their take on life. The views are incredible around Chilham and I’m sure the castle is well worth a visit too.

Whitstable…

 

After we had our lunch, we drove to Whitstable and after eventually parking the car, we wandered along the sea front. My goodness, it was busy. Apparently, this is where London people go to at the weekend. In other words, it has become the trendy place to visit. It shows too. All the old huts and houses have been painted and refurbished and of course, the property prices have, no doubt, shot up.

To be fair, it is a great place to visit with the selection of arty galleries, shops, (micro) pubs, restaurants, etc. We have decided to come back on a week day to explore properly and hopefully it won’t be quite so busy.

All in all a fabulous day out and I can’t wait to go back to Chilham and Whitstable.

Oyster stall..

 

 

Progress, lunch recipe and why go low carb?

Progress

Yes, I’ve devised another recipe using canned lentils. Progress with my health and fitness plan has been good. About 3kg loss and 2kg is body fat, so I’m quite pleased with the progress.

As I’m going away to Maastricht for a few days soon, I’m trying to be very good. We are going away with the offspring and the other half’s and will probably consume many meals out. On the plus side, usually walk everywhere and a bike ride has also been suggested. Hopefully, this will help and it will be enormous fun.

Even on holiday, it will be possible to not go completely off the rails and to be honest, I feel so much better at the moment, and more energised too. Really hoping to keep this up.

Why low-carb?

While the food plan I’m implementing is low fat, it is not my main concern. Sugar is. Low fat products tend to have sugar in them so apart from a little low fat cheese, they are best avoided.
Studies now indicate natural fats are fine. With the low carb plan, you decrease sugar and starches so your blood sugar stabilizes and levels of fat storing hormone insulin drop. Also, find you are satiated, thus lessening the need to eat and causing weight loss.

Lentil Stew Recipe

The latest recipe is filling and healthy. The lentils are from a can and very quick to prepare. I dry fried an onion, paprika, herbs, ground pepper with a pint of vegetable stock and then poured in the lentils. Pop a lid on and let it simmer for half an hour (at least) to become fairly solid.

I prepared some roasted veggies including sweet potato chips and just for a change, cauliflower. When the veg is nearly cooked pop in some cherry tomatoes and sliced mushrooms. Makes a good, wholesome meal. You can freeze the leftover lentils.

Lentils,

Onion (half at most)

Paprika, herbs, ground pepper

Veg stock (1 pint)

Initially, I made the mistake of using a whole onion, but this recipe is better with just half an onion.

Also, I’m not nutritionally trained, but enjoy reading about health and am just blogging about my experiences. I’m thinking of doing a course on nutrition soon.

Thank you for reading my blog and I welcome any comments, likes and follows.

 

 

 

Source:

https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb

Healthy eating plan, beans and cous cous…

I’ve started a fitness plan because of the expanding middle haha. The gym, I attend, is running a course and so I’m tracking what is eaten. The app to track food is called Fitness Pal and is very good for recording what you are eating, drinking and any exercise. I’ve decided to cut out bread, rice, pasta and potato so my diet is on the low carbohydrate side. This is to curb appetite, hopefully. All the obvious stuff, such as sweets, chocolate, biscuits, processed food, etc. are banned. When eating out, may have some of the above although will try to avoid where possible. I’m also trying to cut down on alcohol, which is really hard.

Low carb diets are controversial, but recent studies indicate weight loss and improved health. The best way, in my view, is to be sensible. Still eat sweet potatoes, swede, carrots and copious amounts of other healthy green veg. Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms are suitable for this sort of plan. When hungry, fruit and nuts are the best snacks, although it is hard if you want chocolate.

My dodgy time is around 4pm. By this, I mean it is the time I’m hankering after food. To help with this, lunch is consumed after 1.30pm and even later, if possible. Dinner is around 6.30pm and this does help stop the ol’ hunger pangs a little. Sometimes, fruit and or nuts are consumed in the evening, but not too often. I’m keeping to around 1400 calories a day. This is quite high for me, but feel is sensible and will stop some of the hunger. Will update on my progress and do join in if you want? My plan is at the end of this post.

I’ve been sorting out my kitchen cupboards and now see some foodstuff that I’d forgotten about. I know, exciting times! Anyway, I’ve recently discovered and devised a couple of lunch time meals. Admittedly, the first one isn’t low carb, but delicious for a quick lunch.

Cous Cous Bean Salad.

Make cous cous by adding the boiling water and mix. Then add basil green pesto, beans (your choice, I used mixed salad beans). Add a few pine nuts and or pumpkin seeds. Chop up some sundried tomatoes. Add lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and mixed herbs. This makes a great lunch which is filling and healthy. Afterwards, you can add what you like such as boiled egg, ham, advocado, etc.

Cous Cous

Basil green pesto

Beans

Pine nuts and or pumpkin seeds

Sundried tomatoes

Lemon juice, olive oil and mixed herbs

Bean Cous Cous…

The next revelation happened during the recent Cotswolds trip. We stopped in a B & B and the proprietor offered us homemade baked beans for breakfast and as they were so delicious, I decided upon my return, to copy and make my own. This is how I made them…

Chop carrot, onion and add tomatoes, onion, puree, stock, herbs, garlic, pepper and splash of treacle. Boil and blend, then add the beans. Cook in oven for about an hour in a casserole dish.

As you can see, I had sliced avocado, roasted mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and low fat cream cheese with the beans and even though I say so myself, the meal was surprisingly delicious and filling.

Haricot beans

Onion

Garlic (clove)

Large carrot

Veg stock

Passata and some tomato puree with some boiling water (about 1/2 pint)

2 tins tomatoes

Paprika, salt, ground black pepper

Chili powder

Optional treacle

Bay leaf (optional)

Home made baked beans with sliced avocado and blob of soft cheese…

 

Sum up

  • Low carb – Cutting out bread, rice, pasta
  • Track what you are eating
  • Lunch is consumed after 1.30pm and even later, if possible. Dinner is around 6.30pm
  • 1400 calories per day
  • Prepare and cook healthy meals

 

 

Ref.

https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb

Will this be the year of walking and photography?

Unfortunately, I’ve been poorly for much of January and only just getting back to normal. To be honest, it has made me feel low and lethargic. Hence, the lack of posts lately! However, one thing I have enjoyed is copious amounts of walking, as I’m recuperating.

This year seems to be the year for walking, as a form of exercise. The weather can be cold and grey, but it has also been sunny, cold with some beautiful sunsets. Walking is a great way to explore places and become fitter.

If you mix it up a bit, it becomes fun too. For example, you can go to local parks, countryside walks, town or city walks or go around a National Trust place.

Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge

 

London walks are enormous fun. You can discover squares, alleys, lanes, parks, heaths, gardens, palaces, rivers and so on. The variety of terrain is fantastic for the urban investigator and as well as historic areas you can view the visually spectacular as well. Certainly a different way of exercising and seeing the capital!

Another way of making walking even more interesting is to do them in conjunction with another hobby. I’ve recently participated in a photography course which although basic, provided a wonderful insight into the world of photography. So sometimes the camera 🎥 comes with me and I stop and take photos.

Yesterday, I went to Haysden Park and snapped away. The blue sky and sunshine was very uplifting and I was impressed with the improvements made to the paths and area. When we arrived, I was furious to see you had to pay to park which is ludicrous. Yes, I know it may go towards the upkeep, but can’t help feeling it’s a bit ‘brave new world’ when one day, we will only have a few green places left to go to, and will have to pay to enter and enjoy them. Sorry, 😐 got a little creative there, but paying to enter green spaces is the beginning of the end, isn’t it?

The park was busy, probably because of the glorious weather. The lake is beautiful and we loved seeing all the birds, particularly the graceful swans. Two swans had a noisy fight, literally a few feet away, which was captured with the Nikon (just).

The benefits of walking are tantamount to other exercise, especially if you do 10,000 steps per day. Rather a tall order to achieve daily, but a worthwhile challenge. If you are not used to exercise, it is the safest form of exercise, a way to lose weight and radically improve your health. 150 minutes per week of exercise, is the recommended amount we should all be doing and walking is something fairly easy to slot into life.

For me, I’ve been enjoying local parks, group countryside walks and solitary dog walks through local woodland and orchards. What I do fancy is some more city walks because it is great to explore new areas. Sometimes I just snap away on my phone rather than take a camera, but I’ve enjoyed wandering around the countryside and recommend to all. Take a good map so you don’t get lost and walk at a brisk pace. The speed you should be walking is 3 mph and be able to talk but not sing.

A great source of ideas is the internet because you can find some simple circular routes near where you live. To pass the time, I sometimes listen to a podcast or music, but this is rare, as I like to enjoy the surroundings in peace. All very tranquil and relaxing, particularly if you are having a stressful time.

My latest passion is putting a few of my photos on Instagram and a great way to learn from other professionals and decide what makes a good photo. Plus, it is somewhere to file your photos and receive opinions/comments from others.

 

Source: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx

Ramblings about Fitness and 2018

According to research, walking makes you happy, healthy and can save your life. Apparently, this is probably the answer to the inactivity which is common now and the associated problems such as obesity. Face it, walking is a simple, cheap occupation and not very time consuming. I still like to run and workout, but increasingly, venture outside and go for a brisk walk.

The inactive lifestyle that seems so popular now, is serious because four out of ten men and five out of ten women are not moving enough. 60% of adults, and 30% of children are overweight or obese and this is costing the UK, £10 billion per year.

My issue with this is that not enough is done to help prevent the various illnesses caused by inactivity and overeating. It is something I seriously struggle with. People tell me this is because doctors want to prescribe drugs for business reasons. This is probably a little unfair, but surely more can be done to promote a healthy life? The stuff on TV tends to promote diet, fitness, and is obviously promoting certain products, businesses and supermarkets. More could be about stuff like new activities, hobbies, books, etc. which feed the soul!

So we need to do more and eat healthier in order to avoid cancer, heart disease and diabetes, etc. Apart from these reasons walking is a way of meeting others; it is cheap, usually safe from injuries and a good way to get to where you need to be both mentally and physically.

One reason I like to exercise is to…, wait for it, raise my mood. If I’m feeling lazy and eating too much wrong food or drink, the mood does become lower. Clearly, exercise combats this and if you run/walk outside it is a great antidote to the winter blues.

Research also shows an increase in creative flow. This doesn’t surprise me because often when out running or walking, I find myself forming ideas about this blog or a new project.

According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition, going for a walk can spark creativity. “Researchers administered creative-thinking tests to subjects while seated and while walking and found that the walkers thought more creatively than the sitters,”

My plan is to attempt a healthy month in February. The reason I haven’t done the diet bit much in January is because I can’t cope with the Dry January thing (yes, a letter has been sent to the charity concerned) and everybody flocking to the gym. My aim is to lose some weight as I’ve put over a stone on since this time last year. I’ve started with the exercise and cut out some naughty foods, and a serious attempt is booked for February. Recently, I listened to a podcast and they suggested listing things you wanted to do this year. I’ve incorporated mine into The Plan. This way, I can look back and see what I’ve accomplished. The notes/ideas are in brackets and may be changed.

The Plan

Exercise (maybe do an organized 10k run, maybe? ;-))

Explore (local walking and this has already been started)

Read (books not internet and new focus on non-fiction)

Travel (particularly UK/Holland/Scandinavia??)

Healthier foods (new recipes, already made some veggie prawn patties)

Avoid drinking alcohol during the day (it wipes me out and makes me poorly)

Photography (maybe do another course?)

So I’ll continue to run/walk and hopefully some of the December weight will dissipate eventually. Oh, it is an ongoing battle, but someone’s got to do it.

 

Sources: https://www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/Walking%20works_summary_AW_Web.pdf

https://www.prevention.com/fitness/benefits-walking-every-day