So who am I, and what are the building blocks that make up my life? I am in my early fifties, and lucky enough to be feeling fitter and healthier than I did ten years ago. I am happily married and have been for over twenty years. We have three daughters. The eldest is 19, finished school last year, opted not to go to university and is working full time as a marketing assistant. Our middle daughter is 15 and in the middle of GCSEs. If all goes to plan she will be changing schools in September to take the International Baccalaureate instead of A levels. Our youngest will be 8 next week. She is physically petite, but in her head she is BIG! She is highly verbal and has a will of steel, yet can also be very shy and timid. She entertains and exasperates us in equal measure, and is utterly adored by her big sisters (and vice versa).
We live on the edge of Bedfordshire, within easy reach of London and easier reach of the new "city" (though officially a town) of Milton Keynes. After our littlest started school I trained as an archivist and, rather unexpectedly, have found myself working full time. I love my job, although it hasn't been easy recently due to the effect of funding cuts. I have a doctorate in medieval history and love that I am able to do something which allows me to use some of the skills I gained through that. It has also given me the opportunity to extend my historical knowledge into unexpected areas. At the moment I am spending a lot of time working on the First World War as we have a big centenary project under way.
I love music and play an odd mix of instruments, more by accident than design. At various times I play trombone in a brass band, flute in a concert band, and violin in an amateur symphony orchestra, though not all at once - too many instruments, too little time! Currently I am playing trombone and flute. Playing is both a sanity saver when I am stressed and also a lot of fun. I love to listen to a wide variety of music, ranging from rock to classical, though I'm not keen on opera and don't really "get" jazz.
Soon after I turned fifty I got serious about eating more healthily. As an older mother I wanted to stay fit and active for my youngest daughter and realised that wasn't going to happen by default. I made various changes in my diet - nothing radical, mainly a lot more fruit and vegetables, switching to wholegrains, and cutting down on junk - and was surprised to find that weight dropped off without any effort on my part. Over a couple of years I lost 30 lbs and went down three dress sizes. I'm far from skinny, with a BMI still slightly over 25, but I think I am a healthy weight. I have exercised sporadically, but decided at the beginning of this year it was time to get serious about that too. For the last few months I have been going to the gym pretty regularly, doing some yoga, and mix it up with exercising at home when I can't fit in a trip to the gym. I'm not totally there yet, but I am feeling fitter and stronger and determined to make it as much a routine part of my lifestyle as is my improved diet.
What else? I love to knit, especially socks. I have always been a reader, but these days find it too easy to be sucked into puttering around the internet and hard to focus on books when I get home from work tired. Mostly I binge-read when I am on holiday. I am a Mass-attending and trying-to-be-faithful Catholic, having converted in my twenties, but often fail miserably at living that out in practice. I feel that everything can be improved with a dash of humour, I talk too much, I love to spend time with friends, and I cannot imagine a life without wine and chocolate.