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Morecambe, Lancashire, United Kingdom
In the mornings I’m a Nursery Cook, the rest of the time a Writer. Been writing for decades: short stories, plays, poems, a sitcom and more recently flash fiction, Creative Writing MA at Lancaster Uni and now several novels. Been placed in competitions (Woman’s Own, Greenacre Writers and flashtagmanchester) and shortlisted in others (Fish, Calderdale, Short Fiction Journal). I won the Calderdale Prize 2011, was runner-up in the Ink Tears Flash Fiction Comp & won the Greenacre Writer Short Story Comp 2013. I have stories in Jawbreakers, Eating My Words, Flash Dogs Anthologies 1-3, 100 RPM and the Stories for Homes anthology. My work’s often described as ‘sweet’ but there’s usually something darker and more sinister beneath the sweetness. I love magical realism and a comedy-tragedy combination. My first novel, Queen of the World, is about a woman who believes she can influence the weather. I’m currently working on a 3rd: Priscilla Parker Reluctant Celebrity Chef. Originally from West Midlands, I love living by the sea in Morecambe, swimming, cycling, theatre, books, food, weather, sitcoms and LBBNML … SQUEEZE!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017


Can’t believe I’m doing this but … I’ve lost 61 pounds … I’m entitled.

Why Now?

We all need a good reason. I’ve tried to work out what mine were.

a) Turning fifty. Yes, I’ve also turned thirty (too busy to have a crisis!) and forty (trying to stay sane in a horrible, horrible job) so here I am. In a good place. Morecambe! I find myself living a mile and a half from a sea view pool and with nine miles of promenade and a designated cycle path to Lancaster (where I work in a much less horrible job). When I moved here I had no plans for swimming/cycling. Is this the universe speaking?

b) Having a friend - my fitness guru extraordinaire - who's shown me (NB. NOT told me, would’ve been a big mistake, SHOWN me) how she does lots of exercise in order to be able to eat more and stay slim. That day after the Squeeze concert in October ’15 when I was swimming, I could see her from the pool, running three and a half miles on a treadmill because she’d eaten that big pizza. (I had a big pizza too!) That was the moment. Coupled with thinking ‘I LOVE swimming. Why on earth don’t I do it more often?’

c) I practiced acceptance for decades. Then, through two things I achieved earlier that year – giving up my Coke drinking to reduce my headaches & making an effort to look after my ‘kitchen hands’ better by use of gloves and copious amounts of Savlon – I realised I don’t have to suffer stuff like that so began to think ‘what next?’

d) The realisation that I've used my determination, stubbornness and, dare I say it?, intelligence to do a variety of things over the years (Eg. Two degrees, being good at my job (& leaving the horrible, horrible one), moving to a different part of the country, buying a flat ... go on, have a think, look back and acknowledge your own!) so WHY NOT THIS ONE?

 Your Own Rules

We’re all different. We all have advantages and disadvantages. We could all make excuses or say someone else has it easier. Stop all that right now. How you decide to do it is dependent on you. Make your plan (a vague one to start with is fine) based on your job, lifestyle, home situation, what exercise you can do, favourite foods, best times to eat, etc …


Beginning anything is hard. Do it gradually. Don’t launch yourself into a strict diet and gruelling fitness regime straight away. Or even at all. What are the foods you eat loads of that are high fat or high sugar? Make some rules about rationing them. (I began with Sal’s Crisps Rule) Don’t give them up altogether. If you have a lot to lose don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s pointless because what difference does one more of anything make? You’re starting and you can build on that. Don’t change to lots of foods you wouldn’t normally eat. You’re starting something you want to be able to carry on. Choose smaller. Choose less. Choose to stop when you feel full. Choose to wait until later. Choose that but not that and that as well.

If you have a moment where you want to eat everything in sight, stop & think. Can I ride this out? I’ve done this a few times and it really does reinforce the belief that you can and will do it again … AND your kitchen cupboards get a good tidy out. I have to confess I cried twice last year. Once when Victoria Wood died and again when I really wanted a big tube of Texas BBQ Pringles but didn’t want to break my crisps rule (No, I wasn’t in the shop!) Or, if I can’t ride it out, do I give into it in a planned way? Then, congratulate yourself for not going as far as you might once have done. Calmly stick to your rules and they will become habits. Unbreakable, possible, sustainable habits.


I made the decision to aim to lose a pound a week. So what if someone with over eight stone to lose should be losing more. My rules. Besides, if you lose a pound a week for a year you’ll have lost 3 stone 10lb and that’s a noticeable amount on anyone. In my first year I lost 3 stone 4lb. Good enough. I decided to do this because, having stayed the same weight for decades, I realised I just needed to tip the balance slightly; bit more exercise, bit less of certain foods.

I remember at the slimming club all those years ago hearing the words ‘only a pound this week’ over and over. So what? It adds up. This not a quick fix, it’s a sustainable lifestyle change. I really wanted to avoid the ups and downs. Putting on weight you’ve already lost then trying to lose it again is very disheartening and some say it messes up your metabolism, making it harder and harder to lose. It took me till the age of fifty to realise it but a calm relaxed approach is good. And my plan for when I get closer to my target is not to go much stricter food-wise but to take longer for each pound. So what if I take two, three, even four weeks for each one? My rules. Slow.


I like eating too much to be able to do this without exercise and I’m lucky to have chosen something I actually enjoy. I don’t want to do classes or have a programme. I hate being told what to do. I like to be on my own, doing my own thing.

Just keep doing a bit extra. Push yourself. Walk up hills, marvelling at how it’s getting easier. And exercise isn’t just to burn calories. You’re making your heart and lungs healthier, building muscle, lifting your mood, feeling in control and getting out and about for fresh air and vitamin D. One other thing I didn’t for foresee; swimming and cycling have made me feel better about taking my place. I used to walk on the prom or be in town and think I was in the way of more important folk. But now … I need this lane because I have to swim a hundred lengths and … ding-ding, I need you to get out of my way because I’m cycling and your walking. This is the done thing on the promenade and when they turn you can smile and say thank you and feel rather important in the process.

I’m now getting up at 5.30am weekdays and doing ten minutes of weights/floor exercises. If you are losing a lot you need to get some muscle under your skin. Clothes that feel the part (no one will see me in that sports bra and leggings!) and the ipod shuffling help me. I hated it to begin with but now think it’s a good way to wake up.

And, after yet another swim, cycle or exercise session I say to myself ‘You did it. You said you were going to and you did it’, reinforcing the belief I’ll do it again. And again … And again ... And again …
That’s it for now. Look out for part 2 coming soon, which includes 'Noticing Change' so I'll just put these photos here ...

July 2015
Photo by Stella Turner

July 2016
After losing two & a half stone
Photo by Stella Turner
July 2017
'Stella! Will you take my picture?' (five stone off???)


Wednesday, 8 March 2017


The Impossible Thing is ‘to find out what it’s like to not be fat’, something that, as an adult, I’ve no experience of. I didn’t want, nearly 18 months ago, to say ‘I’m going to lose 8 stone & 8 pounds’. It would’ve been, for those who’ve not met me in real life, a big fat arrow above my head with ‘And that’s how fat I am!’ emblazoned across it in embarrassingly sparkly letters. And a lot of pressure.

I worked out this amount based on a target of one pound under the top of the ideal weight range for my height/age. The pound under is to make it a grand total of 120 lbs, an easy figure to divide into stages.

So I’m halfway. Sixty pounds lost and - strange new meaning of the word - ‘only’ another sixty to lose. They’ll be harder of course. Impossible? Only time will tell.

I've been eating less but I'm not on a diet. I've learnt over the years I can't stick to them and when you stop you go a bit mad. I refuse to go to bed hungry. I've eaten a lot less of certain things over the past year & a half though. Less crisps, chips, cheese, chocolate ... & maybe some other things that don't begin with a C.

At the end of October 2015, I joined the health club, committing to swim at least nine times a month. Nine is the magic get-my-monies-worth number. I’ve now been swimming for seventeen months. Nine thousand lengths in the first year alone. In July I started cycling. Buying Brenda, my bicycle, was the highlight of 2016 for me. I began the year with no clue I’d be cycling again after 30-plus years and I absolutely love it. It only really feels like exercise when I go uphill.



 Welsh Chippies

At the age of 17/18, I lost 4 stone through a slimming club. The woman who ran it became obsessed with me being her ‘Slimmer of the Year’. She told me about someone my height who’d ended up a size eight. ‘She wasn’t big boned after all!’ What a thing to say to a 6 feet tall teenager who arrived at a size 24 and still had stones to go.

There was no such thing as an interim target or a suggestion it was fine to get partway and work out how to maintain. Just a lot of meat. As much as you wanted. (A decade later I stopped eating meat altogether.) I got to within 3 stone of my too-strict target, went on holiday to Wales and put on 11 lbs in 10 days. Not sure I could manage that now and don’t want to try. Those Welsh chippies are good. This is what happens if you deprive yourself too much. Falling off the wagon onto a massive greasy chip butty. What a way to go!

But that was all a long time ago. And this next bit is even further back.


Two Ton Tessie

Okay. This is hard but here goes.

A list of names I got called at senior school, 1977-82:

1)      Fatty

2)      Big Bertha

3)      Tank

4)      Two Ton Tessie

5)      (As I walked into a room) ‘There’s a total eclipse of the sun.’ Also an occasional mention of tidal waves as I got into the pool.

6)      Hey Fatty Boom Boom (Sung of course. Only that part of the song. The rest is too … er … affectionate?)

(It’s all right. Feel free to laugh at any time.)

7)      Explosion noises to accompany each step I walked. (Do you stop walking or walk away?)

8)      A reaction as if I was about to go for them, possibly hit them. Running off/protecting themselves from the wrath of the scary giant girl.

1979. Sierra Nevada, Spain. The giant scary girl.
(That figure in the background is a long way off ...)
But I wasn’t angry and I never wanted to hit anyone. I was … EMBARRASSED & ASHAMED.

This kind of thing happened regularly. I hated going from lesson to lesson, the time it mostly happened. All boys of course. Perfect boys. They weren’t greasy-haired, spotty, lanky or ugly in anyway. Oh no. They were perfect.

Now of course you can google stuff you don’t understand but I couldn’t possibly have asked my parents what numbers 2) & 4) meant. It had to be kept secret. I was deeply, deeply ashamed. I mean, who’s fault was it they were calling me these names? Mine of course. How embarrassing. At one stage, I can remember making a conscious decision, at break times, to find the quietest place I could and sit completely still. Try to be invisible.

1980. Rhine Valley. That scary giant girl again, bless her.


1982. At school with one short friend & one skinny one. Three flicks!

          I’ve recently – finally – googled. Big Bertha is a weapon. Nice. Did they know this? Where did they get their information? Why do I still know nothing? Perhaps their parents had a book of ‘Names to Call Fat Folk’? If there's a book full I guess I got off lightly. Should I google?

And I found clips of Tessie O’Shea. Not sure about the massive shiny dresses, the fact she gave herself that name (or did she?) and sang about her double chins but I think I’d rather be her. She’s just a large jolly singing lady. I like her!

Better than being something used in warfare.

Tessie O'Shea - 'Two Ton Tessie'


I have to admit to having a bit of girly streak when it comes to clothes. In November '15 I was walking to the pool (Walking. BB. Before Brenda) on a cold dark Sunday at 6.30am entertaining a fantasy about buying size 20 jeans. Now, I'm not saying everything you imagine comes true (My first novel was never made into a TV drama starring Christopher Eccleston, for example.) but 11 months later, I got there. I’ve packed away many of my size 26’s (will I need them again?) and brought a few new things along the way. Going into Monsoon (a shop I could never buy clothes from before) and buying jeans and a top really shouldn’t be as thrilling as I found it.

Waiting for my train home, I walked around Grand Central Station in Birmingham with my precious Monsoon bag and the words ‘size 20 jeans, size 20 jeans, size 20 jeans’ chanting in my head. Laughable when most women would think such a size was unheard-of-ly massive but for me an achievement. I have four items I’ve acquired, from charity shops or on sale, now hanging in my wardrobe that don’t fit but will. Impossible? We’ll see.

I plan to blog again soon with my tips. Ha! Me doing weight loss/fitness tips? How ridiculous!