Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Bank Holiday on Šipan and Lopud

It was Summer Bank Holiday in the UK, so I thought I'd take a break from the old work routine and go on holiday for a bit. You know, have a lie in, read a good book and generally enjoy what would inevitably be a rainy day. Then I woke up and realised that I was still here, and I could pretty much do what ever outdoorsy thing I wanted because sunshine! There was stirring outside as someone decided that nets needed bringing in so, instead of being cross about being awake,  I decided to embrace the morning.

The village was bathed in golden morning light as I quietly launched one of Marija's kayaks into the glassy water. The bottom of the sea was bluely visible until I was well beyond the protective stone harbour walls, and I enjoyed the sensation of easy silent paddling. There were no power boats to worry about and I was keeping an eye on 7am Hanibal; he didn't mind and we didn't come to blows because I was exploring the watery caves of Ruda Island by the time he chugged past.

I struck out for Lopud, with fond memories of the last time I did this. It had been my birthday and the night before the contrary trio had hit the rum badly. So the hangover had been ferocious - my brother had set the spanking pace and we had blindly followed him, hoping he'd find coffee and cake somewhere. We struck gold at our destination and the resultant caffeine, sugar and cold water hit us beautifully. By the time we had got back to Šipan, we'd felt almost human again!

Anyway, there was no head cloudiness on Monday and it was a lovely morning to have coffee and fresh doughnut by the sea. With a flash of inspiration, I picked up an extra bun for a man-who-might-appreciate-it back home and popped it in my bag. I then thought about wine for later and took a detour to the tiny market. As I was in a kayak I thought better of the huge 3 litre bottle on offer and sensibly only bought a couple of normal bottles. Imagine developing a leak and losing the cargo?! Or what if I was boarded by pirates? Who knows what might have happened.

On my shopping trip, I'd clocked a poster advertising a concert of classical music in the church.I had a small splash around on the sandy beach, giggled again at the memory of an ex-flatmate's ability to clamber into a stationary kayak, and headed home. As I paddled back I thought about the music and was determined to try to make the concert...this would mean a begging of a favour and I wondered if it was possible. Does a bun count as pre-emptive bribery?

The appreciative one was having a coffee after a unsuccessful bout of net reeling. I think he was touched, frankly I was ready to go get out of my wet shorts, so I had scooted off as he was mid-munch. I had a relatively quiet day and after making myself useful, decided to mention that I wanted to go to Lopud for a concert, and please may I have a lift back. Looking up from the plateful of sardines that I'd prepared, he fixed me with an exasperated look.


It is now dark enough for night fishing so they were going out. If they had a boatful of fish, they were not going to wait for me, and if they were out until 1am, then I would just have to wait. Therefore no guaranteed lift from the landlord. The best offer I could get on a water taxi was 250 kuna and I had also checked AirBnB for a room overnight. Basically, going out here is as inconvenient as going out in Bristol if you live in Yate/Chipping Sodbury. Except that there you're paying £25 for a theatre ticket and £50 for a taxi...scratch that. I'd rather be here. So bravely setting off on the 5.50pm ferry I took a leap of faith, trusting that I'd get home somehow.

I arrived in Lopud in dry clothes, which made a change from the kayak soaking from earlier. With a small amount of foresight I popped into the Lafodia Hotel lobby where I happen to know they have a library of books for guests. I nabbed the only English one available - seriously, people, do you not read on holiday? - and scarpered to the nearest pizza place for a quiet couple of pre-concert hours. It does seem criminal to eat pizza on an island but I do get endless amazing fresh fish at home, so I never feel too guilty. On my evening stroll, I chuckled at the outlandish ways I could get home; perhaps a wheelie bin and paddle; a tractor engine powered pallet raft; a plastic sunbed contraption?

Some lovely friendly English people were sat nearby and we had an excellent natter which was an excellent way to pass the time. *waves*

In the event the concert was spectacular and there was no fault to be found in the fluting, cello-ing and piano-ing. I could happily have listened to them in St John's Smith's Square, or similar intimate venue in London. There is something very special when you get a talented cellist and flautist together, and the instruments just sing. Again, the piano makes an uneasy third in such a trio but it seemed to have a rare understated delicacy which didn't dominate.

Moment of truth. I wandered up to the far end of the harbour and pondered the wisdom of a glass of wine. I decided against it, and bought a bottle of orange pop instead. I had no idea how long I would be waiting. There were no messages, which was both promising and not. Boats came and went, my book was read and finished, and I ambled back to a comfy looking park bench. It was gone half 11 by then, and then I saw the musicians walking a final act of desperation, shyness overcoming lunacy, I wondered if they were going my way. Maybe English subtlety is truly unknown here, as I said;

'Hello, thank you for the lovely concert tonight. I wonder if you are going anywhere near Suđurađ as I appear to be stranded here?'

They were going back to Dubrovnik. Oh well. Perhaps a Croatian would have got a better response with a more direct question.

A few more centuries went by and cafes were closing. Then finally I saw boat lights. It was my now extremely cross landlord who had dashed back from a mediocre fishing trip, got in the other boat, and come out to collect his errant guest. He wasn't as annoyed as he was when I punctured his bicycle tyre, but he was definitely not amused. Still, he flung a coat round me and we powered back to Šipan in few minutes. To top it all, when he asked me to throw out the fender, the rope wasn't attached to the boat. Well done Skipper. Least I remembered to hang on to the end.


I reminded him that there was wine in my fridge. He brightened a bit. The problem he has is pretty much the same the world over. Responsibilities, stress, exhaustion, and needing to work in a dangerous and low paid, uncertain industry, when other people are out having fun AND then expect a free taxi service. This is enough to make any person slightly snappy. Helpfully pointing out that classical music wasn't his bag, 'jebeš klassikal music!', I topped up his glass solicitously. I pondered when the next concert on Koločep was. Apparently as 'his most troublesome guest' I'm definitely swimming back from there. Jebem ti majku!

Friday, 26 August 2016

The Coral Kosjenka

Sea stripes
Turquoise slices
 Pebbly froth
Flinty golds
Rhythmic diamonds
Across the bay

Unusually the stifling atmosphere of the scholarly London university library was dragging heavily on my torso making it hard to breathe. A gap in the persistent rain outside had sent shafts of weak sunlight through the windows, lighting up the dust drifting like protozoa through the heavy air. The reef of textbooks on antique corals with their many pearls of wisdom were for once failing to inspire me, and instead, were hemming in my imagination. It was like diving through murky harbour water; every sense was unnaturally and dangerously stifled. I was suffocating.

To "B" or not to to "B"

I have spent years "perfecting" who I am. I have spent countless days wondering what "me" is suitable for this life.

School years were virtually non-existent, a troublesome childhood led to me not giving a damn about myself or my future. But 11 years later, a stable relationship and a wonderful child, meant I was able to re-look at myself and stop pretending.  Stop looking for other peoples praises and start looking at my own.

So I went back to college! I didn't know what I was going back for...all I knew was that I wanted to prove myself right. "I got an "A" in English, dad." I heard myself say!

It was lies...

My body was desperate for him to be proud, desperate to look at me with admiration, but instead I felt hollow. I felt a certain disgust wash over me, oh! I heard the praise from my father. But knew inside it was for someone else. I was liar.

I actually was given a "D". D dirty liar.

I carried that for years. Until I decided I was going to prove to myself I could do it. My potential was greater than I gave myself credit for. So at 28, I went back to college. I studied GCSE English...

Determined to undo a lie I had kept for years.

I worked hard; all my controlled assessments achieved an "A". My speaking and listening netted 10/10, even for punctuation! After endless hours scrutinizing practice papers and tiring myself thin... They also netted "A's". So that was it exam day and I tried hard I tried so hard to answer each question, check all mistakes, but one can only do so much.

My results were all down to one person and their pen; their check list, their grade requirements. Well that was it.


Today I got my results! Predicted an "A".

As I  opened the envelope I stared. I didn't see the grade...

"B" you got a "B" my husband said, "that's not bad."

"Bad" that's all I heard.

It wasn't my "A."


I can't say I wasn't disappointed, but I was. I had set myself up to being a "A" student but as my lovely sister in-law reminded me..."A B? Who cares, the examiners have checklists, you have imagination and flair; so write..."

So I did! Here's to being: Beautiful, Brilliant, Ballsy and Bountiful in life! I achieved a "B" and that's Brilliant!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

A reminder of London

I should start calling these musings Ship Sagas. Or Ferry Refreshers. Or even better, Postira Postings. I'm here again, on the move, to meet my Split friend who has contrarily decided to pay me a flying visit. My other guests had a wonderful time and were dismayed that they had to leave after such a short of time. They've promised to come back! 

If there is one thing I enjoy, it's making excellent food for appreciative people, and watching them having a good time. No matter how busy or tired I was in London, entertaining was always the best. Their arrival was mildly stressful for my refrigerated goodies, because the early morning Split bus they caught had gone off on a sightseeing frolick. So we arrived in Sudurad hot, fretful, hungry and, in my butter's case, a bit greasy round the edges. 

Jenny was longing to throw herself into the sea, but we firstly and necessarily  enjoyed various salads, cured meats and fresh cheeses, and local red wine that had magically appeared during the course of the morning. Life in the shape of calories returned, and peace finally started to descend on this busy duo. We caught up on what had been going on in the art, legal, and business life of London whilst the water twinkled invitingly. 

It was curious to have a London experience on the Island with 'people from London'. I know the other contrary one was here recently but for me she has different London associations; crazy nights out, tea and toast in the morning, but ultimately a calming influence. Everything a best mate should be. However these two had been running around Split and Omiš for two weeks catching up with extended family, and planning their Croatian wedding, whilst he sporadically dealt with work issues. So they hadn't actually had time to catch a breath. Few opportunities to absorb the softer Dalmatian air into their lungs to replace the Ritalin infused London stuff.

I felt their anxiety, hurry, speed, everything. They were moving out of step with people on the island, like a badly placed overhead projector slide, or watching a 3D film without glasses. Let me stress that this isn't a bad thing, quite the reverse! It is inspirational. It was like they were emanating ripples of energy and I could see the sparks. One of the main reasons I enjoy my job as a researcher/law librarian is the information tussles with insanely bright people who are utterly obsessed with detail. And I had a faint pang of longing for that intellectual challenge. 

It's times like this which makes me realise how far I've come, and the massive step I took giving up my amazing job to live in this foreign environment. This must have been why people said I was being brave! I'm continuously asked whether I'm bored here, or how I could have left my home city, and so many doubts have been cast on my ability to cope in an island winter.  Naturally that just makes me determined to try. But just the challenge of settling here must be taking up reserves of energy. I must not take for granted the change in environment and how enormous the cultural gap is. 

No I'm not bored. Unsettled, a little insecure, thoughtful, more quiet than before maybe. But as I explained to someone, an engine stuck in the highest gear is going to burn out eventually. A change of road intensity, a couple of corners, a few diversions is much better for the engine. And that is how I feel my brain is at the moment. Temporarily off-roading! 

Of work and study

Where was I? Ah yes, wondering about what it was like to be a 5-year-old and waving cheerio to friends and family. I've recently had the pleasure of greeting another friend and we enjoyed a few quiet and lovely days together in the sunshine. Maria, as you might recall, is the intrepid soul who helped make the Vis hiking/camping weekend possible. All those months ago... And now I'm sat on the ferry looking forward to more friends and festivities. 

It's been a surprisingly interesting month job and study-wise. I met up with Emma, a friend from the University of Split about 8 weeks - or two full moons - ago and she mentioned a site called Upwork. The point being you load up your credentials, you find and get jobs, and you get paid. Without even catching a sniff of the London Underground. This sounds like a perfect medium term solution because I'm really not ready to come home yet and would prefer to eke out my savings a little more. As a result I've got something interesting starting next week and there may be another thing coming along. 

In terms of study I've been having fun with a modern phenomenon known as MOOCs. This experience requires an article by itself but the education establishment offering the two courses I'm doing is well organised and impressive. I'm doing Writing for the Web to brush up my technical vocabulary to impress would-be employers, and Teaching Adult Learners because I'm thinking about the TEFL course. Learning and assessment takes place online and there are discussion groups for both. All this is free which makes it all the more impressive. In any case, it's a way of filling in the gaps, revising and revisiting useful knowledge. If you have a spare few hours a week and a learning addiction, go have a look at the list of MOOC courses. 

It's strangely familiar to be thinking about jobs and courses. Especially when I cast my mind back to June and the exam blues! Having seen all the excited tweets about university courses all I want to do is get back into a classroom and start reading again. And it's not even the end of August yet. It's not even as if the learning came to an end with summer: I had a crash course in olive husbandry yesterday. My landlord mentioned this week that he wanted to check up on the olive groves but had been unable to due to fishing nets requiring attention. Oh and some new winching machine for the small boat...yes I'm paying attention! So after a medicinal white wine spritzer - he had a headache - off we zoomed to the olive groves. 

If you thought the weather had been bad in London, apparently the relentless dry sunshine here has been hell on many of the olives. The fruit is shrivelled, and falling black and dead off the branches. Where the soil is thicker in the newly reclaimed ancient Field (Poljie) terraces, they are better but clearly struggling. I'm told that the olive tree never dies but obviously it's harder to flourish when they are neglected. The undergrowth becomes overgrowth and needs hacking away. That is the job in winter and there is a lot here to be reclaimed. The three different types of olive tree are reacting to the harsh environment in different ways but whichever way you look at it, the harvest isn't going to be a good one. Let the rains come soon! 

My agricultural education continued with the revelation of carob beans. Their caramel-date flavour and scent, with a chewy sticky texture is incredible. Having always thought of them as the vegan's chocolate, I've normally been a bit dismissive. However inspired by these trees, this week's Clare special was a decidedly non-vegan carob honey banana pistachio cake. With butter and eggs. Other marvellous fruity wins include knowing the location of the best trees for juicy green figs and walnuts. 

Despite my best endeavours, some things will always be beyond me. As I was making a thorough mess of the sheet folding, and feeding them into the ironing machine, I could sense the fisherman's blood becoming as heated as one of his olive terraces. He consigned the infernal machine to lose itself in unspeakable places. This was woman's work apparently, so we had a lively exchange on why women will never haul nets, and why 'business women' like me will never iron sheets. It's a wonder I didn't fling the cake at him. 

Bit harsh: if you're smart you'll always buy fitted sheets and non iron duvet covers. Simples - no MOOC needed to know that. 

Friday, 12 August 2016

Me, Myself and Mind.

At the window am I, forever I am.
I stand in the ray of the sun, it strokes my face, brightening my glow.
The sun is deceitful, deceitful you know, for I am forever in the cast of a shadow.
Step in the light to be reawakened, but the mind holds back, forever in purgatory.
Always in the light, forever in the shadows.

My face it smiles, my heart it breaks, my body disassembles as my mind aches.
Peace as it were, forever I desire.
Torture it stays, as the world transpires.
Begone you darkness away from my eyes.

For I want the night to forever shine, in an endless gold light.

Friday, 5 August 2016

A Tyrant Spell Has Bound Me

Whilst away in Croatia, there was a piece of writing I shared with Vicky and Clare. It was a piece I had to do as a controlled assessment for college. I thought it was captivating enough to share; it did also nab me an A. Here's to the Friday Blog Challenge! 

We had to pick a line from a poem and write our own prose based upon it. I chose "Spellbound" by Emily Bronte.

My Dearest Evangeline

I sit here pondering, your beautiful face resonates in my mind, as I feel the ice cold trail of an apparent cure feeding my blood. Oh, how I will miss the mornings of our Marigold friend; billowing into the room, as if he owns it. The joyous laughs spilling from yourself, jumping on my bed, eager for me to wake and get the day started.

I sit here, cold. Our glorious morning sun has faded. He has decided once more, to don his hat and say farewell to the skies, for now.

I find it hard writing, I find it tiring, I find it unimaginably difficult.

How am I supposed to say goodbye, when my body yearns to say, hello.

I remember the day they told me. Do you?

How ironically hilarious, that I should find out about my friend, Steve; who seems to have taken up residence in a "very smart mind" your words echo.

We were swimming and I suddenly collapsed! You were so worried, you clutched my favourite bear that night and snuggled beside me to sleep in those very cold, cast iron hospital beds. You watched over me like my guardian angel. My angel Evangeline.

After those pesky tests and surgery, we managed to say goodbye to Steve. However, they found his brother Dave and his other siblings. "Malignant tumour colonies" they called them. My brain all of a sudden felt very occupied. The most activity it's seen in a while. I just wished they had asked my permission first.

After that disastrous bout of radiotherapy, 6 weeks it took up. 6 weeks of yuck! I loved your happiness though. So determined to see me happy, so determined to keep me smiling. Even if it was prancing around in a tutu, wearing a tiara, shouting "I'm a lady", as we both tried on my first wig.

They phoned to let us know, the bearers of good news; HA. Some of Dave and his friends had spread and I had now more new metastases. Wow, loved that bit of news.

I've always wondered. Why do they wear those coats of pure white? Do you think it could be, that they wear them to feel clean and pure when delivering such "good news" to people?

I digress. The reason for this letter is to say goodbye. To inform you as to why I have chosen the action that I am currently taking.

I remember you pleading with me to continue with the therapies. I know you can't bear the thought of losing me, but I cannot bear the thought of losing you also, but I am spellbound. I am in and out of cold hospitals, in and out of cold, cold, cold places. I just want to feel warm again. I am so tired of moving from pillar to post for the hope that my "friends"; might take up residency elsewhere.

But, the cold hard fact is, they won't.

I am not doing this to be difficult, but I am doing this to take back control, to take back my body; what is left of it.

I have lived a good life, and I have you to thank for that. Let me join our friend Marigold, the sun.

Let me join the rest of our family, let me join Dad.

I know you say I am too young, but I say I have lived life.

Don't cry at the morning sun for me and weep sorrow.

Look at the sun, and every time it shines, remember that's me saying, Hi.

And when it isn't out, remember that's me being a stubborn child, as you like to say.

I love you with all my heart, I won't say goodbye Mummy.

Just Goodnight.

Forever yours, always.


Thursday, 4 August 2016

Of Bakes and Cakes

For the past two weeks I've had visitors and it's been marvellous fun. For the most part their holiday involved exploring my island home by foot, bike and canoe, with the odd emergency use of the tiny bus, as well as relaxing on the beach and messing around in the sea. My brother had built himself a fishing rod, Roo had a million questions, and the Contrary Ladies Trio had plenty of conversation about life, love and poetry. Inevitably there was a lot of wine, rum and beer at various stages of the visit...not to mention a bit of dancing. They also seemed to appreciate the sunny weather after the summer back in the UK. I hear it's quite bad.

Domino's? No
As regular readers will know, the contrary team and various associates can sleep, dream, and conjecture about food for hours. Kim and I trod-water for about an hour just talking cake - my perfect idea of aqua-aerobics. And we had an officially qualified chef to bamboozle with recipe jiggling and fridge specials. My brother is a massive foodie and enjoyed working with the many wonderful ingredients available but there were times when he just wanted to nap, so left me in charge. He did teach me some cheffy things like what a  beurre rouge was, and the posh term for cubes of tomato.

No I can't remember what it was. And in return he made me promise to write the recipe for the Dalmatian inspired meat and polenta bake which he had four helpings of. So here goes:

Clare's Dalmatian Bake (serves 4 - 6)

First check the fridge for random items of interest and make adjustments. Sniff the open bottle of chilled red wine and taste a glassful just to make sure it's ok. Take half a large onion and chop finely. Fry off in local olive oil with plenty of garlic and some cubes of smoked cooking prsut. Add 500g of pork/beef mixed mince and brown off thoroughly. Add a glug of the wine, plenty of pepper, a bay leaf or 3 (if you have any left over from the experimental burning bay leaves to see what happens trick) plenty of Dalmatian mixed herbs, and a tin of chopped tomatoes,a rinse of the tin with water, a squeeze of tomato puree and a beef stock cube. Mix thoroughly and let it bubble until it is thick, tasty and making everyone's mouth water.

In the meantime, take the 8 pale green peppers that you were actually going to stuff with the mince mixture. Realise one of them is dodgy, 2 are too small, and the other one went in a salad so decide to chargrill them instead. Heat the grill. Deseed, rinse and dry, and cut into quarters. Place on a tray skin-side up and drizzle with olive oil and place under the heat. Shut the oven door and proceed to forget about them until smoke is pouring out. Turn them over. Once they are fairly black but deliciously soft, leave to cool slightly and gently peel off the crispy skin.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Polenta is still a bit of an alchemical process - I blame the wine, bay leaves and golden colour. I googled it wanting the ultimate recipe and found a hysterically precious blog on the perfect polenta. Apparently forget everything you ever believed about it being a quick dish and start making it the night before.


I poured about 250g of sunny loveliness into a pan, added an amount of cold water and milk, with a sprig of rosemary, salt, and more bay leaves. Stir and abandon til it starts to get warm and demanding. Stir more. Boil the kettle and add more hot water as and when it looks a bit firm. Eventually - about 35 mins -  it is a smooth, thick paste. Taste, add more seasoning, a load of grated cheese and some crème fraiche and Dijon mustard. Stir and it should be the consistency of a good soft mash. Remove rosemary and bay if you remember.

Then panic that your glass dish is too large and ask the opinion of the chef. His sceptical face says it all. Panic some more and have a glass of wine.

Pour the meat into the tray and spread out - it was about 2 inches deep in the end. Spread out the peppers across the meat. Top with the polenta mix and spread out evenly. Top with more cheese, breadcrumbs, paprika and pop in in the oven until the polenta is soufflé-like and ragu underneath bubbly. If you can wrest some basil from the naughty cricket, tear some leaves over it as you bring to the table; serve with a salad you forgot to make, what's left of the red wine.

It's pretty good.

The other recipe I tried today was very successful. My cake making is definitely improving but only because I'm not limiting myself to the usual butter, sugar, flour and eggs with which my gran used to miraculously conjure into fluffy sponges. Mine are always disastrously greasy and crunchy .

Mediterranean Upside Down Fruit Cake

Whisk - and I mean really whisk - together 3 eggs and 100g of sugar until they are foamy and creamy. Use a machine if you have to, or just enjoy the hard work. Once you are sure, keep beating and start adding 70ml olive oil as if you were making mayo, one dribble at a time so it turns glossy, whilst remaining aerated. The recipe I adapted suggests using a light olive oil but I prefer the rich fruity flavour of the extra virgin single press local stuff. I want my sponge impolite and gutsy. Add 90g of flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, and a good pinch of ground sea salt. Fold in until smooth. In future, I would also add a dash of almond essence to this.

Slice a ripe peach and arrange on the base of your oiled baking dish. Sprinkle over a sachet of vanilla sugar. Again, I would add flaked toasted almonds for extra crunch. Pour over the batter and place in the pre heated to 160 degree oven. Bake for about 50mins - a skewer will come out clean. Turn out so the peaches decorate the top. The texture is incredibly light, moist yet robust.

Who's coming here next?!

Chunky Dunking vs Skinny Dipping

So, having lived a young life of being a "super modelesque" type build, putting on weight was a hardship I never thought would effect me so much. From silly contraception to amazing food, my body disappeared from its Marilyn Monroe figure to a more Nigella curvaceous beauty.

I started to become slightly unhappy. Instead of doing something physical and diet wise about it, I found myself looking at yet another devilishly delectable dish to feast my eyes and feelings on! Oh, yeah then I became pregnant! That was an invitation to eat what you want right?

Oops apparently not! So a size 16 and I have now a babe in arms!

I know a size 16, that's not so bad right? But when you have spent your life with lavish compliments and desire, to now almost disappearing out of sight from the roving eyes of anyone, and the compliments of "oh my god your body" with the undertones of desirous torment, now to the "oh my god your body" with bitter tone of disgust.

I became a shell, I hid behind leggings and baggy tops, I ignored my appearance in the windows, in mirrors and even shadows. I ignored the further weight gain! My weight ballooned, now a size 22 I stopped swimming... I love swimming. Diving was my thing; I would elegantly run, touch the side and disappear into an abyss of heaven beneath the surface. Now if I dived, it felt like a watering hole for an elephant, who could no longer dive from fear of the water disappearing and leaving the hole of a pool behind.

It wasn't until my sister in-law came to see me having started a diet and a regime of exercise with a
fellow friend, did I see an amazing difference in her confidence, appearance and general well being she oozed goddess qualities, those that I missed and suddenly had a craving for!

I soon began a slow process of bringing exercise back into my life, I avoided swimming: A. I was huge and again watering hole didn't seem appealing, B. I was terrified and C. I had began to accept that this weight was only going to disappear if I helped it.

So a little regime of weigh-in each week with an aqua fit class and Pilates, soon turned into to an addiction of boxing, 20-20-20 (20 minutes aerobics, 20 minutes strength and 20 minutes cardio) twice a week as well as a swim, yes, a swim.

In 10 months I had lost 3 stone! 8lb off the weight of my five year old.

I had slowly gone from a size 22 to a size 14. My mission isn't complete yet, but it sure as hell feels great to be able to stop in a window and admire myself, hear my inner self desire me! So when a holiday was booked to see my sister in-law in Croatia, I reluctantly went bikini shopping! I found out I had also dropped three breast cups; my Goodness Gracious girls had now become, Fabulous!

The moment of truth came when "we" (my girls and me) made our first debut as what can only be described as heavens door, a greenish blue hue of transparent heaven. The sky shone below as the water shined above, an almost upside down world in this Adriatic sea.

The other women here were immaculately presented for the roving eyes of men; and young boys, as we were to find out, after my 5 year old had his first look at nudist bathing! I felt awful!! But persevered I did! And two weeks of bathing and diving, I had a risen as my own version of a bronzed goddess, my own desirable. The last night there and of course my little one suggested "lets all get in naked!" So we did. All that remained on my body was my knickers! My "ladies" bobbed ceremoniously together, free from restriction!

I was "skinny dipping". The natural beauty of being in this heaven like pool, to lie back and feel the stars wash over you in the darkness touched me. I was becoming me, again. I had lost myself but, with my own perseverance I was finding me, as always!