The Price of Blaeberries

One of my fellow Little Trekkers Ambassadors posted a drool-worthy photo of ripe blaeberries (bilberries) yesterday, and noted that they were particularly abundant this year. So although the forecast was for murky drizzle and rain, we decided to brave the mental driving* over the Cairn o’ Mount road and go back to an old haunt at the foot of Clachnaben, in Glen Dye, to go foraging.

*’Mental driving’: expect to encounter slow-moving cyclists round every corner, and oncoming speeding 4×4’s overtaking them on blind bends. I’ve yet to drive this road without swearing loudly at oncoming traffic.

I think the whole of Aberdeenshire had the same idea: the wee car park was full, the overspill layby was full, cars were parked along the side of the narrow road and in the slowly-dripping-downhill bog opposite. One white car blocking a forestry path nearby had already been written on with blue marker pen. So we kept driving on to try out Scolty Hill near Banchory. Well, we quickly abandoned that, too, because we were 5p short of the £1 minimum parking charge. The Boss agreed to see whether he could ask another motorist at the ticket machine for the missing 5p, but came back muttering darkly that we were to give up and go home.

Ever the optimist, and determined not to have a long drive in vain (it was now 1pm), I stopped again at the Glen Dye car park. And found a space! Within a minute, we were out, covered in waterproofs and off down that forest path.

blaeberriesThe best blaeberries are only about 100 – 200 yards from the car park, so we didn’t have far to go at all. As usual, we reminded the kids not to strip a bush bare, not to be too greedy (one Treasure Jar = 500g of fruit (ish) = plenty), and not to trample the ground. And oh my stars, they certainly are / were abundant! There were very, very few under-ripe ones, so I should think they’ll be gone by the end of the week.

tick baitAfter about 3 minutes of picking, the midges found us. I giggled through a long-winded explanation of what ‘Character Building’ meant to the minxes and how midges crawling over them would do just that. They didn’t appreciate it, and went from being irritated to angry to howling with rage within another 5 minutes. Midi started to get a bit distressed at the midges, so I looked up. It was quite a swarm around us! So we split up and headed in 5 different directions to try to lessen the swarm. Nah – they just called all their friends to come feast on the foragers. midge foodAnother 5 minutes later and The Boss called a halt to the foraging – his sensitive skin comes up in big weals with midge-bites and the poor man was beginning to look like Lizard. We ran away bravely to the car, where I keep a first aid kit containing a packet of loratadine antihistamine tablets. Luckily I’d got the one you can give to children over 30kg – poor Midi Minx obviously inherited her Daddy’s skin, whilst the other pair are a bit more midge-resistant like me.

jelly contentWhen we got home, we immediately displayed our fundamental priorities: I started weighing and washing the blaeberries to make jelly, Maxi turned on the Tour de France on the TV, her sisters got out their My Little Ponies, and The Boss checked his bare legs for ticks. He found 3 immediately. Screeeeeeech to a halt! The minxes were told to drop everything, strip off their lower clothing and line up on the white bedspread for a tick check. Midi found 2 crawling on the sheet, Mini had been bitten by 2 and had another on her. Bleurgh! I’m not overly concerned about the risks of Lyme disease (I caught it myself in 2005) because they were off so quickly, but I’ll obviously keep a wee eye out for bulls-eye rashes on her or flu-like symptoms over the next 3 weeks.

I think you can see by the photo of Mini way up there ^^ that those bare ankles were enough to attract them. Even though we weren’t near bracken, it’s obviously tick-heaven in Glen Dye right now. We’ll go back in a day or 2 for more berries, but next time will remember to tuck long trousers/leggings INTO socks, do buddy-buddy tick checks after being out, and I’ll buy another of my favourite tick hooks at the vet’s – I gave the one I keep in my purse to my mother-in-law and forgot to replace it because The Boss has one too. You can’t have too many O Tom tick twister hooks, in my view!

I’ll let you know how the jelly turns out. How would you use a glut of blaeberries yourself?

Today’s the Day!

I’m bashing this out on my phone, so I’m sorry if it’s not got pretty links and photos (see my GrumpyOldTrout Facebook feed for those!) I just wanted to remind you that the MuTu System programme’s annual big discount of a whopping 45% is TODAY only!

See my last post for full details, or go straight via this link. You don’t need a code, the discount is automatic https://pz138.isrefer.com/go/homepage/GrumpyOldTrout

Stronger, Fitter, Leaner

Morning! I’ve been AWOL for a few weeks (12…) because the time I used to carve aside every day to write blogposts has been filled with something else – exercise and looking after myself. Was it time well spent? Well, check out the before and after pics and judge for yourself.


After 12 weeks of mild exercise, daily walks, drinking lots more water every day (ok, most days), a little relaxation, and I genuinely feel like a new woman. With a body and brain that function. Even though I kept up my cake habit (hey, one quick squizz at my Instagram feed proves that continued vice beyond doubt!).

So where’s the hard evidence of any change? Where are the numbers? Well, I lost 1% body fat. (Do I really have to admit how bad it was? Ouch – OK. I was 35% fat, according to my scales. That’s unhealthy levels of fat. Still is). I lost a couple of pounds (so now just under 11 st), and 2″ off my waist (now 34″ and fitting my jeans better). That’s all well and good. Plenty of the ladies who I connected with online in a self-help group lost way loads more, and as I say, I do have a cake and wine o’clock habit. But it’s the teeny unseen things that are making the biggest difference to me: under my cushy outer layer my abdominal muscles are now so strong I can actually start our draw-cord lawn-mower easily by myself, for the first time in 9 years (!! I did say the teeny things…) Now I’m able to lift the 3 minxes back into bed without straining or leaking. I can dig out raised beds without hurting myself, and shift huge tubs of the resulting very heavy garden waste into the car-boot and down to the dump myself. I can FUNCTION! Properly. I’m now as strong as I was when I was 30 and at my fittest. Oh, and I’ve developed little shoulder muscles and hamstrings that you can actually see. But no way am I posting naked pics of this carcass on the internet! Just take my word for it. The Boss certainly noticed.

Why am I honking on about this? Normally I just talk about the programme I followed to my friends who’ve noticed my newly-flatter tummy and asked. But on 6 July (this week – in 5 days!) there’s going to be a humongous 45% discount on the cost of the programme I follow. It’s the only discount you can get on it, on one day every year, so if you were ever thinking about buying it, then that’s the day to do it. Not today, or on 5th July, or 7th July. No need for codes or anything – it’s an automatic discount on digital and physical copies of the programme.

It’s called MuTu System (‘MuTu’ as in Mummy Tummy, because it’s targeted at women whose bodies didn’t spring back after childbirth, like they do in myths). Over 12 weeks of daily, gentle exercise and advice, it gets your core muscles back together and functioning. I had a 2 finger diastasis* from 6″ above my navel to my pubic bone. It’s now totally gone and the ‘tummy porridge‘ I felt when I poked into that diastasis* is now healed – there’s resistance. Finally! 10 years after the minx who caused it was born. I loved that the programme isn’t specific solely to your core muscles: it gets your whole body all working together (because funny old thing, we are complete bodies, not just disembodied abs, or glutes). There’s no diet to follow, though there’s plenty, credible, good healthy eating advice. You don’t need special equipment – I’m tight-fisted skint thrifty, so I got by using a little cushion, 2 cartons of 1-litre UHT milk as weights, a pair of tights and the edge of the sofa. Though I *did* upgrade to sand-filled bubble mix bottles and some therabands a couple of weeks ago…

*PS here’s advice and a video on how to check whether you have a diastasis recti and how big it is.

Why am I linking to a programme for sale? What’s in it for me? Well, I was so deeply impressed with the visible and invisible changes in me (so’s The Boss 😀 ), and how much better my life got (melodramatic? Actually, no. Being able to just trundle along being as active as I want without thinking about it is a really big deal) that I asked whether I could be an affiliate. So that means that I get no money at all for advertising it (no need! I’m happy to rave about something like this), but if you do end up buying it, and you do so through one of the links above, then I get a little payment. But I won’t hold it against you if you don’t – I’ll just be delighted for you, regardless.

I really ought to tell you all the benefits of the programme, but do you know what? You’re better clicking through and reading it yourself and seeing what you think. Here are some testimonials from ladies who aren’t slackers like me, and some FAQs.

Will I be keeping this up? Oh yes! You automatically have lifetime access. Which is pretty good, because I bought it 5 or 6 years ago, did 3 weeks, stopped, forgot, remembered, did 3 weeks, stopped, etc. etc. until February this year when I was so horrified at my weak core that I actually committed to taking time to look after myself better. I’ll be doing the core exercises permanently. And when I look at the 2″ lost around my waist and feel my increased vitality and strength, I wonder what I’d look like now had I given up the cake habit! D’you know, I might just do that… I’ll also check in with my continued progress in another 12 weeks – I followed the 12 week MuTu System programme; if you just wish to tone up and don’t need to lose any weight, then have a look into the 8 week MuTu Focus (it’s exactly like the 12 week programme but without the additional get-sweaty Intensive exercises).