Bobby's PDSA Weight Loss Journey

Sunday, 19 August 2012

This week Bobby comes to the end of her PDSA fit club regime and looking back it's easy to see how far she's come along.

Copyright PDSA
Earlier this year Bobby lived in an indoor cage with guinea pig friend, Huey, and had visibly piled on the pounds in her four years of age.  I was concerned greatly about her fitness, or rather her lack of being able to move as a rabbit normally should, and her weight related problems were affecting her in her daily activities.  Grooming was made difficult because of her enlarged dew lap and when she would attempt to run she would drag her feet erratically.

Copyright PDSA

When Bobby was selected for Pet Fit Club I was over the moon and I was shortly going to be surprised at the news that Bobby was actually a mini lop and not the larger dwarf variety as I'd previously thought.  Her 2.4kg weight was too much for a mini, and we were told that Bobby would need to get down to her recommended target weight in the region of 1.6kg.

The plan included the provision of diet food by Burgess who sent us several bags of Excel Light nuggets to get Bobby's weight loss under way.  The change over from regular nuggets to the diet nuggets made a huge difference and the fact she was now only eating her own smaller sized portion, the overeating issue was eradicated.  We took the steps to finally split Bobby and Huey up and moved Bobby into a large penned area allowing Huey to live in peace in the cage on his own with guinea pig neighbours.  Bobby's pen was a marked difference in size.  Before, the most Bobby could attempt was to hop on and off her bedroom and over to the bowls.  Now, she had ample space to hop several times, even run laps around toys and accessories.

When Bobby moved onto the floor in her pen she gained a bunny neighbour; rival Lucy, the lionhead lop who lived free range of the floor.  Both girls, they'd previously clashed less than two years earlier.  Lucy would chase Bobby and attack her, leaving Bobby petrified and afraid.  At first Bobby was dubious with seeing Lucy so often and within such close proximity of her new home, but they grew to acknowledge each other, eventually sitting close to one another on either side of the pen.

Over the weekend I decided to move things up a notch and brought Bobby and Lucy downstairs into the living room and sat them side by side on the sofa.  No grunting.  No attacking.  Just amicable sitting and cosying up.  Things were looking good!

As it stands, they're play time buddies, having spent already 11 hours together on the floor just today.  When they're not cuddled up close, nuzzling and grooming each other they're tearing around the room, binkying high into the air.  I'd never seen Bobby binky in my life so it was endearing to watch her so happy and content.  Last night we did try to move them in together which didn't go quite as successfully (I'm thinking territory is the issue) but we'll work on it and in time I know they'll be permanent floor mates.

At the last count, Bobby weighed 1.8kg, so very close to her 1.6kg target.  Later this week we'll find out what Bobby officially reached for the record.  Fingers crossed!

Becky x

Elderflower Cordial update...

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

To follow up on my cordial making over the weekend, on Monday Sean and I finished off the process and have already been enjoying the summery drink - the only summery thing we have right now in the midst of this wet July.

The infusion of elderflower and orange slices along with the syrup were kept for two whole days covered with clingfilm and in the fridge.  So when it was time to take it out, the next job was to remove the fruit and sodden elderflowers (the big bits by spoon) by draining through a large piece of muslin.

Once all the liquid was strained and no bits were remaining, all that was left to do was bottle it up.  The glass bottles we'd stored up were washed and then placed in a hot oven for 30 minutes to sterilise them. Hot bottles at the ready, our cordial was poured by jug, filling each bottle to the rim.

Three of the four bottles

From the recipe which we followed and doubled in quantity of elderflowers and sugar, we decided not to include six pints of water but four with the intention of making the cordial more concentrated.  We came out with four bottles and a little left over to make about five or six drinks, so if we'd made up the full water content, we'd have had a few more bottles out of it.  I think four bottles is still very much worth the effort though.

Me with my first taste!

The end result is a really tasty drink!  We hadn't included any slices of fresh lemon to our recipe so I was curious as to how it would turn out with mainly the oranges providing the fruit flavour.  Although we did add two spoons of lemon juice, I think the taste is gorgeous and not as orangey as I'd expected.  The elderflower really comes through and is very moreish.  I'm chuffed with how it turned out and even though we won't be able to make any more this year (the flowers are now dying off outside not helped by all the rain) we'll definitely do it all again next summer.

Tip: Don't waste any the discarded orange (or lemon) slices.  Instead, keep them and add to your drink, because the fruit is saturated in the cordial syrup.  The rest of the slices are frozen to add whenever I fancy a slice!

Becky x

Foraging for Elderflower Cordial

Saturday, 7 July 2012

I've been a little naughty and not posted here in a while as I've been writing loads on Becky's Boudoir.  But, I do have plenty things to share with you, including today's activity: foraging for elderflowers and making elderflower cordial.  Yum!

Living out in the countryside you visibly see the changes in the seasons and weather and get to learn when natural foods are in their prime for picking.  Early summer is the flower of the Elder tree's time to shine.  If you make a point of looking for it, you'll notice elderflowers in their bunches of creamy white glory along hedgerows everywhere, even in towns.  What you want to make sure is to pick the flowers away from roadsides to avoid polluted flowers and go for the whiter, younger flowers over the creamy yellow older flowers.  Dry days are also, apparently, best for picking.  Today we were lucky to have a good bright sunny day without any rain for once so me and Sean took the opportunity to reap our harvest.

The sun was hot out yet there was a refreshing breeze blowing on our backs which made our foraging all the more enjoyable.  What was not enjoyable though were the muddy fields where the torrential rain had seeped down to the bottom of the fields and congealed in thick stodgy mud swamps.  I would usually have worn my walking boots but on this occasion (of course!) I went with my trainers.  The mud took a liking to them and sucked my trainer right into the mud leaving me socked foot free, which then in my attempt to gain my balance plunged right back into the mud.  Yuk!  It wasn't pleasant and I was later wishing Sean had recorded me so I could at least send it into You've Been Framed.  When I ended up total foot submerged in the preceding giant puddle ponds, I decided the foraging was complete and I couldn't wait to get home and shower!

Me all muddied up

A bowl of elderflowers

After a good wash and refuel I set onto preparing the cordial.  We had managed to gather two carrier bags of flowers so I trimmed the bunches down and removed any lurking bugs.  (There was a spindly spider tinkering around amongst them which Sean promptly evicted for me!)  Flowers all checked and trimmed went into a standby bowl while the sugar and water was boiled up to create a syrup.

The sugar and water syrup

Boiling the elderflowers

With the syrup boiled we added the elderflowers and brought the pan to a boil again.  I then added orange slices, lemon juice and citric acid.  The mixture was stirred up and simmered then left to cool in the pan, covered over.  When it's cooled, the infusing mixture will go into the fridge for 24-48 hours, stirred occasionally.  My plan then is to drain and separate the liquid which will then be poured into glass bottles.

Simmering fruity flowers

A word of warning about citric acid:  it's a nightmare to find in the shops.  After much investigation, we eventually found a specialist homemaking beer and wine shop who sold us a tub (500g for £3.99).  You will have to ask for citric acid over the counter as drug concoctioners use it.

I don't have a clue how the cordial will turn out as this is my first foray into cordial making.  I did make this with oranges and only lemon juice so it may be different, but I'm hoping it'll be tasty and fragrant and even a little as nice as the commercially made elderflower cordial.  It's a gorgeous infusion to drink diluted with still or sparkling water.  I'll have to let you know how it tastes!

Do you have any fail safe recipes you make up each year?  Any tips?

Becky x

Bobby's New Apartment!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Last weekend we set about transforming Bobby's living arrangements.  She'd been living in an indoor cage in the room with the other cages but despite it's large size, it just wasn't big enough for a rabbit to be living in.  (Remember - a hutch is not enough.)

We got a puppy pen and created a long area for which Bobby could live in instead of the cage.  I lined the pen with cardboard and covered it with fleece blankets.  The wooden bedroom went into it, along with the bowls, some toys and a pigloo for piggy Huey to escape to.

Lucy, our other rabbit who spends her time with the cage opened to the floor, seemed pleased to have another bunny close by.  In the past Bobby and Lucy didn't get on well and Lucy would pounce on Bobby when given the chance but she seems to have mellowed.  

When we first set the pen up we had a mishap, something that luckily didn't go wrong like it could have!  Lucy had found a way into the pen and one morning we went into the room to find Lucy laying down inside the pen next to the bedroom.  I couldn't get her out quick enough!  But I was surprised by the lack of kerfuffle.  Bobby seemed okay and was definitely unharmed.  It looked as if Lucy just wanted to be near Bobby.

I didn't want Bobby to feel afraid of having her territory violated so we increased the security of the pen by affixing a smaller pen I already had to the top of the pen frame, which stopped Lucy thinking she could get a grip on the pen.  It's working because she no longer attempts to jump in.  What we have noticed though is that they're appreciating each other's company by sitting on corresponding sides so they can sniff and be near each other.

I'm still cautious of having them together without the pen because I don't fully trust their temperaments, especially since, being girls, they aren't spayed.  (Well, when we took in Lucy we were told she had been, but to be honest I don't know how to tell.)

Over this weekend we took the steps of separating Huey from Bobby.  We've known for a long time that rabbits and guinea pigs shouldn't be together but since they've lived in each other's company for over a year, and Bobby has never known company other than a guinea pig, it was a really tough decision to part them.  So, Huey is now in his own cage and getting used to the fact that he no longer has Bobby there.  I feel awful about it, Bobby looks lost and it's a cruel thing to have to do to her for both of their sakes.  Bobby must be dieted properly and can not do it properly having another lot of food in the vicinity.  Huey has been struggling weight wise himself but with him it's weight loss.  We're hoping to build him up again, but there are already concerns with him which has been overseen by our vet. 

We're pleased now that Bobby is at least able to move about more freely when she's not downstairs with us.  She has more space and the company of her own species in the best way for the both of them. It's nice to see both Bobby and Lucy being attentive.

I weighed Bobby yesterday, her weight now stands at 2kg exactly, or 4.2lb which is a step in the right direction.  Hopefully by the time she is weighed properly again by the PDSA team, she'll have lost some more.

Becky x

Bobby's Toys

For those of you who have been following Bobby's placement on the PDSA pet fit club through my Diary of a Cavy Girl blog, you'll know that exercise and free time is generally the real struggle with Bobby.  The vast majority of the time she spends in her cage which, although is a huge size for a commercial cage, is not sufficient enough to allow Bobby to run.  When we'd bring her out of her cage and downstairs she'll generally opt to laze around rather than run laps round the living room.  Since Bobby joined the fit club however we've been bringing her out more often and for longer periods and she's gradually started to engage more with the room space.

Towards the end of last week Bobby received a parcel from the PDSA, it was a present consisting of a rabbit harness and lead, a play dumbell and a chew and roll toy.

Bobby's toy delivery

A year or two ago we bought Bobby a lead ourselves which she wasn't too amused with.  Neither was I, as I struggled to fit the harness properly, and thankfully while we had her in the house, she slipped out of the harness and away!  I was always too apprehensive to try it again, but I'll see what she thinks to this one.

The dumbell is a funny toy that looks like a true exercise tool!  It's deceivingly quite heavy and a robust little thing, but Bobby wasn't interested in playing with it at all.  It didn't even warrant a chin rub she was that blase about it.

Bobby did find the chew and roll toy was an exciting plaything.  Once the sections were fitted together it was a good sized toy.  Bobby was intrigued by it, repeatedly chinned and sniffed it and watched curiously as I'd roll it around.

The chewed Chew and Roll

I wanted to shake up the living arrangement of Bobby's house so ordered a puppy play pen online.  We used to own one which ended up being permanently borrowed and I got sick of waiting for it to return so when I saw they were selling relatively cheap on eBay I thought I'd best buy a new one.

The play pen arrived today and I was keen to get it open and erected in the piggy room (well, piggy and bunny room!)  We spent two hours figuring out which format was best only to give it up for another day in the end.  The problems were getting it to fit with the cage allowing Bobby the choice to come and go from her cage, but it wasn't working out.  Bobby was reluctant to leave the cage despite her toys being out and grumped when she knew Lucy (enemy rabbit) was in close vicinity.  That was the other problem, Lucy just wouldn't stay away from the pen and was determined to find a way in.

We put Bobby back in her cage and closed the door so there was no access into the pen.  Just as well, as not much later on we heard Lucy had found her way into the pen and was mooching around it where Bobby would have been.  I'm over protective of Bobby like this and paranoid that Lucy will get to her and attack her.  It's happened in the past and it frightens Bobby, I just don't want it happening again.

We need to decide what to do with the pen and getting Bobby into it, safely and ideally permanently.

In the meantime, it's Bobby versus the living room as usual.  I caught her eyeing up my exercise bike, threatening to bite the bullet and use it, I'll never know!

Becky x

Bobby Had A Fit Today :-(

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

It hasn't been the best of days; Bobby had a fit today.

It was a bit of a shock.  We had my parents over for the day and following a little Spring jaunt we came back to the house and went to visit the piggies and buns up in their bedroom.  My Mum and Dad loves seeing them so we had some fun with the piggy brothers; Scooby, Stewie and Timmy running about playing together.

Then we noticed Bobby behaving really strangely in her cage.  Her body was almost contorted and she had her head tucked weirdly underneath her; I couldn't figure out what she was doing.  I lifted her out of the cage immediately and knew something was wrong.  Normally she'd have struggled herself free or at least made some sort of verbal in-compliance.  When I held her on my knelt lap I realised she was having some sort of a seizure.  Her feet were moving erratically and her head was skewiff, her nose and mouth looking very wet.  I could only think she'd caught something off us from being outside, perhaps having an allergic reaction.  I felt her dewlap and to me is felt strange, like it was filled with fluid or ballooned, which fueled my worry that she was experiencing a bad reaction to something.  I tried to calm Bobby by gently stroking her and talking to her while my other half, Sean, rang our vet, Stanhope Park Veterinary Hospital in Darlington.  They said to go straight down when he told them what had just happened.

I was so upset even when she stopped fitting because she wasn't herself; she felt hot, especially her ears, and her breathing was rapid.  She kept yawning in her carry box on the way to the vets which is always a sign of Bobby getting stressed.  I just tried to reassure her by stroking her in her box on my lap.

When we got to the vets I was surprised by how full the waiting room was, I don't think I'd ever seen it so busy before which was just typical.  We found somewhere to sit and waited to be called.  I was really concerned that Bobby was in distress and was in total disbelief as we watched other people's appointments being taken.  It appeared Bobby wasn't being treated as an emergency, when in the past at previous vet practices we'd have been called straight into a consultation room right away.  Why on earth routine appointments and pet collections were more important is beyond me.

When we were finally called it was a vet nurse who initially assessed Bobby, for the vet to follow in shortly after.  She couldn't give a reason why Bobby had a fit, adding that we couldn't know whether she may have had seizures before this occasion.  The vet said it can be a sign of diabetes and so took a small sample of blood taken from Bobby's ear.  It showed normal results.  I asked about the strange feeling in the dewlap too but that apparently was normal as well.

We mentioned again that Bobby is in the PDSAs Pet Fit Club and that she's been on a new diet of Excel Light Nuggets.  The vet popped Bobby on the scales (which again read as 2.41kg) and said that Bobby is an extremely fat rabbit, also asking is she's been spayed.  Bobby hasn't been spayed because of the risk of an operation while over weight, which was actually the same vet's recommendation a while ago.  We know Bobby is heavier than she ought to be which is why we're doing all we can to get her more active.  It doesn't help to have your own vet say that getting an overweight rabbit down to size is virtually impossible because 'they're not like wild rabbits'.  If we abide by that attitude we all may as well give up now.

So as it stands we don't know why Bobby had a fit, and it's extremely worrying not knowing.  I've never experienced it before so it's an awful shock to see your pet reacting in such a violent way.  If anyone has a rabbit, or indeed any pet, who has had seizures I would be really keen to hear from you.  I just hope Bobby doesn't have any more of them.

Becky x

Bobby's Fit Club Weigh In

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Bobby's misbehaving today!  Her second weigh in and check up for the PDSA Fit Club was due and, because we couldn't make it to the Middlesbrough hospital, head vet nurse, Steph Williams, came for a visit.

When Bobby had her first weigh in a month ago at her initial check up she was 2.39kg.  Back home we weighed her on our normal bathroom scales and it said she was 2.3kg.  The professional scales that the vets have will be more precisely calibrated but we wanted to know for our own use back home when we'll weigh her regularly to see how she's going.  I weighed her on Friday and we were over the moon that Bobby now weighed 2.1kg, already a small but significant loss from when she began.  Rather confusingly though when Bobby got on the vet scales this afternoon it read that Bobby is now 2.41kg.  Not the direction we want to be going in at all!

Official PDSA photo - but Bobby was 2.39, not 2.38

What the scales said did not measure up to what Steph saw though.  As soon as she came into the room she said Bobby looked slimmer and she saw for herself how active Bobby now is.  We're not quite sure why her weight has gone up when she's clearly moving about a lot more than she used to be capable of and already more mobile.  Vet nurse, Steph, said that she could see that Bobby looked more alert and happier in herself which is something we agree with.

Bobby on the move!

Two main issues I knew needed to be dealt with concerned Bobby's living arrangements and her food.  Bobby, opposed to my own long standing advice, lives with a guinea pig called Huey.  It started back when we had a little guinea pig called Clover who was an ill piggy and I wanted him to have some company who would look after him.  Bobby loved him and when he crossed the rainbow bridge Bobby was really lonely.  It wasn't the right time for us to get another rabbit so when another of our guinea pigs, Beans, fell out with his cage mate he was the perfect friend for Bobby.  Then when Beans died, the same happened when Huey (a similar looking white pig as Beans) fell out with his friend and that's how Huey and Bobby became buddies.  Even though I love seeing the pair together, cuddling up and grooming each other, my gut knows they shouldn't really be together and it makes a very tough problem knowing how to go about doing it.  The fact that there's two bowls of dry food in the cage too means Bobby may be munching on what's really Huey's ration.  I need to figure a way of separating them without them feeling the split.

Bobby spending more time on the floor has meant there's also the issue with her pooping and peeing wherever she pleases, so Steph said she would arrange some information regarding litter training.  When I bring Bobby out of her cage she comes downstairs for free run of the living room, and I put a carry box with water bottle attached out on the carpet with some newspaper and a heap of hay so she has a place of refuge.  Not that she's much interested in the box, as she prefers to lie around on the rug!  Steph suggested a very valid point that perhaps Bobby doesn't go in to the carry box to do her business is because she probably associates it with negativity, such as going in the car to the vet.

So we have quite a way to go!  I will begin by cutting down the dry food even more, which is now Bobby's diet Excel Light Nuggets.  The vet overseeing Bobby's diet plan, Helen Dyson, suggested we do this while Bobby and Huey are together and then to substitute the vitamin C which Huey would normally get from his guinea pig nuggets by supplementing the water with a vitamin C soluble tablet.  (If we split a human Vitamin C tablet of 1000mg into 10 bits, and pop 1/10th into 800ml of water.)  Bobby also has a good supply of Excel Fresh Herbage and Excel Nature Snacks Mountain Meadow Herbs provided by Burgess to keep her munching her way to a better diet.

Bobby meanwhile is being very cheeky and rebellious during her floor time as I speak.  She keeps trying to get behind the tv and then tearing the wallpaper off the walls.  I think she knows what she's up to because she keeps running (yes, running!) over to me and chinning my foot!

I'm sure we'll get there.  Whatever the scales say right now there's no denying Bobby is fitter than when she was at the beginning.

Becky x

Keith Lemon's Lemonaid

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Back in February I applied for a new ITV programme called Lemonaid, presented by Leigh Francis, famed for his award winning Celebrity Juice show.  Anyone who's watched late night Celebrity Juice knows how rude and suggestive Keith Lemon is so I had a good idea what kind of show it would be.

Knowing that Keith Lemon is all about sexual innuendoes, an idea I'd already been planning involving nipple tassels was my instant thought to pitch.  As I'm a model and love wearing tassels I wanted to combine the cheekiness of pin up with my infatuation for Katy Perry; make a funny and rude video paying homage to the California Gurls singer and get her to see the vid.  So that's what I wrote in my application to the production team.

I wasn't surprised when I received a call about my application because I knew it was a cheeky idea that was right up Keith Lemon's street.  It didn't quite pan out that way though.  I was told quite literally that my idea was too rude for the programme!  The show was intended for a prime time family viewing slot and that because of the time schedule it meant all ideas had to be clean.

Keith Lemon do a clean family teatime show?  The potty mouthed comedian of night time sexually driven Celebrity Juice?   I couldn't honestly see the connection and waited with baited breathe for the series to actually come to air.

Lemonaid was aired for the first time on Saturday night at 6:15pm over the Easter weekend and within seconds of the show starting it proved to be the same recipe as Celebrity Juice, barely it's diluted sister.

The set was a huge Keith Lemon head with his porn star moustached mouth as his table and trademark bandaged right (wanking) hand as guests chair.   Lemon's opening words were to proclaim he never thought he'd be 'sat on my own face' and told his live audience that he's 'a genie of the lamp' - 'give me a little rub' he said as he gestured with his bandaged hand.

And so the usual remarks continued, echoing Celebrity Juice, only this time having prime position of teatime tv.

Guest Cilla Black was complimented on being 'bang tidy' and that she had a figure that was 'svelte; streamlined like a nice sausage'.   During an on set game Lemon remarked on the costume camels saying  'look at all the camel toes', referring to what we all know.

Don't get me wrong.  I like a bit of sexual innuendo.  I have a dirty mind myself that I bet even Mr Lemon would raise his bushy eyebrows at.  But call this family viewing friendly?  I totally disagree.

Then Keith Lemon had a mission to complete which involved an eleven year old lad wishing he could be Keith Lemon.  His 'wish' was granted and he spent the rest of the day dressed like a mini Keith, 'tash and all.  There wasn't so much a problem with what they did (they went bowling to 'shoot some balls' and chatted up women) but more the fact that how would an eleven year old know who Keith Lemon was if he didn't stay up past his bedtime watching late night adult tv programmes?  Not exactly what a kid that age should be doing, or more to the point, a tv show basically approving it.

So really the same old naughty suggestive lines continued through to the end.  The innocently titled 'Lemon Drops' game dropped to the gutter with prizes such as a JLS duvet cover - 'go to bed with four fit pop stars' - and a swingball game for a man told 'you'll love swinging'.  Cilla Black, who was controlling Lemon's human fun fair grabber, said 'You've never talked to me between your legs before' with Keith swiftly replying 'can sort that out at the end of the show if you want'.

Celebrity Juice is hilarious and it's appropriately aired around 10pm.  Yet Lemonaid which is literally the same programme is aired just after 6, with the same rude jokes before the watershed, and this time there's kids in the mix.  Ewww.

What I can't understand is how my idea which involved a bit of pin up fun and current pop favourite, Katy Perry, was poo-pooed for being too rude?  Only last week on Britain's Got Talent there was a burlesque dancer who stripped down to her nipple tassels.  How was that aired then?

I have it sussed.  My idea wasn't too rude or racy for the tv audience.  It's because Keith himself would have been stuck for words when he'd see me whip out my tassels - bang tidy an' all!

Becky x

A Quick Catch up with Pet Fit Club Bobby

Thursday, 29 March 2012

So, the big day has arrived and the PDSA have announced the participants for the 2012 Pet Fit Club - and my Bobby is one of them!

Even though it's being brought to the attention of the public and media as I speak the process behind the Fit Club has been under way for a month now.

Bobby had her first weigh in at the beginning of the competition at our nearest PDSA branch which is the Middlesbrough Pet Aid Hospital.  There she was assessed by one of the vets and head veterinary nurse who decided Bobby is indeed a little on the overweight side.  The PDSA press photographer was there taking photos of Bobby with me and the PDSA staff and she was a little star.  I think she looked gorgeous with her pretty little face just posing for the camera.  Bless her heaving dewlap and tubby belly.

I don't think I've ever really looked at Bobby in a critical way before.  It's actually been quite difficult and definitely an eye opener to be told Bobby shouldn't be the size she is.  Being a guinea pig girl for 20 years of my life I assumed so much about rabbits and just thought Bobby being a rabbit she was meant to be big.  I hadn't realised I was the one who made her the size she was, that it was not her breed.  I really do think there's similar owners of rabbits out there who not out of intentional ignorance have allowed our bunnies to grow to the size they are.

So we have a lot of lessons to learn and we're trying to put Bobby right.  Bobby has not been getting enough exercise so we want to change her routine, give her more freedom and space.  A new living arrangement may be a positive step forward from her permanent indoor cage but for the meantime Bobby is coming out of her cage for hours of free run around the living room and she's been reveling in it!

I grabbed Bobby in the middle of her playtime for a quick video.  So this is me and Bobby.  :-)

Becky x

Bobby's in PDSA Fit Club!

I can finally announce it - my Bunny, Bobby has been selected for the exclusive UK nationwide competition: PDSA's Fit Club 2012!


What does this mean?  It means my four year old lady bunny, Bobby, gets to be closely monitored and guided by a PSDA team including head vets and nurses, to help her lose her chubbies and become a fitter, healthier rabbit.

It all started when I saw on the PDSA website that they were appealing for applicants to enter their fat pets into the infamous Pet Fit Club.

I knew one of my rabbits had definitely piled on the pounds.  Bobby is a Dwarf Lop breed (or possibly a mini??), a doe (female) and 'intact' at that, which means not only is she a highly hormonal lady she has accumulated a tubby belly and a voluptuous dew lap.  She doesn't appreciate the athletic life led by rabbit neighbour, Lucy, who loves nothing more than to bound around 'their bedroom' and play and instead she prefers to lie about and wallow like a hippo in mud.

The main reason why I wanted to enter Bobby is because she's fat, and rabbits and fat don't mix.  I've spent 20 years of my life dedicated to the enjoyment of owning guinea pigs (never bred) and until a friend gave me Bobby as a surprise present, rabbits never entered my head.  Because of this, I had no clue about owning a rabbit and have found the first four years of Bobby's life an immense learning curve.  I've since learnt that, unlike guinea pigs, rabbits are prone to heart disease exactly like us humans, which is why I found it frightening to have Bobby living with the threat of very serious conditions.

Then there's the matter of *poops*.  Whether a nice topic or not, in essence rabbits need to eat their soft poops, called caecatrophs, to live normally.  Vitamins that are not processed first time round need to be re-ingested, and a rabbit with a HUGE dew lap like Bobby's, is not able to reach their bottom to get to these poops.  This means an obese rabbit is missing out on vital vitamins.  This pretty much scares me too.

Rabbits are the 3rd most popular pet in the UK today yet we as a nation are not meeting their needs and putting our bunny friends lives at risk.

Another important reason why I wanted myself and Bobby to be part of PDSA's Fit Club is that I want to make an example of myself and get rabbit owners to listen up.  I have been a pioneer (or preacher?) of the proper care of small furries and from 2001 to 2011 I ran a hugely successful website for the proper care of guinea pigs.  I had people asking me every single day how to look after their guinea pig, help them find out what is wrong with their ill guinea pig and I actively promoted how to look after a guinea pig the proper way.  I am someone who should know better, yet I am still someone who has a fat rabbit.  It 'happens' to anyone, regardless of age or class.  What is important is that the facts are realised; of obesity in not just our dogs and cats but our very much loved rabbits too.  It is a lesson to be learned that if we have pet rabbits, we should not be confining them to life within a small hutch that is their home.  Rabbits not only need a good healthy diet consisting of good quality pellets/nuggets, tonnes of quality hay, fresh water and juicy greens, but regular access to freedom.  You wouldn't confine a dog or cat to a box 24/7 so why a rabbit?  I feed all my guinea pigs and rabbits a good diet but this is admittedly my failing.  Because Lucy and Bobby don't live together, and Lucy is the livelier of the two, she gets to be out of her cage all day and Bobby only comes out for shorter times elsewhere in the house.  I've known this isn't good enough and wanted to find a way of breaking the cycle and developing a better exercise plan, which was why I turned to the PDSA's Fit Club.

I'm looking forward to getting Bobby down to a healthy weight and size.  Check back for regular updates on Bobby's progress!  For more info on Bobby and the other Pet Fit Club participants check out

Becky x

Goodies fall from L'oreal Heaven

Friday, 23 March 2012

Today started out as an utterly crap day.  In the early morning our noisy neighbours intentionally blasted music through the bedroom wall.  Our citizen's advice appointment was cancelled when we'd just arrived.  A lady at our local council community office was ridiculously rude and offensive.  I could go on with my horrendous day but I'll stop it short with a mood sweetener: a nice unknown parcel which arrived on my doorstep (or rather left in our recycling box, lol).

I opened up the puzzling package to discover I'd won a goody bag courtesy of L'oreal Paris! It's packed with lots of top selling and new products so I'm very excited about trying them all out.

So, what L'oreal beauties are in the bag?

Elvive Nutri-Gloss Shine Shampoo 250ml, RRP £3.89
Elvive Nutri-Gloss Shine Conditioner 250ml, RRP £3.89
Elnett Satin Hairspray 200ml, £3.79
Youth Code Luminize Super Serum 30ml, £24.99
Youth Code Luminize Moisturising Day Cream 50ml, £14.99
Nude Magique BB Cream 30ml - Medium Tone £9.99
False Lash Telescopic Mascara 9ml - Magnetic Black £10.99
Super Liner Black Lacquer - Black Vinyl £6.49
Color Riche Nails 5ml - Scarlet Vamp £4.99
Color Riche Nails 5ml - Boudoir Rose £4.99
Color Riche Nails 5ml - Versailles Gold £4.99
Color Riche Nails 5ml - Mysteriousicon £4.99
Color Riche Nails 5ml - French Riviera £4.99

Totaling a whopping £103.97!!  Now that's a juicy prize!  :-)

We also got a free Thorntons Caramel Egg each today courtesy of Voucher Codes but it appears all the vouchers are now all gone.  Sorry for being late :-(

Becky x

Spend a little, freebie a lot!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

I love nothing more than a bargain hunt and its all the better if I can find something for free!

Yesterday was a successful day for such expeditions.  I went up to Newcastle with my other half, Sean, yesterday.  I was planning on starting the day getting a professional fitting at Bravissimo (big bra size shop), as their Newcastle store is my nearest branch.  It's based right in the heart of the city in the Eldon Garden Shopping Centre so we parked several streets away from the university on a short stay street.  Parking is usually either hourly rated or permit only, but a generous lunchtime free parking slot from 11am til 2.30pm comes into effect on some streets, which was why we made sure we arrived to park up within this time.  For the sake of some good walking that saved a few pounds!

I hear a lot about freebies going around and there's usually some good competitions running.  Facebook is a good place for game applications where prizes are given out.  (In the past, Walkers gave away lots of large bags of their posh Sensations crisps!)  A Facebook app competition which proved by far THE BEST giveaway in history was Hotel Chocolat over the weekend.  In less than what seemed to be two days they'd given away a range of 90,000 choccy goodies!  Hotel Chocolat chocolate is very pricy but super yummy.  I was ecstatic to win myself a luxury boxed Extra Thick Egg filled with smaller chocolate filled eggs.  It's gorgeous!  Sean was also lucky to win a good prize; a medium box of their Signature Collection chocolates.  Armed with our printed emails to confirm our prizes we called into Hotel Chocolat in Newcastle.  The two assistants were lovely friendly ladies who made our treats all the more an enjoyable experience.  My Eggsibitionist egg retails for £26 and Sean's chocolates cost £28!  Very expensive but completely delicious.

54 pounds worth of free choccy!

Next to do was go to Bravissimo where I was expertly fitted by their experienced bra fitters.  I'm currently doing some bra reviews for bra brand Freya so I took one of my free provided for bras along with me to make sure it was the right size.  Alas I would need a slightly larger back band but Freya being the lovely people they are are going to send me a replacement bra.  Bravissimo's assistance and advice is invaluable for my reviews and second to no other bra store fitting service.

After I had my fittings we stopped by Boots for a couple of soft drinks.  Sadly paid for, but if I'd been thinking I could have redeemed my Advantage card points as I had sufficient to pay for them.  Never mind, keep them for next time!

Before heading off I wanted to look around Debenhams.  There were lots of lovely wares on perfectly arranged display tables.  I fell in love with some home decorations.  I wasn't looking to buy anything at the moment so I took some pictures of what I liked.  I'm planning on buying a certain picture I saw online where I found it a little cheaper and I can use my Paypal funds, which makes it all sweeter.

I love this SOOOO much!

I had a browse around the make up and skincare counters and stopped to watch a promo video display of new product Dr Andrew Weil for Origins Mega Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum.  We had a chat with the Origins consultant who was very friendly and gave me a sample to try.  I love trying new products so I'm pleased to get this trial size premium product.

I've tried some of Clinique's products in the past and I'm currently using their 7 day face scrub.  I had a skin analysis and was told by the Clinique consultant that my skin is combination, and not sensitive as I previously believed.  She booked me an appointment slot for two weeks' time to catch up and gave me trial size versions of the 3 step skincare solution, consisting of Liquid Facial Soap (the proper sample pot was out of stock), Clarifying Lotion and Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion.  The two lotions are a generous 30ml each which should allow me a good amount of time to see how the system works for me.  

So all in all a pretty purse friendly day out.  I do love a good freebie me.  :-)

Becky x

Anaemia, Hypothyroidism and 1 Fab Mum

Saturday, 17 March 2012

I had an appointment yesterday with my GP to discuss where we go from here regarding my fibromyalgia treatment and to follow up on my blood test results which I had done nearly two weeks ago.  I was all prepared for my bloods being normal but it turned out I'm anaemic to some degree with what looks like a case of hypothyroidism.  'Hypo'thyroidism which means an underactive thyroid, as opposed to the polar 'hyper'thyroidism which is an overactive thyroid.

To treat the anaemia I've been put on iron supplements and something called Levothyroxine for the thyroid problem.  Apparently my TSH levels were high which basically means the thyroid stimulating hormones which are sent by the pituitary gland in the brain to the thyroid are overproducing to overcome the low levels of the substance thyroxine - T4  - in my thyroid.

I actually don't have a clue what that all means and I spent a good few hours googling it all to be baffled by all the different lingo.  What I do know is that the fatigue, tiredness, weakness and pains I've been suffering with may not have been all down to my fibromyalgia.  I do still have FM as I'd already had that diagnosed some years ago, but I'm hoping that a lot of the physical problems are down to my thyroid problem and iron deficiency.

In an ideal world these meds will actually work and it would be amazing if I were to start feeling somewhat more energetic than I feel nowadays.  My doctor says that it will probably take knocking on two months before I see any effect if there's going to be but it's a huge moral boost to think I may be half way to better health than I'm living with right now.

I jumped on the phone to my mum the minute we got back in the house.  Mum said "drink orange juice when you take the iron tablets because it will help the iron work quicker and more effectively".  Sound advice from my trusty mum.  Another reason why she's the best and deserves a fab Mothers Day.  :-)

Which brings me to the big day tomorrow.  I actually saw my Mum on Thursday and won't be making it there tomorrow but I did give her a gift and a handmade card.  The cross stitched keepsake I made was something I stitched as it came to me (backstitch, cross stitch, long stitch, french knots and seed beads) and the frame was what belonged to my late Grandma (my mum's mum.)  She was moved by it and I felt my eyes well up.  I love my Mum!

2 cards for 2 mums - handmade by me!

Becky x

Hayley Westenra at The Sage, Gateshead 2012

Friday, 2 March 2012

 This time yesterday my little black shoe boots were teetering back over the iconic Milennium Bridge crossing the Tyne.  I'd just finished seeing Hayley Westenra begin the first leg of her Paradiso tour at The Sage in Gateshead and the crisp evening air was as electrifying to the senses as was Hayley's emphatically delivered performance.

I'd last seen Hayley perform back in December 2010 when she brought to the UK her Christmas Wishes concerts.  This time around Hayley had a new album to officially introduce to her UK audience, which would not only showcase the fine piece of musical history that brought Hayley to work with one of the most celebrated composers in history - Ennio Morricone - but also dedicate to and mark the occasion of her 10 year anniversary in the industry.  This young woman has made a truly significant difference to the world of classical-crossover music and continues to delight and enthrall with her god given vocal and self penned talent.

When the tickets were introduced for sale last year I barely hesitated to purchase a pair for Sean and myself.  Having bought album after album by Hayley and being mesmermised by her Christmas offering, I knew we had to experience her live again!  Knowing she was coming to the good old North East made it all the easier (where as for Manchester we had to stop over) so it was fantastic to welcome Kiwi Hayley to our beloved region.  Despite with a Geordie on my arm, I am a Yorkshire lass at heart, so please come to North Yorkshire next time, Hayley!  :-)

The concert began at a fraction past half seven when the vibrant NSO Chamber Orchestra took to their strings and a smiling Hayley wearing a slinky red silk dress came to the stage.  Hayley began with a song I'd not heard her sing before, though maybe some other fans may have; Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep.  I'm sure it's something you usually have at funerals but it was beautiful, a punchy way to begin the show.

From then on it was a dazzling collection of our favourite songs taken from Hayley's albums created to date, tracks including Hine e Hine and Who Painted The Moon Black from her first internationally acclaimed album, Pure, to Profumo Di Limone and Amalia Por Amor from her most recent collaboration with Italian great, Morricone, on the Paradiso album.   There was also the up beat Metti Una Sera A Cena which I think is pretty cool too.  When I listen to it on the cd I often wonder how Hayley gets all those words out in what seems as one breath, but she proved it is possible!

Hayley sang with her musical director, Tim Evans, to the side of her on the piano, apart from Sonny which she sang us out to and played as pianist herself (edit:  just remembered, Amazing Grace was followed to end!).   Although she said herself in her usual humble and so like-able way, that she is 'not a multi-tasker', she certainly is a lady of many talents!

The only photo we dared take!

I found myself listening to Hayley in ways as if I'd just heard the songs for the first time that day.  She has a remarkable way of singing like she really does mean every word that leaves her mouth, and conveys it in a unique and personable way each time.  I was so drawn in to Wuthering Heights which hit new heights with me!  I really enjoyed it.  It actually sounded even better than the album version, if I could say so.

I whispered over to Sean "You can see her engagement ring flicker in the light!"

We were treated to Hayley's renditions of Fleetwood Mac's Songbird (which was also covered by Eva Cassidy and All Angels) and I Dreamed A Dream, most of us link to Susan Boyle.  Regardless of not being much of a Su-Bo fan myself, I was moved and emotionally taken by the way Hayley sang it.  You don't get that from Britain's Got Talent or X Factor.

Italian Gianluca Paganelli was Hayley's support act who she sang a duet with on a couple of occasions and he promoted his debut album, Tango.

What was so lovely about seeing Hayley perform again was to see that she really has blossomed into a fine lady who has stayed true to herself yet continued to stretch and widen her talents so musically.  She beamed on stage and was just as sweet in person.  I was thankful that there was a signing opportunity afterwards, especially as I really wanted to meet her again.  She signed a picture for me as I told her about the last picture she signed that's in our bedroom which didn't come out sounding quite right, but was funny!

I LOVED the concert and enjoyed every minute of Hayley's voice.  I couldn't fault her in any way.

The only bits I would change?

Firstly, I would impose a dress code.  Whilst Sean and I had gone to the effort of dressing up nicely, I was disgusted by the amount of people dressed slovenly in jeans, trainers and UGG boots.  I find dressing inappropriately like this nothing short of disrespectful.

The Sage.  Old people.  No where to sit.  Standing about in heels.  I say no more yet my feet do.

The programmes.  At £8, ridiculously expensive with nothing much to show for it.  There isn't even a 'programme' of the evening's schedule.  Not Hayley's fault, but it would have been nice to remember it all properly.  I had to buy one to meet Hayley at the signing which felt like blackmail.

No Photos and Video Policy.  I took my camera and little video recorder which I didn't dare use in the end because of the warnings before the concert.  Everyone likes a memento of their favourite bits.  If you can't take pictures or video clips then it would be a good idea to produce images and/or a dvd of the evening.  I can guarantee I would not be the only person who'd sign up.

And to end - congratulations Hayley on your 10 year anniversary and I wish you a fun and successful tour this Spring!

Becky x

The hunt for the Elusive bra size

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Okay.  I'm mad.

Following feedback I've received on my lingerie reviews and my own dissatisfaction I've continued my quest to find my true bra size, if ever 'one size' ever existed.  It seems every year I'm wearing a new bra size.  It was only 2009 when I thought I was a DD.  Now I'm in 32F bras but still defiantly not happy with settling on this.

One suggestion which would surface a few times was that I'm perhaps a 30FF, in that, I go bigger in the cup but compensate in going down on the back size.  Seemed common sense enough to me so I bought (stupidly) a 30FF Freya bra off eBay.  When that arrived I knew instantly it was not big enough.  The cups were impossibly tight as was the band.  So, aside that bra has gone.  (It wasn't even as if it was cheap...)

Then a week or two ago, figuring it can all depend on the type of bra as much as the brand, I decided to go try some bras on in House of Fraser.  I guessed they would have a good range to choose from including brands as opposed to just a shop's own make.   I tried on some Freya bras again in the hope I would find one that would fit.  After several bras and different sizes I ended up buying the Freya Rio bra in a 30FF.  To me in the changing room, it did feel a whole lot better than the 30FF I bought online.  Just goes to show.  When I came home and then wore it for a few hours, I decided I really wasn't happy with this one either.

I'd read a lot online about the Freya Rio for being a good overall bra, and that apparently lots of women are first fitted with a Rio, in shops like Bravissimo.  I did really like the look of it, despite the fact I usually like a slight padding and wouldn't normally go for a soft cup.

What I foung with the Rio, in the 30FF, is that to begin with it felt a job getting it on.  Maybe it's because I'm used to a wider band than I need, but it did feel very tight fastening it up.  I like to fasten my bra reverse to me then twizzle it around but I struggled to do that with this one.  Once on it did feel snug and decidedly fitting.  My boobs were contained well in each cup, which was good, and the centre gore  fitted flat against my chest bone.

This is what it looks like on me.  Looks okay?

Looks a good fit,  no bulging double boob.

But as I wore the bra for a little while I found the ends of the under wire were digging in to under my armpit, and when I ended up taking it off because it felt quite painful, it left quite prominent indentations in my skin.  Then I thought I did actually get a little 'double boob' on the front of the left cup.  After that I didn't feel comfortable wearing it again, so the Rio too has been relegated to my eBay pile.

But this is where it really pinches.  You can see how it's nipping me in.

Doesn't look so nice here.  The cups seem too snug and the centre gore doesn't look very happy.

So I don't know whether the 30 band was just too tight and that I really do need to stay at a 32, or if it's because the cups were a FF that made the band feel so constrictive and the under wired cups so painfully nipping me in.  If I measure myself with a tape measure I'm a 28.  I understand that measuring means nothing really and that the old fashioned 'plus 4' shouldn't apply.  But where does this leave me?  Any ideas?

Today as I was in town I decided to pop into Marks and Spencer and to see if they did 30 backs, and if so, if they had a 30G (figuring I should try a G following my experience with a 30FF).  I couldn't see any on the racks of lingerie but when I asked one of the sales assistants they said they had one upstairs, which they brought down for me to try on.  I didn't know whether I was lucky or not.

I tried it on and annoyingly the 30G was just too tight and uncomfortable.  Inevitably as I knew it would happen the assistant 'came to my aide' and started bringing me a variety of different sizes to try on.  They all didn't fit quite right but the majority of the bras were plunge style which I don't usually go for because I find they don't really fit me well.  The assistant wasn't sure what to try next so brought in her superior to measure me and see what she thought.  The minute the tape measure was mentioned alarm bells rang and I knew I wouldn't like how this was going.

The lady said I'm bordering on a 34" back which horrified me, and even more so when she suggested I try a 34E!  I knew fine well that totally wouldn't fit, which surprise! surprise! didn't fit.

In the end she brought in one of the new bras in the DD+ line. We were now back to a G cup but in a 32 back.  I didn't know whether that was because she truly thought I was a 32G or because there was only one 30G bra in the shop and I'd already tried that one on!

After all the faffing about and with a mountain of bras I'd by then accumulated, I ended up deciding to go with the 32G.  I felt snug enough and I didn't have the double boob effect I usually get with my uneven boobs.  To be honest I think I was half persuaded by this point and naively I bought it.

Looking at it now, I see exactly where it's not happy.
The sides don't dig and the cups look wide enough.

The cups seem big enough.  The centre gore doesn't lie flat though.

Back home I tried it on again and low and behold I'm not happy.  The 32" band does feel on the loose side and the straps feel like they want to ease their way down my shoulders, the cups feel slightly baggy, especially underneath, and the centre gore doesn't sit flush against me.  Oh and the side panels which lead to the straps feel like they're digging in and annoys me just in that moment of having just put it on.

The cups look baggy and the centre doesn't lie flat.
The straps feel too wide and dig in to my armpit.

I'm gonna have to take it back.

So if the 30FF Freya was too tight and the 32G M&S feels big and baggy, what do I do?  Please, any thoughts, suggestions and stress-relieving vibes are much appreciated at this time!!  :-)

Becky x

Market Research Love

Friday, 24 February 2012

Today has been a good day.

It didn't start so well this morning though; I woke up half lying on my pillow with a painful crick neck and discovered I've got a dodgy eye again.

For some reason every now and then I get really irritated or infected eyes.  I can't decide whether it's the mould near our backdoor and bathroom (don't you just love crap landlords) that keeps sending my eyes into a hissy fit or if it's the coal fire.  It's basically a knackered ancient old stove fireplace and when it's windy especially, it bellows smoke into the living room.  I'm hoping it's not a full blown infection like conjunctivitis again so I'm frantically dropping 'irritated eye' drops every now and then to relieve the soreness somewhat.

I had a scheduled press shoot in the afternoon so I couldn't believe the timing of my sore, flaming red eye.  I don't like wearing eye make up if I may have an infection because it means my mascara and anything else I use near my eyes has to go the journey.  So, I had to chance it and do my make up anyway.

Unfortunately I'm sworn to secrecy at the moment so I can't let on what I was having pictures taken for but I can say that all will be revealed very very soon.

I didn't get to check my email until I got home this evening and I was happy to see I'd been made 'member of the week' in a newsletter sent by a market research panel I'm part of.  (They incorrectly said I'm in the North West and not the North East, but never mind!) I was quite chuffed with that because I've been really active with my panels lately.  I've had quite a few surveys and secret trials, including some super health foods and some shampoo and conditioner.  I love doing these kinds of surveys and trials because I am quite opinionated but also believe in the power of the consumer.  If we don't say what we think about things that concern us then companies aren't going to know if we like their products or services.  If something is relevant to me then I like my opinion heard.  It's nice to be an important part of a company's brand and if it's not enough to enjoy being heard and find enjoyment in ticking boxes and answering questions then the freebies and rewards are nice when you get them!

Are you on any market research panels?

Becky x

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