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 www.PDSA.org.uk/petfitclub.

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

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