The mistakes we used to make……

Brenda and I have been on holiday and we decided before we went that we would take 2 weeks off and enjoy ourselves without feeling guilty.  It has been a good exercise for us, as we have had a chance to see what habits we have managed to achieve and what we need to work on.

  • Drink more water – We all know how much water we should drink and the benefits that it gives us.  But how many of us manage to achieve it?  It was something that I was never very good at, and I could still do better, but I am drinking much more water on a daily basis.  I feel that this a good achievement and one that I can build on.  I always drink plenty of water when I am exercising and will now go for water when I am thirsty.   Drinking more water is undoubtly good  for me and I have found no disadvantages yet!  While we were on holiday I still managed to drink water on a daily basis, not as much as I had been drinking but it still featured in my daily life.   My next step is to cut down on coffee and to increase my daily water intake, which, to tell you the truth, scares me just thinking about it but wanting to achieve my dreams is making me more determined to do this.


  • Portion Control – How many times have I heard about portion control? Loads!  After I had an operation to put a stent in my heart it was all I heard from doctors, nurses, nutritionists and well meaning friends.  A palm size of protein, a cupped hand of carbs and a fist size of vegetables.  I had never really thought about portion control because I cooked good healthy food so that was ok!  When we decided to lose weight we decided to give it a go.  First of all we cut down the amount of food we ate but I forgot to cook less food, so the leftovers would get munched while tidying up or even some cheeky seconds.   Surprisingly we did not lose much weight, silly portion control.  We then took another look at it and this time we would pack away the leftovers before we sat down to eat and they would become lunches or get frozen for a meal at a later date.  This has worked much better for us and is a firm habit in this house. Not much chance to do this on holiday but I know this is one habit that is here for life.


  • Getting active – I love being active…!  I used to be very active in my work, as a young mother and in daily living, I didn’t go to a gym or exercise class.  Before I would run for the couch when we had free time but now it is quite different.  When my health took a nose dive I became very inactive and any activity became a struggle.  It has taken a while, after 3 years of inactivity I started to look at what I felt I would be able to achieve.  It did begin with baby steps, a gentle walk, a wee swim or some sailing and now I am going to the gym twice a week, an exercise class when I can and getting out and about in my daily life.   I do enjoy being active and keeping busy but I also still love running for the couch! While we were on holiday I challenged myself to complete a walk that I did not think I would be able to do,  I managed it, it wasn’t easy but I am so pleased that I did it.   I think this is a habit that is definitely here to stay.


  • Healthy Snacks – I used to wonder what on earth a healthy snack was, when I wanted a snack it was always chocolate or crisps or biscuits.  I have to confess that I lived in Turkey for a couple of years when I was 5 years old where the fruit is absolutely delicious and it totally ruined me for the fruit we get here.  I have worked over the last 5 years to introduce more fruit into my daily diet and have found fruits that I can rely on.  I love fruit and yoghurt in the mornings and I will now have an apple and an orange a day as my afternoon snack and sometimes even more fruit in the evening depending on what is available.  If healthy snacks are fruit based I have that covered.


Will Power – My will power is zero….. I am soo weak!  I have put systems in place ( see here ) to help me with staying on track so that I don’t have to think about it too much but I know that if I am left unsupervised for a while I could go off track all too easily.  I will forever continue work on my will power but while I do so I will have failures so I will not beat myself up about it but move on and strive to not fail this time.

What mistakes have you managed to overcome? What do you do to make habits work?

Here’s to living the dream,

Emms x

My Travels Abroad Part 4 – South Korea

One Friday morning I received an email from a colleague working in South Korea, he was having problems with a system and after discussing the issue with my manager I found myself on a flight on the Sunday. Not much time to prepare for this one. It was a direct flight to Incheon where I was met by our local agent who then drove me to small town near the jetty we were commissioning a system about 70 miles south of Seoul. Here we stayed in a clean but basic hotel and were transported to and from site by one of the local engineers. It was a small town with no other obvious westerners, we got some strange looks but the locals were friendly enough. I remember one old bloke in the local supermarket, I was looking for some different chocolate to take home and generally just perusing when I became aware of the old fella watching me, he couldn’t take his eyes of me, I smiled and carried on, after some time he came over and said “welcome to my country” How nice, he must have been working up the courage to speak or figure out what he was going to say but he then went on his way, it is moments like these that make an impression and leave me with fond memories. In the town there were a few small shops and I did manage to get a wooden spoon. The hotel didn’t have a restaurant so it was a trip to the French patisserie for a pastry for breakfast.

I have been back to South Korea a couple of times, working at the Samsung Heavy Industries ship yard on Goeji Island just of the port of Busan on the south coast. The town near the yard is Jangpyeong-dong, a reasonably sized town that pretty much services the ship yard full of small eateries, mainly consisting of Korean BBQ’ s with a few clues in their speciality outside, this one was beef…Fried chicken also features quite a lot, I had a fried chicken and salad dish which was served with, what looked like a dollop of mayonnaise, no it was vanilla ice cream, all I can say is don’t knock it…. There was also a good wee pizza shop that had an apple and cinnamon pizza, yes it was a savoury pizza and one I have recreated very interesting I think the time I had pizza was the only time I didn’t have kimchi or pickles.

Eating out in South Korea is certainly a sociable affair with the table top BBQs and a multitude of side dishes of salad, vegetable, pickles and kimchi. Scissors are provided for cutting the meat for the BBQ but generally chop sticks for everything else with plenty of double dipping! I did have a thought for one friend in particular that wouldn’t cope with style of eating but I didn’t mind.

There was not much in the way of pavements when away from the main roads but not too much traffic about either so pleasant enough walking about, there are pavements on the busy roads round about the town. Here they are much more used to western faces as there is a big mixed bag of nationalities working in the yard.


On the first trip to Goeji there was a few of us and due to prior commitments I wasn’t able to travel out at the same time and then when booking my flights I wasn’t able to get a return flight on the same day. After finishing work on the Friday our Korean agent (My Yang) took us to a hotel in Busan, the rest of the team were traveling home the following morning and Mr Yang took them to the airport in the morning. I had a wander around the town in the morning, it was a bit wet but still interesting seeing street markets full of goodies and then the more modern shops not forgetting the French patisseries that are all over the place. Mr Yang met me later in the morning and took me sightseeing. Busan is an interesting place, it was the temporary seat of government during the Korean war and many Koreans fled south. Due to the increased population during this time there was a rush to get additional housing and it seems that houses were shoe horned into any spare space available, giving Busan quite a mix of old buildings. Mr Yang took me to the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사) which was built during the Goryeo Dynasty in 1376 and is one of only a few temples on the coast. I have read that the name translated into English means “Korean Dragon Palace Temple” and certainly there were a fair few dragons about. The walk from the car park to the temple was through a lane of souvenir and food stalls what’s not to like…then stunning views of the temple nestling in the cliffs, certainly worth a visit. It was a bit strange seeing a swastika on the buildings, a symbol that now is associated with the evil atrocities of the Nazis has a long history over thousands of years meaning life and good luck, an important religious symbol for Buddhists and Hindus. Amazing how a positive symbol with such a long life can be destroyed in a fraction with so many people now not knowing the history of it. Back to food, we had a more traditional Korean dish but it still seems we cook it ourselves, a pot of boiling water on the stove on the table and in this we cooked thinly sliced beef and mushrooms and a few other vegetables, added in some spices and kimchi and hey, a tasty soup after eating the beef and mushrooms but what about those jars of ginger on the shelf, they look like something out of Alien!

On my last trip I was expecting to be there for two weeks, five weeks later I was finally on a flight home. When I arrived it was spring and the blossom was just coming out on the tress and the mornings were still cold. By the time I left there was no blossom left and there was not any sign of cold mornings. Both trips to Goeji, I was staying in the Samsung guest house which is just down the hill from and and is affiliated with the Samsung hotel that boast a 5 start rating. The rooms at the guest house were maybe not as luxurious as the hotel but certainly suited me just fine and with vouchers for breakfast at the hotel made for a very pleasant stay.

During this trip I had another day out with Mr Yang, visiting the Goeji shipbuilding marine cultural center, a bit of a busmans holiday here after spending the week working in a shipyard but it was an interesting visit looking at the history of shipping in the area throughout the centuries. Next was the Historic park of Goeji POW Camp, a POW camp holding prisoners from North Korea and China. The park offers a pleasant walk through the wooded and an insight to the extent of the POW camp which held over 170,000 prisoners hard to imagine when the area is now full of industry.

Crime levels are very low in South Korea and one day at lunch time I was just stashing my tools neatly on the unit I was working on when my Korean college suggested hiding them, I said that I thought Koreans were all honest and he replied ah yes but it is not just Koreans working here! Touché..

That said crime levels in South Korea are low and I felt safe walking about. I got on well with the Korean teams that I have worked with on all trips and found the locals out and about friendly. It was in Korea however that I found my love of Brazillian BBQ restaurants and have now visited one in Glasgow. A meat lover’s heaven!

South Korea is an interesting place with a mixture of history and industrial development and I would like to visit again one day as a tourist.

Continuing to live the dream

Bren x


It is never too late to learn!

It is never too late to learn

How many times have you said…..’I would like to try that, one day’?  I used to say it loads.  When I was younger I think I was too self conscious to really put myself out there and try new things and then as a mother I lost interest in doing things in my spare time!  As I have got older I have realised that really there is no time like the present.

It was usually hard to find something that fitted in with my work, being a self employed Samba Percussion Tutor, I had to stay flexible.  To be honest Samba Drumming was my passion as well as my livelihood so I didn’t really feel the need to go and find another hobby! 

Unfortunately, now that Samba Drumming is no longer a part of my life I have a lot of free time to fill.






I have found time to learn sailing after 9 years of living on the Island and passed my Powerboat Level 2 CC.  

While living on the Carnival Island I also completed a NCFE Level 2 Creative Carnival, giving me the skills to make Carnival Costumes and I also tried a life drawing course but alas this was not for me!  It was great fun to be out trying new things and I was not self conscious or scared about not being able to do something.   I also started to enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes and challenging myself in the kitchen.

Coming back to Scotland was a bit of shock and I hated leaving the water but it was also good for me, making me think again about what I want to do.

My health started to turn around and I found a new energy for living.  I wanted to join a choir and I wanted to increase my fitness levels and could not believe my luck when I found a class, danceSing, that did both, I just had to be brave and go along.  I was so glad that I did, it was such good fun and just what I was looking for.  I still love my danceSing classes.

I then came up with the idea of ’50 Things for my fiftieth’, a list of 50 things I was going to do before my next birthday.  A sample of my favourites have been curling, rally driving, Segway, eating out, festivals and manicures.        


I have had such good fun doing this and actually only have 2 weeks left to complete my last 9 things. It will be weird when it is finished but I will not stop trying new things or discovering new places.  I have tried so many new activities that have all challenged me in different ways and have all filled me with joy, well, apart from the climbing that was just pure fear.

Unfortunately some of them are a little bit too pricey to become a new hobby but there are definitely ones that I will do again and possibly take up as new hobby or maybe my new hobby is new experiences!

I still get nervous when I go and try new things but now I am a lot braver and not so worried if I mess it up or it is not for me, at least I tried and how will I know if I don’t at least try.  If I had not tried new things then I might never have discovered Samba Drumming or sailing or danceSing and I would never have known for real that I cannot draw to save myself!

If you want to try new experiences and discover new places then I think you should just do it.  What is stopping you?  You never know you might just discover a new passion.

What would you like to do?

Here’s to living the dream,

Emms x