About Laura

Freelance writer waxing lyrical most often about wine, food, travel, feminism, Literature, and the telly box. Daydream-believer and all-round lover of the good old days.

Review: An Afternoon at The Pig, New Forest

The Pig hotel New Forest

There aren’t many of my friends that haven’t heard about The Pig Hotel in Hampshire’s beautiful New Forest. It’s one of those rare hotels that combines pure gorgeousness with feeling like a home from home, so when I was invited along for lunch and a nosy around their new sister hotel, The Pig in the Wall in Southampton, I jumped at the chance.

The Pig itself is a wonderful venture in home grown quality set in the glorious countryside of the New Forest. Their Kitchen Garden is a marvel to behold:

The Pig Kitchen Garden

They have their own smoking room for meats and fish, which they either serve up in the restaurant or swap with the local butcher for other cuts of meat.

They grow their own herbs, vegetables, and salads – everything from the everyday tomatoes, kale, artichokes and lemon thyme, to foraging ingredients like sorrel, brilliantly named greens like monk’s beard, white alpine strawberries, and edible flowers. Their lovely team of foragers and gardeners take good care of everything.

The Pig animals

Obviously, given the name, they rear their own pigs too. They also have quails and chickens for eggs.

Over the course of the year they range in self-sufficiency, but at its best they’re about 70%. You really feel like they’ve put their heart and soul into creating a beautiful, living menu.


They also offer massages in the beautifully remote potting shed.

The Pig hotel rooms

Their interiors are shabby chic, with comfy chairs everywhere you look and lots of nice, homely smells and crumbly bricks. The Greenhouse dining room is gorgeous – airy, bright, with an atmosphere that’s the right balance between part of a group of diners and having your own little space.

The Pig hotel cocktails

We started with a selection of their cocktails. Many of their list are their own recipes, and nearly all include at least one ingredient from the Kitchen Garden, so the whole selection was fresh, zesty, fruity and deceivingly healthy-tasting, despite the generous portions of sauce they contain. They change with the seasons, but we particularly liked The Farmer’s Chase, a refreshing blend of vodka, elderflower, apple juice, fresh lemon and bitter lemon.

Their menu (which unsurprisingly changes daily to incorporate their seasonal, available produce) is surprisingly long. There’s lots on offer (and yes, a lot of it is pork-based – well, you’d hope so, wouldn’t you?!) We started with some little “Piggy Bits” (£3.50 each) including crackling and apple sauce, delicious chipolatas with spicy onions, and mini scotch eggs that were so tasty and wholesome they converted me after a lifelong hatred of them.


Starters begin from just a fiver and – unsurprisingly, given how tempting they are – all can be converted into a main course too (in fact, a pleasingly flexible number of their mains can also be ordered in starter-form). Highlights in our group included New Forest Asparagus with poached duck egg, garden fritters and smoked chilli mayo, and home smoked Glenarm salmon with pickled cucumber, watercress and cider dressing.

I, however, was tempted by their Weekly Specials section, in particular the Portland Crab with mustard, tarragon, herb breadcrumbs and chopped egg. It was like all of my favourite things, so I asked if I could have it in starter form. “Of course” was the reply, and they proceeded to bring me an entire bloody crab:


How lucky was I? Clearly, eating at The Pig turns you into one, because I unashamedly scoffed the lot. It was an absolutely irresistible treat – meaty, fresh, with a perfect balance between the strong flavour of the crab and the hearty, flavoursome herb crumbs and egg.

The Pig main courses

Their mains list is equally tempting (particularly good choices include scallops with streaky bacon, rump of lamb with artichoke crisps, and the “extraordinary” bath chap on a board) but I simply had to sample some of their homegrown livestock, so I went for the fennel roasted fillet of pork.


It was absolutely stunning – the fillet was as tender as I’ve had it, and beautifully flavoured with the fennel and a gorgeous medium-heat mustard sauce. The accompanying apple mash and garden greens were exquisitely fresh and balanced well with the indulgent cut of meat.

We enjoyed some of their house white and red wine with dinner (a lovely Vin de Pays and an Italian blend respectively), both of which were affordable without being too cheap, but their wine list is not for the faint-hearted! It’s a double-sided A3 sheet each for red and white, listing approximately 200 wines from all the recognisable names as well as from normally underrepresented countries as diverse as Armenia, Turkey, Sicily, Hungary, and even England! Not only is it a wine-lover’s wet dream, it’s split into helpful sections for people who might be more nervous about wine choices (plus the staff were so friendly and knowledgeable, I’m sure they’d be happy to give helpful advice.)

Their rooms start at around £129 a night, and follow the cosy, tasteful, I-never-want-to-leave theme. If you’re looking for something less remote and more central to Southampton, The Pig in the Wall is equally charming, and the rooms start from slightly less although just as comfy.

The Pig in the Wall rooms

I loved the attention to detail: from colourful mosaic tiled floors in the bathing areas, to adorable vintage radios and tasteful selections of reading materials like the art of keeping chickens or foraging for wild food.

I thought I’d never be tempted out of my room until I saw the plate of cake in the warm lounge area:


I especially loved the lemon and poppyseed slice, and would gladly have eaten all six slices had I not been in polite company.

This place really does have everything I could possibly want. Whether you’re a country queen or city sweetheart, I highly recommend a trip to one of The Pig’s hotels for an unforgettable, effortless stay. And don’t worry if you prefer a bit of seaside: The Pig on the Beach is opening in Dorset this year…


Ready, Set, Review: The Rusty Gun

We sort of unconsciously stopped going to The Rusty Gun (on the road between St. Ippolyts and Hitchin, Hertfordshire) last year. That sounds awful, because it’s actually a truly lovely venue, but we’d been stung a couple of times by awkwardly small portion sizes and unsightly high prices. I could easily spend almost £30 for two courses that didn’t even fill me up, so it just didn’t feel good value any more.

But when a friend of mine invited me there for dinner, I was pleasantly surprised to discover there’s a set menu at lunchtimes and between 5-7pm Monday to Friday. Two courses are £12.95, 3 courses are £15.95.

Now that’s more like it! Same delicious, seasonal food, but at least half what I’d normally pay. Plus, I like early dinners!

Service here remains unerringly pleasant without being intrusive, something that similar places in the Hertfordshire area haven’t quite mastered yet. My companion wasn’t feeling too well so decided to order a starter and a dessert, and our charming waitress didn’t call her a mentalist and barely even had to check that we wanted my friend’s pudding to arrive with my main.

The fixed menu changes seasonally, but there’s always four or five options for starters and mains and a couple of desserts – I’ve never been yet and not known immediately what I wanted to order.

To start with, we both chose duck and spring onion bhajis. Take a look at these bad boys:

duck bhajis

They were easily as tasty as they look. The duck meat was beautifully pink and tender, the hoi-sin pretty much as addictive as crack, and the bean sprouts and cucumber on which the bhajis nested was far more than just a garnish – it added a lovely refreshing squelch to your mouthful to stop the dish being too stodgy.

I can’t quite believe I’m saying this after my earlier criticism, but the only fault I could find was that it was maybe too big as part of a two or three course dinner! We both turned up famished but by the end of this dish I sort of didn’t need my main. I know, I could have just left some – but seriously, you didn’t taste them.

We slurped this down with a bottle of their Yalumba Y Series Viognier for £17.95. We know you can get it for half that price in Sainsbury’s, but that’s actually not a bad markup for a restaurant, and it really is joyous: orangey, rose and candied pear flavours are seriously moreish, and it’s great to see a Viognier on the menu as it’s probably my favourite white grape.

My main was chicken and ham hock pie with buttery mash and green vegetables. Again, you can’t fault the presentation:

chicken and ham hock pie.jpg

The pastry was delicious with just enough crunch, and the meat was brilliantly cooked. I have to say, though, this did disappoint a little. For one thing, it was just a little too salty – I know, it’s ham hock – but it was like they were actively trying to up my blood pressure. It wasn’t particularly unpleasant, but I’m not sure it needed it. The other issue I’ll illustrate to show I’m not just being fussy:

ham watery

Now, I’ve had a lot of chicken and ham pie in my time (it’s why I’m a bit of a chubby monkey) but normally it’s held together by a creamy filling. This pie was chicken and ham hock floating in water-thin broth. It meant I ended up stabbing out bits of chicken and ham until I got bored and gave up, leaving behind a ramekin full of salty water. It was disappointing, but the greens and mash were super tasty and provided a nice crunchy/creamy contrast.

elderflower crumble.jpg

My friend’s dessert was gooseberry and elderflower crumble with ice cream and custard. The presentation was divine, and the tangy filling was a treat with the crunchy topping and creamy ice cream. The latter does melt quickly on the plate though, so eat it quick!

All in all, it was a steal for £12.95 – I’d have paid that just for the main. The atmosphere is always intimate without being dull, the decor is rustic and cosy without being dated (although the lamp over our table may once have been used for interrogation purposes) and we walked away feeling like we’d been fed well, at almost laughable value for money.

Rating: 8/10

Ready, Set, Review is a feature I’ve decided to launch where I review ‘set menu’ options at swankier foodie haunts that I couldn’t otherwise afford!

Dieting Special #4: Dieting and PMS Cravings

SONG: Duran Duran – Hungry Like the Wolf

Just like that time Alan Davies bit a tramp’s ear, we all have off days.

You can lead a healthy lifestyle, consciously trying to make good food choices (even to the point that you start saying twattish things like “I can’t eat any more carbs today”) and then without any warning at all: BAM. It’s all over. Because your stupid bloody period is about to happen. (Edit, pun not intended at all. In fact it’s gross. Sorry.)

It’s not just PMS – various factors can lead to moodswings – but they all tend to give you hellish days when you’re so desperate for fudge-cake, chips, or Ben and Jerry’s that you’d happily inject yourself with it like some sort of gooey heroine.

How do you fight something like that? You spend all month being rational and committing to conscious choices, and then you have a few days where you’d happily sacrifice your own mother to the Gods in exchange for a packet of chocolate digestives. Nothing in your mind can convince you otherwise: you NEED a mountain of fatty, greasy food.

It’s all you can think about. Trying to appease the beast with healthy snacks is like trying to distract an angry guard dog with celery. So what do you do when your body rebels against you in this way?

A company in America reckons they’ve come up with a herbal pill that alleviates PMS cravings, but I don’t buy it. And a lot of magazines give advice like “Try and eat balanced meals”, “drink herbal tea” and “get plenty of exercise.” Okay, good luck telling a hungry pre-menstrual woman that to her face – she’ll rip yours off.

If that worked, we’d all just do it. It doesn’t. So how do you make the best of things? Well, here’s a little bit of advice – some from my own experience, and some from research I did just for you. And, well, me.

1. The Science Bit: Apparently, if we boost serotonin levels then the cravings are eased – it helps lift grumpy, self-destructive moods. Some people claim fruit does this, but WHO THE EFF WANTS TO EAT FRUIT WHEN YOU’RE PMSing?! Expert Judith J Wurtman PhD has written in the Huffington Post and Psychology Today about a study saying we need to eat a non-fruit, low-protein carbohydrate to produce serotonin. Stuff like popcorn, pasta, low-fat ice cream, cereal, English muffins, porridge with brown sugar, and fat-free fudge sauce. The cravings should ease in minutes. I think I love you, Judith.

2. Be Prepared: Now you know what foods ease cravings, you can make sure you have them around when you’re due on. They’re not exactly health-foods, but they are damage limitation, especially if you try and be realistic with portions.

3. Have less caffeine. It suppresses serotonin. It also makes me want biscuits, but I don’t think that’s exactly scientifically proven.

4. Don’t freak out. Some days, you’ll just eat crap, despite any advice. Let yourself enjoy it, that way A. You’ll realise when you’re full quicker and B. You won’t get into the vicious cycle of bingeing when you eat more because “oh well I’ve fucked it all up now anyway.”
Allow yourself some of your poison, even if it means you relax your diet for more than one day. If you avoid the guilt-binge, you’ll limit the damage, and will probably only have put on a couple of extra pounds at the end of it all.

5. Don’t weigh yourself until after your period. FFS, woman, are you batshit mad? As well as eating extra calories because your body is telling you to, you’ll probably be retaining water so you’ll weigh more anyway. If you weigh yourself, you’ll end up back on the guilt-binge train, destination: Sitting on Your Kitchen Floor Eating Cake Mix And Crying.

6. Remember your tricks. They might not work, but it’s still worth trying things like:
* Drinking a glass of water to check you’re not just thirsty.
* Having a little snack and waiting fifteen minutes to see if you’re actually full.
* Brushing your teeth (I do this shortly after lunch to put off my snack urges because it’ll taste all Colgatey)
Obviously, if none of these work then don’t be miserable, grab what you fancy.

7. I hate to break it to you, but exercise does increase serotonin. It’s the last thing I want to do when I’m pre-menstrual, so don’t feel you have to go to the gym or do that Davina DVD. I try little things, like walking to the shops for the paper every morning, or running around playing hide and seek with my niece. Or you could always wander up and down a jetty wearing a loose pink dress like the Bodyform ad.

Feel Free: Becoming a Freelance Writer, Month One.

Queen – I Want to Break Free

I love to write – so much so, it seems that I now appear to be writing about writing.

The truth is, I always dreamed of being a writer. As soon as I could physically write words, I used to spend my Saturdays scribbling illustrated stories about rabbits that run away from their burrows to go on adventures, and little girls who flew into space at night and spoke to the planets.

At school, teachers encouraged me to consider a writing career. They even told me to send creative writing coursework to publishers, and start a school magazine. I never did, because I couldn’t work out why they were being so nice about me. What did I know about writing? I finished school, got a job at The Wine Society, and started attending King’s University in the hope at some point I’d feel like I knew what I was doing.

The truth is, it took a long time, and my first few paid writing gigs, to accept I must be okay at what I do. But still I stayed in my full-time job at The Wine Society for over six years.

Why? Well, why does anyone do that these days? Amazing colleagues, routine cashflow, lots of wine (duh), but most of all because this ball-ache of a recession means everyone keeps warning me how impossible it is to be a freelance writer.

I should be grateful I’m in work. I should wait until the economy recovers. Did I know that for every writing job, there are approximately twelvety million unemployed writers competing with me? They can smell my fear, and if I ever do succeed they will hunt me down and use their unused sharpened pencils to stab me in the face.
Basically, I can’t possibly try to do the thing that is the reason I spent three years and twenty grand doing an English degree. In the words of the almighty Izzard “Look, you’re British, so scale it down a bit, alright?”

I tried writing at night and at weekends, but it wasn’t enough. I tried cutting down to four days a week at the Society, but that wasn’t enough either – I had too much work, and too many opportunities to pursue.

Late last year, I plucked up the courage (and the savings) to take a two month sabbatical and wander around Europe. It took travelling a thousand miles to realise how much of the world at home I had yet to explore. So when I got back, I handed in my notice. On February 1st, I began my life as a freelancer.

Month One

It’s terrifying. Truth is, I probably picked the wrong month to leave my job. The month of my niece’s 3rd birthday, the month of my own *cough-cough*th birthday, the month The Boy decides to redecorate. So many reasons not to work when that is the very thing I desperately needed to do.

But, to be frank, a lot of this procrastination was because I suddenly felt very unsure of myself. How can I be a writer? Where do I start? Who is going to hire me?

It was at this point I remembered yet another Izzard quotation (sorry, but he is pretty splendid) from the film documentary Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story. At the start of his performance career he used to do an escape artist act, all tied up in chains in front of a crowd. One day, he couldn’t untie himself. He was utterly humiliated. And someone gave him the life-changing advice: “To escape, you have to believe you can escape.” He realised this went further. To be a stand up comic, you have to believe you can be a stand up comic.
To write, I have to believe I can write. Obv.

The procrastination-guilt built up until I decided to knuckle down properly. If you’re suffering from the same fear, my advice is to take a day to do all the little things you know you should do but don’t get around to:

Sign up to sites like JournoBiz, IdeasTap, LinkedIn * Ask around on Twitter and follow other writers * Look for jobs on these sites, and others like MediaNation, your local newspapers etc. * Get the Writers and Artists Yearbook 2013 * Look at competitions and opportunities in Writing Magazine * Set up a portfolio * Actually do some frickin’ writing, even if it’s just a blog* You have to start somewhere.

Since then, it’s been an exciting couple of weeks. But – crucially – my first few gigs have not been anything to do with me:

  • A pretty meaty copywriting gig, courtesy of The Boy’s kind and brilliant Dad.
  • My first piece of journalism published in print, courtesy of hugely encouraging ex-colleagues at The Wine Society, and two blogs about my vineyard experience last year have been posted on their blog for the same reason.
  • I’ve applied for three writing gigs, two of which I was told about by other people – which I didn’t get, but which did expand my portfolio.
  • I’ve been to an incredible writing event courtesy of IdeasTap, run by the editor of Domestic Sluttery (and my boss), Sian Meades – who also kindly took the time to encourage me to attend.

Basically, I’ve learnt one extremely important lesson: as soon as you make a leap into the unknown, you very quickly realise just how supportive and wonderful the people around you are. Never underestimate the brilliance of the people in your life.

They’ll be the ones that give you work initially. They’ll be the ones that put you in touch with good contacts. They’ll be the ones that make you believe (by telling you, lots) you’re a writer so you actually start writing.

So it turns out, I’m a writer now. Yay!

Diet Special #3: The Skinnygirl Way

Naturally Thin Bethenny FrankelLast time I blogged, my waistline was getting ugly but my attitude to dieting was getting uglier.

I’d spent a month following Weightwatchers religiously, only to find when I gave up and ate normally my weight remained as vigilantly the same as it did when I was constantly hungry. Put simply, Weightwatchers does not work for me. 

You were ever so lovely in the comments: giving me good advice, and not pointing and laughing at my wobbly bits or anything. Best of all, however, was Stefanie Grace‘s recommendation that I check out a book by Bethenny Frankel.

This book stuck in my mind, and after a day or so I plonked it on my Amazon wishlist. On my birthday – a day of eating cake and steak and pancakes – I unwrapped one of my delightful Grandpa and Grandma’s gifts to me, and there it was: Naturally Thin: Release Your Inner Skinnygirl and Unleash Yourself From a Lifetime of Dieting.

I devoured it in just over a day, and here is my review:

Book Review: Bethenny Frankel’s Naturally Thin: Release Your Inner Skinnygirl and Unleash Yourself From a Lifetime of Dieting (£12 at Amazon).

Bethenny Frankel doesn’t want us to diet, EVER AGAIN. Have you got that? Okay, now stop laughing and actually read what she has to say. It makes sense.

Because ladies: we spend our lives dieting. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to take responsibility for what we shove in our face holes. We’ve become terrified of eating, lest we “slip” and eat ALL OF THE BACON.

We need to start taking control of our diet like actual adult human beings. Living life according to others is silly – even if you’re copying your Mum or your best friend rather than what Mr. Atkins tells you – not least because everyone is different anyway, so you need to start listening to yourself.

This is the basic premise of Frankel’s book, and is it a bit brilliant or what? Yes, yes it is. Even though it’s common sense, sometimes we need to re-educate ourselves to break the habit of freaking out every time your stomach rumbles and wondering what you’re “allowed” to eat.

So Frankel gives us this education in a handy set of 10 lessons, each building on the last. For example:

Lesson #1. Balancing your diet like a bank account – you wouldn’t spend your monthly salary each day and not care about the consequences, so don’t eat cake and pie and cheese every day if you “haven’t got the funds”, shall we say. But if you’ve been frugal all week, you can afford to splash out a bit on a Saturday night.

Lesson #5: Downsize. You don’t have to cut your favourite foods out of your life, but you’re not daft: you know how much is too much. So why not drink wine out of a smaller glass, or put your maltesers in a smaller bowl? That way, you don’t even notice.

Lesson #8: Know Thyself. Do what will actually suit you in the longrun. Exercise is great, but if you can’t make a thrice-weekly session stick, don’t smash yourself in the face over it. Find something else. Some people can do without cream in their coffee – if you can’t, just do without something else. If you can have chocolates in the house without scoffing the lot, have them. If you can’t, stop buying them until you can.

It’s not a long book, but it can be slightly repetitive and the American “HECK YEAH!” attitude became a little wearing at times (forgive me, I’m British, I get grumpy a lot) but all in all it’s a bloody good read. Especially redeeming is the way she repeatedly warns us not to freak out if you go wrong: there’s a lot of days left in your life to get it right, so just try again.

Throughout, Frankel is firm but fair: she’s not afraid to say “You’re not stupid – you know how much ice cream is too much” but then she also spends a rather touching chapter reassuring us that if you binge, you need to forgive yourself and move on – that way, you stop the vicious cycle of comfort-eating.

It’s not perfect – there are times when the ingredients and foods Frankel suggests are a bit too ‘health-freak’ for me, and she doesn’t really cover situations like visiting friends or young adults living in houses where they don’t get much say in the weekly food shop. But as she keeps saying, if you’re different, you just have to find another way to do things.

Literally packed full of advice that is realistic and easy to follow, after reading the Skinnygirl book I already feel good about myself again. I’ve been following it for a week and I’ve lost a pound, and it feels like I’m not even trying. Whether that continues is up for debate, but I’ll let you know.

Bethenny Frankel’s “Naturally Thin” is available from Amazon in paperback for £12.

Diet Special #2: I’d Rather Be Curvy Than Hungry

Song: Chumbawamba – I Get Knocked Down

Here we are, a full month into my Weightwatchers shenanigans, and I can officially confirm I’m not Patsy Kensit yet.

You’ll be pleased to know in Week 2 I lost 3lbs, and actually quite enjoyed the food I had. The issue is that due to my bizarrely low ProPoints allowance, I realised I was starting to associate feeling ravenously hungry with succeeding at the plan – not the healthiest thing you’ve heard all day, I imagine.

Let me give you an idea of what I’d be allowed in one day if I didn’t use any of my ‘Weekly Allowance’ (let’s just be honest and call this my ‘Booze and Cake Points’, which can easily be used on a person’s average weekend.)

Daily Allowance: 26 points


One 40g bowl of Shreddies – 4 points (have a look at how much 40g is. I guarantee it’s about half what you’d call a bowl of shreddies)
One ‘serving’ skimmed milk (140ml) – 1 point
Total = 5 points


2 slices of bread – 4 points
1 tsp low-fat spread – 1 point
1 30g slice of roast ham – 2 points
Total = 7 points


One small salmon fillet – 6 points
175g cooked couscous – 5 points
(in the couscous) vegetables roasted in 1tsps olive oil – 1 points
(in the couscous) 1 tbsp raisins – 2 points
Total = 14 points

Total = 26 points.

That’s it folks. No snacks, no treats, no dessert, no wine. A tiny bowl of cereal, an uninspiring sandwich, and a bit of salmon and couscous. END OF FOOD ALLOWANCE, CHUBS.

Yes, I appreciate if I could buy that weird spray-on cooking fat and spend hours researching how to squeeze every last drop of joy out of my food, I’d probably have a more interesting daily lineup of eats. The problem is I HAVE A NORMAL LIFE. We work hard, we socialise, we do stuff like relaxing, paying bills and washing ourselves, all of which take up precious calorie-counting time.

AND YET I managed to stick to the plan EVERY DAY for the whole of Week 3 too. And I weighed myself. And I’d put a pound back on again.

Total weightloss in 3 weeks of sticking to the rules: 2lbs. QUOI?

Week 4 was tricky – I attended a social gathering where it turns out my lovely hostess had bought us all a Chinese. Rather than being a whiny bitch and storming out to buy myself a Weightwatchers readymeal, I said thank you for the obvious act of kindess and ate a small portion instead. And used the rest of my Weekly Allowance for some weekend wine. So sue me.

I then spent the rest of the week being super-good to make up for it. I also did more exercise than usual, but didn’t use my ‘Activity Points’. Weigh in: Put on ANOTHER POUND.

This means that so far this week I have been in full rebellion mode – 2 parties, all of the wine, even a sneaky biscuit or two.
Weigh in today: Put on my final pound (the same amount as the weeks where I ate sweet fuck all), bringing me very nearly back to the start of my journey.

The question is – do I stay or do I go? Is one month enough? Feel free to motivate, placate or berate me in the comments.

Diet Special #1: Evil, Thy Name is Weightwatchers

Song: Perfect 10 – Beautiful South

I’m back already! I know, two blog posts in two hours when the last one was nine months previous. I get my timings wrong sometimes.

It’s time to mention the D word. January brings all manner of wrongs: the knowledge you have twelve months to wait until Christmas, the month with the highest suicide rate, and the dreaded New Year’s Resolutions.

It seems almost obligatory to be on a diet, and because during the previous month it ironically seems almost obligatory to gorge yourself into oblivion, losing weight can seem a somewhat perilously high mountain to climb.

It’s also massively NOT IN ANY WAY FUN, no matter how much the dreaded women’s mags dress it up to seem like such a total breeze and the tastiest time you’ve had in ages. “Craving a snack? Simply eat a small handful of unsalted nuts!” Thanks, but I’d rather die choking on a Twix.

As you can tell, I’m not afraid to admit I am pessimistic about diets. I’m also nowhere near overweight, but I do want to lose maybe half a stone and try to get fitter and healthier – so I signed up to Weightwatchers.

I’ve decided to blog about how it’s going, with the aim of maybe showing a bit of solidarity among all my miserable, dieting friends. I’m also recording my experiences to show it’s okay to hate it, it’s okay to take some bits of advice and leave others in order to make it work in the long term, and it’s okay to have days when you just go “OH FUCK IT, GET ME A TRIFLE.” We’re human, and it doesn’t hurt to fail sometimes. Warning: I fail, a lot.

P.S If you’re not interested in reading about my day-to-day eating, you probably don’t want to read on. Shoo, now. I’m doing this more me more than anything.

Here we go with: Week One

Daily Points Allowance: 26. Weekly Allowance: 49
(If you want to know more about how Weightwatchers works, click here. I’ve been on it in the past – about five years ago – and I lost around a stone, but they use an entirely new system now.)

Day One (Weds 2nd Jan): Ate leftover chocolate cheesecake for breakfast. Erm, my bad. But I made up for it by eating delicious vegetables and a low-calorie sandwich as the sum total of the rest of my daily food. That’s healthy, right?

Day Two (Thurs 3rd): My ‘Sainsbury’s Be Good To Yourself’ chicken salad sandwich manages to wipe out almost a third of my points. ONE SANDWICH, that was mostly cucumber. Spent the afternoon sulking, and had to pick the meat out of my stew in the evening so I wouldn’t go over my points too much.

Spent the rest of the evening screeching “HOW is this normal eating?” at random intervals, and in the end totally caved in and ate a leftover panna cotta in a fit of rage. It was the tastiest thing in the world.

Day Three: I wake up with a horrendous cold and no voice, which makes me feel like the inside of my head is expanding and that someone snuck into my room and sandpapered my throat in the night, so I spend the day in bed feeling even more sorry for myself.
Still, Friday night is supposed to be fun, right? So I decide to set aside enough points for a couple of glasses of wine (that I can’t taste) so I can curl up on the sofa and get tipsy watching Channel 4 mashup with The Boy. I have to watch him eat a hearty, homemade spag bol and biscuits which I AM NOT ALLOWED, while I tuck into the world’s smallest Weightwatchers readymeal. Aside from this all I’ve had is marmite on toast and some shreddies, all day. I do not feel like I am winning at life.

Day Four: Big dinner party plans, so I know I have to be careful during the day. My dinner party host is kind enough to give me the menu in advance. I work out that – without including any drinks – I have the sum total of 1 daily point left for the rest of the day.
Obviously, I go way into my Weekly allowance. This is my lunch:


That, quite literally, is 2 seasoned tomatoes on two slices of toast. This is the point where I start to wonder whether I should just chop off a limb instead.

Day Five: Let me show you my miserable excuse for a breakfast:


(One slice of toast, 1 tsp of margarine) The Boy, on the other hand, ate this:


I hate him. Also: DUN DUN DUN. Sunday means family roast dinner. But, additional DUN DUN DUN: I manage to keep to my points all day, with no problems. EVEN THOUGH I ate this:


In your FACE, diet. I’m back on track.

Day Six: Another day of keeping to my points all day, and I get to eat things like roasted mediterranean vegetables, a chocolate mousse, and a Weightwatchers chocolate miniroll. I even get a glass of wine. And it doesn’t hurt at all!

Day Seven: Just like yesterday, I aced being on a diet and ate seriously delicious food, in moderation. I’m also finding I have more energy than I did at the start, and drinking more water. I expect to wake up tomorrow having lost ALL OF THE WEIGHT and looking like Charlize Theron.

Weigh-in: I have lost half a pound. Half a buggering pound. All together now: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Although I’m disheartened, I’m also aware that I need to give this more time before I dropkick it entirely. I just can’t help feeling like this isn’t a normal, or worth it, way to live. But I’m giving it one more week before I jack it all in and eat the contents of all my cupboards.

Are you on a diet? Are you feeling as hard done by as I am? TELL ME ABOUT IT.