Thursday, July 1, 2010

Clearing The Second Hurdle

Day 15

Then: 15 stone 5 pounds (215 lbs)
Now: 14 stone 9 pounds (205 lbs)

Yeeeessssss! I've lost precisely two weeks from my life and 10 pounds from my waistline.

I’m writing this on a train – I travel to London every week and take whichever mode of transport fits my schedule and wallet. I quite enjoy the train because it takes little longer than the plane door to door (once you’ve counted the time to schlep to your meeting from Stansted or Heathrow) and you can sit quietly at a table reading. Or, in this case, writing to you kind and welcome friends who are following this blog.

I say friends, but most of you I’ve never met. Whoever you are, I’d like to say how grateful I am to you for joining me each day: what started as a trickle of curiosity has grown into quite a few regular visitors, and part of the reason for my persistence is a desire not to let you all down. However, I secretly suspect (please correct me if I am wrong) most of you are reading this because you are convinced it’s all going to end in tears. Perhaps you have read accounts of my previous ill-fated attempts at dieting (on Blog From The North) and know just how weak my willpower is. Well, just for you, I faced the ultimate test just 20 minutes ago.

As I’m on the 7.20am, one of the few East Coast trains which still carry a restaurant car, I took fate by the horns and sat in the diner surrounded by businessmen tucking into The Great British Breakfast. Fried egg cooked in oil on top of an English muffin, with bacon, sausage, tomatoes, black pudding, baked beans, mushrooms, toast with butter and marmalade – all served rather gingerly by a man carrying a tray hurtling through the Yorkshire countryside at 125 miles per hour. It’s a British tradition fast dying out – full English breakfast on a train. They used to serve fried bread too: white bread soaked in the oil left over in the frying pan. I guess the muffin is the train service’s contribution towards healthy eating.

Even for someone who’s not been starving himself for the last fortnight, the smell of morning bacon and sausage is overwhelmingly seductive, but I successfully ignored the tray of steaming fat-bearers and ordered the only thing on the menu I’m allowed to eat: a plate of Craster (yes, Craster – see my previous blog about the amazing Robson smokery) smoked salmon. The train used to serve kippers, which would have been heaven right now, permissible, filling, good for you and delicious, but for some reason they’ve changed the menu. Perhaps passengers were complaining about the smell. Kippers have a pretty overpowering whiff: for me it’s the scent of Scottish holidays with my parents in a bed-and-breakfast in St Abbs Head – porridge and kippers is still my favourite way of starting the day.

The salmon arrives with scrambled egg on a muffin and I surreptitiously taste just a teaspoonful of egg. Thankfully it’s utterly tasteless (rather like scrambled egg made with pasteurized dried egg must have tasted in the war), so it’s easy to ignore completely and eat just the fish and tiny grilled tomatoes. They also bring a yoghurt. Halfway through, I look at the label: rich and creamy strawberry. 129 calories per 100 grams, and there are 150 grams in the jar. It tastes historic, as Michael Winner would say. I virtuously leave half the yoghurt (well, quite a bit less than a half), and the steward comes to ask me if there’s anything wrong with my scrambled eggs. I smile smugly. Ten pounds to go.

A large lady sitting opposite is reading the cooking magazine Delicious. She’s left it open at an article called “Hungry Traveller”. Now that’s just plain mean.


  1. mmm Craster Kippers.....

    10lbs is great. That's a dress size, or pants size in your case. You're going to need new clothes for that photo. Well done.

    word verification is 'porke'. I'm not kidding

  2. St Abbs Head: what a small world. All my childhood holidays were spent at the Haven Hotel in St Abbs: three square meals a day, rounds of applause for latecomers to the dining room, afternoon egg and spoon races and evening amateur dramatics for the kiddies (in which I was, of course, too lazy/shy/stubborn to participate). Now you tell me that there were "bed and breakfast" places in St Abbs for the poorer people, too. How I wish I had known at the time so I could have stood around outside feeling superior.

    Pretty impressed with your willpower on this ghastly diet, though.