Very, very exciting (and pleasingly close to home as well!).
I had a great time last year, it was exactly what I needed after the Great Wallow of 2012 aka my RNA report. Hopefully it will work its magic again; since sending Summer Fling back to the editor 7 weeks and 2 days ago *coughs* I have had a major crisis of confidence. A weekend of inspiration is exactly what I need.
And not just inspiration on the writing front. One of the talks this year will be given by a woman who has had a huge effect my year; Kate Harrison.
As I drove back from Penrith last year I made a couple of promises to myself. That I would return to the conference as a published writer and I would return a great deal slimmer. The first seems just as far away as it did a year ago. The second, thanks to Kate, is beginning to feel - and look - very achievable.
I have always struggled with my weight. It's easy to blame circumstances; a slow metabolism, the craziness of life as a working parent, lack of time. And these are all factors. But I also really like food. And wine. Five years ago, thanks to the excellent puddings at the school I worked at, I put on a terrifying amount of weight. I lost it, struggling back to a just-acceptable BMI and swore I would never let that happen again. Only it did. Of the two stone I had so painfully shed, one and a half crept back on, so slowly I barely noticed.
Only I knew. When you can't bear to look at any photos on Facebook, when you do your best not to be in any photos, when your jeans have to be put away because they don't fit, your tops gape - you know. There's a point when you can't tell yourself it's 'natural curves' any longer. And it's not just about vanity. I have a small daughter. I want to be a good, healthy role model and when the size sixteens are getting tight and the answer is always found in a slice of cake and glass or three of wine you have to wonder just what kind of example you are setting.
So last March I made a start. Three months on Slimming World shed the first six pounds, then eight months of My Fitness Pal got rid of another eight. But sticking to 1200 calories a day was restrictive and it was all too easy to slip. Then, in the New Year, I kept seeing people referring to the 5:2. Eating normally five days a week but restricting your calorie intake to 500 or under on the other two.
It sounded hideous. No way was I going to get sucked in.
But then I bought Kate's book. And slowly I began to think maybe this might be a good idea and in the spring I finally decided to give it a go. One of the things I really liked was the challenge of allowing myself to feel hungry, not reaching for ways to instantly silence the first hunger pang.
Having already lost a stone it hasn't been a dramatic plunge in weight. Rather a slow, steady half pound a week - but overall I have lost twenty one pounds. My BMI is acceptable, I fit in the jeans, in fact they are a little loose! I'd like to lose another half stone and then I think I'll be fine, still pleasantly curvy (not that I would flaunt them) but healthy. Able to enjoy cake and the odd glass or three, but also at peace with being hungry. Fit enough to walk the dog for miles and happy to enjoy a good pub meal afterwards.
Now if Kate can supply the same kind of writing inspiration then this year's conference is really going to be a success!