Hello, you lot. Darling Rod, my swarthy flight attendant, I am flying back on Sunday 20th, the evening flight. Cancel all your plans. I need you to see the new me. Now, thank heavens I can fit into one seat. What a relief.
As for you women who think I am being brave, it doesn't take bravery to do what I am doing. Just iron resolve. But let me tell you walking through San Diego with the smell of a thousand island restaurants assaulting your senses is just about as testing as it gets. I am hanging in though to get rid of five years of hearty, happy, totally unhealthy eating - and it's working.
As we speak, Josh, my host, is cooking up a steak with mushrooms, onions, cilantro (coriander) and a large helping of olive oil. Zoe is lying on the settee, as she is unable to move her legs from being made to work out so strenuously by her live-in-lover that she can only walk a few paces before applying for a legal separation. She's not ill and is happily injesting the smells. I'm salivating as he chops up my lettuce, onion, tomatoes and sprouts... little live sunflower seed sprouts that take a year to chew and make your enzymes scream with delight. But, you see, it's all in the mind. My three lettuce leaves, and the organic fly that Zoe so lovingly laid on my plate, will taste just as wonderful as his big, fat, juicy, sweet smelling, unctious slab of best fresh beef from Henry's the organic supermarket, and yes, vegetarian pigs might fly.
But OHI is a lot easier than you think. The whole day is timetabled so you know where you are and what your stomach is doing.
The second week is a deeper understanding of the first.
All the one weekers have gone leaving Rita, Neil and I stranded in a sea of new faces. The freshers had the same expressions that we had had: anxiety, confusion and a look of manic determination. Many, however, are revisiting, which is a testimony to the place that people come back over and over to further their understanding of the raw food philosophy and continue their detox. If there isn't a 'health opportunity' then the average human will take four months to get rid of toxins out of the body. Some of the stories are hair-raising: from medically prescribed drug addiciton to Mercury poisoning which afflicted a pharmacist who works perpetually healing the sick throughout America. She recently spent months on a reservation helping the Native Americans deal with their diabetes. Sugar everywhere as well as lots to drink. Anyway, our pharmacist was so sick she had to stop work. She was bed-ridden, and broken from pain. After several colonics and the regime of raw food, not to mention the ubiquitous wheatgrass, she finally passed the mercury out of her body. You may be eating as you read this so I will spare you the gory details but what she gave back to the land fertilised four hundred acres of the Nevada Desert.
I was allergic to the rejuvelac so Karen the 'colonic cween' took me off the stuff and now I am no longer full of hot air, although Jim would disgree.
This morning Karen collected me from outside the penitentiary for a 6.00am appointment with my pipe. She told me about her childhood growing up on a farm in North Dakota. She had three cows to milk. Her brother and sister had four. She fed the pigs and over a hundred chickens and then jumped on her horse, no saddle or bridle, and galloped off to school. I took the 358 bus.
I walked back from the Holistic Care Centre (when I arrived I thought it said holistic CAR centre) and had to cross big main roads. If you jaywalk you can get fined $75. So, you press a button at the crossing and wait. If the flashing hand is red, you don't move a muscle. The minute it turns white, you keep your mind on the job. The seconds count down before your very eyes, letting you know just how long you've got before a Mexican, playing very loud tex-mex, runs you over with his forty-ton high-wheel-base truck.
This morning the San Diego trolley rattled down the track on the level crossing nearly distracting me from my road trip.
Walking back I passed lots of dogs. There are loads of bassett hounds over here, several American flags, and road after road of beaten up bungelows. They really do have yards, not gardens, and more often than not a baseball hoop attached to the garage behind 12 parked cars.
Saturday is an easy day although there is still an exercise class. I love them. Each morning I stand between the trees in the morning sunshine, which has been 90 degrees this week, and limber up before we all do it together. Others join me outside, but loads are in the MPR (Multi Purpose Room - keep up!).
We have a demonstrator who demonstrates - usually a missionary, who is somebody who elects to stay on the programme for a further three months. It's mutually beneficial - they get well and the Institute gets willing workers.
A taped female voice soothes us through the PA, telling us to look to our left, breathe deeply and hold in the rear. It is a bit like a very healthy Butlins run by Jennifer Aniston.
We walk twice round the campus and do the hula to Hawaian music. We swing our bodies to the soundtrack of an elephant trumpeting and we conclude the class by lying on our backs and laughing hysterically as it massages the whole body. We all force the laugh until somebody really goes and then it's contagious but sometimes I can't find anything to laugh about at 7.30 in the morning when I've still got my plumbing to do.
The yoga class at 4.30 is sublime. Most of us are feeling sick or weak so we lie on our backs and Dan the man works us through gentle stretching. He sounds just like Kevin Costner and before each posture says 'Go ahead and...'
I have never had a yoga teacher who tells us to 'go ahead'. As we twist our right leg behind our back with our left leg extended forward our foreheads on the floor whilst 6 ounces of wheatgrass are lapping precariously in the large intestine.
It's informal. When Dan said on Tuesday that the class was BLISS CITY, I was reminded that I was in the good old US of A and Bliss City ain't any where near Basingstoke. Little lizards run up the walls, through the grass and over your feet. Snakes abound. One crawled into a downstairs room. I reported it to reception. The janitor sauntered over, watched it and determined that it was okay. Two humming bird families have set up home. One in a bush and the other at the top of a sun shade. Right at the top of the metal pole, underneath the awning. There is an almost indescernible nest. The mummy-hummer sits on her tiny eggs whilst the daddy flaps those wings at a hundred miles a minute and brings home the bacon, although at OHI it's juicy organic worms.
Josh and Zoe drove me to La Jolla, pronounced La Hoyer, where the seals swim ( I saw one), dolphins play (not today), and flocks of pelicans sit on the rocks overlooking the Pacific - they are terrific and fly in perfectly drawn formations.
Two humans were getting married on a rock. She was pregnant. He was hairy. Photos were taken by the registrar and two guests. God forbid if a big wave had come - the baby would have been baptised before its time. Long may they be happy.
A Mountain Cloak butterfly, black with lovely yellow markings, was attached by Clayton to my shoulder. 'She's dying', he said. 'Let her lick the salt off your shoulder and she'll live a little longer.'
So as I listened for an hour to Wendy lecturing about Focus and telling us that she has ACCLIMATED to the sun, which is yankee for aclimatised, while the little butterfly flicked her tongue on my skin. She stayed with me as I walked to juice my wheatgrass and then fell off.
I still feel bad that I didn't pick her up something distracted me. You could say I gave her the cold shoulder.
After lunch today Josh collected me in his big copper-coloured truck and drove me to Pacific Beach, also known as PB. There is a 'Trader Joes' and 'Henry's' - two massive organic supermarkets with the healthiest, sunniest looking clientele. They all look like Californian babes. Even the men. Especially the men!
These three weeks have been about rest and recuperation so I have been having all sorts of treatments. Today I had a massage by Josh, not Zoe's geezer but a 'massoose' who works in Zoe's Masssage Therapy Centre. It was so relaxing I nearly fell off the table.
On Thursday Gloria from Gudalahara in Mexico gave me a salt scrub. I climbed up into a big square bath that was wide enough for me, Jim, and the dog. I laid down with a little towel to cover my hows-your-father and a towelling pillow under my head. Six shower heads, attached to a pipe, were turned on by Gloria who had now changed into a flowery swim suit and shorts. The temperature was adjusted so the water was perfect and it was like being out in very warm summer rain.
Gloria put on her mitts and sponged me on my front then my back. Then she scooped up sea salt and scrubbed me on my front and back. Then she oiled me with jojoba oil.
When I emerged I was so shiny and clean I veritably squeaked. A Ukrainian woman with dyed blonde hair and very full lips (I suspect botox) was sitting outside in the garden by the man-made water feature.
'It felt like I was a baby again', I said, breakng the ice.
'Oy!', she shrieked, 'I just said that to the receptionist. Like being a beby again. Like my mother sponging me beck in my Urals'. We hugged each other and cried, tears rolling down our old emigre faces.
We also had a lesson on personal care. Each one of us, including the men, wiped our faces with Rejuvelac (fermented rye or quinoa) smeared on wheatgrass, then put on a mask of avocado and sesamy seeds, lay on our backs with cucumber slices on our eyes and listened to a tape of relaxing music.
I swear if Jim had been here he would have licked my face and he doesn't even like avocado. Everybody looked 20 years younger after the facial but I dare not do it at home. If Jackson gets one whiff he'll paw me to the ground and eat my face off.
Whilst waiting for a lecture - it could have been how to prepare saurkraut or conscious breathing (I don't remember which) - I earwigged a conversation. Two women from Texas were talking about their farms. They laughed as one told the other about five coyotes who crept onto the ranch and slaughtered all of her 21 ducks and their babies. 'Not all in one kill?', said the other. 'All in one kill, but that wasn't as bad as the day the eagle came on Mother's Day,' she continued. 'An eagle as big as the State of Texas flew into the yard, made a high pitched scream and coasted three feet above the ground. His talens were out ready to grab those darn ducks. He got them and those ducks cost $7 bucks a piece.''
She faced the eagle eyeball to eyeball but realised that it could scratch her eyes out so she let it be.
We have a little robin who visits our garden in Sussex and picks at the peanuts. I rest my case.
Well, there's only one week left and then I'm back home. My final week will get even deeper and I may come home a shadow of my former self. I jolly well hope so (and that is pronounced jolly not Hoyer), but if I do fall off the painted wagon I take comfort in the words of Tom who was on the juice fast: 'One day doesn't make a lifetime.'
I miss y'all and my lovely family. My mother was 85 today but I toasted her with wheatgrass and saluted her with a stick of Celery. I can't believe I told you that.
Sleep well and cunxtwk.
Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes
Very entertaining, Jennifer. xxx
I'm sure you must be bored by now of people saying how much they miss you and GFL. So, apologies, one more 'miss you lady' to add to the list. Have only just found your blog and wanted to add my support. For what it's worth have left various complaining, terse messages on the MK etc message boards. Am quite sure they will be heartily ignored! I'm sure something good is just around the corner for you as no one with your sense of humour should be allowed off our screens for any length of time.
My evenings of swigging gin, watching your show and preparing supper for the family after a humourless day at work are sadly missed - as are you!
Have to say you make me proud, you've taken the horn by the bulls and have really gone for it, that inspiring thing is happening again. Been off work work for 4 months after a nasty stomach op, and been using that as an excuse for being lazy and eating crap! so after New York....back to slimming world and work all on the same day. Loving reading about your experience and can't wait to have you back so we don't have to wait a whole week for a blog.
Lots of love
Marmite Girl xx
I so want to do something like this. Sounds great, all that detoxing and flushing through. Makes sense to me.
Good to hear you are getting the most out of it.
I hope you are going to post pics when you are back!
PS I no longer watch a certain cable channel... suddenly the repeats of the the other programmes just aren't the same not being interspersed with you.
Hi there again Jen, sounds like you've enjoyed your 3 weeks..so have we lost stacks of weight? I'm thinking should I do a little of my own OHI here in Australia? Hell just having no chardonnay for 3 weeks and I'd be a whole lot healthier! Is it all vegetarian food?
Look forward to reading your next entry ...take care, Shelley
I am so glad that you are writing the Blog about your adventures as it makes it more bearable that you are no longer on GFL. I really enjoyed the 5 years that you were on and I now give the new programme the 'switch off' treatment. I have made my feelings known on the UK Food message board along with hundreds of other loyal viewers. Long may you keep on writing and please return to our screens soon.
I'm really, really missing my daily fix of GFL now. Not the same at all.
You must come down to the south-west sometime. I have Michael Caines as my neighbour; I'm sure he'd entertain you.
Glad to hear you're surviving - although I'm sure all of us would love to see some before and after pictures!
How come the last time I was in SD, my avocado came with nachos and salsa!!
That sounds like suck a lovely place.
You really should get down to the Gaslamp Quarter. There are some lovely eateries. Although I'm not sure on their raw food policy.
Keep the faith Jeni.
And get back on my gogglebox soon.
enjoy the rest of your holiday. I just want you and great food live back.
Wow! What an incredible time you have had. You have been really dedicated, despite the various distractions. This trip has been just what you needed to "re-invent" yourself and blow away the cobwebs of the last few years. When will we be able to see the "new you"?
Will you be able to post some photos on the web?
I'm another one of Those people who have found your journal from links posted to the UKTV food message boards and I'm so glad I did.
I've just read back from January to now, and ye gods woman, you can't half write - you've got a real gift for capturing and conveying situations and personalities. It's been a pleasure reading all of these posts, and I do hope you carry on writing here.
I'm sending good thoughts for your deep final week. Here's hoping that your journey back home is a safe one, and you get better seatmates than the journey out!
Jen, this is just a quick one as I'm off to Chicago today...so just wanted to let you know that I have contacted my friend who'll be operating your flight home to keep an eye out for you. His name is Richie and he's a diamond bloke. He'll do his best to make you as comfortable as poss. Sorry I couldn't make it to see your transformation......after 3 weeks (hasn't it gone fast) you've lost and changed and I've just found another year and more grey!! So unfair!
Anyhow darling Jen, safe flight home and catch up with you soon.
Hugs Rod xxx
Just managed to find your blog and so glad I did. I watched your GFL programme daily (I live in Spain) and it was always informative and entertaining - I really miss it and of course you, the fabulous presenter, who 'made it all happen'. We miss you Jenni but we are so glad that you have had a good rest and recuperation period, and look forward to news of your new challenges.
Hi again Jen I've been away myself for a couple of weeks (not a holiday but family stuff) so was pleased to catch up with you today. It sounds as if u having a ball! Happy b'day to your mum. Bet Jim & Jackson are missing you like mad.You've cheered me up once again reading your blog. Keep it up safe journey home Lots a luv xx
You ever read 'The Electric Cool Aid Acid Test'? You'd like it, I think.
Just wanted to hay hello and ask about whats the next big thing? Where will we see you next? What about the Hay on Wye festival? You'd be absolutely spot on for that. Read out your blog. It's so much better written and infinitely better constructed than most of the work there. If you can do this on a website for us then I can't wait to read your words in a novel.
You're still being missed on telly. I don't see much t.v. these days as I'm looking after elderly, dotty parents, (and also working full time with elderly, dotty people..... is it me, do you think?!) who only want to watch sport.
Anyway! Where ever you go, what ever you do, all the best, and never forget, you've got millions of us pals with you.
Missing UKTVFood as I no longer get my daily fix, i.e. (don't watch it anymore)!!!! I used to have it as my homepage, but don't now since you've gone. Come back soon. Abiento!
Hey Jeni. Miss seeing you on the telly, but good to read you on here. I read it in my head with all your intonations etc (hope that sounds okay in a good way and not a 'back away he's crazy way) and it keeps me smiling.
Wanted to let ya know you're still missed and fantastic for letting us read what's going through your head. If you ever fancy a chuckle I'll show you my blog.