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The Trouble With Trifles


For a few years before I moved from Scotland down to Yorkshire I used to do a lot of swimming at the University of Dundee pool. Not just a few lengths followed by ages in the shower, but hours in the pool every day training with a variety of interesting characters from accountancy students (maybe it’s the monotony of counting strokes and lengths that attracted them) to a former representative of Scotland at the Commonwealth Games (who was an awesome athlete – I could write pages on his flawless butterfly technique) to a triathlete who competed in IronMan races (he was a scaffolder by trade, was built like a bodybuilder but had endurance like you couldn’t believe – which is essential for a 2.4 mile swim followed by 112 miles on a bike rounded off with a marathon).

Anyway, I used to train with these sorts of people, battling to keep up with them and their punishing sessions while acquiring quite a physique in the process (I’m sorry to disappoint you ladies out there but the v-shaped back, washboard abs and powerful shoulders are no longer quite there). The irony was that I learned to swim late preferring to burst into tears as a small child when presented with water like the wuss that I was. What I realised when I was 21 was that if my parents had been the pushy sort that pushed their kids into sport, I might have actually made a decent competitive swimmer. Ah well, I can always dream!

Right, I’m digressing somewhat (rambling comes with the territory when I take trips down Memory Lane). So I’d walk out of the pool from a tough session and my arms would feel like they’re about to fall out, my legs would feel like jelly and the goggle marks around my eyes would make me look like I was wearing eye liner. I was ravenously hungry. At the time I wasn’t drinking alcohol, was eating wisely, steering clear of junk food and high fat stuff, generally looking after myself. Except for one vice I allowed myself. Full sized trifles.

A bowl of delicious trifle

The saying “Never go shopping for food when you’re hungry” is spot on as if I went to the supermarket after a workout I’d inevitably come back with a family sized trifle. I’d remove the lid, get a dessert spoon out from a drawer and devour the whole thing (which would normally feed 4) in a matter of minutes.

Digression Number 2: I was at a party once where I’d just finished explaining this piece of gluttony to the hostess who said “I’ve got a trifle in the fridge, I don’t believe you could just eat the whole thing like that”. Cut to 10 minutes later and a horrified expression on her face when I’d done exactly that!

The way I figured it, since I was burning thousands of calories per day and was eating very healthily in general, I could get away with such a high concentration of Trifles Per Week (or TPW) and indeed I suffered no ill effects. Sadly when I moved to Yorkshire I couldn’t find anybody to train with who was at the level I was at so I eventually hung up my trunks and moved onto other things. And curiously, my obsession with trifles went too. I’m not sure whether it was the chlorine or the tight-fitting trunks, but as soon as I was no longer exposed to that lifestyle my desire to gorge myself on trifles disappeared.

It’s a shame really as I’d become quite an expert on trifles having eaten so many varieties (things like varying the ratio of sponge thickness to custard to cream can make all the difference in advanced trifle design and manufacture). Strangely I’ve managed to replace the swimming / trifle combination with a similar football / tiffin obsession so I suspect that different sports have different complementary foods that you (or strange people like me) crave. I may have to do some experiments to find out – huge waistline here I come…

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

9 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Yuck!!! I love trifle but only home made some of the custard and cream tastes powdery on supermarket bought stuff! I’ll have to make a trifle sometime 🙂


  2. ah, the Ironman, 7 years left to do one before my 40th, this year is London at Oly distance, next year a half….

    Trifle’s are the best


  3. Good luck Dave! The guy I trained with said that he had tears streaming down his face when he crossed the finish line the first time following the hours of effort pushing himself through the pain barrier. Can’t have been too bad as he raced again the next year and won!

    He was about 40 actually and reckoned it was the best age to do an Ironman since endurance is key rather than the speed of youth!


  4. its probably a good thing you didnt swim when you are younger, I used to swim at state level, but like most people I dropped out at around the age of 15.
    most swimmers (especially boys) lose interest in swimming at ~15, no matter how good they are, which is a shame really, and of course the few that continue on go to win the olympics for us aussies 🙂


  5. Yeah, you’re probably right!

    And swimming is of course one of the many sports that you Australians lead the world at! Although a Scotsman did get bronze at the 1500m free a couple of Olympics ago! (Behind two Australians of course)!


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