Grabbing the Bullring by the horns

After my weekend wobble I have been slowly regaining my impetus and moving in the right direction. I’m not interested in dwelling in the past – only about moving forward. With this in mind I decided to face a really stupid fear that’s been bugging me for months (well several years actually) and that’s going to Birmingham on the train.

There’s nothing inherently scary about Birmingham per se – it’s more about being further out of my comfort zone than I’m used to with my car miles away. In my head I’m still fat and immobile and at times it’s very hard to reconcile who I am now with who I was six months ago.

Birmingham used to be familiar territory for me. I grew up nearby and I spent most of my teenage years there on Saturdays, wasting time with friends and on occasion also getting pleasantly drunk.

Today though my objective was just to go to the Museum and Art Gallery and come back home. I decided to travel from Warwick Parkway and leave my car in Hampton Magna. It’s a nice little walk to the station and saves on parking fees.

By the time I was in Birmingham I actually felt quite relaxed. The Chiltern Railways line is better than I remember (I used to commute on it years ago before I moved to Warwick) and I travelled in a relaxed, quiet air-conditioned carriage with comfortable seating and plenty of legroom. I could even put the little lap tray down on the seat in front, which has traditionally been prevented by my huge stomach.

Win!

Before long I was at my destination, and wandered up from the train station to The Bull Ring shopping centre. This frankly terrible 80’s eye sore has benefitted immensely from regeneration, and although I’ve seen the end product before one can’t help taking a selfie with the big brass bull at the entrance.

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When I got to Birmingham initially it seemed that little had changed. Moor Street Station seemed just the same, and so did all the shops – however a quick walk around the corner from the bull proved that nothing could be further from the truth.

New Street Station was gone – replaced with an immense new mirror fronted ‘Grand Central’ station. It looks REALLY good. I couldn’t get a good picture of the new facade, as the sky clouded over and made it look brutally depressing – but this is how I USED to remember it vs how it is now in photos I found online.

The mirrors covering it are quite slimming too, depending on where you stand under them. 😄

Look! I’m teeny tiny!

I instantly became more fascinated with what had changed and less concerned with my intended destination. As I moved around Grand Central I noticed the cinema I’ve wanted to visit for ages. The Electric.

It claims to be the oldest in the UK and from what I’ve heard from people who’ve been there it’s about as premium an experience as it’s possible to get at the flicks. I remember it being a porn cinema in the late 80’s – so things are definitely on the up!

However there was absolutely nothing on that I felt like watching, which was a real shame. Maybe another day…

I moved inside Grand Central for a look about. It’s a very odd sensation standing in the middle of something I knew as one thing for the whole of my childhood and now it’s incomprehensibly different.

Inside it was a cavernous and impressive space, full of premium shops and concessions. I’m sure there were also trains somewhere but they were cleverly hidden. It was all a far cry from its aging and draughty predecessor.

As I emerged from the back of it (I really had no idea where I’d come out) I instantly recognised the old New Street ‘ramp’. Anyone who’s lived in Birmingham will know (and probably hate) this old entrance to the station that smashed people into each other – all moving in opposite directions.

Sadly it’s still there.

As I ambled up toward the museum past the new tram network (none seemed to be running strangely so no pics) I began to grasp what some of the ladies from Slimming World meant when they said there was a lot of construction going on. The huge old central library is now a crater and the site is being slowly cleared for (snore) an office block.

Back in the 90’s this is how it looked. I used to sit on the steps close by the entrance to eat my packed lunch when I came here, and watch people go about their day until the cold concrete made my bum go numb.

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Now the march of progress has taken what was admittedly a pretty damn ugly building and will replace it with… who knows? I’ll have to go back in 2018 to find out according to the advertising hoarding.

Things have moved on a lot I guess and we don’t necessarily need the library any more now we have the internet at our fingertips – but I can’t help feeling a twinge of sadness. I used to go there sometimes to look at the microfilms of old newspapers and travel back in time to specific dates in history to see what people had to say about Kennedy being assassinated or the moon landings.

Some things haven’t changed however – and the Town Hall and Museum look just the same as ever.

Although I don’t know much about him my great uncle was Lord Mayor of Birmingham from 1929-1930. Various places in the centre are named after our family – and I always used to smile a little bit when I went around Lancaster Circus on the bus back in the 1990’s. My dad still has his large, heavy truncheon of office with the crest of Birmingham emblazoned on it. I remember when I held this weighty teak police baton for the first time it filled me with a strange sense of pride and for some reason it’s remained in my memory ever since.

With a nostalgic smile I moved on to the museum and art gallery.

Pretty much as soon as I stepped inside I decided it wasn’t for me. The layout had completely changed and the museum side that I loved as a child (with big dinosaur bones etc) seemed to have been replaced with entirely underwhelming things.

On top of that it was HORRENDOUSLY hot, meaning I was soon sweating like mad – and for a big guy wearing a light blue shirt on this is NOT a good look. After a short 20 minutes I exited stage left and decided to wander elsewhere.

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That elsewhere ended up being Birmingham Cathedral – which I initially wandered into to look at the stained glass, and kind of got trapped in the middle of a lunchtime service. As the lady vicar was talking and there were quite a few people there thought it only polite to sit and listen.

Although I’m not religious the tone of the service was well meaning and thoughtful. It was kind and inclusive and came with a message of love and tolerance, so I found I rather enjoyed the brief ten minutes I spent in there.

As it was an active place of worship I thought it would be rather rude to start taking photographs, and moved on instead to find something to eat. This turned out to be a punnet of strawberries, some turkey pieces and two apples, which I ate sitting in the middle of the bullring by the church watching people talking.

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Most of them seemed to be families arguing oddly. I wasn’t sure why. At least two of them were in spirited disagreement about where to eat. Choice it seems is not always a good thing. I was in a pretty good mood in contrast – even though I’d found Birmingham to be largely underwhelming rather than the scary place it had become in my restricted fat man’s brain.

I finished my strawberries, drank my mineral water and headed back to the train. Before long I was on the express to London Marleybone, whizzing back to Warwick and my waiting car.

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All in all internet I’m happy with the day. I walked almost 8km around Warwick and Birmingham, and my calf muscle (carefully stretched and medicated before I started moving) played the game. It didn’t pander to my fears and strand me far from home. I also didn’t overeat and I conquered a silly silly fear.

I moved another step forward.

Davey

Feeling vulnerable

It’s sunny outside and I’ve just returned from a morning out. I’ve walked around the park, said hello to lots of ‘regulars’ and watched the world go by while talking with a friend. I’ve also been shopping at Aldi and filled my fridge with virtuous food of every description.

The bank holiday has now passed and I have to say that I didn’t enjoy a moment of it. I hibernated and felt sorry for myself and I’m mildly annoyed (and a little worried) about how in a really short space of time for no good reason the world temporarily came crashing down around me.

It hit on Saturday. Despite me losing weight (1.5lbs) I felt like a failure. A complete reject. I could hear the ‘voice’ in my head (or rather my inner monologue) all day long telling me that I wasn’t going to succeed – that I couldn’t keep up the momentum I’ve gathered, or that I’d back-slide and throw it all away.

It made no sense. I’d walked further than the channel tunnel the week before I weighed in, and made huge progress- but under it all I still felt like a failure. I wasn’t doing well enough – I wasn’t good enough. I was an outsider and the the rest of the world was normal.

In part this had its genesis a day before when a friend (a very kind and generous one – whom I love to bits) offered me a free ticket to an event that she knew I’d love. It was an open air event and I’d have to bring seating or sit on the floor to attend.

Despite her good intentions instantly my mind went into a spiral of fear and worry. How would I get to where we would sit – what would I sit on, what if it rained, how would my legs respond to having to stand, how would I look in front of her friends if I was struggling.

I blew it all out of proportion.

And it got worse. After weighing in I went to Leamington, thinking I should try to conquer my fear and find a portable seating solution so that I could go along with her. Instead I found seat after seat that I wouldn’t fit into or I was too heavy to sit on.

This was the biggest I found.

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150kg is 23 stone 8lbs. I’m 188.4kg and 29 stone 9.5lbs.

All of a sudden EVERYTHING seemed so far away, so impossible and so unobtainable. I felt angry with myself, ashamed about who I was and just wanted to withdraw from the world. I felt like I would be letting my friend down by turning down her kind offer. In my mind I was a huge freak and I felt out of place just looking at my reflection in the shop window.

I was fat, I looked fat, and felt that my reflection was the one I deserved. I did it all to myself. I loathed what I saw.

I walked further down the high street, thinking after a walk around Jephson Gardens I may feel better. I might meet people or see things that would change my outlook when I’m in the park.

Then I pulled my calf muscle.

Less than 30 minutes after arranging to go for a walk the following morning. I felt it go at the bottom of town and it hurt enough to make me hop to a bench.

I thought I was past this. I thought that the stupid injuries that happened just strolling down the street were a thing of the past. It seemed not.

Now I suddenly felt trapped in the open again – and it took me back to the darkest moments when I started my blog. I was immediately pulled back in time six months – stuck on a garden wall in the dark behind my house, unable to move, heart pounding in my chest – calf muscles in agony and with the start of what I know now as plantar fasciitis.

I slowly hobbled back to my car, parked a mile away outside Leamington and drove home.

I cancelled my walk the following morning with my friend from SW and began to eat hi-fi bars (these are from SW and are 3 syns per bar with 6 in a packet.) Before long I’d eaten the whole box – and then limped back into the kitchen to see what else there was.

I started eating and pretty much carried on eating for the following two days.

What was the point? I kept asking myself – why was I stupid enough to think I could be successful. Deep down all I wanted to do was eat, so why should I deny myself? Before long a second box of hi-fi bars was gone. I made myself a reasonable dinner on Sunday and then rather than save the rest I ate the exact same amount all over again. Twice. And then I went hunting for desert – a big bowl of yogurt and fruit and oats. Three meals in the space of an hour and a half.

Monday was the same – all I could think about was food, and I wanted to eat anything. Can of beans straight from the tin? No problem. Can of salmon? Sure – open it up and lets eat it. Mackerel? Yep – lets use it up. Bag of apples? All gone. How about making an omelette with six eggs in it? OK lets get started. Pack of ham? Bye bye piggy wiggy.

As it stands today – If I want to lose any weight on Saturday I have a lot of work to do. It’s not going to come easy. I will need some SP days (speed food and protein in SW terms) just to maintain.

The scariest thing about this Bank Holiday period was that this was EXACTLY how I felt when I lost the plot in 2008. For no discernible reason back then something small turned into a massive and seemingly insurmountable emotional avalanche that made me eat and drink so much that I put on a stone a month.

I told my friend this as we walked around the park today. He reminded me that I could always call him or pop over for a cup of tea in such moments – but in truth it’s not that easy. I’d have had a ‘yes but’ answer for anything positive anyone had to say prepared in my head, and my internal filters would have ignored people with well meaning suggestions and re-labelled their positivity as empty platitudes.

All I wanted to do for two and a half days was hide, eat, and sulk with my hurting leg and my fat arse that doesn’t fit into normal chairs, and feel sorry for myself.

I hate this part of me – and wish I could surgically remove this sudden and inexplicable negativity that arrives without warning. It has no place in the person that I WANT to be.

Now – as I type I feel different. My calf muscle is noticeably stiff, but I’ve had a lot of Naproxen for the inflammation. I managed three laps around the park with my friend and his impossibly cute dog.

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I saw the swanling (from a distance) and the super fit jaunty walking ladies with dumbbells. I also met the mum who moved to Warwick for love, with her relentlessly smiley toddler in his pram and her cute and fuzzy Finnish Laphund.

We stopped and said hello to other dog walkers and children who wanted to stroke Boris. All was right with the world this morning and now I feel good.

But my faith in myself has been shaken.

I’ve been reminded of the worst aspects of myself, and my seemingly endless capacity for inwardly dwelling on problems and my tendency to self sabotage. I need to make sense of how I turned feelings of success into feelings of failure.

I’m still struggling to do that.

Maybe I need a list to remind myself of what’s what – to put it in perspective.

(Author thinks – and stares at a blinking cursor for 20 odd minutes. Sometimes positives don’t come easy.)

  1. I might not be able to buy and sit in a folding chair today – but if I keep working at it I will be able to get one soon. This time next year I will go camping and walking. I’m going to make it an aim.
  2. I lost weight on Saturday – AND I got slimmer of the month. I need to remember that success won’t happen overnight – and stop myself wanting everything NOW.
  3. Last time I hurt my calf(s) I could hardly walk the 100 yards back to my house. This time I limped a mile back to my car. I couldn’t have done that if I was still my original starting weight.
  4. Despite my food cravings over the bank holiday I didn’t order a pizza. I didn’t buy a kebab, or drive to the fish and chip shop. Although I ate a lot the very worst thing I consumed was two boxes of hi-fi bars.
  5. I no longer drink alcohol – and without that even the darkest day isn’t a complete black hole that seems totally inescapable. I’ve had 216 days without a drink and I don’t ever want another.

So – that’s it internet. Warts and all. I’m feeling vulnerable and a bit shaken, but picking myself up, dealing with what I did and moving on.

I am trying to not let my dark days define me.

Davey

Moving another inch

Yesterday was supposed to be a day of rest – where I reconnected with my inner geek. He’s been abused of late and I’ve not been feeding him the usual steady diet of video games or TV shows.

The plan was simply to stay in and just ‘bloke out‘ but honestly when it came down to it I found this really hard to do. The things that used to give me pleasure (or at least occupied my time) don’t seem so important to me any more, and I’m looking upon them with disinterest.

I haven’t felt like playing any of my games consoles at all lately, or watching a box set (apart from a sudden and inexplicable addiction to Downton Abbey about two months ago.)

Eventually, after faffing about, reading for a while and then convincing my dad on iMessage to buy a slow cooker (so that he too could make simple and healthy hot meals once a day) I felt like sitting indoors was inappropriate. I needed to go for a walk.

I was of the opinion that I should practice what I preach and I’d been advising my dad to do exactly the same thing.

Yesterday was life-drainingly hot for a stroll mind you and I found that a couple of laps of St Nics was all I had in me. With the walk from where I parked (further away than usual) and the movement elsewhere that day I finished with three and a half miles on my activity log.

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This raised the weekly total to around 35.5 miles (57km), taking me well inside virtual France. I also had it pointed out to me by a friend that I wasn’t actually that far off from walking across the channel AND back (as the shortest crossing is 21 miles.).

I’m still not 100% convinced that Apple watch is recording real world walking however – as its counting every move I make rather than just every walk I go on. It tacks on a lot of stuff I wouldn’t otherwise have added up.

I suppose that this is a good thing though – as it shows how more active I’ve become as a whole and it’s no surprise to me that it’s also telling me every day I have an achievement for consecutively filling my ‘move’ ring. This currently  stands at 13 days in a row – something that would never have happened 3-4 months ago.

Yesterday was also the day that I started washing and folding all my 8x shirts and my largest jeans to go to charity or be disposed of. They’re simply too big now, and I can fit into ALL OF MY 7x SHIRTS.

I’m keeping the most ridiculously sized jeans and shirt in my collection however, just for comparison at a later date. The urge to burn them in the garden is huge but I’m resisting.

Anyway – it’s Saturday morning and my usual Slimming World ritual is on the horizon. I need to get ready and take a walk down the road to weigh in. I’m hoping that this week I get my five stone certificate! 

Back in a bit.

(Showers, trims, scrubs, moisturises and adds factor 50 – then heads off to the hateful little red infant school chairs)


Well this week I lost a pound and a half and also got Slimmer of the Month.

To be honest (it’s the unwritten theme of my blog after all) I feel a little disappointed with myself. 

I’m probably going to sound ungrateful – especially given my award – but I worked really really hard this week and I really wanted my 5 stone award. 

However…

As always staying to group was the absolute right thing to do. Not only did I get to talk to all the guys there (who I’ve noticed are becoming friends rather than just people at slimming world) but the issue of ‘exercise often = inches lost not pounds’ came up during Angie’s talk – and made me feel a bit better. 

For once though I actually think the whole ‘muscle weighs more than fat’ response to not losing lots of weight may be true – as even though I didn’t loose a massive amount my shirts now fit. They didn’t last week. 

That in itself is evidence of progress. 

I am often not so good at feeling happy with my own successes, yet feel genuinely impressed and pleased with other people’s progress. Their battles often occupy my thoughts more than my own and I genuinely worry if I see people looking down or if they seem to be struggling. 

I wonder why I can’t so easily turn that level of concern and care inward? 

Sometimes the only emotions I feel about myself are rooted in disdain. On the plus side I can now see these downward spirals of self destructive thoughts developing and I’ve gotten better at swinging them around to positive moods (writing my blog really helps in this respect) but some days it seems more comfortable to wallow in the feeling that I’m a failure – despite all of the recent evidence to the contrary. 

It’s something that requires further thought that’s for sure. I’m definitely an emotional work in progress. Some days are better than others. 

SW today had a couple of visiting members from other groups – who both seemed very nice indeed. I took the time to talk to one of them after the meeting and it was a lovely unexpected chat about life in general. 

After I left I got to thinking about the random people I’ve met while I’ve been exploring this week. I wouldn’t have talked to any of them if I hadn’t been out and about – and that would have been a real shame. 

It never ceases to amaze me how nice people can be when you talk openly and frankly about something normally considered intensely personal.  

The dark feelings people struggle with from time to time are common to many of us for so many different reasons. When we bottle them up and don’t talk about them we deny not only ourselves the chance to heal and grow, but someone else the chance to know that whatever they go through in life, they don’t do it on their own. 

Someone else has been there. Someone else understands. 

Still in a reflective mood I elected to walk around Leamington, and as my leg was hurting drove to the outskirts and parked up so I could walk a mile or so into town. 

I didn’t feel 100% from the moment I started and then rather annoyingly I felt my right calf muscle pull as I reached the bottom of the high street. I hobbled to a nearby bench, cursing under my breath. 

It’s at moments like this when I get frustrated and annoyed with myself for no good reason. I can’t help it when I hurt something. 

It just happens. 

While I was angrily thinking about this a man came and stood in front of me. I thought he wanted to talk so I took off my headphones and looked at him – but instead he was staring just above my head, reading something. 

After he left I turned and looked up. I hadn’t noticed but I’d been sitting under a statue of queen Victoria. A lady with a reputation for resolve and steadfastness. Much like Margaret Thatcher many years later this lady would not be moved. 


Above my head there was a small plaque, added after the statue has been placed there. I assume this was what the man had been looking at. 


You can look at this one of two ways in my view. 

Either you could say that not even the Germans and their bomb managed to knock her over – or you could say that given enough effort anything can be moved. Even a massive marble plinth, one inch. 

It’s that one inch though isn’t it? That first step that just proves something can be done when previously you might have thought it couldn’t. After that it’s no longer the impossible. It’s just an inch, and you know with the same effort and motivation applied again and again you can move it another and another, and another after that. 

As I sit with a coffee sheltering from the torrential rain outside my calf hurts and I still feel a bit betrayed by my body. 

But I’m trying not to. 


Forward is forward (as a lovely friend in group reminded me today) and it’s not obstacles in the way that define my journey to fitness it’s how I deal with them. 

Internet – I choose to move another inch, and keep moving another inch until I get where I want to be. 

Even if it hurts. 

Davey

Around Warwick and Priory Park

Today has been a good one.

My elderly car (she’s 166) passed its MOT without any kind of mechanical fail or advisory. To my recollection, apart from tyres, this has been the case every single time she’s gone under the microscope and I can honestly say that the advertising slogan is true.

Few things in life are as reliable as a Volkswagen.

While my car was being worked on I elected (instead of sitting and waiting for hours like I used to do) to walk into Warwick. As with most places it’s been a very long time since I came into the centre of town – and even longer since I just walked around it.

After a slow walk up the hill from the garage I arrived in the town square. I was a bit early (it was about 8.50am) and it seemed that the vast majority of the town was fast asleep. I decided that coffee would be a good idea and looked left at Cafe Nero and right to Costa… Hmmm… Neither are my first choice.

Costa. I’ll do that.

I opened the door to Costa and walked in. Atmosphere, zero. Life, zero. Willingness to spend money in there? Zero.

It then occurred to me that my pennies could be better spent in a local coffee shop, and just over the road was the Market Place Pantry. As soon as I sat down I felt good about my choice. It’s owned by a mother and daughter, and I feel much better about giving them my support than I do a huge multinational.

Go Alison and Emily! They were slaving away behind the counter and in their kitchen (which was reassuringly hot and busy) to make all the cakes and salads on their menu that just arrive in little packets on a lorry for Costa or Nero. They were pouring their heart and souls into the business and while I was there I heard nothing but good things.

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I’m beginning to think lately that now I’m more mobile I need to shift as much of my support to local business as I reasonably can instead of chain stores. I’m glad I did today. Alison and Emily seemed like normal, nice people trying to make a living opposite a place that brought little originality and warmth to the square.

I hope they prosper.

After my coffee I continued to wander around the charity shops and up and down the high street – but in truth there’s not an awful lot going on – unless you’re there for a meal or a drink – neither of which was on my mind. Although I was a bit hungry and hadn’t yet had breakfast.

As I wandered out of town, past Eastgate and down the menagerie of little shops in Smith Street I finally found breakfast, in the shape of two large rustic looking apples and two huge carrots from a local greengrocer at the bottom of the road.

91p for my little bag of goodness.

I wish i’d paid more attention to the shop name and variety of apples as they were absolutely exceptional. I’m going back to get more later.

As I strolled on munching my carrot I passed Priory Park.

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Now this place is somewhere that has never really appealed to me – and every time I’ve driven by I’ve never thought ‘I must go there.’ It’s always looked a bit rough from the outside – and I guess I’ve considered it a poor second to St Nics.

However – it couldn’t be further from the truth. This park is a different type of experience to the curated and manicured Jephson Gardens and child friendly fun palace at St Nics. This is grass and woodland, with almost no concrete paths – where the worn dirt trails into little wooded areas prompt exploration and investigation. As I entered a son and father were playing rugby, and the spirited youngster was trying to pull the ball from his father’s grasp and avoid capture once it had been released.

Further up the hill on a bench sat a young mother with a little poodle on an extended lead. She was feeding her newborn baby from a bottle and looked about as happy as one can expect to be, under a tree, surrounded by grass with a contented suckling infant.

I said hello to her and moved on. There was a trail to her left, leading into a damp clearing. It smelt earthy and like wet leaves and grass. I had to have a look!

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As I wandered forward into a little clearing I could feel the crunch of acorns underfoot and started to look at and photograph some of the more curious fungi attached to the base of an oak. It seemed to be covered with a brown spray – maybe a fungicide…

As I was inspecting at this I heard a dog behind me and turned to see a beautiful doberman pincher with a lustrous black coat and a shiny chain necklace.

‘She’s OK!’ I heard a voice say behind me. An elderly man with a dog lead around his neck was taking a seat on a nearby bench.

‘Is she OK to stroke?’ I asked.

‘Sure – she’s fine – thats if you can catch her!’ He replied.

I leaned out to stroke the dog, whose coat felt like velvet. She looked healthy and very well looked after. I managed to trail my hand along her back briefly before she was gone. She wanted to eat acorns and was munching on whatever she could find.

‘She’s lovely!’ I enthused, sitting on the opposite end of the bench.

‘Molly’s a rescue dog. They both are.’ he said motioning to another (older) chubby black and white terrier with its nose in a bush behind us. Sensing it was being talked about the terrier moved round to the front of the bench and hopped up by it’s master.

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(photo used with express permission)

‘She’s called Domino for obvious reasons.’

He pointed at the big black spots on her back. She was clearly wanting fun and now both dogs were ready for treats, which he had in his pocket.

‘I get a big bag of them – couple of quid from Aldi. They love em.’ He looked at Molly. ‘Paw please.’ He said. Molly slightly cocked her head and handed him a paw. He rewarded her with a treat, and gave another to Domino.

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As we sat he told me about all the rescue dogs he’d had over the years. He seemed to have a real love in particular for the doberman breed, and he said that the trick to keeping her healthy was feeding his dogs the same meat and leftovers that he ate himself. He didn’t think Molly would look like that if she’d been fed out of a can. I tended to agree – the results didn’t lie.

‘I was thinking of getting a dog.’ I said. ‘I love them – but I didn’t want to leave it at home when I was at work and it seemed cruel.’

He agreed.

‘They need a lot of walking.’ He said. ‘You should get one though – they’re good for weight loss.’

‘I’ve already lost nearly five stone.’ I said. ‘I’ve been going to Slimming World.’ He asked me where and I told him. He knew the place well. ‘That’s good going! He said enthusiastically.’

We carried on chatting and it seemed we’d both had family bereavements recently. As we briefly shared some history I mentioned that mine (though it had been hard) had ultimately provided a positive impetus in life.

He nodded. ‘You just have to get on with things.’ He said reflectively, stroking Domino. ‘Life goes on.’

I don’t know why but at that moment I felt the need to show him my selfies from yesterday’s blog. While he looked at the two photos I told him that this week I’d been walking to virtual France, and that today, walking around warwick and this park I’d done it.

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I’d arrived on the virtual shore of virtual Calais. So far this week I’d walked approximately 32 miles.

He looked impressed, which if I’m honest made me feel good. It’s nice to be able to talk about feeling successful rather than feeling like a failure, and it underlined how some of the worst events in life can be re-framed and made into something good.

Nearby Molly had begun to evacuate the acorns and was squatted by a tree.

‘I better go pick that up.’ He laughed, getting a carrier bag out of his pocket. ‘Nice to meet you. See you later – good luck with the weight!’

I shook his hand, exchanged names and carried on – back to the garage to pick up my car. She passed with flying colours. There wasn’t a thing wrong with her.

Today internet was just full of real people, and that was what made it so enjoyable. I might have walked to virtual France, but truthfully it’s only a means to an end.

It’s the means to meet people like this, and talk about their thoughts and lives.

That’s what all of this is about – and every moment of it is a blessing.

Davey

St James The Great

The other day while we walked my friend said to me that the thing he enjoyed the most about  exploring nature was the change of the seasons, and the subtle differences in colour or shade that resulted from the onset of Autumn or Winter.

Truthfully I’m looking forward to this a lot. I can’t wait to see all of these places in Autumn or with frost on the ground – even snow!

Although I’m usually hyper sensitive to the sun I’m currently rather enjoying the UK summer. I’m beginning to wonder whether the issue has been exacerbated in the past by avoiding the outdoors entirely. Possibly the sudden shock of the outside world to my skin, when its only been used to the pale light of the living room has been too much for it.

Today and other days (although I’ve been careful with suntan lotion) its been REALLY sunny – and even though I’ve expected to be in agony several times I have come out of the blazing sun looking strangely healthy rather than blotchy and burned, despite probably sweating all the suntan lotion off during my walks.

Long may it continue. I’m not complaining in the least.

I’m also still taking a lot of selfies – not to serve my vanity (it’s in short supply after many years of avoiding reflective surfaces) but to try and promote a positive self image.

Others reading my blog have picked up on this, and I’ve been immensely touched that some fellow bloggers in response to my posts have taken the opportunity to post photos of themselves and be body positive about who they are, and who they aspire to be.

In honour of their efforts here’s an awful one of me.

It’s a selfie that I forgot to delete from Oct 2015 and it shows me close to (if not at) my lowest ebb and heaviest weight. I estimate this was around 36 stone (given that I had lost weight when I started Slimming World and weighed in at 34st 8.5lbs.)

The photo in the Hawaiian shirt was taken yesterday (29st 11lbs). I’d just finished my walks for the day. When I look at the change (although I still have a LONG way to go) I am now in a very different place in my life.

Yesterday while walking past the paddling pool in the park a teenage girl was complaining to her parent that she’d been splashed on her back by a younger mischievous sibling. ‘It’s gonna look like I’ve been sweating mom – everyone will think I’m sweaty and thats just disgusting!’

She looked most indignant.

Sweat to me now means I’ve been working hard. Sweat is a good thing. I don’t care one bit if people see me sweating.

While I’m still not entirely comfortable with my image (sometimes in low moments I still see a fat guy and nothing else) I’m beginning to like images of myself more as I see the colour return to my cheeks and shape return to my face. There have definitely been changes since I gave up drinking, started to eat healthy food and began exercising.

I prefer the happy, perspiring man in the park. I don’t really understand the other one that could barely move from his armchair any more.

Today was more of the same when I met up for a walk round the park at 10am with a friend from Slimming World. She’s impressive. Before meeting me she’d been to the gym AND been swimming. Now she also was willing to endure my company for several laps in the sunshine!

As with every other walk we’ve had together the conversation was free and easy, and the three laps (plus 2 x sittydownyonnabenchies) just flew by. Before I knew it we were back at the start and saying our goodbyes. We’d been walking and talking for two hours and the midday sun was blazing in the sky. I decided to make my way home to have a sit down in the shade.

I’d done my bit for the day.

As I was driving home I suddenly changed my mind, thinking how nice it would be to have an ice cold drink outside at the Saxon Mill. I turned left instead right and was there in a flash, sitting outside & holding a ridiculously priced pint of Diet Pepsi with ice and a slice in my hand.

I had a great view with which to relax, and was nestling under a huge tree that prevented a single drop of arm burning sunshine getting in the way of the perfect cold drink.

I stretched my legs out, popped my sunglasses on and closed my eyes, listening to the sound of the people and the water wheel behind me.

However, as nice as this was after a while I couldn’t help but think about the field next to me and the little church (St James the Great) over in the distance.

As I’ve mentioned previously I’ve been there before many years ago – but not recently. It wasn’t that far, so after a long drawn out love affair with my iced soft drink (45 mins of pure tranquility) I headed down the nearby shaded path and out into the bright and sunny field.

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In the distance on the treeline at the top of this small hill was the spire of St James, just beckoning me forward to come and investigate.

Although my ass (as per usual) was aching for the first lap in the park this morning, by the time the 3rd lap was done I was actually raring to go. Almost nothing was cramping – and I still felt good even now.

I set off up the little hill and within a few minutes I was there. Just like last time was immediately transfixed by the simple beauty of the structure and the tranquil calm of the grounds, but last time the light had been fading and I had seen it in twilight. During the day I could investigate the detail.

Although they’re often surrounded by rather sombre headstones and crosses (I’m not a religious person at all by the way) there’s something about old churches that fascinates me. The graves that surround them date the structure and evoke a real sense of history.

They also give you pause for thought and at times make you stop and realise that tragedy is tragedy, whether its been visited upon a family hundreds of years ago in a history book or yesterday on the evening news.

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Sometimes out of nowhere you feel humble in such an environment. All you can do is reflect upon the good things in life and how lucky you are to just be standing in that spot, very much alive and with the luxury of being able to quietly contemplate your mortality.

However – aside from the deeper and more spiritual side of such a place there is also the endless march of nature, etching away stone and clambering over anything man made. It’s continually reminding us who is master of the earth – and it’s not us.

After this I made my way the long way round through the back of the church and over the field to the right of it back to the Saxon Mill and my car – whose aircon was looking ever more attractive by the second.

After some slow, methodical plodding back down the hill I was soon back at the Saxon Mill and the cool of its shady path and little patches of wildflowers.

Not long after I was in my car and zipping back home for dinner. Overall the day has been good one with walking – and my plucky little Apple Watch has kept a tally.

Yesterday I was at 23 miles with 7 to go on the way to virtual France.

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Today internet I’ve added 6.17 miles to the total, meaning I have less than a mile to walk until I’m heading out into daylight from the endless night of the chunnel, blinking outside ‘le hypermarchet’ and getting ready to fill my empty rucksack with virtual duty free!

Almost there!!!

Davey

 

 

Stoneleigh and blue skies

Regular readers will have noticed that I’m moving out of my comfort zone a lot more lately.

The park’s not boring (I still love meeting the regulars and relaxing on the benches) but that’s predominantly because it’s not the only place I’m going. Today I had a reminder in my calendar to meet my mate at a dropped map pin he’d sent me on iMessage. I knew nothing about it other than the fact it was a field where he walked his dog every so often. No formal paths, just the edge of a huge grassy expanse.

When I pulled up I was a bit late and apologised. I’d left my wallet at home and had turned around to get it, making me unusually tardy.

His dog (Boris the French Bulldog) was raring to go, and once he was off the lead there was no stopping him. The small coppice surrounding the field was an adventure playground of scents and he rummaged and sniffed his way around every plant and tree to confirm who and what had been there lately. Nasal radar was building an area map in mutt paradise.

As we emerged into the field I immediately wondered if I’d put enough suntan lotion on. The morning was quickly warming up and there was hardly a cloud to be seen in the clear blue sky.

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The terrain was largely flat with some mild inclines. I find what really pushes me past what I’m used to is the footwork required to hold my body steady as I walk over uneven dips and dents. I wear walking boots with strong ankle support all the time partially for this reason. I don’t want a silly weight related sprain because I can’t steady myself in time.

It was a well worn and regularly walked field edge though, and in the distance there were other dog walkers – all with animals belting around and enjoying the freedom of the completely open space.

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I checked Apple Watch to make sure it was paying attention. Half a kilometre. Good.

As we crested the small hill to the right of the field a completely surprising vista of Stoneleigh opened up – and quite without warning I was faced with an old English countryside picture postcard.

I stopped for a moment. My butt cheeks were cramping. Yesterday was a lot for them to bear and they were letting me know. I sipped my flask of coffee. It was pretty perfect though. Just being here, in a field beside a huge oak and looking at the view.

We ambled on, chatting. Neither of us was in a rush.

I didn’t know the area well and my friend was filling me in on where we were in relation to other places. I’d already made a mental note that I needed to go back to Stoneleigh. I’d driven through on the way to meet him an it was REALLY picturesque.

I’d somehow managed to NEVER go there before, and it’s virtually on my doorstep.

As we drew close to the end of the circuit I asked if he wanted to do another. Apple Watch was reporting almost 2km. More was needed. I must do 3 miles a day until Saturday if I’m going to reach virtual France.

‘Can if you want.’ He replied ‘Or there’s another field over the old bridge down there if we walk down the road a bit. It’s a bit more of a gradient though. Depends how you feel.’

I was aching.

‘Bring it on.’ I said – ‘Let’s have a look.’

After following him down the road for about 200m (and a brief spell on a bench we peeled off into an area where there was an old stone bridge over the river Avon. It had been replaced by a much newer one for cars running parallel to it, and now seemed primarily used for livestock.

Boris clearly knew it well and led the way.

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While Standing on it we debated its age – with neither of us knowing precisely how long it would have been there. My friend suggested that the river had slightly changed course since it was built – and it looked like he was right.

Maybe it was around a couple of hundred years old?

We started to look over the sides for a plaque or headstone – but the bridge appeared to have no signature or date of manufacture. It would have to remain a mystery for another day…

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As we walked under the concrete arch of the newer road bridge nearby I was faced with a small fence and a locked gate. This is a problem. I can’t easily climb and it’s mortally embarrassing when I can’t lift my own weight.

But screw it. He’s my mate and he doesn’t care. Neither did Boris, who stood nearby watching expectantly.

I tried to lift myself up with one foot on the fence. Would it take my weight? I gently pushed the rung with my foot. It seemed secure – but 30 stone secure? Thats usually a different story entirely. I pulled myself up a couple of foot into the air. It held…

First attempt – fail. I couldn’t balance my weight and get my leg over.

Second attempt – fail. I balanced OK but my leg was too heavy and felt twisted.

Third attempt – I adjusted my foot position, swung my heavy leg over and gently lowered myself off.

Success.

We moved through some shaded woodland, past a small weir, and over a bridge. As we walked down the slightly moist path under the shade of the trees a fellow dog walker approaching from the opposite direction stopped to say hello. Her small terrier cross was supremely interested in Boris’s bottom and the fascination was clearly reciprocated as they circled each other nose to tail.

For a while all three of us watched this aromatic doggy version of Yin and Yan and then started discussing bulldog tails and whether you could still legally crop them in the UK. The consensus was not.

‘Shame you can’t see when he’s happy. There’s no wagging…’ The lady said matter of factly.

‘You just learn!’ said my mate laughing. He looked lovingly at his dog. Boris was born without a tail. He couldn’t wag even if he wanted to, but it didn’t matter. His eyes and ears said all that was needed.

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The energetic terrier however had no such problems and soon waggy pester power compelled the lady to say goodbye and follow its enthustic wandering. We got on our way.

Once we had looped the second field (after a mild incline) we were back at the cars, and faced with what appeared to be the second puncture in as many days – although this time it was on my friend’s car.

As this was slowly pumped up with his compressor we talked further about his new favourite thing. An allotment. It needed a lot of work and he had been looking for some tools. Particularly a garden fork.

‘I have one in the boot if you want it?’ I said.

He looked surprised.

I explained that the contents of my boot were the last things I cleared from my mother’s bungalow after she died and I hadn’t been able to bring myself to empty the boot ever since.

For nearly six months I had been driving around with a large roll of garden netting, a full sized poly tunnel kit, a garden fork, a spade, several trowels, secateurs, heavy duty leather gloves and some foam knee pads for weeding.

He was surprised. ‘Are you sure you don’t want them?’ He asked. ‘Nah.’ I said. ‘You’ll be doing me a favour by putting it to good use. If I ever need to borrow a spade I know where to come for it. They’re yours.’

I took the bits he wanted out of the boot and we transferred them between cars. For the first time in many months my boot was almost empty again.

He’d done me a good turn – whether he knew it or not. Every time I’d looked in there I’d been reminded of her. The ever present aroma of cigarette smoke that characterised my mother clung even to the garden implements from her shed and it was there each time I opened the boot.

This also felt like a nice (and right) thing to do. All of her tools would be put to good use again to help clear his overgrown allotment plot and enable him to plant his vegetables, just like she used to in the garden when I was little. It made me feel good to see them get used.

After a cup of tea we said our goodbyes and I headed back to Warwick. A couple of things needed to go to the post office and I still had a bit of walking left in me.

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St Nics park was busy and HOT. I didn’t have much left in my legs lap wise – but every bit helped toward the total, even though I spent more time moving from shade to shade than I did walking.

After being called fat (only one this week so far – last week was two!) by a child with disinterested parents (this time I decided I would tell him off and stare him out – much to his surprise) I came to the conclusion I wasn’t in the mood for the park any more and after finishing my lap made my way home.

I wasn’t beaten by the little &^$@ – just tired out.

However I had done my bit for the day and virtual France had edged just a little closer.

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So internet – this is another 5.3 miles out of the way – and brings the total to 23 miles so far. As of today I’ve crossed the channel (21 miles) and have another 7 to do before Saturday and I’ve nailed the Chunnel.

Will I do it? We’ll see!

Davey

No bums on walls

A flat tyre really gets on my nerves. I absolutely hate the idea of changing them and since I’m now jobless I resent the idea of paying for a new one even more.

I only noticed this one as I rounded the corner to home early this afternoon and realised my car was listing at a strange angle. Thankfully I managed to get it re-inflated with my foot pump and it was safe to drive to the local garage down the road. A heavily tanned gentleman (he’s just come back from a holiday in Fuerteventura and said he’d had a ‘bangin‘ time) with reassuring oil beneath his nails and an impressive pair of sleeve tattoos on each arm is looking at it as I type.

He seems a cheerful sort despite reportedly having a mild case of post holiday blues. I like him – he’s a smiler.

As small a problem as a flat tyre is, when I relied solely on my car for mobility it would have been a complete tragedy. I would have been in a panic about the exertion needed to deal with this tiny life event and worrying about walking, standing, bending, pumping, jacking – basically ANYTHING associated with it.

But not today. This morning I’d been working hard toward my weekly goal set in my last post, but still had energy left over to sort out my tyre.

When I woke up I was again toying with the idea of going to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery – but being brutally honest it STILL scares me. I’ve built it up to be much bigger than it is I think – but I can’t seem to get over the fear. I spent ages measuring distances to and from train stations on Google Earth while lying in bed and eventually talked myself out of it. I didn’t know the routes or the gradients and I didn’t want to be verbally abused by idiots again.

It was something for another day.

So instead I set myself another mini goal. I’ve walked to Leamington before but never without sitting down on garden walls. This morning it was nice and overcast with a breeze but still pleasantly warm.

It would be the perfect day for trying something new and if I managed to go the whole distance just stopping occasionally it would hopefully help to increase my confidence a bit.

As tempting as it was to sit I managed to do the whole walk in about 50 mins (2 miles) with lots of little pauses but no bums on walls. As I sat in Starbucks contemplating this I looked at my iPhone notepad and checked my movement totals.

I needed to walk 30 miles this week (50km) if I wanted to reach virtual France. I want to try and get ahead of myself a bit in case the weather turned bad closer to Saturday or I just fancied a day of rest.

I decided the best thing to do was go exploring – not worrying where I was going and just let Apple Watch keep a track of what was going on. That way it wouldn’t be a chore – just fun.

I decided first of all to investigate Jephson Gardens. After the Art in the Park festival a couple of weeks ago I’d wanted to have a proper look round – and quite a few people had said how nice it was.

Jephson gardens is very a different space to St Nics. It’s extremely Victorian in character – and has a lot more in the way of formal planting and monuments – but also a lot more contemporary art dotted about the place.

It’s quite eclectic overall and has some interesting little projects like the sensory garden where children are encouraged to play some cleverly integrated musical instruments (like a dreamy sounding little xylophone) while they explore the plants. Local schools have also got small plots with things like mini marrow patches, and there are also ‘bug hotels’ to promote the local insect wildlife.

Some of it looks a bit (ahem) ‘rustic’ – and some looks really lovely!

Nearby there’s also a large glasshouse with some Koi in a pond and a whole variety of plants to examine that I’d eaten the fruit of many times (coffee, olives, mangoes) but never actually seen before in real life – which actually really surprised me.

There were also some slightly out of season wild flowers just outside – and further down a bee hive with a pollination garden where you could watch all of the busy little fellows going about their business.

I also met the tamest squizzle (I prefer that word) that I’ve seen in ages – who was coming really really close to me for a look and then running up and down the tree in front of me before hopping about on the pavement.

I love sqizzles. The’re one of my favourite creatures – even though we’re supposed to dislike the grey ones in favour of our indigenous reds – but they’re just too cute for me to hold a grudge.

I finally stopped to check out a statue of Jephson himself, standing regally but sadly alone and cut off from his admirers behind a wrought iron gate. At the entrance to the park he was described as a kind but serious man – and if that was the case the likeness seemed bang on. His sideburns alone looked like they were scowling.

I couldn’t imagine him being happy if he came home from work and found his wife had failed to prepare dinner.

He didn’t look like the partying type…

One of the Slimming World ladies (while we were on a walk) had mentioned to me that it was possible to walk along the river Avon for quite a long way, so instead of going back the way I came I decided to try and follow it for a while and walked past the bandstand by the Royal Pump Rooms and alongside the bowling green.

The immaculately kept greens were a hive of activity today with many men and women of a mature perspective all wearing bright and gaudy tracksuits while they watched or competed in what seemed like an ongoing and high profile tournament. Mobility scooters and wheelchairs were in abundance and pensioners were zipping about the park in great numbers and crowding into the tea rooms at the end of the green.

Shortly after passing the hustle and the bustle however I crossed the road by the nearby sewage plant into an unexpected area of quiet and tranquility. The road noise melted away and a calm fell upon what (to me) was completely new territory.

I’d never even noticed there was a footpath by the recycle centre despite having driven past it literally hundreds of times, and before I knew it I was in the middle of fields of sheep. In between Warwick and Leamington there were open fields! I had absolutely no idea!

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Following this path led me to the canal – which I’m familiar with from where I live towards Hatton, but NOT in the opposite direction. Once more I was in a new place, but I wasn’t on my own. It was a busy route – and there were couples strolling hand in hand, moms jogging with buggies (I’m always a bit in awe of this) and lots of people on bikes.

To be perfectly honest – by this time I was feeling the burn. Up until the canal there had been benches dotted around everywhere along the river and I’d liberally taken advantage of them when I needed to. Although the canal was flat it had zero respite, and both my plantar fasciitis and the ligament problem in my left leg were beginning to hurt quite a lot.

I really needed to sit.

By the time I came close to an exit from the canal I was in a lot of pain – and was beginning to loose the joy of discovery.

Until I found THE MOTHERLOAD OF SWANLINGS!!!

It seems that they aren’t confined to the park and are managing to remain fruitful elsewhere. What was lovely was that they let me stand right next to them for quite a while, just watching them as they snoozed and gently stretched. Their parents were close by keeping a watchful eye – but I stayed completely still and none of them made a break for open water.

They’re not alone. There were also some unreasonably cute ducklings as well!!!

And then, just like that I was home. To my flat tyre.

How irritating.

However – as I’d only had an apple and a tangerine for breakfast I was far more interested in my slow cooker – which for 20 hours had been making me the perfect beef stew. This was syn free, filling as hell and would ensure that there was no post exercise hunger sabotage going on. It went down a treat.

So now I’ve just been given the bad news. My punctured tyre had not one but TWO nails in it – and they were helpfully near the tyre wall making it completely unrepairable. Another was also below the minimum tread depth, so I needed TWO replaced.

£130.

Bye bye money. Alas. We hardly had time to get to know eacother. I’ll miss you. But I’m not upset. 

Because of this.

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Thats 6.83 miles walked today, taking my total toward the Eurotunnel target (30 miles) to 18. I have another 12 to go and 4 days to do it!

This means internet that I need to nail 3 miles a day on average and I’m in Virtual France!

I better get my virtual phrase book ready!!!

Davey

Eurotunnel goal 

I woke up later than expected today – having slept in on a Sunday for the first time in months. Normally I’m awake by about 7 or 8 at the latest but it was 9.30! 

Last night however I had the kind of uninterrupted sleep that’s usually reserved for the recently deceased. As well as walking around Leamington yesterday I also had an evening trip to the park and rattled off a couple of laps before bedtime, which probably accounted for the sudden case of dead head. 

So – I woke up feeling refreshed, but already in a rush to meet someone for a walk around the park at 10am.

Time for a double quick shower!!!

My ‘unicorn friend’ from a previous post had lodged an idea in my head yesterday. She’d read my blog and commented on my 19 mile walking total, pointing out to me that I’d probably walked the length of the English Channel. 

Surely not! I thought. It’s got to be longer than that! So I Googled it. 

According to the channel swimming association the shortest distance coast to coast is actually 21 miles – two miles more than I’d done. 

Wow! I LOVE having tangible real world examples of progress like this, and like yesterday’s fire extinguisher analogy for my total weight lost it’s a fantastic example of how far I’ve come from not being able to easily reach the end of my road. 

This morning though such limitations were a distant memory and I was walking with another lovely chatty lady from the Slimming World group. 

We had a great time in the park which was only enhanced by an unexpected sighting of the swanling and a couple of pit stops to say hi to regular walkers. 

It always perks me up seeing the (now not so) little swanling and it’s parents – who expectantly head to the bank for food when I approach, not realising all that awaits is a photo opportunity!


My walking partner said that there were other swans along the canal – and as it happened (much to my surprise) when we also walked around the fishing pond on the opposite side of the park (previously unexplored territory) there was another lone swan there as well. 

My companion today is also the lady that inspired me to try an extra lap not so long ago – so it seems quite apt that we ended up exploring a new bit of the park together. 

The circular mile route was busy today and as usual the power walking pink Lycra ladies were passing us in the opposite direction with their foam dumbbells and enthusiastically saying hello. 

Enthusiasm wasn’t apparent in all quarters however and we briefly stopped to talk to a lady being trailed by a bored looking pug. He was looking behind more than in front and according the the lady with him it was because her husband (the dog’s true ‘owner’) was away. 

He was used to being walked by a man she said and missed him. The pooch was clearly down in the dumps and it was about as glum looking as it’s possible for a dog to be. 

With each successive lap the maudlin hound seemed further behind – either disliking the company or the park. 

The last time we saw it’s disinterested waddling gait was as my companion and I sat for a rest in a sheltered hut by the miniature golf course. 

It was at this time I noticed she was using a Fitbit app on her phone. When I questioned her about it she told me it was connected to a Fitbit pedometer clipped to her clothes. She used this all the time to track the distance she’d moved. 

Typically I’ve ignored my Apple Watch stats and used my walkmeter app to track my progress. However I have to start and stop that whereas Apple Watch is constantly on the lookout for me doing stuff (as well as nagging the hell out of me) and keeping a tally of it. 

We had such a lovely walk and chat that before long I’d completely lost track of exactly how far I’d gone. We rested periodically and continued to talk before moving on, but I wasn’t really counting anything. 

Before I knew it we’d been there for over 2 hours and as we came to the end of our walk and were ready to go our separate ways she informed me we’d done four laps. 

Wait? What? Surely not! 

My fellow SW’er looks very much like the trustworthy sort – but just to prove it she showed me her Fitbit app. Sure enough we weren’t far off 9km! I looked at my Apple Watch app. 8.88km!


I was stunned. Was walking getting so easy that I could do a lap ACCIDENTALLY?

Shortly after I sat in Starbucks considering this. What had I done yesterday? I’d walked around town for quite a while without measuring it and also the park. I checked the log on my phone. 

What the heck?!


Yesterday I did the same amount as today without realising it! I was enjoying it so much it just happened. I’m crap with metric and imperial conversions so I checked Google again. 

Just shy of 11 miles…

It seems I may have been walking further than I thought previously – so I’m going to start using the pedometer on my watch a lot more to track what I’m doing. 

Whatever happens I think I might need a new goal. The distance of swimming the channel is clearly for wimps! I was half way there already! 

Once more I returned to Google. What about the Channel Tunnel? That wasn’t dug to be the shortest distance from A to B. It’s longer. But how long? 

Well according to Wikipedia it’s 31.35 miles (50.45km for Europhiles) long.

I don’t want to set myself unreasonable goals – but this seems bizarrely do-able if Apple Watch and my walkmate’s Fitbit are telling the truth. 

Since they’re independently corroborating the results with two different types of tech I’m inclined to believe them. 

So – it’s now midday on Sunday. I’ve yet to meet my mate this afternoon for as yet undecided activities and I’ve already nailed 2/5ths of my new ambitious week’s  Eurotunnel goal. 

I’m on the case Internet. I can SO do this! 

See you in virtual France!


Davey

Nearly a fire extinguisher

I was clearly an unpopular visitor to the post office.

People welcomed by others in the queue are the types who want a book of stamps or to quickly draw money out of their post office savings account.

People like me with a huge bag full of eBay parcels are not the kind of patron that anyone likes and I could hear the sighing, huffing and puffing in the line behind me. It took me two hours to wrap my parcels last night and not an inconsiderable amount of time to pass them through the little window to be weighed and measured today.

It’s worth it though as eBay is paying for my grocery shopping this week – and the stack of games I’d sold would keep me in cherry tomatoes and quark for another 7 days. All I had to do was get this out of the way and then it was time for Slimming World.

I headed to the car as soon as I’d secured proof of posting and then back to the infant school down the road from me where all the hateful little red £$%&*@ chairs are.

Sometimes, even when I’m doing well I still find my mood is low (as I mentioned in yesterday’s post) and this morning if anything I felt even lower. I’m not sure I could tell you why if I tried to, but when I arrived I sat in the car for 10 minutes just listening to music and trying to perk up.

I don’t like being miserable around people if I can help it.

So, I went in and said hello to everyone as usual – and tried to smile as much as I could. Often I find simply the act of trying to make others grin can make me feel better – and thankfully today it was working.

When I awoke I didn’t feel lighter, but I did feel more agile/energetic. I can tell lately that I’m moving quicker and it’s a pleasing sensation.

Last night though I tried on my 7x shirts. Three of them are wearable – but the rest are off limits, meaning I’m still annoyingly wearing things I want to give to charity ASAP.

The other 7x’s fit until I sit down and then they tug across my stomach, which isn’t an appealing look – unless I happen to blunder into a room full of people who are drawn to the sight of a naked belly button.

It’s annoying me that with all I’ve lost I’ve barely scraped into another shirt size. It’s pretty clear that an 8x (the end of the line for all fatties – after that you’re wearing a tent or having things made for you) hides a LOT.

Because of this I always expect to stand on the scales and hear bad news. This week thankfully I didn’t.

I’d lost another 6.5lbs and picked up my 4.5 stone award.

I now have 2.5lbs to go and I’ve lost the full sized fire extinguisher from this previous post. When I wrote that blog it seemed like miles away but now it’s within touching distance – and that’s a great feeling.

For my European readers I’ve now lost 30kg. 

Honestly though it’s not quite as great as seeing another member get rid of Ulrik the cat, the 2 stone monster moggie that was the largest purdy tat in the uk last year.

I was so happy for her that I stood up and hugged her as soon as she told me (strangely she doesn’t seem like she could have at any time hidden Ulrik in her leggings – but the human body is an amazing thing) and in truth her success actually meant more to me than my own loss.

Another lady sitting near me lost a 3 stone giant cod this week and was rightly proud of herself. She too looked like it was inconceivable she could conceal this monster about her person, but somehow it happened!

Thankfully it was slippery and escaped.

Someone also said to me today in passing that they wanted to come along and see how I’d done and it struck me that to a greater or lesser extent (despite our own fears and shortcomings) that our little group seem to be gradually willing eachother forward bit by bit almost as much as we’re pushing ourselves.

It’s fantastic to see.

Not only is this hugely uplifting but they can make me belly laugh as well, especially the delightfully outgoing lady who is organising dancing walks in the park in September.

Yep. Dancing walks. 

She demonstrated this in the group with some funk music on her iPad to much good spirited laughter – but it was clear that she intended to suck the pips out of keeping healthy and consume every last drop of positive energy from the activity that she could before exuberantly exuding it for everyone else to lap up.

I like the cut of her jib (and the funk of her soul brother) although I’m not sure I’m ready for dancing in the park JUST yet!

Others were attending pole dancing classes deep in the countryside, (apparently a bruising experience!) riding their bikes for epic distances or still doing their garden archery (how cool are bows and arrows?!).

The approaches to keeping fit are many and varied – making my walking seem very mundane in comparison! I think I’m going to have to start figure skating or launching myself from a cannon in the back yard just to keep up with them!

I just love the energy of my group – and I NEVER FAIL to leave feeling better than when I walked in. This was a good thing as I was off immediately afterwards to meet my brother in the Fat Birds Cafe (remember this post?) for a cup of earl grey, which feel I must drink with my pinkie finger extended.

It’s what all the cool people do.

I parked outside of town, strolled in and arrived early and in good spirits. We sat and enjoyed a drink and a chat (he also ate some disgustingly nice looking crumpets) before walking around Leamington for a while. Although we see each other a lot this is something we’ve not really done together for a LONG time, which is really good for the soul.

Years ago we used to browse the computer fayre at the Motorcycle Museum on Saturdays for hours until we could stand no more and went home with our techno trinkets. The heavier I got the less we did it, until one day we didn’t do it at all.

This is just one more example of how my life and relationships have slowly constricted until there was barely anything left.

Things are changing for the better in so many ways, and not just for me. People are getting married, getting new jobs, recovering from health issues, becoming sociable and just simply sharing slow cooker tips.

There seems to be no end to it today.

As I left my brother and walked back to my car I passed the garden archer with her friend and waved, smiling. We were both out and about – enjoying the world.

Afterwards I came home and made myself an SP (speed food and protein) salad. I fancied loads of meat and only a hearty bowl of veg and pork would do. I dressed it with cider vinegar and wholegrain mustard.

It was flipping lovely.

So Internet – it’s not been a bad day at all. Later I’ll go for a walk in the park I think, just to top it off.

Six short months ago on a Saturday morning I’d have had a hangover from Friday or be already working hard on making a fresh one one for Sunday. I’d have a bin full of pie wrappers and trousers full of straining stomach.

While I still have a big stomach that’s no longer my life. Walking is. Walking with friends and family. Walking and sharing experiences with as many people as I can.

And that’s good. Very good. Very good indeed.

Davey

Dinner in Hatton

Since my last weigh in my week has been characterised by a lot of activity, and I’ve been making a conscious effort to build upon the distances I’ve walked and the frequency with which I do it. I’m quite lucky at the moment that I don’t have anything else on my plate and I can focus on just this.

However, although I’m not yet looking for a job I’m becoming increasingly preoccupied with the thought that one day soon I’m going to have to. The thought of how other people will view me when I do is regularly on my mind and I’ve been dwelling (too much) on my self image.

When I eventually start going to interviews though, I want to feel the best that I possibly can about myself.

Although I’m getting better at being ‘kind’ to myself my self esteem and confidence is still prone to sudden nose dives. Despite a lot of positives at times this week it’s been on the floor, and in reflective moments my past has seemed like nothing but a collection of failures and inactivity. On some days I’ve been consumed with regrets and ‘what ifs’.

There are so many things I should have done instead of the things I did. I could kick myself into unconsciousness with anger when I look back over some periods of my life.

When I get into this mindset I also begin to (pointlessly) worry about whether history will repeat itself as it’s so often done before. I’ve sabotaged myself more times than I can count and I don’t think I could take failing again.

I know that losing weight isn’t a magical panacea to make everything right with the world but it certainly goes a long way toward making me feel like I’m more ‘normal’ – even though I know deep down that this concept is a fairy tale and the word itself is an ethereal fiction people like me only use to punish themselves.

In practical terms though I feel that in order to have confidence during a job interview I need to loose more weight.

A lot more.

How much? I don’t know honestly. I’m hoping that will eventually become apparent.

I was still thinking about this yesterday as I dusted and hoovered the house in preparation for the arrival of my mate from Wales – who was stopping over on her way north to another engagement.

She’s a fantastic friend and knows me like few other people on earth so I always look forward to occasions where we can have uninterrupted chats. There’s little we don’t share – and I always feel better when I’ve chewed things through with her. Last night was no exception.

I was planning to cook a light stir fry with some salmon and maybe a baked sweet potato for dinner – but she suggested that as neither of us get the chance to go out together very often we should instead go further afield for a meal.

But where?

As a consequence of my navel gazing all week long I’ve had the phrase ‘don’t sabotage yourself‘ bouncing around in my mind. For the most part I’ve been good. I’ve chosen lighter meals, and eaten less. I’ve also tried hard not to let extra exercise translate into extra eating – as sometimes I have a tendency to do (I’m looking at YOU Tuesday).

Wherever we ended up I wasn’t going to be burying my face in chips.

Initially when I asked where was a good local place to go on Facebook the helpful ladies of the Slimming World group (who are always ready to offer advice) pretty much all suggested the Newbold Comyn Arms, which appears to have a whole variety of SW friendly meals.

I was pretty much sold – however in matters of fine dining I defer to the more refined palate of my friend, and she suggested instead we go to the Orange Tree or the Hatton Arms.

I’d had no syns all day and had decided I could live a little. I’d been a good boy.

  • Breakfast – Muller light Yogurt
  • Lunch – Ham pieces and a punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • Snack 2x small apples and 2x clementines

I checked the online menus and there was not much I could eat without consequence – but there was a nice sounding chicken and bacon ranch salad at the Hatton Arms, so we agreed to go there (I think this was secretly her preferred choice anyway!)

I couldn’t resist the olives for a starter, as I don’t have enough of them at the moment.

A kind lady in SW put some pitted black olives in the slimmer of the week basket the last time I was lucky enough to win, and I’ve been chopping them up into salads with white wine vinegar ever since. When I dream of lovely things I currently get images of olives…

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The olives arrived and we sat stabbing at them with out little cocktail sticks while talking about life, property, children, memories, the future, education, health, family, and the kitchen sink.

We’d almost finished these when the main course arrived. My friend had gone for a ploughman’s platter (the pork pies, chutney and cheese looked disgustingly lovely) and I had my planned salad with a side of seasonal vegetables.

A salad can be deceptive and quite damaging if you’re not careful. As an example a McDonald’s chicken and bacon salad is 8 syns, and a Morrisons prawn & pasta salad is 16.5!!! Things quickly add up where cheese and dressings are concerned.

Consequently I wasn’t going to just let them serve up anything. I made sure that they removed the ranch dressing and replaced it with balsamic on the side, which in the end I left – as despite it being excellent quality it was thick, sticky, sweet and probably LOADED with sugar.

It’s not a good diabetic choice.

So – how did it break down? Olives – to share (8 per syn so about 2?), boiled seasonal veg (speed food!), chicken (free) and bacon (about half a rasher – 1 syn?), Parmesan shavings (5?) and croutons (5?).

I also ended up eating my mate’s left over side salad – which looked too good to waste, although it had some olive oil on it – so maybe 1 syn?

Although a lot of this is guesstimating I don’t think I’m too far from the mark on this – and either way I’m well under the 20 max. This may seem insanely anal of me – but why sabotage myself?

The point of burning calories is not so that I can just sit down and consume the same amount all over again and get myself back to square one!

As the pub began to close we were still no closer to finishing our chat – and moved it back to my house where we continued to gossip until the small hours before finally going to bed. We would carry on our chat in the morning.

When I awoke it was raining hard – so after getting ready we grabbed a couple of umbrellas before we headed to St Nics. A couple of laps would help burn off the pork pies and parmesan.

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The park was almost deserted at 9.30am and apart from a few soggy dog walkers and some workmen erecting a marquee on the opposite bank we didn’t see many people. The atmosphere was mildly humid and there was a scent in the air that you don’t get at any time other than this – an earthy aroma which seemed to cling like perfume to the plants grass and trees.

We chatted for an hour and a half and then it was time to go our separate ways. It’s nice to be able to walk with her again. I’ve missed it a lot.

I’m not going to miss it any more though, and I hope this week to have made good progress. There’s nothing more depressing than feeling you’ve worked your bottom off and got nowhere at all.

I really really want my four and a half stone certificate tomorrow and this is what I’ve done to make sure I get it since last Saturday’s weigh in.

  • Saturday – Walk to and around Leamington (2 miles)
  • Sunday – Walk up Constitution Hill and all round Aberystwyth ( approx 3 miles)
  • Monday – Walk at Nant Yr Arian Forestry Centre – (2 miles)
  • Tuesday – zzzzzz then eat then more zzzzzz then eat followed by zzzzzz 
  • Wednesday – Walk round the park and then from home to old Milverton (5.5 miles)
  • Thursday –  Walk round park (2.5 miles)
  • Friday – Walk round park and Leamington (3.5 miles)

So far I’m at 18.5 miles. With a walk to and from the meeting tomorrow I should hit 19.

So internet, we’ll see what happens. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Davey

A milestone via Old Milverton

Keeping a diary, journal or blog helps fitness and weight loss. I can’t say it any simpler than that.

If nothing else it’s a brilliant way to note just what you did previously, EXACTLY how you felt at that moment and what it means for continued improvement.

To be fair though I’m unlikely to forget my walks in Wales over the last few days. Yesterday was cramp city.

I had a couple of things planned for the day but without warning both of them were cancelled and I ended up spending the whole day watching movies or sleeping. Although this made me feel a bit guilty (I also had the munchies and ate three epic meals) I’m glad I did as today I felt all of the benefits from my Welsh hill walking and seaside strolls.

This morning an ex-colleague (now they’re all just friends – which I’m still getting used to!) came over with his pooch ‘freckles’ for a walk around the park and I could definitely sense some fitness progress. Almost nothing was cramping – although I felt generally quite stiff in my upper body and back which is unusual as all the effort this week has been in my legs.

Thankfully my mind was taken off every ache and pain while my mate and I chatted on a bench or two. His pooch sniffed and licked me at every opportunity and stared expectantly for some petting, which I’m happy to say she got a lot of.

After a couple of laps we headed for Starbucks (mainly because they have outside seating where freckles could have a bowl of water) and sat chatting in the shade.

It was great to catch up – and before we knew it almost four hours had passed!

My mate was due to pick up his wife for a visit to the cinema and after a bear hug he headed back home with freckles sitting in her comfortable dog basket in the back of the car.

When I came home I was surprised how much get up and go I still had, so I decided rather than waste it that I’d test my limits a bit and go immediately for another walk to the Saxon Mill – a local pub about a mile from me with a picturesque water mill and bridge.

Oddly my walk there was characterised by cramp in my left shin. For some reason my right never cramps at all – but I have one leg shorter than the other so this is probably the problem. Upon arrival I sat down for a while in the shade and started the usual tiresome balancing act between getting rid of cramp and getting up before my plantar heel pain starts.

It’s my own fault for being a tubby lop sided mutant.

I had originally intended to just walk back home – but it seemed silly not to explore a little further. In the (distant) past I’ve walked through the field behind to a picturesque little church which looks awesome at dusk.

I’d never followed the river however and had no idea at all where that came out. It was hot and there wasn’t much shade but I’d not long re-applied my factor 50, so it would probably be ok.

Oddly now all of my cramp was gone – and I felt (after sitting for 20 mins) re-energised. I followed the path, checking my walkmeter app from time to time to see where I was going. It didn’t look like I was going to end up where I thought I would…

After some gentle strolling and a little hill climb I noticing two ladies emerging from bushes.

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Initially thinking there had been some hanky-panky going on (one was straightening her dress hurriedly) I realised that instead they had been on a path back to civilisation via a tiny culvert. When I followed it this emerged into a well to do cul-de-sac. I checked my map again and this road would eventually lead me to Old Milverton and the War Cemetery, which was half way to Leamington…

Clearly I was entering new fitness territory. My app noted I’d already walked just under two miles, which added to the 2.5 miles around the park earlier meant that I had done 4.5 miles already – and I still had a way to go before I was home.

I noticed some nearby children going into a local shop and followed suit to get a cold drink.

It was a REALLY warm afternoon, and the cool of the shop was absolutely wonderful. I slightly regretted this though when the bottle of Diet Coke I had purchased exploded all over my chest and stomach shortly after I opened it, making me look like I had major trouble finding my mouth.

As I did this a guy in a silver Mercedes van helpfully slowed down beside me to lower his passenger side window and call me a ‘fat c**t’ while he drove by – but to be honest today I couldn’t have cared less.

This is why.

In total today by the time I got home I had walked five and a half miles. According to Apple Watch (by 6pm) during that time I also burned 1403kcal during exercise with a total of 4,743kcal expended, did 14,790 steps and completed 35 minutes of exercise that significantly raised my pulse above normal walking.

Let me just take a minute here, and rewind time. On June the 3rd I was ecstatic about beating my personal target of completing six miles in a week. I had instead done 7. At the time I was 33 stone exactly. I was doing a mile in around 45-50 minutes with lots of stops and it REALLY hurt.

According to my app (I did pause it for a rest occasionally when i stopped to sit) I now do a mile in approximately 30 mins flat. What’s more – I still have energy. I’m not a complete wreck, and at the moment I feel great.

So internet – here’s to the power of blogging and logging. It’s genuinely useful if you’re in my shoes. It’s not easy to do when you’re feeling like something someone just stepped in and your confidence is low – but as things improve there’s an ever growing sense of satisfaction about making the right choices and just enjoying the ever improving you.

Here’s to the next milestone – whatever that is!

Davey

Nant Yr Arian

‘Do you want my chocolates?’ I asked the lady standing behind me at the bar. She looked at me suspiciously.

‘I don’t eat chocolate.’ she said dryly and turned away. She was one of several mothers waiting to be served with toddlers in the pub, all of whom appeared to be congregating with their children for a play date in a fenced off fun area just outside.

I was holding two large Americano coffees on saucers in front of me and on each there was a circular chocolate in a shiny golden wrapper. I’d been served them as the ladies distributed brightly coloured Fruit Shoot bottles behind me to their girls and boys and discussed what they would have with their scampi in broad Welsh accents.

‘Do YOU want my chocolates?’ I said, turning and smiling at the next woman in the queue.

She seemed to like chocolates but didn’t quite grasp what I was getting at.

‘I’m trying to be good’ I elaborated ‘and you’d be doing me and my dad a favour if you had our chocolates. They’ll be wasted otherwise.’ I said, shrugging a little. ‘I’m not going to eat mine.’

Her young daughter, standing next to her mom with a long pony tail and shorts stared intently at them, and then at her mom, waiting to see if the all clear would be given.

‘OK thanks!’ her mom said, smiled back at me motioned her daughter to take them from each from the two saucers, which she did. I said goodbye to them both and went back to sit with my dad, placing his coffee in front of him and sitting down with my own.

This pub wasn’t here the last time I visited. In fact NONE of the nearby buildings were. It felt a bit strange to be sitting in what I remembered as being a patch of grass until I drove past it yesterday and noted that it had been filled in by progress (although I’m fairly sure a brewery had also been involved at some point).

As I chatted with my dad I was pleased to hear that he had clearly taken my walking ideas to heart from the day before. I had suggested he could help his weight loss and general health by building a stroll into everyday activities. As he has a free bus pass he comes to town most days. I pointed out that if he came in to town on an earlier bus and had a little stroll by the beach for 30 minutes before his shopping it would probably make him feel loads better.

To my surprise, good as gold, my dad came in earlier than he needed to before meeting me and re-traced our walk along the promenade from yesterday.

He seemed visibly less tired by it this morning, and I’m sure it did him good. Even if there’s no immediate benefit, just getting out and watching the waves is fantastic for the spirit – and more than anything else I want him to be well.

As we drank our coffees I showed him how to do some things on his laptop (all sons of Silver Surfers must provide tech support when needed) and then after a fond farewell and some re-application of factor 50 (the 2nd of the day) I headed off to Nant Yr Arian forestry centre just outside Aber.

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It’s a red kite and forestry conservation area that maintains mountain bike and walking trails, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and bio-diversity. Everything has an eco-slant on it. Even the toilet doors.

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Way back in another life I used to come here a lot – but never when I was so heavy.

I parked up, paid for the time (it’s all for the benefit of the centre and helps maintain the trails, so I paid for more than I needed). and headed to the visitor centre.

Inside I was met by a tall gentleman who told me he was just closing the gift shop to go for a break, and that he’d be back shortly.

‘Ooh! Before you go…’ I said, grabbing his attention.

He turned to look at me.

‘I was wondering if I could quickly have a bit of advice please. I… erm… just wondered which walk won’t… well… KILL me.’

He looked me up and down.

‘Well…’ He said, rubbing his chin, still sizing me up.

‘I walked up Constitution Hill yesterday.’ I interjected. ‘I’m not very fit – but I’m taking things at my own pace and trying to break new ground.’

He lifted his eyebrows and reached for a leaflet from the rack, handing it to me.

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‘Well – there’s a purple route, thats our easiest – round the lake. It’s wheelchair accessible.’ He pointed at the pages. ‘ Thats recommended for low mobility. There’s a yellow route with some climbing and steep slopes, and a red route which is quite a bit longer with a lot more climbs.’

‘I want views and a bit of exercise.’ I said. ‘Does the yellow one have nice views?’

He grinned.

‘Sure – three places on the route are outstanding.’ He pointed to the little blue markers on the map. ‘You’ll enjoy it. Just take it steady!’

I nodded and thanked him, looking at the leaflet. The distance was ok – a mile and a half was easy now, but the elevation? 200ft of climbing. Surely Constitution Hill was more…

The red route on the other hand looked like a much bigger challenge, but it had more views. ‘No – don’t run before you can walk.’ I muttered to myself. I still had to drive back to Warwick after the walk, so crippling myself was pointless.

I set off, taking it at my own pace, and  just enjoying the view AND THE FACT I WAS DOING IT.

The view was wonderful. Although I’d seen it before – for some reason today I enjoyed it more than ever. Maybe the effort made it seem sharper and more vibrant. Maybe it was sun stroke. Who knows.

I do know that my Ambre Solarie Factor 50 was getting a good workout on top of this hilside – which had zero shade to begin with.

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I think I could have fried an egg on my baldy barnett at one point – but I just sipped my water, stopped to pant and admire the view and then moved on – bit by bit. When there was a steep gradient I took it in chunks, and even sat on the mossy verge if I had difficulty catching my breath (only once was I COMPLETELY defeated and couldn’t breathe).

But it was all worth it. Every tremble of my legs, every ache in my knees and every stabbing pain in my plantar heel.

Just see for yourself.

At the end, when the walk finished by the lake I returned to the visitor centre, drenched in sweat and more than a little tired. I needed to eat and drink something COLD.

Sadly the menu only had cakes and cream teas or white bread sandwiches, and I wasn’t prepared to take all that effort and sabotage myself with sugary carbs for anything. I had (thanks to my dad) some cherry tomatoes in the car and two apples left over from my dinner with the seagull last night. I’d eat them later on the way home instead.

As I stood in the canteen thinking about what to drink the tall gift shop attendant passed by, noticed me and walked over to ask if I’d done the yellow walk.

‘Yep. All of it.’ I beamed. “I took it at my own pace – it was nice! I really enjoyed it.’

He looked a little surprised and then his eyes smiled at me – even though the rest of his face remained strangely unchanged. ‘Well done.’ he said. ‘One step at a time eh?’ He patted me on the shoulder and walked back to his fridge magnets in the gift shop.

Although I probably shouldn’t be bothered, my chest puffed out just a little at that point. It felt like I’d just scored full marks on a test at school and had a gold star in my exercise book.

Still feeling like this I went to sit outside in the shade where the breeze was. There was only one bench that I could sit on (fixed seat benches are impossible) so I sat behind an elderly couple and a young girl, opened my can of cold diet coke and sighed.

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After a few minutes the little girl slowly turned her head to look at me. She started staring.

No. Please not now. I couldn’t take a fat comment now.

She looked me up and down, hiding by her grandmother’s arm, and stared at the area of my waist.

My hands clenched in my lap. Please don’t say it.

‘Graaaaandaaad.’ She said, pointing at me, and reaching out to him to get his attention.

Don’t do it.

‘That man…’

No. No. NO. NOT NOW!

‘…he’s wearing the same watch as daddy.’

Her grandad turned and smiled. ‘He must have lots of money!’ he laughed as he looked at my Apple Watch.

‘Or her daddy has very good taste and sets a good example.’ I said, smiling back at him.

Today internet, the world left me alone and let me have my moment of success. That little girl and her grandparents, watching the world pass by was actually my favourite moment of the day. She didn’t see anything about me other than a man with a watch like her dad’s. She reminded me that there’s good out there too, and that not everyone sees me as a fat lump.

I’d like to shake her dad by the hand. He’s doing a good job.

He also has impeccable taste in timepieces.

Davey

The rinds of life

Yesterday evening was not so great. 

After my bath yesterday I sat for some time relaxing in the armchair of my bay window watching the sun go down, completely blissed out. 

The only thing interrupting the sound of the waves was an occasional rumble from my stomach. I hadn’t eaten anything since midday – and was beginning to feel hungry. 

The hotel served chips. Lots of chips. With chips. Or you could have a side order of chips. Fried. DEEP Fried. 

In the room I had tea and coffee and biscuits


I haven’t had a biscuit for AGES but I’m aware that they are lethal, even in small numbers. Apparently they hunt in packs and often catch victims when they’re alone. 

This serving had 3 digestives. I decided to check the slimming world app. The news was not good. If I decided to make my evening meal these three wafers of evil it would cost me up to 12 syns. 


I decided therefore to head out for another walk into town to the Tesco Metro. I’d get some apples, some cherry tomatoes and some chicken pieces and eat them by the sea. 

It was the right thing to do and initially as I walked along the promenade I was incredibly glad I’d ventured out. 

Since I was last here a huge storm had destroyed a lot of the seafront and it had been regenerated in style. A folk music recital was playing in the new communal ‘bandstand’ by the beach and I stopped to take a look. 


The music wasn’t my cup of tea – but there was a nice aura of calm there, and lots of beards and sandals. 

The whole spectacle just made me feel at home. 

I carried on to the shop after a while – stopping to look at the changes to the town I once knew on the way. A big old pub was now a huge coffee shop. That’s progress!


‘He’s a big guy! Look at the SIZE of HIM!’ 

I turned to see the source of a voice. A group of drunks. Wonderful. I carried on walking. 

‘Wow he’s massive!’ I heard one of them slur. 

I walked over the road and into Tescos. They remained sat nearby. 

I picked up my food. I was shaken (plus a little threatened if I’m honest) and I forgot to take a basket on the way in. I picked up my items and moved to the queue, balancing them shakily in my arms. 

Why now. Why of ALL TIMES when I’m THIS happy? 

I paid for my groceries and moved on. I would have to walk past them again on the way back. I refused to take the long way to avoid them. 

‘Blooooody hell!’ I heard one of them say as I passed. 

I ignored it and carried on walking to the sea front to find a bench. The sunset was still visible and I didn’t plan to waste a second of it. 

As I sat there feeling completely crestfallen. Then, as I lamented about how crap it all was on my SW Facebook group I was approached by a curious seagull. 


This guy was only interested in my apple. He didn’t care about my waistline – and watched me intently, flipping his head from side to side to make sure he had the best view. 

I threw him a piece. He ran forward and gobbled it up. Seagulls like Braeburn apples it seems. 

I threw him another piece. This time closer to me. He viewed me suspiciously. Was this a trap? I remained motionless eating my apple. He started walking around me in a 10ft exclusion zone, trying to decide whether I could be trusted. 

I didn’t move. 

He flew off and sat on the fence. He would play it cool. He didn’t need apple. Pffft. He was better than that. He had rules. 10ft. No closer. 

I didn’t move. 

Ok. Apple is nice. He clearly didn’t get a lot of apples. He moved to the bench – a bit closer and flapped his pearly white and grey wings, again looking at me side on. 

I didn’t move. 

Slowly. Eeeeever so slowly he edged forward, hopping off the bench. He was now within the magical 10ft boundary and moving closer in a circling motion. Maybe the apple was worth it after all – and it seemed the big guy didn’t have bad intentions. 

I didn’t move. 

Then – without further ado the apple was gone, and he skittered back to relative safety, breathing a sigh of relief and ruffling his feathers. 

I shared the rest of my apple with him at varying distances – watching his delicate ballet with fascination as he tactically retrieved the food and each time retreated to watch me again. 

I wondered if he had seagullings at home to feed. Maybe I was keeping them fed too. 

That gull seemed the best company a man could have at that moment in time. We both watched eachother and the last dying embers of sunlight dissapear as he sat on the rail in front of me before finally flying off when darkness completely descended on the horizon. 


Although I love people sometimes I dearly wish there were none, and that I could just – for once – be left alone, without abuse or attack. 

Animals never judge and I really love them for it… but I can’t hide away from the world with just them for company. 

Thankfully this is not the every day norm of my life but honestly sometimes it’s the every OTHER day norm, and I hate it. 

However. I have friends who make it better. People who I care about – and that’s what I have to focus on. 

These idiots won’t stop me. They don’t stand a chance. They might win for an hour or two – but ultimately they mean less than bacon rind to me, which at breakfast I cut off. Thinking of them, and their small minded drunkeness. 


I had no need of their rind. It does me no good. I cut off all the fat, avoided all of the sausages and bread, filled my plate with the correct SW speed ratio and treated the memory of them and my chunks of gristle with the contempt they deserve. 

Later Internet I’ll meet my dad and see what the rest of the day holds. With my head up. Getting on with life while those idiots deal with their hangover. 

Davey

Daveyprune

One of the luxuries of being recently unemployed is just deciding to get up and do something and not worry about where you have to be the following day. 

Yesterday evening I was talking to a lady on Facebook and (as is my tendency lately) I started being very honest about my day. I’d wanted to go into Birmingham on the train – but last time I went it wasn’t a pleasant experience and I got verbally abused. 

I’m also (probably overly) paranoid about getting too far from home, hurting myself and not being able to get back. 

After this conversation I sat thinking about my limitations and how many are real vs how many are imagined. 

I think that although my physical problems are not insignificant (I’m just over 30st now) it’s true to say that I’m afraid a lot. 

I’m afraid of pulling muscles, I’m afraid of straining tendons. I’m aware that heart attacks happen and I’m a prime candidate. 

But none of this should stop me from trying – it should just remind me not to be stupid. 

So today, after booking a hotel late last night I am in Aberystwyth and I’ve just walked up Constitution Hill. 


(I’m not doing a pirate impression. The sun is in my eyes lol)

This may seem a little random but years ago I lived here, just at the bottom of the cliff railway. Although I’ve lived other places for longer I still consider Aber to be something of a spiritual home, and I haven’t been here since I started gaining weight. 

This is particularly shameful as my dad also lives here and I’ve not visited him for a decade. Instead he has visited me in Warwick. 

I just sent him this picture on iMessage and the daft brush thinks I’m in Brighton! I’m going to pop over after I walk back down and take him for lunch in town.  

(Picks up Gandalf father for lunch. Some may recognise him from a previous blog)


One of the nice things about coming here after loosing weight is parking. Aber is a small town – and finding a place to put your car can often be a challenge. It used to be the case that wherever I went I had to park right outside. 

Not today. I’ve parked at the opposite end of the pier and we’ve both walked into town. It’s been a LONG time since I walked along the front by the sea. 

Dad (after reading my blog) is also going to slimming world – so the walk is good for both of us!

The tide is currently out and everyone is checking out the rock pools for crabs and limpets. There are dogs with them who keep jumping into the shallow water and splashing their owners when they get out. 

It’s been so long that I was here that I had completely forgotten I used to go down there and explore too. I love this part of Aber!


(Stops further on for lunch and a catch up)

Well – after a virtuous salad (beetroot and raw garlic with balsamic) with a baked potato and beans we walked all the way back along the promenade and down to the end of the pier to see all the boats in the harbour. 


So far my Apple Watch appears to think it’s been stolen as all its little rings are filling up and overflowing. My calories burned is currently almost twice round the horn and I’m feeling epic. 

(More time passes)

However now I’m somewhere else I haven’t been for a VERY long time. I dropped Santa dad off at the North Pole and headed for the next (well deserved) objective.

This baby. 

Oooooooh yeeeeaaaaah!

It probably seems like nothing to you readers but although I’ve never missed a day in the shower (sometimes I get soapy twice a day – I’m a water baby lol) it has been a decade since I had a bath. 

Last night I thought ‘screw it’ and paid the extra supplement to get a whirlpool BIG bath. Right now guess where I am?

This is my first bathblog(tm) lol! 

You saw it here first – and hopefully not for the last time. 

Unfortunately it’s bubbles are broken- so I’m in still rather than sparking bubbles. I will complain only when I’m so wrinkly that I look at least 3 decades older. 

I would take pictures but there are ladies with delicate constitutions out there who will have to imagine the hippo like splendour of my relaxation. My room is all steamy and I’m loving life!

So – to the Internet and (most importantly) the fantastic ladies of slimming world – talking to you inspired me yet again to step outside of my comfort zone and now I look like a tired and happy prune. 

I hope you’re all enjoying yourselves as well. 

Although I’m not sure how you can without a four poster bed and a miniature love pillow…

Davey

Unexpected conclusion

Myself and my 40 something friend (we are both of a ‘certain’ age) were playing with the infinite refill Pepsi machine in the pub the other day, giggling like we were still at school.

Our rebellious streaks were in full flood, and with Lime, Cherry, Strawberry, Vanilla and Original flavours to choose from we were busy creating frankenstein’s monsters of drinks for ourselves.

I made a long pour of lime Pepsi Max (my personal favourite), paused and followed it with an inch of strawberry.

I took a quick sip and swilled it like a fine wine. It had a delicate bouquet but maybe it needed something else…

I could sense my companion’s anticipation as he stood expectantly next to me. The glass was nearly full. I paused, hovering over the terminal and feeling rebellious. I quickly pressed the button. A dash of vanilla to top it off. The drink was MINE and unique.

I owned it.

I sipped the sweet syrupy Pepsi mashup and watched as he too combined Strawberry and Vanilla, tasted the resultant drink, nodded and approved its makeup.

We strode back to our table feeling rebellious and unwilling to conform to social norms. The surrounding pensioners WISHED they were as cool as us. You could just tell.

This I guess is what currently passes for me being wild. But I’m ok with that. I quite like it now and I stopped feeling hard done by some time ago.

I rebel with coffee and fizzy drinks – not alcohol and food. My signposts of success have become Slimming World stickers and I celebrate with walks and salads rather than wine and pies.

However – at this moment in time I was here to enjoy myself and had been gagging for a roast dinner for some time. We had a lovely meal, and I counted ALL OF MY SYNS. There were 14 in total, but each indivdual one of them was REALLY worth it. The company was also superb and we left feeling virtuous.

That was days ago though and this morning I was full of trepidation before the weigh in. I had eaten much more than usual yesterday, felt a bit bloated and I didn’t know what that would mean on the scales.

A friend texted me to wish me luck – and to point out that it was ‘Better weather for ducks, unicorns n Davey’s today!’ She wasn’t kidding. I peeked out of the window and sure enough it was slashing it down.

I ALMOST decided to take the car, but my brolly was by the front door – and although I may be anthropomorphising a little I’m sure it looked sad that I was planning to deny it a chance to be useful.

I huffed, took my car key OFF my keychain, grabbed my whimpering puppy of an umbrella and headed to Slimming World.

Inanimate objects are obviously interlinked – and the kindness showed to my umbrella was clearly noticed by the scales when they graciously signalled a 2.5lb weight loss.


I’m absolutely chuffed to bits about this (despite it being less than the last couple of weeks) as it’s all still going in the right direction.

I’ve only got 2lbs to go now before I get my four and a half stone award. Hopefully next week will win me another sticker for my book!!!

I also got to see a few friendly faces there – some back off holiday, one returning from her wedding (looking very happy) whilst others were bravely drawing a line in the sand and doubling down with their efforts.

At the end of the meeting I sat chatting to what in my eyes equated to superwoman. I’ve mentioned her in passing in my blog before – she works in a bakery and is surrounded all day long by pastry.

Pies are my kryptonite and yet she navigates them day in and day out.


Like me she’s also becoming happier with photos of herself and is proudly posting pictures of her recent holiday on the group page.

One of the reasons I love staying to meetings is there’s ALWAYS someone that provides inspiration and when all I can think of is food it’s really cool to see their before and after photos.

Plus I genuinely get pleasure from seeing them succeed – so it’s a double win!

(Gets home. Thinks about the four and a half stone sticker and the facefull of mini quiches yesterday and walks into Leamington, feeling maybe a little downbeat.)

Currently I’m sat on a wall in the shade. It’s hotter than I thought it would be and this is taking some of the pleasure out of the walk. I’ve modified my route a little so it’s slightly longer but has more shade.

Today I took no chances. I put suntan lotion all over my chest and arms UNDER my shirt, re-applied half way and brought it with me to top up later.

Although it’s hot the route seems easier than last time. I’m still finding it tough (this is my fourth garden wall) but the last time it was definitely a bit more of a slog.

(Arrives at Leamington a little crispy)

I think I pulled something new in my foot on the way – but I’m here now and taking it easy with my coffee. That’s two miles toward the weekly total. I still feel strangely subdued though and I’m not sure why.

(Sips coffee and listens to the hubub)

As always getting off my tubby behind was a good idea. My skin, weight, self perception, worries about eating quiches are nothing in the great scheme of things.

They are in fact completely irrelevant.

Often when I start writing I know roughly how I’m going to finish a post. However sometimes my words unexpectedly write themselves and today is one of those days.

I’ve been sitting listening to the guy on the next table and it transpires he’s recovering from a serious brain injury. He’s been repeating himself several times, and keeps forgetting what he’s already said to his friend, who he appears to be meeting for the first time.

As he leaves I see under his loose grey vest and shorts is a shiny black prosthetic leg. He is using a walking cane to steady himself and appears partially paralysed.

On the way out of the shop despite his mobility difficulties he takes the time to walk over to the counter and thank all the staff for their help and wish them a good day.

He smiles at everyone as he leaves and greets people on the way in, holding the door for them.

Internet – today I want to be half the man this guy is, and I’m going to forget about my insignificant waistline worries and just be glad to be alive and happy.

What I have ahead of me is way easier than the hardships this man appears to endure every day – and even so he’s still smiling at baristas.

I’m suddenly amazingly thankful for all I’ve got in life.

Look after yourselves. We’re all we’ve got.

Davey

The Unicorn Story

Motivation has been in short supply today. I started with enthusiasm, but this didn’t last.

When I woke up I felt great and thought that I’d walk to Leamington and go to Coffee Architects for dinner. This would be the central theme of my day. I could also have a look round the shops.

Today was going to be a WALKING day.

Then I checked the weather report. It was a cloudless day with ‘fantastic’ weather. Pretty much identical to the last time I walked there and I’m still peeling and scratching from the sunburn that caused.

I decided instead to have an eBay session and get rid of some old games while watching movies and do a bit of cooking.

I started the day well with some oats, yogurt and fruit for breakfast. It seemed like coconut would enhance this so I sprinkled the last of my desiccated flakes in with some cinnamon.

It was such a nice choice that I could have eaten it twice, but I had a large coffee instead. I was still really hungry though…

The eBaying was done in no time (how easy is it to list things with barcodes?!) and I settled into a Star Trek movie marathon, punctuated by hopping up and down to the oven to check on my bacon, mushroom, onion and broccoli mini quiches.

Today it seemed like I could do no wrong in the kitchen and everything I’ve constructed (including my lunch’s accompanying salad) has been delicious!

(yay for modesty!)

Unfortunately this meant by the end of The Wrath of Khan I had eaten ALL OF THE QUICHES.

‘Lunch’ ended up containing 5 large eggs, 5 bacon medallions, half a tub of quark and about 20 slices of sandwich ham – as well as a massive salad, broccoli, mushrooms, and an onion.

My day of walking (which had morphed into a chilled day at home) had now in no time flat turned into me stuffed with quiche and salad – falling asleep in the middle of ‘The Search for Spock’ and only waking up a few hours later after a fairly extensive food coma. I ended up feeling annoyed with myself and dissapointed up that the initial promise of the day had gone so downhill.

Although I have no real objectives at the moment I feel annoyed if my day doesn’t meet its intended purposes and this wasn’t what I wanted it to be.

The day had become ‘a unicorn story’.

(What’s ‘a unicorn story’ you may ask?)

Well – a good friend of mine made me belly laugh at dinner in the local Harvester a short while ago, and we’ve been bantering about it ever since. She started by laying out some tempting bait.

‘Have I ever told you the unicorn story?’

I blinked. A unicorn story?

‘Ummm…’

Surely I told you the unicorn story.’

I was drawing a blank. A unicorn story. It sounded memorable. I think I’d recall a story about a unicorn.

‘No – I don’t think you did!’ I replied – and steadied myself for a tale of wonder and magical creatures.

‘Well – I was at this wedding’ she said. ‘The drinks were ridiculously expensive – like £14 for a double vodka and Coke

‘Wow!’ I exclaimed. That was indeed a pricey drink. I leaned in further. She proceeded to describe the venue and who she was with.

‘I was with my best mate xxxxx and her friends and we were all chatting about the price of drinks and how expensive they were.’

I nodded. Agreeing. ‘I’m not surprised. That’s extortion.’

EVERYONE kept saying how dear the drinks were’ she said. ‘It was all people could talk about!’

I munched on my bowl of pickles and cous cous from the salad bar as we waited for the main meals to arrive. Angie swears by pickles for weight loss. I always eat them at the Harvester.

‘There was this guy – a friend of a friend – who keep saying that he had a bottle of vodka in his boot and asking if I wanted some.’

I nodded. He already sounded like a man with Rohypnol but I wanted to hear about the magical beast. I mustn’t judge.

‘Did you go to his car? ‘ I asked?

‘No – he kept on bugging me about this bottle of vodka. He kept coming up to me and asking if I wanted a drink.’

‘He sounds weird.’ I said. ‘Who has a bottle of vodka in his boot?’

‘I wasn’t interested at all. He was good looking enough but just kept pestering me about this vodka. He didn’t have anything else to say.’

I nodded. It must have been annoying.

She carried on. With such familiar company the wedding had been a pleasant one. The venue was also nice – and it was in a good setting, despite the financial consequences of such a cool location.

Our dinner had arrived by then and I tipped my salad bowl onto my Salsa Chicken Stack and mixed it with my baked potato while she talked.

‘So finally I asked him – where is this mythical vodka?’

My friend gesticulated with her arms. ‘I said – look mate – I could say I have a unicorn in my boot but it doesn’t make it true!’

She started laughing.

I couldn’t help but laugh as well. She has a witty turn of phrase combined with an extensive library of funny expressions and always makes me smile.

This however couldn’t go unchallenged.

‘So THAT’s the unicorn story?!’ I laughed. ‘I can’t help but feel a little conned! There were ZERO unicorns!’

We tittered.

‘I mean – it really should be called the story about the guy with vodka in his boot! He didn’t have a single unicorn!’

We couldn’t stop laughing. The waitress was looking at us.

‘Why on earth call it the unicorn story?! There were zero unicorns in it!’

We were both in stitches.

‘I mean – it should come with a sticker WARNING-  THIS STORY MAY CONTAIN NO UNICORNS!

Both of our funny bones had been tripped and after more gentle ribbing she finally conceded between peals of mutual tears of laughter that (as good as the content was) her story title might need some work.

We’ve been sending eachother pictures of unicorns ever since.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 21.50.24

My day had initially promised walks and that was it’s intended theme. It ended up containing nothing of the sort and that annoyed me.

So – in honour of her ‘unicorn story’ I started writing this and laughing to myself all over again while walking round the park as the sun went down.

Although my day wasn’t all about walks, by the time I’d finished I was satisfied that it finally contained one, and can at least step on the scales tomorrow knowing that my total for the week is 15 miles.

Internet – I just hope I haven’t nailed myself too badly with my mini quiche binge…

LOL – Nevertheless I can’t be too annoyed with myself. I can’t stop thinking about unicorns.

‘Unicorn story’ my ass 🙂

Davey

Thirteen and counting

I asked my friend the other day ‘how much is too much’ when it comes to exercise. 

I’m still so unfamiliar with how my body reacts to it that I’m like a little child in many respects, and I have to hurt myself a lot of the time to learn not to do something. 

My walk to Leamington last Friday was a truly watershed moment and it filled me with a lot of confidence. However my brain is often trying to write cheques my body can’t quite cash. 

I still annoyingly have to stop and remind myself that I’m 10 years older than the last time I tried to change myself dramatically and in that period my body hasn’t improved – in fact it’s got a bit creakier if anything. 

But I still want to walk EVERYWHERE all of a sudden. 

  • Saturday – walk around Jefferson Gardens (about a mile and a half / two miles total)
  • Sunday – walk to the park, up to the church, and home back again (3 miles)
  • Monday – walk to the park, a lap round the park and back home again (3.5 miles)
  • Tuesday – walk to the park, a lap around the park and back home again (3.5 miles)
  • Wednesday – drove near to park and walked 2 laps (2.25 miles)

Conservatively this week (I’ve been plotting it roughly on google maps rather than using a GPS app) I’ve already walked 13 miles. That’s my current record matched and it’s not yet Saturday. 

All I have to do is walk to the shop and I’ve gone further than I have before between weigh-ins. 

But things hurt, and as I was saying to my fellow Slimming World walking companion this morning – I don’t want to go ‘too far’ – but then simultaneously I am left with a continually nagging feeling I’m not getting out enough. 

Honestly though after these ‘strolls’ I’m wiped out. By that I mean ‘face plant my pillow’ kind of tired, so even though I’m completing them they’re still not things I could easily build into a working day. Currently I would have to do one or the other. 

My friend (probably the wrong person to ask about this considering he just cycled up several French mountains and sets himself a weekly pain target relating to speed and distance on his bike) suggested I could do something at home, like hula hooping in the garden, which his partner sometimes does. 

It was when he said this that I realised there’s another, more emotional aspect to my exercise. 

‘No’ I said, typing my reply to him into Facebook messenger. ‘The BIG motivator is being part of the world.’ 

I thought for a moment, and then continued. 

‘After so long of being shut in I just want to be out there.’

And there it was. 

I’ve declined any of the ‘body magic’ awards so far at Slimming World. I don’t want my walking to be regimented or count as part of my diet (even though it obviously DOES). 

I would rather think of it as my new way of life, and my doorway to new people and new experiences. It’s something that (confusingly I know) I want to keep separate and for my pleasure, and not have it become mandatory hardship. 

It was for just this reason that I was again walking with a fellow SW’er today, and chatting while we watched the swanling meander along the river. 

It’s almost the size of its parent now, and its feathers are beginning to look unkempt – like they’re about to be replaced with bolder, adult ones. 


As we sat on my favourite bench watching them we both reflected on events in the past, and how they had shaped us in the present. Conversation was easy underneath a shady tree on a comfortable seat by a river. 

The park seems to bring this out in people. Everyone seems to find it easier to talk there. For some reason social convention doesn’t allow for this on the street – which as I reflect upon it I think is strange and a bit sad. 

Today as my companion and I were leaving the park we met for the third time that day a lady with a beautiful fluffy dog and her toddler. He was bouncing all over the place and she was trying in vain to wear him out and get him to sleep. 

The three of us stopped and talked for a while, spontaneously sharing some detail about where we came from and what brought us to this part of the world. 

Although her parents were from India she was brought up in London, and looked back on her apparently raucous childhood with a hint of glee. She told us that her parents had no idea at the time that she got into cars with boys and was a complete rebel when she was a teenager. She smiled as she remembered her youth – which was clearly a busy and outgoing one. 

She missed the city, but wasn’t going back. 

Her toddler (she said) would grow up here, like his artist father did (the reason she moved to Warwickshire was love) and he would have the slower and more wholesome life of someone in an area surrounded by countryside, not the dangers of London.

He seemed obliviously happy and was clambering around her, tying his harness round the pram and the dog lead as he did so. 

His loose brown curly hair and bright brown eyes showed nothing but promise and enthusiasm as he tried to pick up and sample every piece of dirt in his vicinity. 

‘At least he’ll build a good immune system!’ my companion commented – and the lady nodded with a grin. 

We finally said our goodbyes and went on our separate ways – with my SW buddy getting ready to head off to the rest of her busy day. 

Part of the reason we moved on is because standing still isn’t good for either of us – and can be quite uncomfortable. 

When we left the lady with the sleep resistant toddler my left leg really hurt. It does that if I stand still or walk too slowly. 

However if I walk too fast my left calf muscle hurts. 

If I sit to recover for too long from the ligament pain and calf fatigue the plantar fasciitis in my right foot makes me hobble and limp for a while when I get back up until the pain subsides. 

It’s difficult to know what to do for the best. 

I don’t think I can avoid this though, and the answer is not sitting on my ass. I just have to work through it and look at all the positives I get from walking. 

In this respect my park companion is a breezy and bright inspiration – who (having experienced similar problems) is always upbeat and positive. 

I wouldn’t have talked to her for the best part of two hours if I’d stayed at home with a hula hoop in my garden. 

I wouldn’t have met the wide awake toddler and his city slicker mother with a rebellious youth either. 

That’s why I walk. 

But I still count it all. It counts towards my pounds lost. 

13 miles Internet. Count em. Booya!

Davey

Ambisleptstrous

I mentioned to a Slimming World companion while walking about a week ago that I’d woken up early one morning a few days before with a word on the tip of my tongue.

It was’t a real word, in fact I’d made it up whilst somewhere between sleeping and being awake – but it reflected what was going on at that moment in time and my obvious unconscious amazement.

The word was ‘ambisleptstrous‘.

Very early on in my blog I was writing about all the awful things I felt I’d done to myself, and how many things I had wrong with me. The catharsis caused by my avalanche of honesty (and corresponding lack of condemnation by those that read my confessions) was driving me to tell the world about things that I had kept to myself and been embarrassed about for a very long time.

As well as more obvious outwardly visible limitations I had also been very conscious that my extreme weight was causing profound sleeping difficulties – but I had kept the severity of it to myself.

Over the years as I got heavier I had been reduced to sleeping in only two positions. If I slept any other way I snored so loudly I hurt myself (I’m not joking) and suddenly woke up. If I slept on my back or on my right side I couldn’t breathe at all and woke up in a panic – quite literally suffocating.

The only way I could sleep in bed was on my left side – or sitting upright in an armchair. It had become depressingly normal to me – despite the obvious absurdity of the situation when I write it down and read it back to myself.

As I woke up the other day with this new word rattling around my head I suddenly realised that I was on my right side, facing the wall in my bedroom.

What the hell?! 

I quickly turned onto my left side in a small panic, still half awake – but then I realised what had happened. I had been sleeping without snoring and I’d been breathing. I hadn’t woken up because I was suffocating – I’d woken up because I wasn’t tired any more.

All of a sudden I was ambisleptstrous – I could sleep on both sides!!!

I wasn’t entirely sure whether this was a one off, so over the last couple of weeks I’ve been gingerly testing the water, and bit by bit realised that while it’s still not 100% ideal I can now sleep in three positions.

Flat on my back is still off limits for the time being but I don’t mind. Currently I’m too preoccupied with all of the good things that appear to be changing for the better.

Take this evening for example. I’m in the park. By now this won’t come as a surprise to anyone. I’m here a lot lately.

What’s a surprise to me is that my car is still parked outside my house and that I walked here BEFORE doing any laps. Afterwards I’ll walk home again.

I’m also here to meet my friend and his family – and I’m acutely aware that I wouldn’t have done that before either.

Sure I’d have keep in contact and met up – they’re great friends after all, but it would have to be on my terms. We wouldn’t be on common ground like this where his kids can play on the swings and we can walk by the river.

Furthermore I don’t have to worry whether we’re going to stroll around the park or watch his girls enjoy the playground – in fact I never even asked what the plan was.

Normally I’d be obsessing over it and trying to plan exits or seats in my head.

Hell – previously I’d have probably worried about it so much in advance I’d have cancelled it altogether – if by some amazing convergence of circumstance I had even arranged it in the first place.

And I wouldn’t have taken this photo 😄

Anyway Internet – I must get on with my evening and enjoy the company of others. Catch you later, after a walk and some equally balanced pillow surfing.

Davey

Stained glass and sniffing grass

Benji is running round in circles in front of me, and his tail is frantically wagging. There’s a whole variety of scents for him to enjoy and he’s taking the opportunity to smell as many of them as he can while the rest of his family sit and chat on a picnic blanket just inside the shade of a large tree.

His apparently limitless enthusiasm for smells and grass is infectious and he’s making me smile.

IMG_6959

I woke up this morning honestly not wanting to do anything. When I looked in the bathroom mirror before getting in the shower I had a rather comical red heat rash that indicated my nice Hawaiian shirt from yesterday’s blog lets through a bit more sunlight than I bargained for. I have a big white unburned seam down the middle of my stomach and the outline of a shirt collar around my neck where the material was double thickness.

If it didn’t itch so much I’d be laughing my arse of at the sight of it – but as it stands it’s just really annoying.

Yesterday the dietary brakes came off a bit in the evening and I ended up having a fourth meal of the day. It was quite large – but salad and free foods – so hopefully I haven’t done any damage. It’s frustrating that one moment I can feel bouyant and energetic, without a thought of food – and then out of the blue I could lick the pattern off the wallpaper just to see what it tastes like.

Although I woke up early this morning (because everything either itched or ached) I really didn’t want to drive to the park. Within a couple of hours my definite ‘no way’ had changed to ‘maybe later‘ and by midday it was ‘I really should get up and make up for last night‘.

The main reason for this slowly modifying motivation was thinking about the belt on my trousers from my photos in Leamington yesterday. The way it hung down had stuck with me in a good way.

Not many things make me feel a sense of pride – and I often diminish my successes when I consider them – but this can’t be denied. When I got my belt the notches were not enough, and with a heavy heart I made a new one, closer to the end.

I’ve since made a lot more notches and they’ve all been in the opposite (and right) direction.

Although I had a good loss yesterday it didn’t make itself happen.

Moving my big fat ass was the cause of it – not sitting at home watching TV and trying not to think of the fridge. 

So – time for the park. But what if I walked there instead of driving there and doing laps? It would be better exercise and it also saves petrol.

So I did just that, and now I’m here, sitting in the shade watching the black and white springer spaniel called Benji run around in circles with a little blonde toddler who clearly loves chasing, stroking and petting him.

Dogs are just great!

After sitting watching for a while I got up to move – but something made me turn right instead of left and instead head out of the park. I’d walked the entire length of it from where I entered and now I was by Warwick Castle and St Nicholas church.

I’d never been into the church – probably because I’m not the religious sort, but I do like stained glass windows. Although the iconography means little to me it’s difficult to not appreciate the aesthetic value they have when there’s sunlight streaming through them. I checked with the lady sitting by the small tea room just inside whether it was ok to wander round and take a few photos and she was quite happy – enquiring whether I was ‘into’ stained glass.

I replied that it had started to interest me after my friend did a night school course on it.

When we lived together she made stained glass windows for the tops of doorways in her very first house where I rented a room. The process had fascinated me at the time – although the fact she was smashing glass and bending lead on the living room carpet also temporarily made me a big fan of slippers.

I subsequently lost the interest in interior footwear – but ever since then I’ve really enjoyed looking at the coloured glass and it’s pretty much only this (apart from the occasional wedding or funeral) that will propel me into a place of worship.

The windows were lovely. I’m so glad I stopped to have a look at them!

I really must look up the history of it when I have a moment. Some of the plaques on the wall dated back to the 1700’s, giving the church a real sense of place and time. I am rather ashamed I’ve lived in Warwick for 15 years and never once popped my head around the door for a better look before.

It’s amazing what loosing a bit of weight will do to your inquisitiveness!

After this I had toyed with the idea of catching the bus home from Warwick and making some dinner – but at that moment in time, surrounded by the calm and tranquility of the church I decided that my bus fare would be better off in the collection box and decided to walk back instead.

I deposited my coins by the door as I left and walked out into the sunshine again.

After several stops on benches and walls I returned home (via Sainsburys) with some apples, broccoli and strawberries. I was a bit sweaty but felt much better for going for a walk. Most of my aches had been worked out on the route and I was once again feeling limber.

I set about the business of cooking.

An hour and a half later and I’ve made a chilli (enough for two days), some mini quiches (for snacking here and there) and have a vegetable and red lentil stew on the boil that I put in the slow cooker before going out for my walk. Tomorrow morning I have some strawberries and a banana ready and waiting for my oat and yogurt breakfast. Then I will decide upon some other kind of adventure for during the day.

I have no idea what that is – but whatever it turns out to be – even with the itching and aching it will beat what I was doing before.

Doing nothing sucks.

Internet – I hereby vow I will never ever use any of my old belt notches ever again.

Davey

Art in the Park

No good deed goes unpunished it seems, and today I’m suffering for my walk yesterday.

Strangely although I’m a little stiff that’s not the worst of things. When I woke up with my skin feeling tight and painful I realised that I managed to burn my arms even though I was covered in factor 50. Annoyingly they seemed fine yesterday evening. I also have some weird (and insanely itchy) heat rash thats covering my chest, arms and stomach.

I’ve woken up scratching all over and am consequently pretty irritable this morning. It doesn’t really help that I have several things to do today and can’t just sit indoors waiting for it all to subside. From my perspective it’s also going to be the WORST kind of day for all this…

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Where on earth is the traditional British weather when I need it? Grrrrr….

Oh well. Better get on with it I suppose. I have to weigh in shortly. Back later.

(Walks to Slimming World to stand on scales and back home again)

I’m not quite sure what to say. My usual ‘up one week down the next’ theory seems to be being challenged at the moment. As I’ve done a lot of walking since my last weigh in (I’m up to approx 13 miles since the last one) I expected to lose – but wasn’t sure how much.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when the scales said I’d lost 8lbs!

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Very unexpectedly this gave me my 4st certificate.

I was hoping to get this next week – but not this week! It looks like the slow uphill slog from the walk yesterday may have made all the difference!

This now means that (as mentioned in a previous blog) I have now lost more than a 25kg bag of cement.

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Trust me when I say I’m NOT missing carrying this around all day. I’m REALLY chuffed.

It was also a good week for others – and the fab lady I met from SW on my walk yesterday also had a really good result. She looked very pleased with herself today when she got a milestone certificate and rightly so.

According to her she’s now the lightest she’s been in many years, and is definitely feeling the benefits. Others who has been on holiday – or struggled the week before also managed to have good losses and everyone left in a really good mood, which was a perfect way to start the day.

Angie also got her 1 stone award proving she’s right there in the same boat as the rest of us, and sticking to her own regime! 🙂

Anyway. Now I have to re-apply my factor 50, take another allergy tablet and head off into the blazing sunshine to see my friend Sally Pickles‘ stand at ‘Art in the Park’ In Leamington Spa. If anyone’s interested it’s also on tomorrow as well (7th Aug) so you can still go and have a look!

I wholeheartedly expect to burn like a peach, but also want to show my support as she’s put a huge amount of effort into her designs!

(heads off to the Leamington)

Well the park was buzzing today and absolutely packed with people. I realised that I’m actually not that familiar with Jefferson Gardens at all and have managed to not go there before (!).

I’m a bit surprised by because I could have sworn I had…

However It’s all completely unfamiliar to me – so I guess now I have somewhere new to walk around and explore. I have to say though today was NOT the day to do so, and my time there was relatively brief.

Everything is cramping up from my walk yesterday and the sun has been out full blast, making me run for cover wherever I saw shade.

However I’m glad I did venture forth, as I got to see my mate and her lovely textiles. She’s trying to get her name out there as much as possible – and had been handing out business cards and chatting to potentially interested parties all day long. Her stall in the marquee looked simply lovely – and I know how much hard work went into making all the items leading up to the event.

She’s been a very very busy (and is an extremely talented) lady!!!

Her husband arrived to mind the stall for a short while and we chatted outside in the shade. The marquee was boiling today, and despite loosing some weight this kind of temperature is still way outside my comfort zone.

Just round the back of the tent was a huge tree and it was a perfect place to have a brief catch up.

Now oddly I don’t normally like full length photos. I hate them in fact, but today (at my request) my brother took a couple of me with my friend – and I actually feel pretty good about the result. I didn’t look half dead, or miserable, or like I was about to burst. I just looked like I was getting on with life and having a good time, out in the world with other people.

I looked happy.

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Annoyingly my belt fell out of the loop in my jeans and started hanging down. I hadn’t noticed this until I looked at the photo later in the afternoon. However – its actually only hanging down that far because I’ve had to cut new holes into it over the last few months. If you look carefully at it you can see where the original notches are.

That’s progress for sure 🙂

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In late 2015 that same belt was straining to hold back a waistline that was about as far out of control as it’s possible to get. I’ve actually snapped leather and broken metal buckles before (even fairly recently) and to see tangible evidence of improvement like this feels awesome!

The day finished with my brother and sister in law in the local Harvester where I ate several bowls of salad and a salsa chicken stack with a baked potato. I estimate no more than about 4 syns in the whole meal and I feel full and happy.

Internet – it’s worth pointing out that 6-7 months ago I wouldn’t have opened the front door once on a day like this. I would have probably been sitting inside playing video games with a large glass of wine and a fridge full of junk food which had been delivered to my door.

At the moment I’m sore and itchy – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am loving my life and the possibilities it suddenly holds.

Davey