Moobs, bingo wings & duck sauce

My arms are still killing me after my inaugural attempts to do press-ups.

I just looked in my cupboard and I’m 100% sure that anything currently contained within a jam jar is safe and secure from my lascivious culinary appetites. It’s annoying because I’d really like a gherkin – but they’re just gonna have to wait.

They don’t know how close they came to oblivion, the lucky little pickled b******s.

I’m unperturbed however. My walk up and along the Malvern hills took around four days to wear off but I felt utterly fab when it had.

Despite my current malady however I still executed on the promise I made to myself and popped out to my nearby Argos to buy the dumbbells I mentioned in my last post (via Starbucks of course, as no-one needs to be unnecessarily hasty on a Bank Holiday Sunday morning.)

The first thing that struck me was that the box was (with all the bits in) 20kg. This seems blindingly obvious as I type it (particularly as I was buying a 20kg set of dumbbells) but I don’t often hold this kind of weight in my arms. It’s REALLY REALLY HEAVYand I had to lay it on top of a nearby bin while I opened the boot of my car.

It actually translates to 3st 2lbs.

I hadn’t made this pounds and ounces connection in my mind when I handed my debit card to the lady at the checkout – and I now realise that everywhere I went before I started losing weight I had four and a half of these boxes with me.

As I suspect is common with many people who buy these kinds of things I appear to have purchased something that (at least with all the weight discs on) I’m not yet strong enough to make the most of. My hope however is that with time this will get easier and I’ll be able to do more and more – eventually being able to do pull-ups as well as proper press-ups.

Today isn’t that day though.

I took all but the 2.5kg discs off both of the dumbbells and tried 20 reps on each arm doing bicep curls. After several breaks I also did several other variations to work different muscle groups – particularly chest and triceps.

How should I describe how my arms feel right now?

Hmmm.

I think I’m going to go with…

‘Ow. Ow. Ow. Owwwwww.’

Old cramp has joined forces with new cramp and it’s clear that there’s a LOT of room for improvement here. It’s going to take a while to tone my upper body – but my mission to banish both boy boobs and bingo wings has started!!!!

I also took a leaf out of a fellow Slimming World member’s book today. I told her yesterday that I looked ‘like Babar the elephant had developed epilepsy’ when I danced and that because of this it was unlikely I would be engaging in any dancing in the future.

On reflection that was a silly thing to say.

She reminded me that it was a bad idea to close yourself off to possibilities. I still do this a lot (despite trying not to) and honestly my first knee jerk response to such things is often rooted in a somewhat warped perception of who I am now vs who I was.

Old Davey said ‘no’ to pretty much everything mostly because of hidden fears regarding mobility and embarrassment.

Current Davey occasionally has to be reminded of that from time to time – so I thank her for the gentle verbal kick in the boy parts and the opportunity to re-think my stance on this subject.

My contemplation on the matter resulted in me filling my exercise ring for the day. I did this whilst dancing in my kitchen as I cooked breakfast in the morning, making a salad at lunchtime for my dinner and finally preparing a chilli later in the day for my evening meal.

At times (thanks in no small part to ‘Duck Sauce – Barbara Streisand’ on repeat while my pork mince sizzled with paprika and seasoning) I noticed my pulse getting up to 120bpm.

It has to be said though that this spirited twirling proved to be rather incompatible with chopping coriander with a razor sharp kitchen devil knife, and I think I will instead dismember herbs during quiet contemplation in the future.

Either that internet or I will need to invest in significantly more plasters…

Now if you will excuse me I am re-visiting a favourite film of mine. The Grand Budapest Hotel (IMDB). If you’ve not seen it I highly recommend you seek it out. It’s pretty wonderful.

Davey

The Sterling Sunrise Medical Elite XS 4 Mobility Scooter

I haven’t done this in a while (and I don’t normally write two posts in a day) but my dad was browsing for items that weighed the same as my recent losses (currently 87kg) and dropped me a text.

The item he found was maybe of more interest to him than me – but he got me thinking in a similar vein and I looked for another item…

 

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This is the (snappily titled) Sterling Sunrise Medical Elite XS 4 Mobility Scooter (link).

Here are its specifications:

Maximum speed¹: Top speed of 8 mph (12km/h)
Overall length   138 cm
Overall width      67 cm
Safe climbing Angle    Incline 1:4 (25%), max. user weight 115 kg
Range per charge¹: Range of up to 36m (57km)
Adjustable seat height        48-55 cm
Weight 87 kg
Turning radius    115 cm
Battery size     74 Ah
Battery charger: Included

It appears that as of today I have lost an entire mobility scooter – which a friend pointed out to me is ironic because if I hadn’t turned my life around I’d probably have been sitting in one of these rather than writing about losing one.

Well not this one.

Ironically enough the maximum user weight for this sleek little baby is 18 stone and I’m currently a little over 21.

Thank goodness I don’t live in Benidorm!!

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Davey

Thirteen and a half stone later…

 

I’ve rather enjoyed this week – and as well as my walk to Balsall Common and trip to Oxford on I treated myself to a first showing of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 at 12.01am yesterday.

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In retrospect, this ridiculously late showing (I got home at 3am) was probably a teensy bit past my bedtime – however despite feeling like death for the rest of Friday and zonking out at 7pm in the evening it was sooooo worth it!!!

If you haven’t yet seen it then I highly recommend it – but make sure you watch the first part beforehand (if you haven’t already). Both are riotously funny – but a lot of the jokes in the second one will mean just that little bit more if you know the characters from their last outing.

By the time I reached the showing I was also struggling to lift my arms – or sit up straight, as for an hour or so earlier on Thursday evening I’d been on the floor of my living room trying to do sit-ups and push ups.

Being absolutely and completely honest I can currently do neither – and a full sit-up or press-up is a long way away.

  • I can do 20 odd abdominal crunches with my feet tucked under the sofa and also 20 leg scissors. I can do about three reps of these at the currently.
  • I can also do 20 or so half press-ups (with knees on the floor) or one half of a full one. Of these I can do about two and a half reps.

This exercise however pretty much ended me and my arms were so screwed I decided to just drag a cushion onto the floor where I was beached and talk to Alexa lying in the dark while I recovered.

I found that “Alexa – make me laugh’ (when repeated over and over to my Alexa dot) results in an endless stream of crappy Christmas cracker jokes that left me tittering like a child on the carpet for the best part of 45 minutes – and for a while I was pretty content.

However I had to push it too far. When I realised that my free trial of Amazon Prime also gave me access to some ‘prime music’ I requested she play some tunes. Alexa (clearly recognising the need for an incentive to get me off my back) immediately started playing the Steps Greatest Hits album…

Thankfully this cruel and unusual punishment eventually propelled me upwards and off the carpet, clutching my aching tummy muscles.

Regardless of my current upper body ability though I’m not bothered in the least. Everyone has to start somewhere.

I’ve decided today however to get some adjustable weights tomorrow to work on my arms a bit without my full weight as I’m unbelievably crampy today and I think jumping in trying to do loads of press ups may be a bit silly. Instead I need to start small and build it up like I did with my walking. There’s no rush as long as it’s all going in the right direction.

Talking of moving in the right direction…

I’m gonna come right out and say this. I didn’t expect to lose any weight this week.

I’m sure people will roll their eyes and say ‘you always say that’ – but I genuinely didn’t. I’ve been very careful over the last few days because I definitely went waaaay over my syns last weekend, and I’ve walked maybe a bit less this week compared to the week before.

However – something unusual must have happened (maybe I’ve been abducted by skinny fat harvesting aliens without my knowledge) because the scales reported a 7lb weight loss when I stepped on them today.

VERY unexpectedly (particularly after two back to back weeks with negative progress prior to last Saturday) this means I’ve somehow removed almost a stone in the last two weeks and now have my thirteen and a half stone certificate!!!

IMG_2151I honestly couldn’t be happier with this – although I have to be realistic. This is a lot and I don’t know quite why it’s been so much after effectively standing still for a while.

Granted I must have been good – but even so it seems excessive. However – I’m also pretty certain that this isn’t going to carry on week after week and while Im still going to try really hard in the coming week (as I do every week) I’m still going to be happy with a much smaller loss or a maintain next week.

It’s a fun little exercise though to look at my progress occasionally in the form of a graph on the Slimming World site.

weight progress

Although I’m not 100% sure where I will end up or eventually feel comfortable I’ve set my target to 15st. This is now a mind boggling six stone away. When I get there (and I will) I’ll have lost almost 20st.

I don’t want to set myself any time specific goals on this (and I would prefer other people who know me didn’t either). I just want to get there. 

Anyway internet. I have a really healthy beef stew that is just BEGGING to be eaten, and I plan to indulge its enthusiastic pleading RIGHT NOW!!!

Hope you’re all enjoying your bank holiday weekend (if you’re in the UK!)

Davey

Wolvercote to Cassington on the Thames path

One of the upsides of having friends that don’t live nearby is that if you want to keep in contact with them then occasionally you have to be willing to travel a little for a hug.

I quite like this – because although the down side of distant friendships is that you don’t see a person as often as you’d like, when you do get to catch up it’s a good opportunity for exploration and nattering. In my case yesterday (because I was due a catch up with a most excellent mate) I was wandering around Oxford – and like an ex-colleague of mine did recently I was walking along a small stretch of the Thames Path.

His feat (he’s a very good boy) was quite a bit more impressive however. The intrepid fellow walked the entire 170 miles of the Thames Path in 12 days! That’s 14 miles a day!

In my case though I was satisfied with a shorter five mile walk along the quiet banks of the river between Wolvercote and Cassington – which are easy enough to stroll along, and filled with geese and other wildlife.

I started at the ruins of Godstow Abbey – which was guarded by lots of inquisitive bovine minders – some of whom were very keen on making sure that any people passing by smelled and tasted acceptable. One lovely young cow in particular took quite a shine to me. Since I’ve also tasted many of their kind I thought it only fair to return the favour and let her have a good lick.

After being roughly rasped by her sandpaper like tongue for a while I headed away from the Abbey toward Cassington. I had no particular objective in mind other than just looking at the view, and it’s definitely a nice stretch of the world to aimlessly wander through.

Although they were too far away to photograph there were quite a few deer on the opposite bank bounding around the wide open green fields and through the hedgerows. Also, hidden amongst the reeds and along the banks were all manner of geese and ducks – and flying overhead, almost frozen in slow motion on the currents of air while scanning the ground below were occasional kestrels.

These are absolutely beautiful birds.

Again sadly my cameraphone is incapable of getting a shot of something so high up and far away – but it was able to get some film of the super cute goslings being closely guarded by their parents on the river, who I’m sure don’t share my love of birds of prey.

Further along the river (and also close by the Abbey too) there are some well maintained boat locks which, according to their signage, have a vital role to play in managing the area’s natural flooding. Interestingly – compared to Warwickshire’s waterways these are manned Thames Conservancy locations, and have cottages where people live and work on the river. Consequently because these locks are effectively someone’s front or back garden they are really well maintained places and quite pretty!

After a few miles of this I headed back to Wolvercote to meet my friend and for the second time this week (my luck must be running out) managed to time my outdoor activities perfectly. The pub we’d agreed to meet at was The Trout – and it’s a very very picturesque little place indeed.

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I’ve been here in the past – but who can tire of any watering hole that can boast that it has it’s own peacock?!

Honestly if that was it’s only claim to fame then I’d probably be off again almost immediately – but it also has an enviable reputation as a gastropub. Yesterday was only the second time I’ve eaten there – and I wasn’t disappointed.

As soon as I was seated indoors (right next to an open fireplace full of glowing coals crackling away to my left) the heavens opened and completely soaked the whole landscape. This would have made my walk considerably less enjoyable but it definitely ruined the fine dining experience of the poor souls sitting on the terrace by the river who quickly came inside.

It’s always hard to choose the path of Slimming World righteousness in such a setting (everything on the menu looked awesome!!) but I decided to go for the ‘Slow-Roasted Heirloom Tomato Salad with brown rice, quinoa, edamame beans, baby kale, basil pistou and burrata with roasted salmon.’ I’m pretty sure that there were syns in the oil – but when a salad is this good and you’ve just been on a five mile walk who cares?!

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In instances like this it’s a way better choice than pie and mash – and sometimes you have to enjoy one totally lovely thing and make little sacrifices elsewhere. In my case it was the accompanying pieces of pure evil that came with my Americano.

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They may seem innocuous (and delicious) enough – but i’m pretty sure these artisan dipping biscuits contain way more waistline horrors than my main course – and I feel pretty chuffed that they stayed right where they were in the photo – undigested and sitting on the edge of my saucer as I walked away.

At the end of a lovely day out I gave my friend a huge hug, thanked her for dinner (she treated me bless her!) and slowly drove home in the rain along the M40 back to Warwick listening to the radio feeling pretty good about life.

Sitting here this morning I still do.

Friends are ace internet.

Davey

Kenilworth to Balsall Common

Despite many weather forecasts suggesting today would see epic rainfall it’s instead proven to be absolutely gorgeous – and has been the perfect morning to be out and about in the countryside.

I’m continually stunned at the wealth of opportunities for exploration that have been (metaphorically speaking) under my nose for years without me once feeling inclined to go and have a look – but rest assured when I say that they won’t go undiscovered for much longer!

Today (as usual) I was up good and early to make the most of the weather – and the company of a good friend – who (also as usual) brought the sunshine with him.

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Today it was the turn of the Kenilworth Greenway to be investigated by us – and I have to say we both loved it and agreed that this is probably one of the nicest walks we’ve both been on so far.

If you’re a local history buff the route dates back around 130 years (link) or so:

‘The railway branch line from Berkswell to Kenilworth Junction was opened in 1884. It effectively provided a short cut avoiding Coventry for freight trains heading south. Rumour has it that it was used in the war for the transport of munitions and the siding at Berkswell, left when the track was lifted in the 1960s, was used for ‘parking’ the Royal Train when the Queen visited the area. Later, even the siding was removed to make way for a station car park.

Left to itself, the old railway became a wildlife corridor. Hawthorn, birch and other plants quickly took hold and softened the edges, animals and birds found cover for dens and nests. People also found a traffic free route to and from Crackley Wood where, if you were quiet, you might see a fox.’

My friend and I (looking for the start of the Greenway) found ourselves instead in Crackley Woods to begin with – which was a rather lucky accident as it’s a delightful (and well maintained) piece of woodland with some easily accessible paths and even surfaces.

It’s a limited mobility walker’s paradise, and there were lots of slow moving elderly dog owners happily mooching around the huge swathes of bluebells when we arrived.

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The short circular wood walk was lovely – however we had barely explored half of it before we broke off onto the Greenway towards Balsall Common (at the top of diagram on the sign).

Further along (in Berkswell) there was another helpful map to show the scale of the route (We went from the bottom right to the top left today).

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It’s roughly a 9 mile walk to Balsall Common town centre and back. For those who need to stop occasionally on the way there are lots of benches and places to sit and have a drink or a bite to eat.

This route (quite unlike the Stratford or Offchurch Greenways) is almost like a little micro climate for birds in places – with loads of robins and even baby sparrows everywhere we looked.

The route’s entire distance is rather like a covered arboretum with a shady canopy of bridges, trees and bushes for it’s whole length – only occasionally breaking off into other paths or trails, and here and there with a break in the foliage for a nice view.

By the time we reached Balsall Common about an hour and a half later (which I thought was way further away than it actually was) both of us were in the mood for a drink.

Thankfully there was a nearby nectar of life shop where I was able to address the dangerous over abundance of blood in my caffeine stream.

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We sat here and chatted for half an hour or so, resting our feet and both absorbing the warm draughts of robusta and arabica goodness.

Although I’ve driven through Balsall Common a lot, neither myself or my companion had ever really stopped to look around. There are some great little pubs right at the end of the walk that are just stuffed full of character.

We both agreed that next time it would be a good idea to factor in a lunch at one of these (as long as the menu fits in with SW of course!) If nothing else I have to go for a coffee in a pub as wonky as the Brickmaker’s Arms. There isn’t a single straight line (or ironically a straight brick) in the whole place – and I can only imagine what it looks like inside…

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After coffee we headed back along the wooded greenway in the warmth of the sun to the car – this time heading downhill.

It’s at this point worth noting (in case any readers wish to explore this route themselves) that there’s a very mild gradient all the way on the first leg up to Balsall Common. It’s so slight that most won’t even notice it however. Visually you can see it – but otherwise it’s very very gradual – as this old railway marker confirms.

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If you aren’t instantly familiar with what this means, here’s a description (link):

Gradients are expressed as a ratio, e.g. “1 in 200” means that the track rises (or drops) one unit for every 200 units travelled horizontally. A gradient post’s arms are inclined up or down to indicate the direction of the slope and each one has the value of the relevant gradient marked on it.

On the way back the downhill slope was also barely noticeable – but it’s worth bearing in mind if you plan to explore. The slight incline (from my perspective) proved to be good exercise (my watch showed 60 minutes of cardio completed on the way up) and both the environment and scenery have left me feeling pleasantly tired and supremely relaxed.

As I type the weather outside my living room window looks awful. Although it’s now raining it was (according to my friend’s wife) hailing in Warwick while we were wandering around Balsall Common (15 or so miles away) in the sunshine – which is proof that it makes way more sense to just get out there and hope for the best than try to plan ahead or sit indoors thinking that it may rain.

You never know for sure internet. Just get out there and explore!!!

Davey

 

 

Back on the bike

It’s been a while since me and my torture simulator spent some quality time together – but since all of the muscles associated with walking appeared to be tied in a knot when I woke up this morning I’ve had something of a duvet day.

It occurs to me on days like this just how invaluable Apple Watch can be – as there’s absolutely no hiding from a day where you don’t fill all of its little rings. Unless they’re full there’s an ever present sense of guilt. They NEED to be completed.

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I’ll go so far as to say that this alone on some (slightly darker) days has been responsible for me making the choice of getting out of bed as opposed to pulling the covers back over and hibernating.

It’s been that fundamental.

Since it’s been raining on and off all day (plus rather cold) and I’ve been Mr Cramp I decided that aside from my weekly shopping trip and making some mini quiches with a huge salad that the only thing I definitely had to do and could not avoid was my exercise bike.

Mostly because of my walking objectives I turned all of my attention consciously away from this around a month ago and never moved it back again – which is a shame as it had become a regular part of my day. The fact was though it didn’t add to my miles walked – made the ones I WAS doing more tiring – and (temporarily at least) just didn’t fit into my life.

Honestly I expected this to have a stamina consequence when I finally got around to getting back in the saddle – but I am surprised to say that it didn’t.

I popped on my usual hill climb programme, and in 34 minutes (two minutes warm up and two minutes cool down either side of a 30 minute workout) I managed seven virtual miles – which was pretty much where I was on a standard day the last time I was on there a month or so ago.

It seems that although I get my heart rate higher in a shorter time and for a more sustained period on my exercise bike that walking as much as I do also has a surprisingly similar positive impact on both my cardio capability and my leg stamina.

When I’d finished I sat on the bike for a moment – and watched my heart rate drop back to normal – which I have to say happens pretty fast these days – and I rather enjoy seeing it return to a resting beat. When I first stepped on this bike such a recovery could then be measured in hours (literally) rather than minutes – which is something of a triumph I think – and makes me feel really good about myself.

Today I’ve also been abstractly looking at the price of a gym membership vs the price of a home multi-gym.

It seems that although you can choose a PAYG model with some locally (they start at around £5.50 per day at places like Freedom Fitness) yearly subscriptions quickly climb into the hundreds of pounds – and before you know it in the top tiers (such as Nuffield Health) want the best part of a grand to let you through the front door for 12 months.

The multi-gym therefore seems like the sensible choice – as once I have it it’s always available, and my motivation to do exercise has never depended upon a room full of other people sweating like mad.

But there’s unfortunately a (large fat) fly in the ointment.

Somewhat ridiculously the majority of such gyms in my price range have a user weight limit of 19.5 stone – and I’m currently 21.5. While discussing this with a mate he suggested I ignore this restriction and buy one anyway – but honestly it’s one thing to have a chair turn into matchsticks underneath you – but quite another to have a multi-gym collapse on your head.

I don’t fancy chancing it. I’ve broken waaaay too many things over the years to think that things like this will never happen.

They do. A lot. To me.

On the plus side I’m not far off – and I think that eventually this is the route I’ll take – although it definitely requires further thought (such as exactly where to put it). My friend also pointed out to me that e-bay is a good option for things like this – so I’ll be keeping my eye out.

In the meantime however I think my exercise bike will be making a comeback. I rather enjoyed feeling the burn on it today – and it made my aching creaky legs all nice and loose for tomorrow – when I have a walk planned in yet another place I’ve not been before…

Hopefully it won’t rain – I’m taking my human good luck charm with me and he’s never failed me yet internet!

Davey

Feeling lots better

I’m currently revelling in two different kinds of little miracles – the first as old as time and the latter a far more recent thing.

Firstly – sleep.

Ohmyflippingwordhowmuchbetterdoestheworldlookwhenyou’vehadsomesleep???!!!!

It’s fair to say that some (but not all) of my darker moments in the past week can be traced back to the doorstep of an increasing lack of it – or at least the absence of the good quality and unbroken variety.

Since I repaired my bed and had a good result on the scales however things have improved – and my addled and depressed mind finally shut down and forced my eyes closed at 6pm yesterday. It (and they) didn’t open for business again until 1.30am. After three hours of pottering around the house I nodded off once more and awoke at 8am with around 10 and a half hours of refined weapons grade premium quality highly concentrated sleep under my belt.

I did have a weird dream about standing in a pub full of porridge (up to my waist) and feeding cabbages to the alligators that lived in the gloopy oats however – but I’m not going to even try and unpick that subconscious pile of spaghetti like metaphors. Instead I’ll move right along to number two.

The second miracle is wireless internet.

I’m currently 8.5 miles into my walk for the day and I have approximately four miles to go until I reach home. As I type my blog online I’m eating my lunch in the countryside whilst listening to the birds sing.

How cool is that?!

Although I originally started out with the intention to just do some shopping and go home the day turned out to be so nice that I changed my mind when I reached Aldi and decided to instead buy some bits and bobs for a picnic – and spend the day out and about.

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It’s been a superb choice – and the food I chose was not only totally on plan but cost me only £4.31 – which is a great price to pay for a day out with meals included!

Whilst walking along (munching carrots and apples for my breakfast) I’ve retraced the route I took last week (here) along the Grand Union canal through Radford and Offchurch (and it’s Greenway) before returning via Newbold Comyn and Leamington. This time however instead of parking near the canal and doing a circular five miles I’m doing a ‘full fat’ route from my front doorstep and back.

The canal and countryside has been absolutely FULL of life – and today I saw my first little ducklings of the season all paddling furiously with their extended family to wherever they were heading. These little guys are so cute and they make the most adorable little chirpy quacking noises!

Just a little further along there was also evidence that the swan nesting by the bank that I’d previously met (here) was close to having swanlings of its own. Initially it was quite tricky to pass the nest due to the extremely territorial and sentinel like partner on the bank who tolerated my photography but wasn’t keen on me walking any closer to the nest than the very edge of the canal towpath.

I kept talking gently to them both however and I think they got the message that I was only passing by and didn’t mean any harm. They also let me take a short video before I moved away!

Even though it’s not been all that long since I passed by here before the thing I love about nature is that all you need is some slightly different lighting to change everything up a bit and make the walk interesting all over again as each time it takes on a subtly different hue.

Consequently there’s always something new to look at – and where there are nice views there there are also opportunities for gratuitous selfie shots!!!

(author moves on and then sits down with a coffee to continue writing)

The character of Offchurch is absolutely lovely – and it’s so quiet and peaceful that I’m amazed you don’t see cars crashed into lamp posts all over the place with snoring drivers at the wheel.

I can understand why people will pay a lot to live here. It’s about as close to an idyllic little English country village with thatched roofs and red brick cottages as it’s possible to get – and I’m sure that somewhere in the world (if there’s any justice) there’s a chocolate or biscuit tin in circulation with a picture just like this on it.

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There are very few things that make me want to buy confectionary – but if I saw that particular tin I think I’d end up with a spare room full of shortbread…

The last time I was here I stopped at the pub for a drink and a rest – but this time I moved right along. I had all I needed in my picnic bag and was feeling both frugal and spritely. As I was walking I was also occasionally drinking my flask of coffee and munching a carrot and chicken ‘brunch’ at the same time.

Just outside Offchurch the fields that I’d walked through the previous week were now also full of life – and some extremely chilled out cows were happy enough to be watched and photographed while I talked nonsense to them

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I can understand why they’re so relaxed. As long as no-one says ‘Quarter Pounder with cheese’ for a while they’re likely to stay in their idyllic setting without a care in the world.

It seemed to me that it wasn’t a bad life being this particular cow. There was birdsong all around her, food right under her nose – and plenty of bluebells in a nearby coppice to idly study (if indeed there is such a thing as bovine botanical curiosity). All she had to do in return was chew grass and tolerate an occasional chubby weirdo with a smartphone.

Otherwise she didn’t have a care in the world.

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(the coffee shop I’ve snuggled up in starts to close so I move on to home to continue writing and prepare a soup)

I left the cows and continued through the fields and over the river to where my blog started as I sat to eat lunch. Nearby here was a sign I’d missed the last time around that shows a bit more about the conservation of the area – and suggests that I have much more to explore than I have already.

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I haven’t seen any Kingfshers so far but it’s an incentive to come back again and again if they live around here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the wild before and I’d really like to! Watch this space!

Shortly after I stopped in Leamington for coffee and then moved on towards home.

As I type the final words to my post, in the background I have a hearty beef and swede stew bubbling away on the stove. I like to let it slowly simmer for at least an hour and a half before I mash it up a bit, add some mixed beans and tuck in.

At the moment my living room is full of gentle afternoon light and birdsong from the trees outside. There’s a pleasant aroma of garlic and bay leaves permeating the house and as I sit with my legs upon a tall leather pouffe I can feel the balls of my feet throbbing a little from all of the walking today.

I’m struck as I finish typing this – that at the moment – I love my house and the things in it, despite their associations to ‘old me’. I no longer want to smash it all as I did in my post the other day (link).

It’s folly to be angry with inanimate objects when they are merely reflecting your own negative feelings about yourself.

When I disappear down my own particular rabbit hole I still unfortunately find a lot of regret in there and I’m often annoyed that it took me so long to find what I have today. The silver lining here though is that regardless of how long it took to get to the (physical and mental) place that I currently inhabit – I eventually did, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.

Although my aching feet may have a different opinion – but they’ve done me proud. As I write the final line of my post today they’ve walked 25,353 steps and 12.58 (blissfully enjoyable) miles. In the process they’ve have helped me burn 1763/4275 active/total calories and made my picnic and impending dinner guilt free.

Their sacrifice will be not be forgotten as I sit this evening watching Doctor Who with a large bowl of what will no doubt be a delicious soup – which I think is now ready to eat.

Buh-bye internet!

Davey

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Sayonara 13 Stone

I had an inkling that things may be on the right track this morning when I put a recently purchased shirt on and could sit down in it without the waist tugging for the very first time. 

It’s a really really comfey top – and one that I bought in a sale at Debenhams for £9. 

Actually it may also be one of the nicest shirt I’ve ever bought (in my terms of quality) and also probably the cheapest, which is a dual win!

I’ll be honest though – my mood was still low when I woke up this morning. I’d been to the cinema to see ‘Get Out‘ late last night and didn’t get home until around 2am. After going to bed I’d woken up worrying every hour on the hour until around 6am when I gave up altogether and started reading. 

Oddly it wasn’t the content of film which stopped me nodding off. This isn’t my usual kind of movie (horror with comedic overtones will often unsettle me a bit) but honestly the content didn’t matter in the least to me last night.  

After a day characterised by a very downbeat mood I was glad to just get out with a friend and take my mind off the scales. It worked too. We had a nice walk in, and a chilled walk back as well while we nattered about the plot. 

It’s (for America at least) a pretty topical film – dealing in a rather inventive way with the issue of race relations and the form that racism does or doesn’t take today. Although it’s in no way a particularly cerebral film it does manage to make you laugh at some pretty grim subject matter – and I think when you’re smiling you’re more likely to take new thoughts on board. 

This film related early morning twalking also unexpectedly resulted in a new achievement in Apple Watch which occasionally pops up with such things to keep me motivated. 

(do a 30 minute outdoor workout on world ‘Earth Day’)

Thankfully the same thing happened at Slimming World – where the scales were finally kind to me and reported that I’d lost 6lbs and secured my 13 stone award. 


Of all the milestones I’ve managed to get during my time at Slimming World this is probably the one I’ve found (mentally) the hardest to achieve. 

Physically I’ve never worked harder to get here (although this was a pleasure rather than a chore) and because of this I had hoped to get it for my year’s anniversary last week – but annoyingly it wasn’t meant to be. 

However – I no longer care – and I do not see that in any way as a failure because I eventually did get it


I refused to give up, kept walking, wrote down everything I ate, drank lots of water, tried (but mostly failed) to control portion sizes and worked as hard as I could to mentally keep looking forward. 

Now I have to try and get my mojo back internet – because a grumpy Davey is not a pleasant one to be around. 

For the rest of the day I will attempt to remedy this with coffee, friends, walking and then hopefully SLEEP. 

Davey

Large chopper

I hate to say it but this week (and today in particular) I’m struggling a bit. 

This afternoon I’m looking around me and I’m feeling a muted sense of anger about almost everything. Feeding this even further is an irritation because I know it’s unreasonable and out of proportion. 

Nothing apart from the fact that I haven’t lost weight for the last couple of weeks is different – but when pretty much your entire life is geared toward this aim it’s unsettling when it seems to be (for the moment at least) going no-where. 

To offset this creeping negativity I’ve tried to be productive so I get a sense of progress elsewhere. 

With this in mind I took my bed apart this morning, repaired the broken bits, flipped the mattress, dropped the level slightly and all of a sudden (after several hours of screwing screws here and there and re-inforcing bits that a much fatter me had broken) it’s now surprisingly comfortable and solid again. 

I did this mainly because I balked at the cost of completely replacing it. After some research in local bed shops yesterday I’m astounded that people will pay over £500 FOR A HEADBOARD!!!

Granted – I don’t have to pay anywhere near this much and there are much cheaper alternatives – but it all just reminds me of how careful I have to be with money at the moment – and I ended up backing off before spending anything. 

It’s probably a good thing. I proved that I can salvage something with a bit of hard work and effort that I previously thought was totally wrecked. 

However there’s another element of my ‘repair rather than replace’ approach that I’m finding harder to work through. 

I hate the bed. 

I dislike it not because it’s uncomfortable (it no longer is) or because it looks horrible (it really doesn’t) but because like almost everything else in my house it feels like it was purchased by someone else. 

All of my furniture and possessions these days seem to belong to another person – and at times I feel like emptying the entire contents of my home into a skip and sleeping on the floor. 

Prudence has so far stopped me doing this (I’ve come very close) but on days like today I just want to throw petrol and a match through the letterbox as I walk away and forget the place ever existed. 

It’s an over reaction. I know that. Tomorrow I will most likely feel different and once again appreciate my home. 

The root of this wild over reaction is probably mostly related to the fact that I’m worried and tense about weighing in tomorrow. Although (I think) I’ve been good this week, I’m not really sure how I’m going to react if I don’t start the ball rolling again in the morning. 

I don’t currently feel resilient enough to just laugh it off and the associated emotions surrounding potential failure are bleeding into all of my other thoughts. 

Or…

Maybe I just got out of the wrong side of (my previously broken and seriously uncomfortable) bed this morning. Possibly it’s just as simple as a bad night’s sleep. 

I don’t think so though. 

Either way I’m not my usual self – and I’ve had to leave the house before taking a fire axe to its contents. 


So internet – here’s hoping I get a good night’s rest and lose a few pounds before I succumb to pyromania or decide to get busy with a large chopper. 

Davey

No songs or Northerners

I’m waiting for 5.20. It’s almost 4pm. It’s been almost 4pm for about three or four hours. Or thereabouts. 

Maybe that’s just me being impatient. 5.20 is taking its time but it will (probably) arrive eventually.

I don’t normally sit around drumming my fingers waiting for things – but I’m excited. When 5.20 finally arrives I’m going to be seated in the cinema and watching Ghost in the Shell – a film I’ve been looking forward to seeing for quite a while now.

Back in the early 90’s when (properly translated) Manga started leaking into the UK in decent quantities I became quite addicted to the original animated version of this and Akira (a film that in my view has yet to be equalled in sci-fi animation terms).

The original GITS is a highly recommended and fascinating exploration of what it means to be human in a world where technology is capable of significantly augmenting us. It intelligently asked questions about the nature of humanity if this dystopian future comes to pass – and what we eventually become if we end up more machine than flesh and blood.

When does what we might gain cease to outweigh what we stand to lose?

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea mind you.

My walking companion this afternoon patiently listened to me wax lyrical about how cool it was going to be – and describe it’s premise – before she giggled and asked ‘have you seen La La Land or Manchester by the sea?’

Not everyone yearns for a good science fiction film the way I do it seems, so – my apologies to all the non-geeks out there. If you like gritty reality or musicals you won’t scratch your itches with this particular movie.

I don’t mind that it’s far removed from real life. I’m just hoping that Hollywood hasn’t flicked the ‘let’s remake this and turn it into a shallow mess’ switch as they so often do in cases like this. The reviews suggest it could go either way but I’m trying to keep an open mind.

While I’m waiting and a little bored I’m also trying not to think about food. This week I’m trying to dial back the clock a little to when I first started Slimming World and I wrote down everything I ate.

I know I’ve consumed more than I usually do over the last two weeks. Probably due to all the walking I’ve done my appetite has at times felt like it was endless and I need to try and rein it in again.

It’s not easy though. I find that this kind of discipline is more often than not very counter intuitive – and is something that I don’t really enjoy. This is primarily because you only really need to write all of what you’re eating down if you’re at risk of (or are currently) over indulging.

Paradoxically if you’re already doing this it’s because you’re busy ignoring the reality of what you’re putting in your mouth. Therefore making a list involves consciously moving out of denial and into acceptance. You don’t have anywhere to hide if you see it all on the page in front of you and it can be a bitter pill to swallow.

However – medicine isn’t always nice, but often it helps make things better.

As well as trying to pay more attention to calorie intake again I’m also coming to terms with the fact that what I once considered an epic levels of exercise (which would usually contribute to massive weight loss) is no longer having quite the same effect. In pushing myself every day to walk further and further I moved from my weekly average of 30-40 miles walked to 70 so that I could hit my target.

However now I’ve managed to do this the distance and effort involved to do it no longer feels abnormal and as I carry less weight everywhere it’s not making me drop as many pounds. As I type this I’ve already got almost 10 miles under my belt and I’m still no-where near home. My car is sitting in its usual ‘nobody loves me’ space outside my house.

So – I have to do one of two things. I either double my exercise again or I try and eat less and for the moment maintain my level of activity.

Since my blog is about honesty this is what I’ve eaten since I weighed in.

Saturday

  • SW Hi-fi bars x6 (HE + 12 syns)
  • 2 large bowls of salad at Harvester (inc olives 3 syns)
  • Aldi Piri piri chicken pieces
  • Salmon and prawn stir fry (2x salmon steaks) with tub of cottage cheese
  • 250g natural fat free yogurt, banana, frozen berries
  • 4x small Braeburn apples

Sunday

  • 50g of fibre bran with almond milk and frozen berries
  • hi-fi bar (3 syns) + banana
  • pork mince & chick pea chilli (made with courgette, onion, mushrooms, pepper, tomatoes & puree + leek)
  • 250g natural fat free yogurt, frozen berries
  • 2x apples
  • 4 pork medallions and tub of cottage cheese with mushrooms and gherkins

Monday

  • Salmon and prawn stir fry (2x salmon steaks) 3x medium microwaved potatoes
  • 5 x small braeburn apples
  • chicken breast + salad, Cottage cheese
  • 250g natural fat free yogurt, frozen berries, 50g fibre bran

Tuesday

  • Tesco hot Smoked salmon flakes in honey 100g (1 syn) 6 tomatoes + 2 apples

As usual none of this is ‘off plan’. I’ve not eaten any Easter eggs or fallen off the wagon in any other way – I’m just eating a lot (or at least I feel I am.)

I want to lose some weight this weekend. I refuse to stress about it or get upset over it –  but I also don’t want to be complacent. Doing lots of exercise is great but on it’s own it’s not going to cut the mustard.

Anyway – enough of this. Time to go and watch Ghost in the Shell!

(author watches film and strolls home in the cool of the evening after a lovely day)

Well internet – I’ve just got time for a mini review of the film before I sign off for the evening.

‘It didn’t disappoint. A cool action film and a believable and gritty world that pays more than enough homage to the original. I enjoyed it! Fellow geeks should love this – but it’s no La La Land and there wasn’t a single thing about Manchester in it. Otherwise excellent despite the lack of musical numbers and northerners.’

Davey

Along the Offchurch Greenway

As bank holidays go I’ve zero complaints so far.

If the point of such a holiday is spending time wandering aimlessly from place to place with people you like and talking all day long about life and ‘stuff’ then I think so far all the boxes I have are well and truly ticked. Today I’ve been on just such an excursion with just such a person doing just such things.

Although it’s fair to say I’m no longer a walking virgin in my local area there are times that I still mentally kick myself about all the years I spent indoors – never venturing out to explore what is honestly a lovely little corner of the world. I’m very lucky to live where I do and it really niggles me that I ignored it for so long.

Not any more though thankfully.

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Today my friend had suggested we do a five mile long circular stroll via Offchurch and the river Leam from her Pathfinder book of local walks (link). I’ve driven past pretty much all of this many times – but never once realised as I whizzed by how close I was to the Grand Union Canal, fields and wildlife.

And in the case of the latter – it just so happens to be my favourite type!

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Not long after we joined the canal, nestling right next to the path were two swans – one floating serenely down the waterway, and the second on a large nest – clearly sitting on some eggs and preening itself as I quietly edged closer and closer to take a picture.

I could stare at these guys all day long and never get bored. They always make me happy.

As we left the swans and passed by the Radford bottom lock then under the nearby skewed railway viaduct (the brickwork on this is really impressive!) the path headed up to the greenway with some lovely views of the surrounding bright yellow fields of rape.

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As with the Stratford Greenway that I’ve walked a few times previously (link) this path follows a disused railway line between Rugby and Leamington (laid in 1851 according to the walking guide). It’s got a slight incline – but for the most part is pretty flat and easy to walk on.

It goes on a lot further than our route allowed however, and sadly almost as soon as we’d joined it we had to peel off into a field and then to a country lane heading towards Offchurch.

This is a lovely little village with one of the best uses for an old telephone box that I’ve ever come across. Rather than pulling it down the local community have turned it into a voluntary book lending service! You drop one off, pick another one up, and return it when you’re done. How cool is that?

I absolutely love the knitted sign too!

As we moved further towards the half way point we couldn’t help but pop into the nearby 8th century St Gregory’s church – which had some absolutely lovely stained glass (which as regular readers will know is something of a weakness of mine, despite my agnostic leanings).

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After a look around here we headed to the nearby pub (The Staglink) for a quick drink. It was pretty busy inside – partially because most people were tucking into what looked like an absolutely scrumptious (and seriously sinful) Sunday lunch – but also because it was getting a bit colder and beginning to rain.

The weather reports for today had been awful – and heavy showers had been forecast for most of the afternoon. Mercifully the outside seating had some pretty big umbrellas on the tables and we sat under these whilst sipping our drinks and nattering as the (thankfully brief) rain slowly departed.

After half an hour of relaxing we headed off through the nearby fields, over a few bridges and through a few more rape fields on the way back towards Newbold Comyn and a well earned coffee.

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As I sit at the moment under a duvet, listening to the rain hammering down outside I can scarcely imagine a better way to spend a weekend.

One thing I do know internet is that I’m getting my own copy of this absolutely smashing little book!

Yay for countryside twalking!

Davey

One year on…

So it’s here. It’s actually a whole year since I joined Slimming World.

365 days have passed.

It’s currently 8.21am on Saturday 15th April 2017 – and if I’m completely honest I’m a little nervous about what the scales will say today. I’ve focused so much on walking over the last two weeks that weight loss has oddly enough taken something of a back seat. I’ve also found that my appetite has been a bit bigger as a consequence of all the exercise – so I have no idea what’s going to happen in two hours.

Honestly though my Saturday morning nerves are habitual more than anything else. I do this every week and it would seem odd not to.

On the plus side my eating has been extremely healthy – and over the last 3 days I’ve had between 1500-2000 calories a day and feel awesome. Therefore whatever happens it doesn’t really matter. My mindset is completely focused on moving forward in life – and if exercise means slower or temporarily static weight loss for a little while I’m happy with that. I’d much rather be able to bound up flights of stairs without feeling like I’m dying than being thin and unfit – so it’s all part of a larger plan.

Although I’ve not done so yet I think I’m going to get a (large) tape measure and note down my vital statistics to see how they change. I suspect I might need these as time goes on and I get fitter.

One really good bit of news at the moment however is that the (ahem, cough cough) ‘digestive transit’ issue from last week appears to have been sorted. I’ve been drinking LOTS more water (in fact lots more fluids in general) and for the last five days I’ve also been a vegetarian.

(I have it on good authority that fish – which I’ve also been eating – are vegetables by the way so although some may question my commitment to the way of the carrot I’m sticking with this label.)

Regularity has consequently been celebrating a spirited resurgence.

Financially it’s also been a great time to do this – as my shopping bills completely fell through the floor. Aldi has been selling bags of veg for as little as 19p each this week – meaning that several large rucksacks of ridiculously healthy shopping have cost me only a few pounds. On top of this they’ve also provided some great exercise as I’ve carried them the full two miles back to my house. Being health conscious is a win on multiple fronts.

So is being a prolific selfie taker.

I started (not long after joining Slimming World and for pretty much the first time in my life) regularly using the front facing camera on my phone instead of just the one pointing away from me.

I wanted to stop hating my own image and start to love who I was, regardless of what I looked like. I also wanted to see how things changed over time and keep a record of my progress. The first photo here has been used (probably too) many times on my blog – and I’m now kind of immune now to how it makes me feel. It used to make me cringe. Now I look at it as if it’s someone else. I was even asked jokingly on Facebook earlier today who the man in it was.

Honestly I don’t know now. I remember him though, and all of the other me’s in this timeline.

So here’s a small chronological collage of me from the last year. You can enjoy my moon faced symphony of chins whilst I have a shower and get ready for group.

(author slips away to powder his nose and attend Slimming World)

Well – as I expected things have not moved very much this week and my inch losses have not been equaled by weight loss. I maintained.

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However – I wasn’t kidding. I’m totally cool with this. I’m not freaking out, I’m not worrying about plateaus and I’m not thinking this is the beginning of the end.

Quite the opposite.

As I type it’s 6.25pm in the afternoon.

After Slimming World I walked a round trip of almost 7 miles to have a salad at the Harvester with a most excellent friend. We had a lovely lovely chat and I feel all warm and fuzzy inside after some serious twalking.

After I came home I went out shopping – and now my cupboards and fridge are FILLED with items that have little halos floating above them. My kitchen is (as always) a den of virtue instead of vice. Earlier its saintly aura only contained a banana, a can of chick peas, an onion and some mint sauce – which even I’m not creative enough to turn into something delicious.

Also according to Apple Watch I’ve been a busy boy. I have so far today walked 10.13 miles, made 20,049 steps, burned 1,436/3,862 active/total calories and completed 109 minutes of cardio. I’m also considering maybe going out this evening too so that’s by no means the end of it. I have the same planned for tomorrow, and on Monday and also Tuesday.

You see – a year on things are very different to how they were when I joined my group. If you’ve never seen it before it’s here. Honestly I still have difficulty reading it. The emotions (and tears) contained within it seem all too real even now.

At some point though I have to move away from judging my successes and failures solely by numbers on scales. That’s not to say I don’t have to keep losing weight because I most certainly do – but I mean that the goals I am developing are becoming ones not just related to being smaller – but becoming fitter and (probably more crucially) stronger.

Many people have asked me (now that I’ve completed my 1700 mile virtual walking challenge) what I am thinking of doing next. So far there’s nothing particularly massive in my head (apart from climbing Snowdon) but I DO want to get more muscular.

I don’t mean that I plan to become a hulking meathead obsessed with protein bars and fake tan lines around my budgy smugglers – but I want to be strong enough to do press-ups (I still can’t) or pull-ups (never ever ever been able to do one of these in my entire life) or climb obstacles, or vault over a fence.

These are things honestly I’ve never really been capable of (or interested in) before – and they all require both agility and muscle.

Muscle weighs more than fat, and at some point I have to make a pivot from just shedding flab to getting more toned, and that will require a different mindset. So, while I continue over the next days and weeks to exercise, stay positive and move forward I’ll be considering how I will go about this.

In the meantime I’ll be eating good things, thinking good things, doing good things, and trying to be a better person. Most of all though I’m just looking forward to what the next year has to bring! I think it’s gonna to be great!

Who knows though internet…

Maybe I will decide to change my taste in underwear after all…

Davey

budgy

Not that man any more

Today I’ve hit my target.

Theoretically I don’t have to walk anywhere. I can sit at home, put my feet up on the sofa, turn on my XBOX and play a video game. Or watch the TV. Or a DVD. Or read a book.

I probably won’t however. I now find it irritating in the extreme to do absolutely nothing. I’m going to get in the shower after I’ve finished here, and then afterwards go and forage for coffee out in the big wide world.

Today I have to celebrate somehow though – because 24 hours before my one year anniversary of starting Slimming World I’ve just confirmed that (since April 16th 2016) I’ve walked the distance from Lands End to John o Groats AND BACK.

When I first started calculating my virtual walk from one end of the country to the other it was in September 2016 (link) and according to Wikipedia it was 847 miles. Things change, and route planners disagree – but that’s what I was working towards.

Google Maps this morning for instance says something else entirely. According to their iPhone app driving the route is 837 miles and walking is 811. Apple Maps (Google’s developmentally challenged cousin) thinks it’s 839 miles to drive and can’t manage to figure out walking at all.

I don’t care though – because this morning my spreadsheet looks like this:

lands end total

In the last month (from the 14th March to the morning of the 14th April) I’ve walked 306 miles to make this happen. Thats an average of 9.87 miles a day.

So – you’ll have to forgive me. I’m going to indulge myself a little here.

In April 2016 I walked 27.9 miles. That was the sum total of ALL movements I made during a day. This comprised of typically walking to my car, walking from that into an office, walking to the kettle from my chair, walking back to my car, walking from there to the sofa, walking to the toilet, going to bed – and NOTHING ELSE.

Thats all I did – and I’d done that or something similar pretty much every day for a long long time. It had pretty much ruined my body.

When I tried to walk I couldn’t. When I put one foot in front of the other everything hurt. Muscles tore and my tendons pulled. I developed plantar fasciitis and shin splints. My heart beat like a drum. I was continually drenched in sweat. My back hurt. My thighs hurt. I couldn’t breathe. I was shaking all over after a hundred metres. When I sat down it took 10-15 minutes before I could stand up and start again. I couldn’t go anywhere without benches and a mile took me well over an hour.

A year on and I’ve conquered all of them. Through sheer force of will. They’re all gone.

I can now do a mile in 16 minutes and 33 seconds – and that’s bearing in mind that I’m still carrying the weight of a fridge freezer in fat around with me that I still need to lose.

Often I feel profoundly uncomfortable with pride in my accomplishments – and try whenever possible to just get on with what I do – but today dammit I feel prideful. I’m absolutely swelling up with it because when I started I not only looked very different – but I felt very different.

I was a man largely without hope, and absolutely no idea of what he could accomplish if he put his mind to it.

I’m not that man any more.

Davey

Pity party

It’s not rained for a while. Not properly anyway, meaning that dirt track walks have suddenly dried out and extra bits of the countryside have become accessible. 

I’ve continued my slightly ambitious walking schedule this week and maybe explored a little more than usual as a consequence. When muddy paths aren’t an issue I’m far more inclined to peek my head behind a bush and see what’s hidden down a route I’ve never walked along. 

Not that this has been an issue for the various companions I’ve had during the week. Some more than others seem to prefer wet feet – and one in particular positively revels in any opportunities to get a good soaking or a bit dirty. 

Freckles always brings with her an enthusiastic and relentlessly excitable charm. 

There’s rarely a moment that she ever seems anything less than insanely happy to see anyone and always wants to be fussed by you or return the compliment with a hearty hand licking session and a wagging tail. 


Not so long ago there was an advert on TV where a cat realised how miserable life was being a cat and decided to be more dog‘. The slogan (for O2 mobiles) really caught onand for a while it was everywhere. 

I too aspired to be more dog

For me that meant being more spontaneous – to live life in the moment and be happy. After all – life is too short to be miserable – right?

It’s certainly the way I’ve tried to live lately. Pick myself up, move on, keep going forward, try harder all the time and create my own positivity!

I’m beginning to wonder though if (rather than being the only answer to how I should live my life) this is just a part of who I need to be – and that I’ve ignored something crucial to my continued success.  

I’ve been reading another self help book that a friend gave me (Living like you mean it – Ronald J Frederick link) this week. It’s not one I would have picked up voluntarily – and had she not given it to me I would probably have left it sitting on its metaphorical shelf. 

This book has various messages (and I’ve not finished it yet) but for the most part its central theme is about letting your feelings out rather than burying them. 

This book had initially really irritated me. It got on my nerves because I didn’t understand why people wouldn’t want to talk about how they feel. 

It seems natural to me. I do it all the time. It’s something that annoys me when I find other people who are unwilling to do it. I actively seek out friends who are also willing to do so. 

I doubt many would label me as someone that has a problem with saying how he feels – or letting others know about it – and in many respects I could probably now be accused instead of telling too many people. 

As with most things in life though it’s folly to think you have the answer to anything. Just as soon as you think you’ve cracked it then something pops up and reminds you that the only thing you know for sure is that you don’t know everything. 

In my case (as I quietly turned the pages of this well loved and scribbled upon book) I thought something that made me pause. 

I realised – I’m not letting myself feel down

Now don’t get me wrong – I can naval gaze as well as anyone and vocalise when things affect me negatively. I’m self aware enough to see mood dips coming a long way off and because of this I often move quickly to close gaps, circle the wagons and manage dark moods before they become an issue. 

I go for walks to get it out of my system, divert the bad thoughts by meeting friends and do something that will make me feel positive

However – for the first time over the last couple of days I’ve begun to wonder if my overriding personal mantra (‘there is no way to happiness – happiness is the way’) may occasionally have unintended consequences. 

What I was reading has made me think that maybe he logical side of me – the part that I like to think is in control and at the wheel – actually makes next to no decisions without my emotions. 

I suspect that most of us would struggle to say what makes us truly like one thing or dislike another. Often it’s just ‘a feeling’. These subtextual complex motivations (often formed unconsciously throughout our lives) inform almost everything we do and every choice we make – yet how often do we give emotions the credit they’re due, and truly let them out?

Not very often I’d argue. After all – that way is the way of anarchy right? We continually instead strive to be grown up and in control – to put away childish feelings and be responsible adults. 

In my case I do my level best on a daily basis to re-frame things in a positive way and find lights at the ends of tunnels. For the most part this approach serves me well. It’s been a significant driver behind my recent success and has positive benefits when it comes to friendships and relationships. 

Occasionally however it can (maybe paradoxically) also leave me feeling suddenly isolated. 

If I hit a bad patch I often feel I can’t always share it and that I should just shake it off rather than burdening the rest of the world with it. 

Sometimes I manage to push through my normal impulses to cover negativity up and decide to tell people how I feel – but quite a lot of the time I still keep this kind of thing to myself. 

No-one (I tell myself) likes a miserable person – so I should just cheer up and look on the bright side. If I don’t then I’ll just be moaning and I don’t like thinking that people will see me that way. 

I usually resort to ‘getting some perspective’ to accomplish a turnaround. In doing so I tell myself that there are people who have had (and continue to have) tougher lives than my own and that I should be thankful (very thankful in fact) for what I have. 

It works. 

I pull myself together, pick myself up and move right along. In doing so though I often end up labelling these occasional negative thoughts (in myself but interestingly not in others) as unproductive or weak. Other people get on with life – so I should too

I guess in many ways I do this partially because I’m worried about what will happen if I do give myself over to such feelings. I’ve made so much progress lately – if I do will it cause me to slip back into old habits?

Then all of a sudden (while going through this thought process in my mind) I realised that my vision of myself as very emotionally aware and in touch with my feelings may be a bit flawed.

What if I’m prolonging the process of recovery from dark moods when I re-frame all my negative feelings and refuse to let myself feel down? 

The book has an interesting approach to this kind of behaviour. It suggests that bad feelings are like waves and tides. They have cycles and a natural start and end point. If you restrict them then they will spill out in other ways – but if you allow yourself temporarily to be hit by the wave, or even momentarily carried along with it then it will eventually break on the shore and you can move on.

I don’t think I’ve ever really done this. 

When I talk about negative feelings I try to rationalise and categoriese them or explain their arrival and predict their departure. I attempt to intellectualise them rather than just give myself over to them – because if I do then where does it end? I’ll just be miserable forever and no-one will like me. 

What if by doing that and driving forward trying to create positivity all the time I’m prolonging something that’s completely inevitable, unavoidable and furthermore healthy?

Maybe everyone from time to time (as a good friend refers to her occasional hormonal retreats) needs to ‘throw a pity party’.

Fear not though internet. It’s unlikely I’m going to start dressing in black, wearing dark makeup and listening to The Cure anytime soon. 

However maybe next time the darkness arrives I might choose to spend my day under a duvet and getting stuck into some good old fashioned misery to see what happens. 

I still won’t eat all the pies though. That’s never ever going to happen again. 

Davey

Good golly it’s Molly!

It’s 10am and the canal towpath is already busy with the fleeting scent of jogger and cyclist’s body sprays as they pass by. Occasionally I catch a whiff of what seems like a scent I know – but then it’s gone again and once more the canal falls silent apart from a distant sound of occasional traffic.

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I’m currently sipping my coffee and re-applying the sun tan cream that seems to have already worn off whilst under the cool of a bridge near Warwick Parkway. It’s nice in the shade. The day is really heating up. At the moment I’m on my way to the Hatton Locks Cafe – around four miles away from my house along the canal.

I’m not complaining about this good weather mind you – it’s great – but you just know that my already pink (and slightly balding) head is going to suffer when the weather app on Apple Watch looks like this.

I’ve walked there before, but never there and back (in this post here from last October – and boy do I look different! I was 27st 9lbs – five and a half stone heavier than I am now).

Oddly it’s still something that I think will be hard to do in my mind – but I suddenly realised while lying in bed this morning that this lingering assumption of difficulty is based upon what I could do the last time I tried. On that occasion my friend and I parked a car at both ends and we walked to the Hatton Arms from a mile or so further up the canal in Leamington.

I decided this morning that (despite burning a bit yesterday) I was just going to liberally cover myself in suntan cream and get right back out there to give it a go.

Both ways this time.

When I set out everything ached. My back ached, my bum ached, my feet ached and even my chest (thats new!) ached. I’ve been pushing myself quite a bit recently and clearly things need time to recover.

I’d also woken up cursing my bed. I need a new one. I realised recently that I’m now sleeping in the ever present impression of a man that was 34 and a half stone, and it’s becoming uncomfortable. I’ve been putting it off for a while but I may just have to bite the bullet and replace it in the very near future.

However it wasn’t too far down the canal before I found something to instantly take my mind off stiff muscles and new mattresses. Quite near my house are signs that there will soon be swanlings everywhere. A newly created nest was quite literally being feathered before my eyes as mommy and daddy swans prepared for either the laying or incubation of new offspring.

I couldn’t see any eggs here though – so I’m guessing this Mr & Mrs have some hanky panky planned in their not too distant future…

I haven’t been in a rush today. At least until next Saturday my objectives are less about speed and more about distance, and enjoyment. Sometimes I find that I get so focused on the physical act of trying to walk faster or further that I completely forget to just sit for a moment and appreciate the scenery.

I guess it’s because I used to get annoyed with needing to stop and sit all the time. It took so long before I could walk the entire distance to Leamington (on the shortest route) without sitting on a garden wall or two that I keep trying to walk further and further without stopping to see what my limits are (currently around 5 miles I think) before I need to rest. That’s great – but when I do that and I’m looking at the fitness stats on my watch I don’t want to pause and interrupt its calculations.

I think that’s why my little flower picture challenge last week was so much fun. It forced me out of one mentality and into another, and that was really really nice.

So today I stopped to take pictures and watch the world (slowly) pass by.

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When I finally reached the Hatton Locks Cafe though it wasn’t a moment too soon.

In an effort to alleviate the (ahem, cough, cough) ‘backed up’ sensation of the last few days I’ve been hammering down the water both yesterday and today, on top of my usual coffee.

My aim is a minimum of two litres a day.

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This means however that stops at the little boy’s room are an absolute necessity! To be honest I’ve ignored this more than I should have for a while. Drinking more means eating less and that can only be a good thing!

As I was exiting the lavatory and looking at the cafe menu I heard my name being called. I turned to see the chirpy young daughter of one of the lovely Slimming World ladies saying hello. She invited me to come over and sit with them while they enjoyed the sunshine over coffee and breakfast.

It would have been lovely enough to see some friendly faces and have a natter, but these guys were packing Davey Kryptonite. They had Molly with them – who I’d last seen as an itty bitty pup when she was brought along to Slimming World around eight months ago.

Now she’s all grown up and an absolute bundle of energy!

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After they’d finished breakfast we strolled together back along the canal (they kindly let me walk Molly!) and nattered about what the rest of the day held for us as well as what we were planning to eat during the week.

Their outdoor eating and barbecue agenda made me wonder if I too should do a bit of al-fresco dining soon. If I do however I’ll need to sort out my (quite shocking) rear garden first.

If you ever hear me using the phrase ‘jungle is massive!’ trust me when I say that I’m not referring to a genre of music…

Soon we parted company – and after a little while longer (and several re-applications of cream) I arrived back home. It seems that I have once again caught the sun and am pink and lumpy instead of a pleasing auburn colour – but I’ve enjoyed every moment of my walk. My total for the day so far is a tad under 10 miles and it’s been a great use of my Sunday!

Aside from the fact that walking along the canal is just a lovely relaxing thing to do, I’ve also been able to re-visit a day out from six months ago and see just what a difference the time and weight loss has made.

The answer internet is ‘a flipping lot.’

Yay for moving my ass!

Now, if you’ll excuse me I need a tinkle.

Davey

Backed up

Whilst in Tesco’s this afternoon I was standing next to a child having a meltdown in the DVD aisle. As I watched her tantrum reach fever pitch her mother deployed the ultimate parent’s line.

‘If you keep crying I’m going to give you something to cry about!!’ she said – clearly at her wits end and about to resort to the nuclear option.

Needless to say it had no effect.

The child continued with her screaming and was ultimately presented with the promised (palm shaped) extra reason to continue crying. Her lung power and vocal chords were still undergoing extensive stress testing as I moved swiftly away from the ongoing battle of wills and towards the low fat mince a few aisles further down.

The mother’s words took me back to the way that many similar situations ended for me as a child with my own mother. I guess no matter how many things in the world change some will always remain the same. I remember her mother saying similar things as well – and it struck me that sometimes as much as we like to think of ourselves as unique and different to those that went before us the past always creeps in a little, and we eventually become to a greater or lesser extent a bit more like people that years ago we rebelled against.

As I peered at the packs of minced pork in front of me I found myself drifting back to an earlier conversation over coffee in a friend’s garden where I’d reminisced about briefly being responsible for a toddler.

She wasn’t my daughter – and was instead the product of my girlfriend’s previous relationship – however as a young man I took my newfound role very seriously. Furthermore I was convinced that this ‘ready made’ family I’d blundered into would be the answer to whatever it was that made me feel incomplete at the time.

I thought it would somehow fix what I felt was broken with me and that was wrong in my own family relationships.

I know now that what was missing and broken would never have been fixed by her or anyone else. My answers ultimately had to come from within – and at the time I didn’t have the emotional maturity to understand that. Thankfully however (although I never saw it as a good thing at the time) my partner’s unexpected infidelity ended things and life took a totally different path – never again going back down that particular route.

I don’t regret it mind you.

Whenever I think of having children I end up worrying that whatever relationship I’d have with my child would be like the that I ended up having with my mother – and if I’m honest this fear propels me away from wanting them. Maybe one day this will change but for the time being I’m much more content with with the smaller decisions that life has to offer.

Like whether I’m going to have a chilli tonight.

No – I’ll have beef stew. Definitely beef stew.

No. Chilli. I quite fancy chilli con carne….

Or a beef stew.

You see this is the problem. I’m barely a fully formed adult myself. I can’t even decide what to have for dinner and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I could never provide guidance for a teeny tiny person!

Nuts. This is way too heavy a thought process for buying mince in Tesco’s. I think too much.

I’m not going to get into what I want to do with my life for the moment. I’m instead going to make up my mind about what to eat. I fancy something spicy, hearty, healthy and home cooked thats absolutely 100% on plan.

So – one thing at a time. Fix what’s in front of you. Trust that everything else will become clear in time.

Chilli. Final answer.

Success and enjoyment has today appeared in several things, but sadly it’s not been weight loss. I put a pound on according to the scales today.

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At the risk of sounding indelicate however this doesn’t come as a colossal surprise to me. I see (ahem, cough cough) prunes, senokot, fibre bran or something very similar in my very near future. This week has not seen any (ahem, cough cough) regularity and I hold this responsible for my current result.

I’m not particularly upset either way mind you. It will happen next week, or the week after. Of that I have no doubt.

By the time I had sat down on the little red seats in Slimming World today I’d walked a total of 83 miles since I touched down on them last Saturday. Now THAT’S progress. My legs feel noticeably trimmer and more muscular by the day, and I can tell that in this area in particular my trousers are looser than they were before.

On the 15th April it will be exactly one year after I first joined Slimming World and I’m on track with my walking objective for then. I have another 54 miles to go. When I’ve completed those I will have managed to move my tubby behind the distance from Lands End to John o Groats and back (that’s 1698 miles) in the space of twelve months.

So my one pound gain is neither here nor there to me today.

Sure – I really really want to say by the same date that I lost 13 stone – but you know what? It’s a marathon not a sprint. As long as I’m continually doing something thats moving me in the right direction and I’m always seeing benefits who cares?

Also dates only matter for this kind of stuff if you have an end point (which I don’t really) and to me an end point says ‘when I get to my goal I’m going to treat myself with a giant pie and a pint of beer because then I’m normal and I can do what other people do.’

The truth is I never want to get to that moment. I want everything forever to be about getting better in some way – where I’m continually improving some aspect of my physical or mental wellbeing.

There is no end point as such in sight really – just continual hard, but ultimately rewarding work.

To others this may seem odd – but because of this attitude I’m beginning to care less about the numbers on the scales (notice I don’t say I don’t care at all) and more about everything else.

Things like inch loss, people noticing I look smaller, crossing my legs in the cinema, being invited unexpectedly to a house for coffee and sitting outside without fear in patio chairs with arms, sleeping like a baby almost every night, walking 83 miles in a week.

These things keep me going all the time.

Anyway internet, I need chilli con carne. All this thinking about children and the future has made me hungry.

You know what’s nice though?

Thinking about the future. I never used to do it before. I didn’t think I’d be here to experience it.

Hmmm. Who knows what else will change….

Davey

New shorts

Another day has passed and i’m another tantalising step closer to normality (if such a thing exists). I stood in a changing room in my local supermarket today wearing a high street brand shirt.

Someone has already pointed out to me this evening that my expression in these pictures conveys little of the joy that I was feeling (so for my lack of giddy animation I apologise) however – you can take my word for it that I was pretty happy at this moment in time.

Granted if I’d have sat down in it the buttons would have probably popped off – but crucially I did all of them up and it looked quite acceptable while I was standing. I’d go so far as to say I’ve seen lots of men wear far tighter things in public and get away with it.

The item in question was my first 3XL shirt. For those who’ve not been paying attention or are new to my blog I was an 8XL when I started my weight loss journey (pictures here).

What’s slightly more bizarre however is the grey item hanging on the door behind me. I gave the shirt back to the assistant (I will be back to try something again in a couple of months) but the shorts in the background?

THEM I BOUGHT!

What’s amazing about that is the label in this (rather generously sized) item of clothing represents something of a watershed moment – for this item is a 2XL

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So, as I type I’m sitting (exceptionally smugly it must be said) in my new shorts. They have room in them too. I’m not restricted in any way and they’re not cutting off the circulation to any (ahem) important parts. There’s no compromise here.

I’m actually comfortably wearing a 2XL pair of shorts.

Size ranges are broad though. I’m still a long way off from having cracked the high street. Marks and Spencer’s for instance don’t like tubby people such as myself and won’t entertain the idea of me wearing anything but their shoes and gloves for quite a few inches yet – but I feel I’m standing on the edge of something momentous.

Well – I’m not actually standing on the edge of something momentous – I’m walking briskly in it’s direction.

My stated objective of 70 miles a week for two weeks is almost in the bag and done. As of this evening I’m at 68.5 miles since Saturday morning, so I’m currently averaging around 11.5 miles a day. I have no idea what this will mean with weight loss on Saturday. Every time I try and second guess it I fail – so I’m not going to. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed and hope that if what I want doesn’t happen this week that it will carry over to the next.

I do know that lots of exercise equals ‘hungry Davey’ and that this week I have (occasionally) had much larger meals than I probably should have – but in the process of repeatedly moving from A to B (according to Apple Watch) I’ve burned 10,004 ‘active’ calories on top of what I’d have used up just sitting on my ass and staring at the TV.

Which is encouraging.

Either way – I feel absolutely great. One of the things that is still something of a miniature revelation to me is the fact that the more I exercise the more I want to exercise. None of the distance I’m doing is a chore – regardless of what the weather is up to. I’m just loving every minute of it at the moment and cant wait to get up and do some more – be it in a coat or a tee-shirt.

It makes no difference.

Rather pleasingly however the weather this week has continued to be mostly flipping awesome.

Consequently I’ve carried on with my flower picture challenge – which has added quite a lot of interest to the walks I’ve been on that I don’t think I would have otherwise had. Occasionally I’ve had to stop myself clambering over garden fences and into flower beds to get a picture of a particularly pretty one – but I think that even without trespassing I’ve managed to get some quite nice shots without any duplication.

Just don’t ask me what they’re all called Internet. I’ve already proven to one friend this week that I don’t know my bluebells from my grape hyacinths!

Davey

It’s twenty nine!

‘In all the years I’ve been a diabetic specialist,’ said the practice nurse sitting in front of me ‘I’ve never seen a diabetic patient with HbA1c levels like this. It’s twenty nine!

She looked at the screen again and shook her head a little from side to side.

‘When I first saw these results I thought that the test was wrong – until I looked at your recent history.’ She said, and then paused for a moment.

‘Your kidney function is also perfect, and so is your blood pressure. If you were tested for the first time today for diabetes it would come back as negative.’ She said looking directly at me.

‘It also says here that you aren’t taking any medication now. Is that correct?’

‘Yep.’ I replied. ‘As I mentioned to the last nurse two weeks ago its been about two months now since I last had any.’

‘That’s amazing.’ She said.

I smiled.

I’d actually been looking forward to getting my blood test results for two weeks. The HbA1c shows a historic view of what glucose is doing in your body, and is way more accurate than my home tests are.

These personal ones were just fine before I stopped taking my medication – but the HbA1c is the Rolls Royce of blood tests and there’s no-where to hide. If I’ve been naughty the searchlight will fall on me.

It wasn’t until fairly recently though (whilst talking to a friendly and learned pharmacist over lunch) that I’ve learned why. Unlike a finger prick test it measures the thickness of glucose molecules coating red blood cells and is very much like counting rings in a tree trunk to determine a tree’s age.

The thicker the coating, the bigger the problem over time.

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In 2014 I was at 94 on this scale (around 10%)

The HbA1c target for people with diabetes to aim for is 48 mmol/mol (6.5%) (link) but mine is now down to 29 – which is below 5%!

I’m not even on the chart any more.

It’s just the payoff that I had been hoping for – and this result makes every moment of self denial, good choices, blisters, injuries, hard work and effort to remain positive totally worthwhile.

It would be fair to say that I live for these moments lately.

Angie, our Slimming World group leader refers to them as non-scale victories. As wins go – to me this moment is slightly more akin to planting my flag on the moon. I could not be happier.

The only fly in the ointment currently is cholesterol.

‘You need to cut down your fat intake.’ said the nurse.

Apparently my ‘bad’ levels had gone up slightly (now 4.3 – up from 3.4) and the ‘good’ ones were still too low – which has been the case for around 15 years.

‘I don’t have HARDLY ANY fat in my diet.’ I said. ‘All the meat I eat is unbelievably lean with the only exceptions being lots of fish for Omega 3.’

‘Better keep taking your pills then.’ The nurse said.

She has a point. I was hoping that my exercise would have an impact on this but it seems not. If I’m honest I’ve not been taking them when I should – or even every day.

Davey has been naughty naughty boy.

My doctor (and the nurse) think that I’m pre-disposed to crappy levels – but if diabetes is an indicator I prefer to think more positively. I may still be able to turn this around. I still have quite a bit of weight to lose yet – so you never know…

Either way I need to take my pills regularly and have more seeds and oily fish. 

I thought I already had a fair bit of these but clearly I do not. Thankfully I flipping love all the foods that these are found in so I’m going to have to start engineering meals with them in more regularly (like every day!)

But anyway – one battle at a time.

Last night – despite my reservations about faux takeaway food I decided to use the Slimming World curry sauce from Iceland that a kind person put in Saturday’s slimmer of the week basket.

I made it into a Chinese style chicken curry with two cloves of garlic, baby sweetcorn, two chunky chopped onions, a bag of mange tout and some boiled long grain rice.

As I haven’t put any dinner pics on here for a while I thought I’d (parp) subject you poor souls to some visual exhibits of the rather (parp) delicious cause of todays rather rampant (parp) flatulence.

Eating this was worth every moment of locked down buttock clenching in public places (I was in a museum earlier – it was pretty tricky) and was utterly delicious. As with all Slimming World frozen food from Iceland the recipe is included – and I’m heartened by the fact that there’s nothing but natural ingredients in this dish.

I can make it again myself – which I plan to do.

As it’s been mostly overcast today pictures of lovely flowers have been hard to come by – but thankfully they’ve not been the only plants with an excess of personality on my travels.

It seems that others have heard of my self imposed photography task this week, and (despite their usually mundane status) Cacti are making their case for my attention.

Internet – it’s almost as if they’re watching me….

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Davey

Passing duck

As I’ve been walking over the last few days I’ve seen and said hello to a lot of people.

It’s somehow always easier to say this to those that are passing if it’s a sunny day – as weather is a great opener. Just as you can commiserate a truly awful day with a knowing but grim rain soaked nod of the head you can also stop and chat about how blue the sky is and how unexpectedly clement the day has turned out to be.

I’ve been treated to another lovely symphony of colour and floral scents almost everywhere I walked yesterday – and I’ve continued to take pictures of flowers as I’ve moved from place to place – noting that even by the sides of busy roads there have been splashes of vibrant beauty and nature peeping through little cracks in concrete.

Yesterday’s pace was a little more sedate – and unusually for me I’ve been listening to a lot of reggae (mostly UB40) as I’ve been lolloping along which has left me happily reminiscing about the past. This music has taken me back to the early 90’s in Birmingham and some very relaxed times, lazily strolling around hand in hand with my girlfriend whilst wearing my ‘Labour of Love II’ long white tee-shirt over some baggy light blue Levi denims.

Both items of clothing (and my tempestuous but pretty girlfriend) were my absolute pride and joy for a while.

Somehow walking at a certain pace, with a particular rhythm and to a particular tune managed to take me right back to these long forgotten times and places where (now maybe rather whimsically I think) I didn’t have a care in the world.

Consequently I’ve felt completely at peace.

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As I’ve walked over the last few days though, as well as remembering some really good times and friendships I’ve been reminded as well just how amazingly precious life is.

I know I write a lot about how things have changed in my life – but sometimes the world has a way of tapping you on the shoulder and pointing out to you that you’re never all that far away from a very different reality.

My first thought about this came when I saw a lady in a heavily modified and motorised wheelchair with her young toddler on her lap. I’d seen them travelling down the high street earlier in the morning and noticed because both mother and daughter were happily nattering to each other as they trundled along together in matching sunglasses.

When I arrived in Jephson Gardens they were already ahead of me and had deployed a loaf of bread for the gathering pigeons.

They were both loving the park – and seemed really happy to be out and about together. As I watched them feeding the hungry birds though it struck me that the lady had no choice bur to sit in the wheelchair and watch her young daughter as she hopped off her lap and ran to the nearby feeding ground with lumps of bread to drop over the fence.

Being outside and together was more than enough for both of them in that moment though – and feeding the pigeons had put broad smiles on both of their faces. Seeing them enjoying themselves so much put a smile on mine too.

My second was in Old Milverton, as I walked behind a young couple with their dogs. They were hand in hand and the three dogs were running as if their lives depended on it back and forth across the dry and recently ploughed earth.

The pair were walking quite slowly and since I was moving faster behind them I stepped to the side to pass whilst wishing them a good morning.

As I passed I noticed that the lady had a portable oxygen tank slung over her shoulder (I’d originally mistaken it for a handbag) which was periodically hissing as it pushed the gas through its attached tubes to her nose. She too was smiling as I said ‘hello’ and she remarked upon what a wonderful day it was. I smiled back and agreed with her as I passed by and fussed one of her dogs.

Both of these ladies were stark reminders that for most of us there is absolutely no excuse not to get out and go for some exercise.

It’s not a chore. It’s a privilege, and one that might not be there forever. Their stoic insistence to not let whatever ailed them get in the way of living was quite inspiring, and in both cases I walked away hoping that the universe would cut them some slack with whatever battles they were fighting.

My third pause for thought however was quite unexpected.

Whilst eating my lunch and watching a pair of lively ducks gobbling up floating chunks of bread in the park I turned away for a moment to forage for a tomato and a piece of ham in my carrier bag.

When I looked back one of the ducks was frantic and splashing about in the pond in front of me.

It was repeatedly pushing it’s head down into the water and trying to use it’s webbed feet to hold onto something and turn it over underneath it’s body. It looked like it might be tangled in something underwater at first – but as I idly watched I realised that what it trying to pull up from below the water was a beak.

This belonged to the now limp and lifeless other duck, which while I’d been looking away had suddenly somehow died and rolled over. It’s head was completely submerged and the remaining duck was panicking like I’d never seen an animal panic before.

Try as it might it couldn’t lift the other duck’s head above water – but for over five minutes (and completely out of my reach) it tried to.

It became more and more desperate, as without the benefit of hands or arms it used it’s completely ineffectual beak and webbed feet to try and turn the body over and hold it’s head above the surface.

Each time it managed to almost do it the limp and lifeless duck just rolled again. As it’s head slipped again and again under the water it prompted yet another frantic dive and desperate attempt to bring it back to the surface.

A couple of geese floated up to the scene and joined me in sitting motionless watching the macabre scene play out.

After a while the bird was exhausted and could do little else but helplessly watch as for the final time its partner’s body rolled and its head slid under the water.

There was nothing to be done.

For a moment the remaining duck just silently floated next to the gathered geese and looked at the upturned body, with it’s mottled brown feathers now just barely visible above the water line.

I didn’t know what to think. I’d never seen an animal frantically trying to save the life of another animal before. Seeing the wide eyed desperation in the dead bird’s partner as it valiantly tried to save it over and over and over again (until it could hardly move itself) was desperately sad.

Eventually the remaining duck drifted away. As it did so it grabbed a floating chunk of bread and slowly swallowed it.

Life went on.

So, once again today I’m walking.

I’m going to be out there whether it’s raining, or whether it’s sunny. It doesn’t matter – because it’s a gift. Every moment of it – and if you’re sitting on the sofa reading this wondering whether you should get up and do something the answer is yes.

Use it while you have it internet – and love every moment of it.

Davey

Hedgerows

Although summer is a still a way off today has definitely had the feel of it – even if it’s the wrong time of year. Everything has seemed well lit, warm and temperate. Everywhere I’ve been today people have been out and about enjoying the sunshine. Furthermore today almost all of them appear to be smiling.

Me too. It’s been a good day to be alive.

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Early morning in Leamington saw loads of runners jogging around town and through Jephson Gardens – and the streets were full of people on bikes, with almost no-one wearing warm coats or even waterproof clothing.

The sky has been blue and lovely everywhere I’ve walked!

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As I mentioned yesterday I have set myself a milage and a weight loss objective for the next couple of weeks. I want to do an average of ten miles a day each day for fourteen consecutive days and lose five pounds by April 15th.

It’s something of a tall order (at least on the walking front) but you know what? After my self help book cherry got popped the other week I’m beginning to think I may be a bit of a goal oriented person after all (despite many years of thinking otherwise) so why not think positive?!

I can totally do this!

There’s someone that’s to blame for this mind you. On a recent walk an ex-colleague of mine inspired me a bit with his stated intention to walk 130 odd miles along the Thames over the course of two weeks. It seemed like quite a challenge when he mentioned it – but the more I thought about it after our stroll the more I realised it was just a number. It’s only a lot if you think it is. If he can do it then so can I!

I’m trying to get a bit ahead of myself if possible, so that if I falter later in the week then I can have a slow day where I relax a bit. So far I’m at 24 miles for Saturday and Sunday.

Only 116 to go!

I’ve also been occupying myself on my travels today in Leamington, Old Milverton, Warwick and Hatton with a little photography task. After a while of just wandering about with no particular objectives (other than distance) I noticed that there was a mass of colour everywhere. So, about half way through the day, I started trying to find pretty little flowers to take pictures of. Every time I found a new colour popping out of a hedgerow or flower bed I stopped to take a shot of it.

There’s a lot of vibrant little plants out there to enjoy!

I think I’m going to tray and make this a theme for the week – it’s really broken up my day and made it much more enjoyable than it otherwise would have been. Tomorrow morning I also have an appointment at the park and there’s a whole boatload of flowers being planted there at the moment!

Anyway – it’s going to be a short post today. I’ve hit something of a tiredness wall and I think nothing will satisfy me at the moment more than face-planting my pillow.

Get out there this week internet and have a look in a hedgerow or a flower bed – you’ll feel much better if you do!

Zzzzzzzzzzz

Davey