Head in the Thorpe Clouds

One of the things that I’ve been pretty happy about after going up Snowdon last weekend is that instead of being completely destroyed like I’d expected to be the absolute opposite happened – and I’ve been full of beans.

Although it may be attributable to further great progress with my weight loss – I’ve just felt considerably more ‘sprightly’ than usual over the last week and I’m not over exaggerating when I say that there’s been an extra spring in my step pretty much everywhere I’ve been. I feel quite light on my feet at the moment and I’m really beginning to like climbing gradients! Although I’m still not so keen on the downhill bits afterwards I’m gradually getting better at both.

Today I’d arranged to go and visit my friend in Derbyshire – and it was an excellent opportunity to have a go at some of the ‘bumpy’ bits in the Peak District.

I was previously of the opinion that I’d never been there before, until my mate pointed out that as unruly and savage youths in secondary school (although I speak primarily about my own feral self) we were taken to Dovedale on a Geography field trip (we go waaaay back he and I) and during this day release from our incarceration we walked along the river Dove taking photographs detailing the erosion and geology of the area. I’d also been back there with my Dad a few months later.

I hadn’t realised though that this was in the Peak District – and as soon as my friend mentioned climbing Thorpe Cloud (wikipedia link) I knew we had to go back.

Upon arrival this morning we parked up at a National Trust heritage site called Ilam Hall. This is a gloriously maintained place – and there’s clearly a lot of love and care gone into making sure that even on the most overcast day the grounds look in tip top condition.

The nearby Ilam village also has some really nice little features – with a large number of rather twee matching cottages, a (somewhat ostentatious) monument and a genuine concern for smaller local residents that may wish to cross the road.

My friend had with him a rather cool little Garmin GPS plotting device that occasionally made little noises if it thought we were straying off piste, and with it and a full size paper OS map of the area (I’m definitely getting into these – my proud cartophile friend was RIGHT – I did learn to love them!) we made our way through the village, around Bunster Hill and across a few fields of sheep and cows until we hit the river Dove and the bottom of our objective.

Unlike the relatively winding and gentle start to Snowdon’s ascent last Saturday, this is a pretty steep, in your face clamber up a hill.

However, it’s over in a lot less time.

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It’s not particularly difficult or technical, but it is some pretty good cardio – and by the time I’d reached the top my bpm had reached 140 – and it wouldn’t be for the last time today.

However – it was really worth it. The view was lovely – and in the distance (if you look at the video) we could easily see where we’d come from.

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After reaching the top and looking at the view for a short while we decided to walk along the River Dove towards Milldale (re-tracing our field trip) which you can see in the distance when you start down the other side of the hill.

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Although not particularly spectacular, this is really nice (mostly wooded and shady) stroll along the river bank.

Within another 20-30 minutes we were down on the river bank by the famous stepping stones below and looking back up at where we’d just been.

If you’re thinking of going here for a day out be aware however that it’s quite undulating along the river and although it’s not particularly challenging if you’re moderately fit it’s also not somewhere to go with a buggy or if you have mobility issues.

It’s a lovely little oasis of wildlife though and there were plenty of birds and butterflies to keep the eyes engaged and interested.

Although we’d originally started along the path to Milldale, the reality was that we’d really be able to do nothing when we got there but turn around and go back, so when we came to Ilam Rock Bridge after a mile and a half, and saw a signpost with a (two mile) path back to Ilam we decided to follow it.

Here the tone of the walk changed a little however. This was a lot more ‘woodland’ than ‘river-bank’, and after a short while onto the opposite bank we came to a foreboding sign…

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How bad could it be though? We were already conquerers of Thorpe Cloud!

We tutted in the face of adversity and made our way up the muddy slope. After a few minutes on the way down a couple passed by us, and the slow moving lady bringing up the rear simply said ‘good luck’ as she gingerly made her way to the bottom.

We looked at each other. It was a little steep and muddy…

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However – although my heart rate was immediately back up to 140 and it was pretty steep it definitely wasn’t all that bad!

Sure – it was slippery and you had to watch your footing, but the path was clear (if a little close to the edge at times) and there were a lot of railway sleeper steps on the way up, making it a workout challenge – but nothing impossible or dangerous if you were careful and took your time.

Before we knew it the steeper section flattened out and we were on a relatively gradual incline winding our way through the trees at the top of the valley and heading back along the river at a much higher elevation.

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This went on for a while, and then all of a sudden we were back out in the open and looking at yet another absolutely smashing view!

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Following the path (now much more rural – winding through open fields and over stiles) we were soon faced with surprisingly static sheep – who were standing completely still and just watching us get nearer and nearer.

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I’m not sure what was going on up on that hill – but the sheep on the right was taking more than a passing interest in the sheep in the middle. However – as the saying goes, what happens in Dovedale stays in Dovedale, and who am I to disturb any of their high altitude pleasures?

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After a very steep descent (thankfully on grass rather than rock and mud) we were soon in sight of our objective and could just see the tippy top of Ilam Hall in the distance.

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There was still a good quadricep workout ahead however – and after about 20 minutes of burning thighs we were back on level ground and once again (after a little more walking) at our starting point.

My friend uploaded a (frankly exceptional – I’m totally in love with his GPS and love the flyby in this link) video to show our walk time, elevation and route. If you’re interested in replicating it then this will most certainly help!

I wish I’d been able to do this with Snowdon last week!

When we arrived back at the Hall thankfully there was a cafe, and an opportunity to sit down – which we both did with a nice cold drink.

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I couldn’t help but feeling we were being watched however. It was if the local residents wanted something from us…

There were robins, sparrows and these mean looking guys all over the place – waiting to hoover up any leftovers. I’m not sure who spent the most time watching who!

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Frankly it was the perfect end to a perfect day out in the Peak District.

Or was it?…

That actually wasn’t quite the end of the story internet – but I don’t want to over burden you…

There will be more of that in another post!

Davey

Hero clothes

It might be going to rain later on, but when I woke up this morning the weather report had changed slightly (it looked awful on yesterday’s advance forecast) and the worst didn’t seem to be arriving until after midday.

Furthermore my bedroom was full of sunshine!

I resolved to get up immediately and go for a spirited walk around the park while the weather was nice. I jumped out of bed, had a shower and pulled on my (noticeably loosening) jeans, trainers – and my hoodie.

I’m still not sure about hoodies. I only bought my first one a few short months ago – and each time I put it on I can’t help checking the mirror to make sure that I don’t look too much like an ankle tagged ASBO mugger. Thankfully when I check my reflection I just look like a balding middle age guy in sweats rather than a menace to society, and I conclude that I’m unlikely to scare the elderly.

I opened the front door.

It was bright and fresh as soon as I stepped outside and to compliment the blue sky there was a delightful breeze to cool me down as I walked. I noticed that I felt really light on my feet and all bouncy as I kept pace with my music.

Maybe it’s because I’m in a good mood today.

Aside from the victory it yielded over gravity on the scales, yesterday was a superb day for cheap charity shop purchases, and I found myself with two new (quite literally – they don’t appear to have been worn at all) pairs of trousers and two rather smart long sleeved striped cotton shirts.

Both shirts and one pair of the trousers though are what I term ‘aspirational purchases‘. At £2.75 each for the shirts and £3.50 for M&S grey corduroy trousers they probably aren’t what most people aspire to wear, and on me they’re also pretty snug.

When I use this term I mean that (for me) they’re something to work towards on the very near horizon and represent a progress marker where I’ll be able to fit into something I genuinely like.

The second pair of (grey denim) trousers fitted immediately and were a delightfully thrifty £4. They were a 40in waist! 


As soon as I saw them I knew they were a pair of  Jacamo ‘Union Blues‘ jeans. I’ve purchased a several identical pairs of these in different colours and know the feel of the (rather stretchy and smooth) comfortable material well.

I’d originally started buying these a while back when I realised that I could finally fit into more mainstream online clothes. This is now my 3rd pair in this colour and I rather like them.

I’m pretty anal when it comes to saving correspondence – and I still have all of the original confirmation mails from my Jacamo orders, so I thought I’d go and check how much I paid.

My jaw dropped. 


The price (it turned out) was relatively immaterial – as they were on sale at the time (it’s still a big saving though). What’s more amazing is the size and the date. The mail confirms my very first order is for a 50in waisted pair to them on the 4th February 2017!!!

That means that in the last six months alone I’ve dropped 10 inches from my waistline. 

How flipping awesomeballs is that! I started at a 66in waist in April 2016 and now I’m in my first pair of 40’s!

Mind you – full disclosure here. The M&S trousers are a 42in waist and they’re (ahem) snug – so not every retailer loves me just yet – but how’s about that for tangible progress?!

As I type (I’m sitting on a park bench in the shade by the river) I think the swans nearby agree. This year’s last remaining swanling is also making major headway in life.

When I saw them a while back (I’ve not been in the park a lot recently) he/she was the last remaining teeny tiny ball of fluff out of a group of seven.

How time flies.

Now it’s nearly all grown – and I realise that this is the second St Nics swanling I’ve seen become an adult and move on in life. As I watch them change I’m still going through my own metamorphosis and there’s no sign of this changing any time soon.

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As I leave the park I notice that I’m sauntering rather than power walking, and I take off my earphones. There’s a colder breeze now and some slight droplets of rain – but I don’t care. I foiled the weather’s evil plans and sneaked a glimpse of the day at its best before it was yanked away.

By the time I get home I’ve got my hoodie up and I feel warm and cosy. The rain is spitting but not too badly and the warmth of my body is making the little droplets evaporate shortly after they land.

Life is grand.

I’m now going to put some coffee on to brew and play a video game whilst it pours down outside with my feet up. I’m not going to experience a shred of guilt. I’ve already smashed my daily exercise goals and have lots more planned for the week ahead.

I’m on track and cooking on gas. The universe and I are simpatico.

Another example of our mutual harmony came when I noticed yesterday evening that the game I’ve finally decided to play – after owning it for years (The Legend of Zelda – Windwaker HD on Wii U) appears to be speaking to me in a way that it knows only I can understand…

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Very naughty boy

I did something I swore I would never do again yesterday. I’ve cautioned others against this behaviour in the past, so it’s only fair that I ‘fess up’ and be completely honest about falling off the wagon.

I’ve been a very naughty boy.

After I dropped my Dad off at the train station yesterday I popped into a couple of charity shops to see if I could find any cheap clothing bargains. It’s become ‘my thing‘ over the last couple of weeks since I found my Penguin jacket and cheap combat shorts and all of my shirts and tee-shirts are beginning to look a bit baggy.

However – I found nothing except M&S soft furry pastel coloured elasticated pensioner trousers and decided to give up for the day.

Then, as I was walking out empty handed from the last of these shops a new item was (literally) placed on the floor in front of me by a nefarious shop assistant.

A set of bathroom scales.

My lifelong enemy.

My doctor once (around 7 years ago) when his bathroom scales couldn’t weigh me went next door to his colleague, came back with a second identical unit and made me stand on two at the same time. I had one foot on each as they pinged and crunched beneath me for maximum embarrassment – and the combined readings were completely inaccurate.

In contrast these were smaller, visually in good condition – but most importantly the analogue dial went up to 20st – so I stood on them. Surprisingly they didn’t grind or break under my weight like the ones I’ve stood on in the past.

For some reason this alone was a good enough reason to make a purchase. I didn’t even look down at the dial. I just stepped off, picked them up and walked to the till.

After a tiny bit of haggling (it had no price tag so in my mind this was justified – even in a charity shop) I handed over two shiny pound coins and carried home my new personal torture device.

I refer to it in these terms because I don’t think I’ve bought a particularly precise scientific instrument.

Far from it in fact. 

The scales instead appear to be a magic mirror that’s designed to tell me I’m a pretty little princess whenever I stand on them.


According to these scales I’m 18st 1lb – which is absolutely nuts – and HIGHLY unlikely. Two weeks ago the Slimming World ones read 19st 7.5lbs and I very much doubt that I’ve lost a stone and a half since then.

To make matters worse I stood on them an hour later and I was 17 and a half!

So – these scales are already messing with my mind. I’ve yet to weigh in today (it’s 8am) and the figure on this little dial is simultaneously making me expect a big loss – but at the very same time causing me to be worried that I’ll be sorely disappointed because these scales are just a lying piece of crap and that it won’t happen – or that (even worse still) I’ll have gained weight.

I wish I’d never wasted the two pounds now because my mind is turning cartwheels on the subject and I still have a couple of hours before I’ll find out the truth…

(Author stops writing and gets ready for group)

Well the scales were lying scumbags – but who cares?! Although the list says I lost 10lbs it’s actually 10.5 if the numbers are right – but I suspect I may be 18st 11.5lbs rather than the round number on the page.

Either way I’ve gone down a good chunk and I’m really happy! All my worries about food intake in Snowdonia and my increased appetite afterwards appear to have been unfounded.

I now have my fifteen and a half stone certificate!!!

I also have another positive thing to focus on.

I had a blood test yesterday (previously I’ve been feeling light headed when standing up and wanted to be sure nothing was wrong) – and asked the nurse to test my blood pressure before she popped the needle in.

Last time it was 110/70. This time (just after a mile walk to the surgery and without food or water so far that morning) it was 119/67.

I’m still rather new to understanding blood pressure readings and am relying on both what the practice tells me and the internet. The nurse told me it was perfect – but since I’m Marvin the paranoid android I double checked elsewhere.


Yay for non scale victories!

I’m ‘ideal‘!

So far so good then – although I still need the blood test results. So far nothing appears to be growing where it’s not supposed to (I still have only one head and no new reproductive organs) so I’m hopeful it’s just nothing and that I’m not gestating a xenomorph.

Quite a few people reading my blog have commented that they too have experienced the same phenomenon with weight loss (and middle age) so I’m not going to worry unless my doctor tells me to!

In the meantime I’m trying to raise my blood pressure a little with a large brown nectar of life from Starbucks.

I have to make the most of opportunities to exercise and get out today because according to the weather reports tomorrow it’s going to be a tiny bit difficult to predict what to wear. 


Needless to say internet I probably won’t have a single thing to say as I sit indoors tomorrow watching cats and dogs fall from the sky, followed by frogs, buckets and electric eels.

Davey

Au Revoir Supercoat!

As regular visitors (and subscribers) to this blog have probably noticed there has been a higher volume of posting than usual this week, and I heartily apologise if you’re getting sick of hearing from me. A few more introspective posts have left my drafts folder than normally would primarily because the last seven days have been quite emotional ones.

Today’s is a little introspective too, just so you know.

There’s been a lot of time spent with this week with close and extended family – and quite a few associated good (or bad) memories and feelings explored and talked about that all of us have maybe waited a bit too long to express, or possibly felt we couldn’t.

One of the nice things about my time spent with my Dad while he’s been staying has been chatting about his childhood, alongside memories of his father and mother and how they met. Often you can forget that your parents are themselves someone’s children and they too inherited their own fair share of blessings and difficulties from their upbringings.

As I mentally compose this post he’s telling me about why he has his name – and I find out for the first time that it was the middle name of a man that his mother greatly respected who owned a brewery. I doubt he remembered this himself until he looked into the bag of letters from her that he’s been avoiding since she died nearly two decades ago.

As I watch him reminisce about his school years and I look down at the yellowed 10 length swimming certificate in my hands bearing his name (which he’s kept since 1952) I drift away from the words and find myself thinking how much I love the old fart.

I’ve hugged him several times while he’s been here – but probably not enough.

As he readied himself to leave today I looked at Supercoat, which was hanging in the hall. It represented (and still does) a lot to me when I purchased it from Debenhams – as it was the first item of mainstream clothing I’d been able to buy since I started my blog – but I haven’t worn it for a while.

I first tried it on in February (link) and it was a big day (in terms of both my diabetes and my clothing).

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Initially worried about whether I could afford it I didn’t buy it in that post – and instead tried a cheaper, less waterproof alternative. I discovered quickly that we were incompatible when it rained…

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I eventually threw caution to the winds a couple of weeks later (link) and went back to treat myself – this time trying to smile for the camera after multiple reader complaints about looking like a miserable sod the first time around!

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I’ve worn Supercoat a lot in the (almost) six months since I purchased it.

Whilst wearing it (or the detachable inner fleece) I’ve been completely soaked by arrogant t**t Porsche drivers, climbed the Malvern Hills (link), navigated large portions of the Grand Union Canal, got lost near a windmill, explored several greenways, walked along the Thames Path, sneaked lots of flasks of coffee into the cinema in its spacious pockets and (literally) walked hundreds of miles with it keeping me warm and dry.

 

If I’m honest I’ve kind of bonded with it and I really didn’t want to give it to charity or sell it – so today instead I gave it to my Dad. It fits him quite well – and winter’s coming, so it makes me happy to know he’ll also be warm and dry inside it. I hope he enjoys the walks it takes him on as much as I enjoyed mine, and as he wears it I hope it also reminds him of his visit this week and the conversations we’ve shared.

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In my case I’m cosy enough in my old/new charity shop jacket (link) and at some point when the cold weather hits I’m going to try and find another all weather alternative (it’s not water proof but water resistant as I discovered in the picture above!) that’s suitable for strenuous exercise and good for mountains and hills – which I plan to spend a lot more time exploring in my future.

I have an adventure already lined up for next week – but more of that will come in another blog…

In the meantime I’m just thankful.

I’m thankful that my Dad is in my life to give my coat to, and I’m thankful that he’s shared his memories with me. I’m thankful that I’ve not run from the difficult ones and I’m thankful that we can talk about such things. I’m also thankful that maybe I can bring some of the lessons that I’ve learned in life recently back to him and that he too can benefit from them.

I also realise now that it’s Friday evening and unusually I don’t care what the scales say tomorrow. Today numbers are immaterial and any progress in life is being measured with a different yardstick.

Instead all I can think about is that I just want him to be well, happy, and pestering me for many many years to come.

Davey

It’s slowly getting easier

It’s amazing how much power there is in a photo.

Some of them seem almost translucent in their insignificance, and you can flick through them like decks of cards. The subjects that they contain mean absolutely nothing – but then you’ll see one that for no apparent reason contains a spark, which makes your heart skip a beat.

When my Dad came to stay recently he brought with him lots of old photos – and has been passing them on along with their contextual history. There are a lot of very old black and white ones of my grandmother in the 1930’s and of the family properties in other parts of the country – but some are more current. They’re his memories of our time together, and what he felt was important to cherish.

Consequently I’ve been looking at and scanning a lot of them over the last few days and they’re bringing back both happy and sad memories. However it’s the things in the photos that cause the feelings and thoughts to resurface that I’m most surprised by.

While looking at one photo I’m sighing and shaking my head – looking at the effects that my mother’s hoarding had on the family – and I realise that what I’m seeing is the rear of my toy Millennium Falcon that I was given for christmas (circa 1983). I loved it once – but in the photo (which I’ve never seen before) it’s looking old and yellowed by cigarette smoke. It’s barely recognisable because it’s being swamped by a tidal wave of rubbish spilling from the sideboard onto the dining table in my old living room.

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The year on the back of the photo is 1998.

I left in 1995, unable to take life in that house any more and many of the possessions that I couldn’t escape with were slowly buried under mountains of yellowed and dusty piles of nothing. The photos themselves fit into this category – and until recently I had very little evidence that I was ever a child, let alone that I existed at all before my mid 20’s. My mother held the vast majority of it hostage, cutting odd patterns in photos (with no surviving negatives) to make strange collages.

She did this to early photos of my Dad too. Now only the oddly shaped corners remain with occasional faces by the side of them, and I’ll never know what the missing silhouettes were or who (or what) they might represent.

There are gaps in so many things.

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In another picture it’s now 1999 and I’m standing in the bay window of my old flat with my Dad.

Several pictures have been taken in the same place and in the background of all of them, hanging from the ceiling by the window is a wind chime. It’s a little blue clay dolphin riding the crest of a wave. I recall the sound that it used to make – and I feel the memories of the day I bought it rushing back uncontrollably.

I remember the shop it was purchased from on the promenade, the cloudless sunny sky outside, my girlfriend’s flowing light summer trousers and long brown hair as she browsed the shop looking for cheap and pretty nick nacks to decorate our first home together.

The cashier wrapped it in a little purple paper bag, which was folded over at the top and closed with sellotape. When we got home, clambering over boxes still not unpacked, we hung it with a drawing pin above our window seat. We used to sit talking on a chunky grey and white cotton blanket and looking out at our sea view with cups of tea.

I don’t know if right now I miss my youth, I miss my girlfriend, or whether I just miss the window seat and the flat that surrounded it. I guess maybe I miss all of it. Most of all I probably miss what they represent. Although they were far from simple times (the flat was often cold and damp and the relationship could only be described as ‘complex’) it seems in retrospect as if I had the world at my feet back then and that I let it slip through my fingers.

The other, more upsetting aspect of seeing many years of photos all in one go is that for the first time I can see the physical results of the emotional pain that I went through at the time. By 2001 I had split with my partner, was beginning to struggle and I can see that my hands and face look noticeably fatter.

I’ve grown a beard because she didn’t like them and I think it makes my face look slimmer.

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My habits were taking their toll – and my weight was dramatically increasing. By late 2002 I was (at the time) heavier than I’d ever been before – and around here my father’s record of me stops. I visited less and I didn’t like my photo being taken.

My stomach now fills the photo and is evidence that I’m drinking ever more heavily to forget.

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I’d already hit the self destruct button even before thy relationship ended. I steadfastly held my finger on that button for almost a decade and a half until I (not once, but twice) got to well over thirty stone.

As I type I’m angry. I’m mad with myself for not seeing the things back then that I do now. I’m also annoyed because I was unable to make changes in my life that were needed to crawl out from beneath the weight of my past. It’s irritating in the extreme that with hindsight I now know the reasons I drank, smoked and ate – and how these vices (amongst others) enabled me to avoid truly dealing with anything in life.

I never truly realised I was running away from everything until I couldn’t run any more.

But I’m not running now. Metaphorically speaking. Annoyingly physically speaking I still can’t really – but I’m getting close.

Fuelled by the feelings that this all caused in me yesterday and today I propelled myself around the park this morning trying to beat my mile record – which I’d previously left at 16.31 minutes in March 2017 (link).

This morning I smashed it – wiping 40 seconds off the last time I went all out for it.

I did a 15.52!

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On my third lap I met two ladies from Slimming World, who were in the park for a run, and we hugged before stopping to talk for a short while as they stretched out and readied their workout programmes.

We discussed our mutual progress and goals and it felt nice to bump into the smiling positivity that doing something good brings into your life. We were all grinning when I left them to start their run – and even now, after another day of mostly painful memories and other difficult issues I’m left thinking that I could have opened the freezer door and made my way through the shelves.

But I didn’t. I exercised it off.

Each time I look at these photos and compare them with my current progress the pain of regret gets a little less. I can’t feel it scratching away beneath the surface so strongly any more (although its still there) and I no longer feel the need to run from it at any cost.

It’s slowly getting easier internet.

Davey

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Boris is getting fitter.

The poor little mite’s suffered quite a bit of late with some spinal pain and has been seeing a doggy therapist. With some physio he’s managed to progress from yelps of pain when moving to a noticeably more bouncy gait as he trotted around the park and today, as I walked sedately with my friend in the rain he seemed really rather happy.

Well – as cheerful as a dog with a largely expressionless face and permanent frown can look.

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It’s all contained in the eyes and ears with Boris.

He can’t wag (he has no tail) and he doesn’t pant or open his mouth much – but after a while you can definitely tell when he’s in a good mood. His ears swivel slightly, his eyelids lift a little and when he likes you he sits on your foot to keep his bottom warm and dry.

I do rather like the little guy.

I also like walking in the rain – which is fortuitous because the only way we were going to get any exercise in Memorial Park today was under the cover of umbrellas.

The absolutely best thing about weather like this is that the world looks truly lovely. It’s all fresh, green, and you have it to yourself.

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I really felt like I had to do more than normal today.

I needed to somehow be faster, go further – or to climb something. This is mostly because currently my appetite seems to be swinging back and forth like a pendulum and exercise appears to be the only way to suppress or control it. I appear to be alternating between moments where I’m ravenously hungry and days where I don’t think of food at all.

In both instances I’ve been trying to make good choices – because I’m increasingly aware that in a couple of days I weigh in for the first time in two weeks and I’m more than a little nervous about what the result will be.

So much so that as soon as I got home I immediately hopped on my exercise bike whilst chatting to my dad who sat nearby. He’s staying with me for a few days at the moment and I’ve been trying to gently persuade him that he should get bike of his own.

I (much to my surprise) managed to convince him to hop on my own after I’d finished and showed him via the wonders of a heart rate monitor and the readout on the bike what kind of activity he would need to do to burn 100kcal.

In my Dad’s case, freewheeling on the bike with no resistance for 15-20 minutes or so did that.

I then showed him the kcal values on the food he’d just been eating and together we began to join the mysterious dots between energy consumed, energy burned – and finally energy stored. It sounds really obvious – but until you realise exactly what it takes to burn off a bag of tasty crispbreads you’re unlikely to think twice about putting them in your mouth.

It worked for me – although it took quite a while to face up to the painful reality of this – but when you do it’s a great way to motivate yourself to eat more filling foods with a lower salt, fat or sugar content.

In my own case nevertheless I’m still unsure what will happen on Saturday.

On paper the results should be good. I’ve done a lot of exercise (I burned 5500 kcal climbing Snowdon alone) but that in itself doesn’t necessarily mean that my weight will go down. Sometimes the opposite has been true – and radically increased workouts have occasionally resulted in static figures on the scales.

Needless to say at the moment (because I’m preoccupied with this) vegetables are very popular in my house. I’ve been having lots of salads, stir fry vegetables, fish, lean chicken, fresh fruit and basically anything that’s speedy or free on Slimming World’s plan.

There are some days though where the cooking is out of your control – and you are at the mercy of an unknown chef in an unknown place. All you can do then is make educated guesses and hope for the best.

Unusually I texted my Slimming World consultant tonight because of this and asked for help. There was a family meal planned at a nearby Peking and Cantonese restaurant (The Emperors in Leamington Spa) and I’ve hardly eaten out at all in place like this since I started my plan last April.

She was (as always) very helpful – and as well as a few personal tips directed me to a members only part of the Slimming World site (which I’d missed by not logging in) that gave some low syn suggestions for eating out:

  • Chinese cuisine provides loads of meaty choices! Tuck into a 160g serving of barbecue spare ribs (about 4 ribs) for 8½ Syns, or for just 8½ Syns* enjoy beef with mushrooms. There are chicken dishes galore with chicken in oyster sauce at 6½ Syns*, chicken and black bean sauce (7½ Syns*) chicken and mushrooms (9½ Syns*). If you fancy rice with your dishes, boiled rice is Free!
  • Rice and noodle dishes make excellent options. A serving of chicken chop suey with noodles is 9½ Syns*. For a veggie option, stir-fried mixed vegetables are 10½ Syns*. Top up with loads of Free boiled rice for a Chinese banquet.

Armed with this info I ordered a ‘sizzling chicken and black bean sauce‘ from the menu when I got there, along with some steamed rice.

Frankly it looked lovely when it arrived with all of the other food, and thankfully tasted just as delicious.

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Everyone seemed to agree that whatever they’d decided to order was cooked to perfection, and apart from some rice being left on the table (there was a massive bowl to share) everyone’s plate was clean by the end of the night.

The only thing left was to indulge in something naughty – so we called for the drinks list.

When it arrived I scanned quickly up and down. My favourite wasn’t listed!

I looked again. Baileys, Cointreau, Sambuca….

Nope – it’s not there!

I asked the waitress.

She nodded knowingly and scribbled on her little notepad.

I needn’t have worried. They were prepared for my one remaining vice!

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Everything is right with the world when you add coffee.

It’s also right internet when you manage remain on plan – even when you feel like eating the furniture in an unfamiliar setting. It’s even righter-er when the evil little chocolate mint that they’ve given you remains on side of the saucer as you walk away with a self satisfied smile on your face.

Davey

Snowdon epilogue

There are lots of after effects when you do something negative in life – and over the years I’ve carried around more than my fair share of regret about lots of things I’ve done – or (more often) not done.

Right up until the day she died my mother was trapped inside memories of her past, and consumed by bitterness about people she believed had somehow slighted her or opportunities that she felt had been denied. 

I always viewed her as someone very different to myself – as unlike me she regretted nothing and everything bad that had happened in her life was simply someone else’s fault – until one day, when the universe held a mirror up to my face and I unexpectedly saw a reflection of her looking back at me.

I realise once again as I type that 18 months after she died I’m still coming to terms with what her passing means to me and the ways that she affected me both in life and death. 

Although I blamed no one but myself just like her I’d become trapped by inaction and my own addictions. She smoked – whereas I ate and drank. 

However I had instead become stuck in the present rather than the past. I lived my life a day at a time with no promise of a different future and little hope for change.

Today (I write this on Monday 24th in the early afternoon) I feel invigorated by the after effects of cumulatively positive choices. I’m crackling with energy and a sense of personal renewal. 

Although my muscles ache from my activities over the last few days I barely notice the pain at the moment because I’m looking at a brighter horizon than I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

One of the things that I never mentioned in my Snowdon posts was the different emotional tones of the ascent and descent. On the way up we were surrounded by energetic and predominantly youthful climbers who (mostly) were powering up the slopes and leaving us in their dust. 

There were also lots of ‘hello’s’ with people and little chats about which way was the best route to make swift progress.

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On the way down we saw group after group walking with purpose, wearing bright tee shirts proclaiming that they were climbing the mountain because of the loss of a loved one – or for a charity. We overheard snapshots of tale after tale as we passed people during our descent – but almost all were along the lines of ‘if you feel tired then think of (…) he would have loved the view and been so happy today’.

I walked by one woman on her way up as she was describing the tumour in a loved one’s head and how it was growing uncontrollably. One of her companions put a hand briefly on her shoulder as I passed.

Another child shortly after, holding her mom’s hand clambered by me enthusiastically rattling a small pink plastic bucket full of change with a picture of someone sellotaped to the side.

One man was making his way slowly up in silence on crutches.

They were all walking to remember lost loved ones, those still fighting to stay alive or trying to make sense of tragedy by doing something good that might prevent it happening again in the future.

When I got to the bottom of the mountain at the time I could only think about how much my muscles hurt – and the day after I was just overwhelmingly happy about having finally climbed Snowdon after a year of saying I would.

Now I’m home and reflecting on my time away I can’t help but notice how alive I feel – and how precious life is. It’s meant to be lived and I intend to take advantage of it every day that I can until I die.

I think that I partially feel this way so acutely because in many respects I feel like I’ve had my own near death experience.

I don’t mean to be over dramatic or attention grabbing. I’ve not stepped out of the path of a speeding train or fallen from a great height and survived – but when I break my past down those examples are kind of what’s happened to me – but in slow motion.

Not so long ago I was hastening my death – and without realising it I was doing it by becoming just like the last person in the world that I wanted to be compared to.

Then it hits me. 

Just like the little child with the pink bucket I was walking up that mountain because of a loss. Although I didn’t realise it at the time every step was taken in my mother’s memory because the moment of change that made it possible came to me when I was looking into her eyes. 

She never meant to give it – but it was her final parting gift to me. 

I’m not sure why that transformative spark arrived when it did. I’m not even sure that if I was faced with the same circumstances again on a different day that I’d have come to the same conclusion. I don’t know how to fix anyone else and generally I don’t always know how to fix myself – but I’m glad that a random selection of electrical impulses and memories collided in my brain at just the right moment and conspired to give me my life back.

The only thing that I know for sure about myself these days as everything about me changes physically and mentally is that I want to continue to be better.

Today someone contacted me privately and showed me their half a stone slimming world certificate. ‘I just wanted to show you this…’ they said ‘… I finally did it!’

It made me smile from ear to ear. That person had found their own moment in time to move forward and taken the crucial first few steps to begin. 

A week ago another person messaged me to say they’d made a significant change in their life that would dramatically improve their health. On and off we’d been talking about this for some time and a few days ago they found the strength and courage to be who they wanted to be in life – and to cast off their self imposed burdens.

I realise now that I’ve heard a lot of stories like this over the last year and a half – and the greatest gift I’ve received from sharing my progress (or occasional lack of it) hasn’t just been the generous (and often humbling) personal support that people have given me – but the energising and empowering shared tales of personal battles with their own demons.

Each and every single one of us is free to be the absolute best versions of ourselves that it’s possible to be. All it takes is one little moment where enough is enough and you decide to do something different. 

So internet – I can’t tell you how to spark change because I don’t know – but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that you can climb your own personal mountain.

Whatever it is.

However long it takes you to get there.

Regardless of how you feel now.

Life can be better than you can possibly imagine if you want it to be.

Davey

Snowdonia part 3

(We continue our adventures in Wales with the final part – number three)

The evening after climbing Snowdon was unexpectedly painful. I’d expected my legs to hurt, but quite without warning when we got back to the hotel room after dinner something in my lower back went into a spasm and I was suddenly in real pain.

I ended up temporarily on my knees (quite literally) at the side of my bed trying to alleviate the discomfort – and thought I’d done myself a real injury. I’ve had problems with my lower back in the past and it still troubles me from time to time. After spraying on embrocation and taking paracetamol and ibuprofen it was still agony, however I was so tired that I fell fast asleep flat on my back shortly after (I couldn’t do that a year and a half ago!) and awoke several hours later feeling absolutely (and quite surprisingly) fine.

As well as my miraculous back recovery my legs weren’t the tortured pins of agony I was expecting them to be – and although I had some cramp when I moved around and they un-siezed I definitely had life left in them.

I’d set my alarm for 7am so that we could get down to the main hotel for breakfast. We’d missed it due to our early start the previous day – and upon arrival when I saw the choice I wasn’t disappointed. There were many slimming friendly options and I chose to have (to start) berries and natural yogurt with a couple prunes and peach slices sprinkled with a dessert spoonful of muesli.

The waiter then took an order for the main breakfast and I went for a poached egg with some smoked haddock – which arrived cooked to perfection. I left feeling pleasantly satisfied, but not overly full and we busied ourselves with getting ready to check out.

I have to be honest – I didn’t want to leave.

It seemed like a complete injustice to go home after just two nights with so much still just aching to be explored. Thankfully there was plenty of time left in the day and neither myself or my companion planned to waste it.

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As I handed our keys in at reception I enquired whether or not it was ok to leave the car in front of the hotel for a few hours whilst we wandered off to explore a little more. One of the guests at breakfast had mentioned to me that by the road in front of the hotel there was a gate leading to a river side walk and a nearby copper mine (that I’d mentioned to him) that might be of interest.

Both me and my companion (who was also not completely crippled) felt pretty game for another walk so we made our way to the river.

This was a lovely shady (and well maintained) path to the nearby visitor attraction – and it was extremely relaxing to watch the fast moving (and quite swollen) river rushing past us as we twalked the morning away.

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Before long we arrived at the mine – very very early for a Sunday – and we realised that we were pretty much the only ones there!

 

Instead of paying for a tour (it wasn’t that expensive it turned out later – £8.50 each) we decided to follow some of the marked walks nearby and initially started making our way up the mountain. However I think we took a wrong turn somewhere as the trail abruptly stopped at what turned out to be the exit to the mine’s guided tour and a rather lovely panoramic view.

At the exit to the mine was a gated metal turnstile – and inquisitively I checked whether it locked if you tried to go in. It turned out that it wasn’t – so (a bit cheekily) we had a look inside.

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There wasn’t a lot to see at the end of the mine tour – just a really long tunnel – and we decided not to venture too far in (there were loads of signs about wearing hard hats and I’m not the type to needlessly tempt fate) but it was amazing just how much water was pouring out of the rock and how the temperature plummeted within just a few feet of the entrance.

Both my companion and I absolutely s**t ourselves when we turned the corner at the end of this long corridor and saw a mannequin behind a mine cart. In the dark the dummy looked real and he was staring right at us!

We headed (briskly) back outside into the warm sunshine and down past the visitor centre to see what else there was to do. Both of us still felt a bit crampy – but a flat stroll along the river to a nearby lake a mile or so away seemed like a nice alternative to the cold and wet mine.

We headed off along the route to see what was at the end.

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As we made our way along the bank we saw a marshall in a high visibility vest standing by a gate. I said hello to him, but oddly he just looked at me, so we carried on. By the side of the path were occasional markers where someone had tied polythene signs saying ‘this way’.

We ignored them for the time being and continued along the peaceful path that wound it’s way along the valley.

It didn’t take long before we reached Llyndy Isaf – which is a large lake surrounded by woods, waterfalls and small boat houses. As we arrived a family with children were taking advantage of the opportunity for a free dip and there were a group of young boys all splashing about and having fun.

It seemed like a nice place to take a few ‘this is me and I’m here’ photos so we stopped for a moment to indulge in vanity!

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Nearby there was the sound of rushing water, and there was a small stream that was feeding the lake.

We pushed our way through the bracken, hopped over a couple of rocks in the river and found ourselves in a lovely secluded little spot by a waterfall. If there was ever a place for a picnic in an idyllic location then this was it!

It was by now though (as we made our way back over the little stream and onto the path again) that we realised what the Marshall was staring at us for. The quiet, unspoiled walking paradise that we’d been ambling through was part of the route for a race from Llanberis to Snowdon.

Initially we’d seen a couple of (unrealistically fit and very muddy) runners flying past – but all of a sudden there were literally hundreds of them in small groups, meaning that we had to walk single file and keep stopping as they flew past us with various pained expressions.

After a while it got quite annoying, so when we saw a large stile over a wall that lead up the hillside into the forest we jumped at the chance to explore.

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As this wound up the incline we realised that this wasn’t really a walking path as such – but more of an trodden route through tree roots and over boulders. It wasn’t an easy walk – but it was interesting and quieter than walking through a stampede.

After about 20 minutes of making our way up the hill – we found ourselves on the site of an old derelict stone cottage of some kind. There were three outlines of what looked like three very old buildings (clearly built before people thought windows were a cool idea) and we decided to have a look.

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As we got closer it seemed that occasionally this place had seen a few campfires and there was evidence that someone had maybe toasted a few marshmallows – but otherwise it was an idyllic little oasis of green and calm half way up a hillside and completely hidden from view by the canopy of trees.

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After looking around for a while we carried on up the hill – but things started to get a lot more overgrown and slippy.

Given that neither of us were completely fresh after climbing Snowdon the day before and hadn’t brought anything with us we decided that it was sensible to turn around – and instead to make our way back to the hotel and car to munch on our packed lunches.

There was after all still the little matter of a three and half hour drive home to contend with…

As we strolled back the torrents of runners just kept coming – and we even tried (and failed) to walk along the opposite bank of the river (there was a bridge next to the lake) in an attempt to get away from them. Sadly this just resulted in getting jammed up in head high bracken, but it made us laugh the whole way through, and we were still smiling as we once again crossed the river back onto the path full of runners.

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Soon we were back at the hotel – and upon arrival we were greeted by the cutest and friendliest Staffordshire bull terrier who was sunning herself by the front door. She loved a good fuss and lots of patting and questions about ‘who’s a good girl?’

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Strangely there was no answer – and  this question remains an enigma.

I popped to the loo and then myself and my companion sat outside for a while on the garden furniture munching on our boiled eggs, apples and muesli bars, drinking in the scenery one last time.

It had been the perfect end to a pretty perfect little holiday.

According to Apple Watch we’d both walked 28.5 miles in three days – and most of those were over some kind of gradient.

Now all that remains is to find out next weekend whether this has helped me lose any more pounds! I’ve tried to be good – but at the same time, boy did I have an appetite after our riverside walk.

The rest of this week will be all about getting back into the swing of normal exercise, cooking meals, not eating things out of packets and wrappers and making forward progress.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Snowdonia experience internet – I know I certainly did!!!

If anyone fancies doing the same I really really recommend these guys – https://www.hfholidays.co.uk which owned the hotel we stayed at. Although we stayed there on a B&B basis only (paying less because of that) the other guests were getting the ‘whole’ experience with guided tours of the area and a variety of walking excursions each day.

(I’m not selling their services – nor do I get commission – they’re just nice people!)

Davey

 

Snowdonia part 2

(The story so far)

Our intrepid hero was lying in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar hotel room listening to the gentle snoring of his friend on the mezzanine level above him and unable to sleep because he was very excited. He was about to climb a mountain.

But not just any mountain – Snowdon!!!

(and now – our feature presentation continues!)

My alarm started beeping at 5.30am – the time both my companion and I agreed to get up and make a start. We’d heard that parking was something of a hassle at Pen Y Pass, which was the start of the ‘Miner’s Track‘, and where we were beginning our assault on Snowdon.

Pretty much all of the packing had been done the night before – and we’d both prepared for every eventuality. In each of our packs we had emergency first aid (including foil blankets and duct tape), food (I had 5 x pressed fruit bars and a 200g bag of fruit and nut totalling around 1600kcal), 2 litres of water, waterproof over clothes, an emergency whistle, plasters… (the list went on).

In addition to this I was also taking a lightweight mac, a jumper, a spare tee-shirt, spare pants, socks, a wooly hat, gloves, walking poles, a camera, my mobile phone, and a battery charger plus cables.

It’s fair to say the packs were heavy – but contained what we felt were sensible items to bring along. The weather was forecast to be changeable later in the day and we didn’t want to be stuck without important stuff.

We opened the door and marvelled at the morning. The sky was a clear blue and the sun was just coming up. A mist was rolling along the valley and everything was cool and fresh. It looked awesome!

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We arrived at the car park at 6.50am – a little later than we’d planned and boy were we lucky! We managed to snag the last parking space! It was a really tight one that no-one seemed to want – but my friend still managed to thread the needle and fit it in with a little room to spare.

We headed off.

Given the torrential conditions the day before (link) it was pretty surprising that the weather (there were dire predictions all week leading up to Saturday) was so nice. As we headed out there was almost no-one around either, and the path (apart from the occasional runner) was almost completely deserted.

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For those that have never walked the Miner’s Track, the first 2/3rds of it is a well maintained trail that ascends very gradually along 3 small lakes (with some rougher, steeper steps) and then becomes quite challenging.

We were making surprisingly brisk progress to begin with – and I was initially unsure whether bringing the walking poles was a good idea. They seemed like a useless nuisance to begin with – but I persisted – trying to match my stride with my arms.

By 7.20am we’d reached the first lake – which was crystal clear and completely serene.

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We were both feeling a bit warmer now, as the sun was getting higher – and carried on up the largely deserted path that wound its way along the hillsides climbing slowly further up.

Before long in the distance we could see the tip of a little building. There are a few of these along the way – and all by the lakes, so they’re a good visual indicator of progress. If you see one in the distance then you’re nearly there.

And then we were! At 7.40 am the second lake sprang into view – and the weather seemed to be continuously improving!

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We were making very good time at this point and saw no reason to stop for a break, so we powered on.

After the second lake the path started to rise more sharply, and moved from being a flatter, gravelled surface to one that was made from larger stones (almost like a roman road). I looked at Apple Watch and my pulse had now climbed from the low 90’s to around 122. This was now feeling a bit more like exercise!

By the time we reached the third lake it was 8.30am and I was drenched. Although my lightweight mac was keeping me warm it was also making me a boil in the bag meal – so I tied it to the back of my pack along with my wooly hat, and carried on with just my tee-shirt – which was nice and cool in the breeze.

This was where the hill became a mountain, and the climbing became more technical. Although there was a rough path ahead through assorted rocks and loose stone it was now less than obvious which way to go – and it was possible to head up what looked like easy rocks only to be headed off by a more challenging step – and in a couple of cases I turned around and tried a different route.

This was really hard work.

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It took a while to get up this first part – and it’s at this point where the ‘Pyg track‘ and ‘Miners Track‘ intersect. It was also at this point that both my companion and I began to wonder whether or not we’d brought too much stuff.

There were a couple of times that while hopping from rock to rock I felt myself tipping backwards, and it wasn’t a pleasant sensation. We decided to sit down for a while on a nearby boulder and have our first rest stop. It was now 9.25am.

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As I sat munching my first two pressed fruit bars of the day and drinking my water I noticed a visitor sitting next to me. Normally his kind are camera shy, but this guy appeared to rather like the attention and was watching me intently – in the hope I had spare food.

He even made absolutely sure he kept in shot for my panorama video and gave me a special take off shot too!

After a short while (and maybe a little reluctantly – the view was great) we decided to move on.

If I’d thought the worst was behind me I was dead wrong. Even though the surface was less uneven, and the rocks less likely to move beneath you the climb was both steep and challenging. The walking poles had by now already come into their own and they were a godsend for balance and a sense of security.

Without them I think I’d have been pretty nervous in some places.

Although I’ve lost a lot of weight I’m still far from nimble – and I felt that now I was slowing down a lot. However, in the distance (at the top, middle of this pic) I could see the crest of the path. The (almost) end was in sight!

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After some more slow but persistent climbing I reached the coin marker (a post with a mass of copper coins jammed into it by climbers – I know not why!) near to the crest and stopped to take a photo of the view below. Because of the angle of the first lake only two can be seen together – but it’s still a spectacular sight.

It was now 10.15am.

I turned around – there wasn’t far to go – and if I managed to get to the top quickly I could send my Slimming World group (which normally starts at 10.30) a pic to prove that I’d done it!

Then, with a second wind of energy we soon hopped over the crest, to a wonderful view of the valley the other side of Snowdon, and the mountain railway passing on it’s way down to Llanberis.

The view was too nice not to stop and take a picture – so we took a moment to drink in the surroundings and record it for posterity!

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However there was still more to climb – and in the distance I could see the monument we needed to reach – and it was crawling with people.

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We carried on up the increasingly large steps – and I looked continually at my watch. I could still send Angie and others a picture if I was quick.

Then, at 10.52 – after four hours we stood at the summit, 1035m above sea level with a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

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I’m not going to lie – I was expecting this to be quite emotional – but by now I was more interested in having a wee, sitting down and having something to eat! It’s amazing how your priorities shift after four solid hours of strenuous exercise!

Thankfully next to the monument is a cafe and after going to the loo (ohmygoshthatwassoooooogreat!) eating (nomnomnomnomnom!) and a quick change of upper clothing (sowarmandcosynowitssnugandlovely!) we sat outside to admire the view, send some more texts and selfies to people and agree upon which route we were going to take back down.

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We’d planned well in advance that taking the (supposedly) easier Llanberis Path back down would mean less knee and quadricep pain – but we’d almost changed our mind during the ascent. However things had again changed quite quickly. The miner’s track was a known quanitity, but it was now completely besieged by hordes of people going in both directions, and the narrow, more challenging sections of the route seemed like a scary prospect with heavy packs.

We decided to opt for the safer, but longer way down, in the hope things would work out well.  The weather was also clouding over a bit now and rain had been forecast for later in the day.

We headed off at about 12pm.

Well – we now know that safe and steady in terms of heading down a mountain also means ‘utterly endless quadricep torture with some occasionally nice views’.

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By 12.30pm I was already beginning to feel the burn and relying even more heavily on the walking poles as the first 1/3 of the descent to Llanberis is pretty darn steep. By 1pm I badly needed to sit down, and we both agreed it was time to chill for a while and admire the view.

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It’s also around about here that my friend revealed a startling ability to ‘vogue’ for the camera – and displayed what I thought was initially a high altitude stroke but learned moments later that it was actually a particularly stubborn fart that required some enhanced concentration to shift.

Thank goodness for a mountain breeze!

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Following this moment this my photographic documentation of the walk became a lot more spotty – and after an unbelievably arduous and leg shredding hike down to a bus stop that never seemed to arrive (to get back to the car) during some driving rain at 3.30pm we eventually (wearing full waterproofs) reached a small cafe and a Taxi rank at the end of the Llanberis Path.

Honestly at this point I would have signed over a kidney to someone if they would make the pain in my legs stop and I wasn’t alone. Both of us were broken and the prospect of moving another inch was unconscionable.

We’d walked almost 10 miles up and over Snowdon to get to where we were and neither of us wanted to take a single step further.

We gladly stumped up £15 for the taxi to take us back to the start of our walk and at exactly 4pm – a gruelling nine hours after we started we climbed out of the taxi and onto the tarmac of Pen Y Pass.

I could have frankly married the cab driver – and borne his children.

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Amazingly – despite grumbling for much of the way about the weight of the packs we’d taken (they were a stone and a half each) we’d used almost every item we brought with us. It was all useful – and in retrospect made me marvel at the lady we passed wandering up the mountain in a thin summer dress and flat bottomed deck shoes.

I bet she got soaked!

Finally, through a superhuman feat of physical prowess that was probably only manageable by a woman (I was reliably informed) my friend drove the 20 minutes back to the hotel, where we each had a really well deserved shower and lie down for an hour.

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We were absolutely shattered.

I can’t honestly ever remember being that destroyed in recent memory – but as I lay on the bed I realised how proud I felt of both of us and what we’d achieved.

I’d been worried all day long about what I was eating – insistent that I didn’t want to over indulge in energy rich processed foods and destroy all my good work – and it occurred to me once again how much my life has changed.

I was paranoid about eating any kind of unknown food in a wrapper or large bags of nuts because I’m so unused to it now. They’re no longer in my dietary lexicon.

I’m so different to the man that I used to be in April 2016 and climbing Snowdon was a watershed.

It’s a moment in time that no-one can take away from me.

This is something I planned for, worked towards, that I lost fifteen stone of fat to achieve and I deserve to feel great about.

And I do.

I REALLY do.

I did treat myself a little though.

I had a baked potato with tuna and mayo and coleslaw with mayo later that evening (we went back to the cafe from the night before) which I’d never normally do.

I did leave the butter to one side though – one can’t go crazy after all…

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Did I feel guilty?

Hell no internet! I totally deserved that spud! I really really worked for it!!!

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Davey

P.S. Tune in tomorrow for the final Part 3!!!

Snowdonia part 1

It’s 4.22am and I’m lying in the dark typing on my phone. The dim screen illuminates the pillow and sheet of my unfamiliar bed but little else of my surroundings.

I should be asleep but I’m not. I’m really excited – and not for my usual reasons. Today is Saturday and I’m like a cat on hot bricks at the best of times when I’m about to weigh in – however for the first time in around 64 weeks running I’m not going to group to stand on the scales. 

I’m climbing Snowdon in a couple of hours.

On paper when my friend and I arrived in Wales yesterday we couldn’t have chosen a worse time to come. There had been heavy rain all day long. The advance weather forecast had been poor for days and by the time we arrived in Snowdonia the water was cascading down the roads in torrents.

We had arrived a little earlier than planned for check in and as we stood in the porch way of the hotel watching the downpour slow or quicken and at the surrounding view.

The weather couldn’t spoil this location. It. Looked. Lovely.


There’s something about Wales when it’s wet. It just looks right. Over the years that I used to live in this part of the country I really began to appreciate just how lush and verdant it seems to be both during and after a good downpour. It’s like everything has been cleansed and renewed.

We found our room, which was one of a row of lovely little terraced cottages behind the hotel. It looked quite small from the outside, but inside the space had been used really well and it had a really cool split mezzanine level with a bright and airy feel to it.


As the headroom was restricted up top and my companion is a little shorter I got the bottom bed – which was actually quite firm and comfy with no creaks or odd noises. I hate unfamiliar beds at the best of times (I’m still paranoid about breaking them) but this seemed reasuringly sturdy.

After stowing our gear and getting changed we decided to explore. As it was still bucketing it down this was also a great opportunity to test out our waterproof trousers!

Just around the back of the (national trust) hotel there was a tempting looking little path that we’d driven past on the way in and we decided to go and have a look.

By the time we reached the gate and steps leading to the start it was hammering it down with rain – but that’s what waterproofs are for right?!

It turned out that what we’d chosen to explore was the most wonderful little woodland trails through leafy and intimate green groves which together combined to wind their way up the side of one of the larger hills of the valley above the hotel.

Initially it was quite impossible to see a view of how high we were getting – but occasionally through the trees we’d just about see another perspective of the landscape that showed how far up we’d walked.


In many places it seemed that we were continually walking in a fast flowing stream, as the water was cascading down the hill towards us. At times it was deep mud underfoot  – at others just a gravel river bed – but so far so good.

Nothing up to this point was too slippery or boggy to stop us.


Then, almost without warning the path opened out into a beautiful – and seemingly forgotten little oasis (it wasn’t lost – but it was easy to imagine it being in a jungle somewhere!).

The moss seemed to be consuming every surface in sight as it crept slowly over it’s sheltered domain. The tree roots were also high up on the ground and snaking their way through, under and over the old stone walls that lined the route.


One could be forgiven for expecting to see a Buddhist temple around the next corner – but instead nature had something better waiting for us.

Swollen by the rain, and further up the hill was a fantastic and fast flowing little waterfall.



After taking a few videos and pictures we carried on further up to see if we could get to the top – not knowing exactly where the path would end.


At the end of around 45 minutes of gentle exploring we emerged from under the tree canopy into a large open hillside full of bracken. Almost on cue the clouds and mist began to clear just enough to see the view that we’d been missing up until then.

It was worth the soaking and mud covered boots – and looked glorious.


We sat on a large, tall bench at this viewpoint for a while, with our legs dangling in the air, swinging our feet back and forth as the rain continued.


It’s impossible for weather to do anything to dampen the spirits in a place like this though. Something just feels right about the world when you’re sitting on the top of a hill looking down at creation.

By this point we’d worked up quite an appetite with our long drive and walk – and decided that it was time to go looking for a meal.

From a Slimming World perspective I’d been very careful early that day to make sure I’d not gone into an ‘I’m not weighing in and I’m on holiday mode‘.

To this end I’d awoken really early on Friday and prepared some Tupperware containers with lots of vegetables and fruit to munch on during the journey – but this would only go so far – so we drove back towards the nearby Beddgelert to see what was available.


Most of the food on offer was typical pub fayre – with chips or mashed potato and lots of fried things. They all sounded lovely on the various menus we looked at – and there were lots of happy punters tucking into lasagne, sausages or plates of steak and chips.

I didn’t fancy over indulging and feeling bad afterwards though – and since my companion was happy to keep exploring we kept on investigating what the little village had to offer until we found a small cafe, tucked away behind the pubs.


Here I found a good compromise and the waitress was happy to let me swap out the pitta bread on these chicken kebab skewers (served with minted natural yogurt and a side salad) for a healthier (and free) baked potato.

My companion couldn’t resist the chips – which I was assured were also lovely! They certainly smelt it.


When we finally emerged from the homely little cafe (both feeling quite satisfied) the sun was beginning to set.

We walked back to the car, chatting about what we planned to take in our packs and how early we needed to arrive at our destination to start. There was a lot still to plan and pack for, which we did as soon as we got back.

Finally – it was time for an early night – but would I sleep?


No. No didn’t – but I was still full of energy and raring to go!

Tune in later internet for part two!

Davey

Falling pianos

Something that I (shamefully) used to say to close friends and relatives was that I fully expected to die in the very near future, and that I was resigned to never reaching a pensionable age.

The odds related to my weight seemed to support my often bleak approach to life and I was in retrospect doing everything humanly possible to ensure that this was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As surely as if I’d hopped into my bath with a toaster I was killing myself – but ironically I could no longer fit in it – with or without electrical appliances because I’d instead chosen the slower ‘death by eating and alcohol abuse’ approach.

To my eternal shame I remember saying all this to someone with cancer and instantly thinking to myself how perverse my attitude to life had become. I was throwing good health away on a whim whilst someone close to me was fighting to stay alive.

Even then I failed to change. 

That came later.

In the meantime I actively avoided going to see my doctor (if at all possible) and buried my head in the sand about multiple developing health issues. However, despite my glib attitude to what I then thought was an inevitable future (that I ‘knew‘ would happen with absolute certainty) I was as much in denial as it’s possible for a man to be about the reality of how my end would probably come.

I may not have died like John Candy did (at his reportedly heaviest weight of 325lbs he was around ten stone lighter than me when I started Slimming World at 485lbs) which was quickly, of a heart attack, in his sleep at around the same age as me.

I’d be just as likely to suffer for a long time with ever decreasing mobility, joint pain, sleep apnoea, insomnia, incontinence, diabetic fogginess, wrecked knees, oedemas swelling my legs, deteriorating eyesight from retinopathy etc etc. The list goes on and on, and it still upsets me to think about it. I experienced all of the above to some extent by the time I had reached nearly 35 stone.

Despite being a really happy person now I’m often still pulled back to the past by unexpected feelings or events. In these moments I feel intense anger about what I used to do to myself – or at the very least have a burning sense of wasted opportunity and regrets over a life not fully lived.

I ruminate on this a lot when I’m twalking with friends. It’s good to explore these feeling and (in doing so) to somehow purge them. I started writing firstly because I wanted a record of who I was but also to excise the pain that I felt both emotionally and physically as I pored it out onto the page.

I still use this blog primarily as a diary and it’s partly why I’m so honest despite regularly having the opposite impulse. I started writing this post a few days ago but couldn’t bring myself to publish it. I don’t aways want to tell people about my more introspective moments – but if I lie then I feel that I betray only myself. The memories that my posts contain continually get used as fuel to push me forward. Once they’re out there in public I can’t deny or ignore them, and have to follow through on my convictions.

However – although I’m doing well emotionally these days it’s physically where I came from still bothers me. One of the things that’s always in the back of my mind is what might be lying in wait for me underneath my skin.

Over the years I’ve done a lot of awful things to my body and there’s always the possibility that my past smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, crappy diet or even my genetics are still going to me cause problems in later life. I know that to an extent I can’t control this. I can only try to be a better man from now on.

The thing is – I don’t just want to live a longer life – I want to live a fitter and more active one – and I’m determined to keep getting better in every respect that I can.

There is a part of me however that thinks that if the universe had a sense of humour similar to my own it will probably drop a piano on me the same day that I reach my target weight just to prove that I got away with nothing and that everything has a consequence

I live in hope though.

My health is very good lately – and unlike my ‘previous life’ I recently promised myself that I would go to the doctor for a check up if anything seemed untoward now that I’m on the right track.

Currently something seems a little off and has been for about a month.

I keep getting what seems to be (according to my online research) postural hypotension – which is a really light headed feeling and dizziness when standing up from being seated or bending down.

This is currently annoying more than anything else and usually passes quickly – but a couple of times I’ve had to hold onto something to stop myself from falling backwards. Amongst my immediate peer group it seems that I’m not alone in experiencing this – and from what they’ve said most people I know have this from time to time.

However part of my brain (a paranoid and worrisome bit tucked away in the dark at the back) is wondering if this is nature calling time on my energetic fun and telling me that there’s something that I’ve not managed to fix with my new lifestyle.

When I had my blood pressure checked in January 2014 it was 140/77. I didn’t think much of it at the time (my doctor said simply that it was a ‘little high’) but looking it up I know now that this is stage one hypertension (high blood pressure) and that if left unchecked it has some pretty serious implications.

During the pre-testing before my last diabetic review in March 2017 it had dropped to 124/70 – (which is a really good range to be in) but yesterday when I went to the doctor to discuss this phenomenon I appeared to be on the slightly lower end of normal at 110/70.

This in itself is not cause for concern and it also isn’t necessarily the reason for what’s happening – so I have to have a supplementary blood test booked in a couple of weeks (there’s a waiting list as usual).

My friend asked me as we walked around Brandon Woods (talking about this unpublished post) yesterday ‘Do you normally suffer with low blood pressure?’

I had no answer. It’s impossible for me to say.

My body is (currently) always changing and I no longer have any idea of what ‘normal’ feels like. Everything is always new to me and I’m learning day by day as I get fitter and smaller what it does when it’s no longer encumbered by excess fat and expending all it’s energy on retaining equilibrium.

Do I ‘naturally’ have a pre-disposition to this?

Who knows? I certainly don’t.

On the plus side my blood work is going to be a full one to check my kidney function (problems here can apparently lead to these symptoms) my cholesterol and my glucose levels (HbA1c).

From what I read on the NHS Choices website slightly lower blood pressure isn’t necessarily a bad thing though – and I have quite a long way to go before it’s actually considered low:

‘As a general guide, low blood pressure is a reading below 90/60. If you have low blood pressure according to this guide, you don’t need to worry. Naturally low blood pressure rarely causes symptoms or needs treatment. Having low blood pressure is considered healthy because it protects you from the risks and diseases of high blood pressure.’

So – I’m probably worrying about nothing – and I went to the doctor just to be sure I was fit and healthy – but I as I explore here why it’s on my mind so much I realise that my underlying fear that something might be amiss is because I now love life. 

I have moved from not caring at all about dying (and in some respects wanting it to happen just to end the cycle that I was trapped in) to clinging onto my newfound vitality as tightly as I can so that I can experience everything that I missed when I didn’t have it.

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Each moment has become incredibly precious.

If anything internet it’s a good thing being reminded of mortality and the fact that you’re not superhuman. It ensures that there’s always a reason to keep trying – even if your less energetic inner voice would prefer to sit on the sofa.

On that note I need to go to bed…

Davey

Brandon Marsh

I’ve been in gentle exploration mode today – with the emphasis on stopping to look at things rather than clambering over stuff and moving quickly.

Although I’d originally planned a return trip to Ilmington Downs today (original visit here) for some hill based cardio exercise I’m still being troubled by some stubborn blisters on my left foot from over two weeks ago – and despite having a day here or there where I do a bit less to promote healing (and using some fancy plasters) they don’t seem to be shifting easily. Annoyingly others appear to be joining the party – which isn’t really helped by me buying some 2nd hand walking boots from eBay.

These are not the cause of my current blisters – but I need to wear them and get used to them at a time when my feet don’t want to be in boots at all.

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Tread wise they seem hardly used – and the soles are very comfy – however the left foot appears to have part of the inner membrane above the toes slightly twisted, making the boot feel a little cramped compared to the right one. They were 1/3 of the cost of the same pair new though, so I guess beggars can’t be choosers!

On the plus side the leather is supple enough for them to not require much ‘breaking in’ and so far they seem to be quite servicable. They need to be. I have big plans for them in the near future. So – in order to minimise any further poking of the ‘blister bear’ (blister bear doesn’t like being poked) today my companion and I went for a leisurely stroll at yet another place I’ve not been to before.

Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve and the nearby Brandon Woods.

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I’m beginning to wonder just how many locations there are like this that I’ve never been to. I’ve been exploring my local area for a while now and Warwickshire appears to continually throw up new (to me at least) and cool little spaces full of life and interest.

The nature reserve is one of those places however where teeny tiny bits of wildlife are completely missable if you don’t take the time to stop and look.

Take this little guy for instance. He’s about 1cm across and is teeny tiny.

I only just avoided stepping on him as he hopped across the path in front of me.

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Shortly after meeting him we stopped at one of the hides along the way – and looked for a while at all of the serene water birds just going about their business. There’s a pretty varied bunch here – and it’s really calming just watching swans and other birds float past your seat.

After sitting just tantalisingly out of reach for a while (I need a longer zoom lens!!!) from the really interesting species we moved on and it was here that I started to pay close attention to all of the insect life – which is legion around here.

 

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Although the flowers are currently well past their prime it’s not stopping the smaller residents enjoying the bounties they have to offer. A really varied selection of bees (the reserve also sells its own honey and candles) were all buzzing around busily collecting pollen and carrying it from place to place, making sure the delicate order of things is maintained.

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Maybe because it was pretty humid and moist today it was easy to get a sense that this place wasn’t just about conservation – but also about procreation. As with the little swanling above there was evidence everywhere that this was a place where gettin’ jiggy with it was the way forward.

It’s a good thing these guys aren’t shy.

I got a ringside seat.

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They weren’t the only ones taking time to enjoy the steamy conditions – there were many others nearby – and although the sun wasn’t shining brightly it seemed to bother none of them. They were all lost in their day jobs – which appeared to either be making whoopee, eating as much as they could before the seasons changed – or before their short life spans ended.

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After we’d spent a little while walking around the reserve we were back at the gift shop and decided that a stroll around the nearby Brandon Woods would be a nice way to round off the day.

I have to say I couldn’t have agreed more. The words ‘moist’ and ‘woodland’ always seem to go well together – particularly if paths are well maintained – and in this case they were. Lots of eager people were busy re-barking the trails and trimming back the brambles that were encroaching a little too far.

Although small this little piece of woodland is clearly loved by people nearby – and I can understand why. It’s supremely peaceful.

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By the time we’d returned to the reserve there was a definite need for coffee (isn’t there always?) and thankfully they had a really nice little cafe.

Initially I was confused. Normally there’s an unspoken table etiquette where you leave (if possible) a distance between you and the person at the next table – however in this cafe everyone was sitting close to each other, by the window. It was then I realised that the ground outside was teeming with bullfinches, sparrows, robins, blue tits, blackbirds, and chaffinches.

There were loads of bird feeders full of nuts, seeds and fat and the little guys were loving it!

This pretty much ruined any conversation we were having – as half way through a sentence both of us kept tailing off with ‘Oooh look at that!!!… Oh it’s gone!’ again and again.

Shortly after trying (and failing in most cases) to make conversation and take photos through cafe windows we moved on, headed for the car and then home.

However – sometimes it’s at the most unexpected moments when you see the nicest things, and just as we were driving out to the main road my companion noticed a slowly moving (I think it had a limp) but very beautiful pheasant. I stopped to let it cross the road – wound down the windows and quietly grabbed a couple of snaps as it passed by me and into the nearby reed beds.

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This site apparently used to be a quarry – and it’s very heartening indeed to see something that used to be an industrial hole in the ground returned to something that holds so much life and diversity.

Overall a leisurely 6(ish) miles of strolling yielded some of the most pleasant views of wildlife that I’ve seen in a while!

Stop and look at the flowers internet – you never know what you’ll see – and watch out for teeny tiny froggies!

Davey

 

Apes and eyeballs

I’m just gonna go right out there and say it. War for the Planet of the Apes is a flipping awesome film. Its CGI is so accomplished that it’s often nigh on impossible to tell what’s real and what’s computer generated. The storyline is also superb and serves as a worthy bridge to the events of a much loved original, containing within it many cool references to what came before.

We live in an incredible age for cinema goers nowadays – so much so that it’s difficult to imagine now how the original Charlton Heston film worked so well with actors in monkey suits and masks.

A word to the wise though – if you want to see it but haven’t seen the first two ‘reboot’ films yet (Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) then I recommend watching them first.

It’s really worth it.

The visual fidelity of this movie however was something I could only appreciate in the morning, because by the afternoon I could hardly see my hand in front of my face.

I can’t really believe it – but a year has passed since my last diabetic retinopathy checkup and today it was time for another. Now that I no longer take Metformin on a day to day basis and manage my diabetes through diet and exercise alone I’m beginning to forget sometimes that I have/used to have/still have it hiding in the background. These annual checkups however bring it back into sharp focus (no pun intended).

This is a good thing.

I need reminders – they keep me focused.

Now – I know that lately I’ve been putting forward quite a few examples of then vs now photo comparisons (at least it feels like it) but when I come to an ‘anniversary’ like this and I have an example of how far I’ve come on I can’t help myself – so I apologise in advance if you’ve heard it all before.

My last post about a screening was in July 2016 (here) and once again it bowls me over to realise how my mindset has changed.

The most obvious thing is how different I look – but when I read the words surrounding this photo I am also taken back to a time when the fear of whether or not I’d be able to get to any given destination and back under my own steam was always with me. Often I started worrying about events like this weeks (even months – I’m not joking) in advance, and this was no different. When I wrote the first part of that post I was awake at 4.30am and already stressing about walking there and back carrying 31st 9lbs.

This appointment is half a mile away from my home down a small hill – and last time I had to stop and sit four times on the way back. When I got to the health centre I couldn’t fit in the chairs. They had arms and I didn’t have a hope in hell of wedging myself into them without perching myself on the edge.

Instead I found a larger one in the hall made of plastic without arms.

These were dark moments in retrospect but I can also see in the post a sense of hope starting to form, and a feeling that I was making gradual progress – even if I still had a long way to go.

Today my appointment was unpleasant only because of the drops in my eyes – which are still wrecking my focus thanks to the way they dilate my pupils and giving me a headache hours later whilst still sitting in a darkened room.

This (for those who’ve never had a test like this) is what the solution (which is effectively a mild irritant) does to your eyes:

In all other respects I have nothing to complain about. Today was uneventful and normal.

Before going to the heath centre I walked to the cinema, where I sat comfortably in a seat watching a great film. Once this was finished I walked briefly around town and popped for a coffee. After my drink I walked briskly back to my appointment, where I sat happily (with room to spare in the not-so-little-anymore) red chairs and then after my test (which looks completely normal with no immediately apparent blood vessel degradation) I strolled home. The total distance was about five miles.

It’s all pretty mundane now – but at the same time it’s not. 

I’m often momentarily stuck in the past on days like today, and a bit of me still wakes up in the morning feeling that same worry and anxiety about what events like this mean. I easily slip back into old fearful thought processes without realising it. They’ve been with me for so long that often I don’t even realise I’m doing it. I have to pause for a moment, metaphorically shake myself and remember that things are different now – and that I won’t be that man again.

Then the fear response passes, my pulse drops – and when the event is over I have a new memory of another day where something that once seemed completely impossible and out of reach but is now just obtainable and comfortable.

Maybe over time I’ll stack up so many of these memories that I’ll forget the old fears…

However in some ways I feel I need them – and that if they go away I’ll become comfortable and slip back into old habits.

Or maybe just maybe I’ll have changed so much by the time next year’s test rolls around that I won’t think about this post at all – and I’ll be so set in my ways that i’ll be completely free of such silly worries.

Only time will tell internet.

Only time will tell…

Davey

 

 

Penguin in a dell

Although I had a great win on the scales yesterday in the end (rather surprisingly) I found that my real moment of triumph came later on in a different non-scale victory that stood completely apart from my fifteen stone certificate.

It’s odd as I reflect upon my feelings in Saturday’s post (link) that I started with such crushingly low expectations and instead ended the day with a real sense of positivity and happiness.

As I mentioned in my list of reasons for heading to town near the end of my blog yesterday I was planning to check out the charity shops.

Much of what they contained near or in my size however was truly awful.

There seems to have been a huge outpouring of Ronnie Corbett style ‘tartan(esque)’ golfing trousers (and shorts) in all of the charity shops in both Warwick and Leamington – and for whatever reason they seem to all be in a 42 inch waist.

It seems that there are many reassuringly tubby golfers in the local area…

However I’m not personally at home on a fairway so it wouldn’t be a good look for me – but in a Cancer Research shop I did find a pair of camo-print cargo pants that were a 40 inch waist.

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These (just) did up and felt really nice with plenty of pockets.

At £4 they were much cheaper than equivalent ones I’d seen brand new in supermarkets so I decided to buy them – purely because I’ve not been able to wear anything from a charity shop since Oasis first released an album. 

(Although I’m sure regular readers already know this I started at a 66 inch waist in April 2016)

Numbers in one shop however can make you feel great – while the same number in another can pull you right back down – so I’m guardedly happy – but this is a huge deal for me. Supermarkets are cheap – but charity shops are another level entirely – and given that I’ve handed over lots of expensive items to them lately in pristine condition I know that it’s not all garish golf trousers. There are definitely bargains to be had.

Then, as I was leaving the shop with my shorts I found the real bargain.

Hanging on the rack by the shop window with a 2XL tag was a lightweight, hooded and nicely lined raincoat with blue piping along the front zip and a matching hem drawstring. I tried it on just in case – and lo and behold it fitted like a glove!

What’s more it was only £8!

Flushed with further success I quickly purchased this too. As I could smell fabric softener on it and it looked in pristine condition I decided to wear it home.

In a nearby leafy dell (which amazingly I realise that I only managed to walk to for the very first time in August 2016 during this post where I look very different) I stopped to eat my lunch.

I’d purchased 3 chilled (dry) faggots from the deli counter at Tesco, a pack of tomatoes and a couple of apples. These (allegedly) meaty (but definitely tasty) snacks are a ‘synned’ treat – as I normally avoid processed food like this with a passion.

Although I’m not sure from a slimming world perspective officially how many they contain the Tesco website is pretty helpful for nutritional info (link) and they look rather naughty – together representing almost 1/5th of an adult male’s calorific RDA.

Since they’re only 50% pork and come without gravy (and Brains Faggots in the SW app are 4 syns each) I’m guesstimating that this probably nailed my daily allowance (men get 20 a day but I usually stick to 15 or less).

Since I’d had a few hi-fi bars that morning these chewy little meatballs meant that I’d need to take a ‘flexible’ approach to my intake with fewer treats on the days following – but hell – I fancied something that felt a little decadent and they tasted really nice cold!

While I munched away on these and my tomatoes I watched a nearby young lad (egged on by his elder brother) climbing onto the slippery metal roof of an approximately ten foot high slide. I tensed up, fully expected him to fall – and so did his absolutely aghast mother who looked on in horror from a bench opposite me. As she stood up watching his struggling ascent she was clearly thinking that a trip to A&E would probably be in her near future.

Thankfully (despite both of us expecting the worst) the fearless spider-child managed not only to sit smiling on the shiny domed roof but also clamber safely back down again to his annoyed mother after his triumph.

Once the miniature drama had passed and they’d moved on (with fearless spider-child’s mother chastising him and wagging an angry index finger in his direction) I took a selfie of me in my jacket to post on my Slimming World Facebook group.

I wanted to share this non-scale victory.

I quite liked the photo if I’m honest (particularly given the marked contrast to the exhausted looking beardy face in my older 2016 post) but it was the positive response in my online group that really made me smile.

One of the ladies wrote that she had a teenage son looking over her shoulder as she browsed the group feed and he had pointed out to her that the brand I was wearing was ‘Penguin‘ – which had totally passed me by. I’d just bought the jacket because it looked and felt nice.

I’ve been wearing massive clothes for so long that purchasing any brand name clothing has been a complete pipe dream. I don’t have the first clue anymore about what’s considered good or bad in terms of labels (are Levi 501’s still a thing?) Apparently though -according to her fourteen year old – this is a good make. Trendy even!

Who knew?!

Not this middle aged old fart that’s for sure. 

The last Penguin I had anything to do with was a chocolate biscuit in my 1980’s school lunch box.

I quickly Googled it. The same identical jacket (apparently they’re popular for festivals) on sale in Jacamo was £60 (reduced from £70!)

I’m not sure that the model carries it quite as well as myself though.

I give him a B minus….

Furthermore – the official site for the manufacturer lists it at £90 (!) (Jacamo / Penguin links)

As I walked home wearing my allegedly trendy garment I did so with a smile on my face and quite a spring in my step.

My jaunty gait however was a bit of a surprise as I’m still nursing some persistent blisters on my left foot that have been with me since my walk to Solihull two weeks ago (link).

So today I’ve decided that I’m going to give my foot a chance to recover and not go on any lengthy walks. I treated it yesterday afternoon (on the recommendation of a friend whose military hubby knows how to look after blisters from epic marches) to some proper medicated Boots blister plasters which have eased the throbbing somewhat.

My cardio for the day therefore will most likely come later in the form of my exercise bike – but I also need to do some gardening – so I think it’s going to be an afternoon spent with the birds and bees before some sweating!

Enjoy your day internet – I know I will!

Davey

Fifteen stone certificate

I spoke too soon about the rain holding off yesterday. When I woke up this morning it was chucking it down – and the whole world looked damp and miserable. 

I know that this is a stark indicator of my potential mood for the day because on any other morning I’d look out of the window and think ‘the world looks fresh and clean’ but today I didn’t. 

Instead I flopped dejectedly back down on my bed feeling fat. As I was lying on my side reading I looked over at my (naked) profile and instantly felt crestfallen. Sometimes I can’t bear my own reflection. I’m not overly fond of looking at myself without clothes even on my absolutely best day. 

This is where I can easily mentally self-sabotage – and I know from experience that I have to be hyper aware of my thought processes before they turn too far inward and I start beating myself up basically for just being me

Although I no longer self sabotage with food when my mood dips, sometimes there are worse impulses – and these are ones that undermine your sense of self worth and esteem. It’s in lower moments like this morning (which arrive with no apparent reason or warning) that if I’m left in mental isolation I can convince myself that I’ll be alone forever. 

This is particularly galling because 95% of the time I never feel lonely. 

Going to Slimming World on days like this is a tough sell – and honestly I didn’t feel like attending group today. I wanted to stay in bed, sure that I was getting fatter instead of thinner and hiding under the duvet. 

I lay there convincing myself more and more, moment by moment that I would again be over 20 stone when I stepped on the scales. This thought kept churning over and over in my mind until I could think of nothing else. 

I really didn’t want to go. 

However I promised myself that I’d never do that ever again, regardless of how I felt, and seeing the people there makes me happier and more positive. Whether the news is good or bad we always support eachother. 

So I got up, trimmed my hair, had a shave, had a shower, ironed my clothes for the day, made a coffee, popped on my nice apple lip balm (every boy needs an apple chapstick) made sure I was presentable – and headed out. 

Right up until the moment the scales read out my weight I was convinced it would be a gain. 

The mind is a powerful and self deluding thing sometimes – and I’ve just proved it (again!!!) because today I lost 3.5lbs…


As I stepped off the scales I was feeling both happiness that I’d managed to get my milestone certificate and also annoyance that once more I’d spent the entire morning metaphorically crawling up the walls of the inside of my head. 

This takes me to a total of 15 stones (and one pound) lost overall. Hopefully I’m in the ‘teens’ to stay now. It would take a brutally apocalyptic week of kebabs and pizza to throw me back to the twenties again, which is a real comfort because I don’t think that side of me exists anymore. ‘New’ Davey might overeat but if he does he’ll eat a jar of gherkins or a pack of crunchy tomatoes and then some cottage cheese. 

He hasn’t been to the kebab shop since the beginning of April 2016. 

It’s not like I can relax and ‘eat all the pies’ or anything – but it means I don’t have to be quite so on edge about ‘the teens’ (which as you can tell is a huge deal to me) and hopefully I won’t be stressing like an idiot about it any more. 

Anyway. It’s done. I’ve stopped myself snatching defeat from the jaws of victory again – and this didn’t happen just because of my results on the scales. 

I need endorphins. Every day. 

Since I don’t do naughty things any more these have to come from exercise – and as soon as I got home I set out on a four mile walk (the really long way) into Leamington across fields and the railway around the back of Old Milverton and along the Kenilworth Road. 

(As a side note I’m absolutely falling in love with OS maps – and found yet another new walk today. I can’t thank my friend enough for letting me use her subscription. She’s ace!)


This  little trek was for four reasons. 

  1. The only way I seem truly happy these days is when I’ve been waking or exercising. 
  2. I need coffee and Leamington has lots of it. 
  3. I discovered on Friday (non scale victory alert!) that charity shops have jeans in my size range now that I’m down to a 42 waist -so I wanted to have a mooch and see what I could find. 
  4. Apple Watch promised me an achievement if I walked a continuous 3.5 miles today. It knows how to motivate me. I smashed it. 



So – I’m emerging from my mood – but I’ve had to work at it. 

It’s important to remember (if you’re doing anything life changing and challenging) that the best days don’t always come with the best moods – and that you have to keep your eye on the prize. 

How much worse would I have felt if I had found myself standing in a kebab shop instead of slimming world today?

Pretty frikkin bad internet. 

Remember that the only thing that can sabotage you is YOU. If you do it all the time then you’re normal. You’re not weird. 

It’s ok to be a little bit broken sometimes – just remember to love yourself, whatever you think you look or feel like. It’s almost guaranteed that no-one else sees you the same way that you do at your lowest ebb. 

You’re stronger than you think and you can do more than you can possibly imagine. 

All you have to do is keep trying, even when you don’t want to. 

Davey. 

To queue or not to queue

Despite the entire week threatening me with torrential downpours they have (mostly) failed to materialise. This is presumably because I am now the proud owner of some all weather outdoor waterproof trousers and a raincoat – and have been dying to deploy them to test whether or not they leak.

On the one day that I could have used them I left them at home and got soaked.

The UK’s weather is nothing if not unpredictable – but then I guess it at least gives people like me something to talk about when we go walking – and this week I’ve had a pretty full outdoor exploration calendar.

Today I’ve been on an immensely enjoyable (fairly leisurely) five mile walk between the Longbridge island on the M40 in Warwick to a Garden Centre in Back Hill (just inside Stratford upon Avon).

This is not a route I’ve either driven or walked along before – but along the quiet country lanes there has been almost nothing but lovely rolling fields and green hills in the distance. Sadly much of it has also been quite cloudy (so my pictures have not been the best) but it’s at least been nice and breezy and cool.

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One thing that is becoming increasingly apparent to me as I criss cross Warwickshire is that mentally I’m building up a picture of the local landscape and seeing more and more places in the far distance that I’ve walked through or to.

I found myself feeling quite reflective about this for a moment yesterday in Burton Dassett as I looked at the view around me and the different places on the viewpoint marker that we’d climbed up to. In the last year I’ve been to or nearby a LOT more of the locations on this dial than I have in all of the time since I moved to Warwick fifteen years ago.

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This sudden need to explore is giving me a sense of place and belonging that was previously (without me even realising it) completely absent when I drove only on the same fast moving roads to the same places day after day without ever stopping to truly look at or investigate my surroundings.

Whilst discussing this with my twalking companion today (as we chatted about a monument on a hill far in the distance in Stratford) I found myself once again reflecting upon what’s important in life – and where my place in the world should be.

I’m still consciously (and sub-consciously) wrestling with where the future might take me – and have been wondering lately whether further, possibly more radical change is needed now that I’m such a different person to the man that I was before. Deep down I’m worried that I’m not truly intrepid enough to rip up much of what came before my mid forties in order to try and find something new – and it’s been bothering me more and more.

Much of my life has been lived on the premise of continually choosing stability and security, and has always contained little or no voluntary danger or uncertainty. I’ve shied away from such things at every turn and some of my oldest friends have (on many occasions) described me as ‘risk adverse’.

My current thought process is causing me to really question what matters to me – and what I will care about in the future. They aren’t easy questions to answer as I’m still changing and morphing into a different Davey – but I think the starting point has to be knowing what my core values are, what’s important to me and what I want and need from others that I’ve yet to meet.

Mostly these thought patterns are introspective in my case – and I tend to ignore the vast majority of quotes that I see on the internet that purport to be ‘inspirational messages’. After all, one person’s revelation is another’s ‘yea duh!’ obvious statement and there are so many of these life mantras floating about that they seem to quickly lose their value. Some do stick though, and regular readers (and people that know me) will by now be familiar with the few that I try to live by – and that have rarely failed me.

Always keep moving forward (the speed doesn’t matter), there is no way to happiness (happiness is the way) – and everyone (especially me) needs a hug.

My most recent addition is ‘give yourself time to feel sad occasionally’. However so far I’ve never seen this in a conveniently packaged internet meme…

Despite having found these along the way though I’ve never consciously gone looking for them. They’ve just arrived at a moment that I was feeling receptive and was willing to take them board. In the same vein I just happened to be in the right frame of mind when someone I know posted something Facebook a couple of days ago.

Because I agreed with the first line I moved to the second, and so on, and so on until I’d read the whole thing. It seemed to underline pretty much everything that I (mostly unconsciously) try to do – and although nothing can be an exhaustive list of someone’s personal beliefs this seemed pretty close.


Some things are works in progress for me (particularly listen more and talk less – I’m a chatterbox!) but I like the fact that someone else in life thinks the way I do. Everything on this list seems like a good way to approach life.

Before this picture appeared on Facebook I was walking to visit a friend and stopped to collect a prescription on the way. As I signed for my medication and paid for another item (an apple flavoured chapstick – it’s wonderful!) a lady walked into the shop, quickly picked up an item, stepped up behind me, reached over my left shoulder with the money for it and handed it to the cashier (while I was in mid sentence) before exiting the shop as if I didn’t exist.

As soon as she’d done this she was gone – and I was left with a peculiarly British sense of moral indignation that someone had jumped the queue.

In this country we like to consider ourselves a civilised people – and nothing exemplifies our organised civilisation better than our ability to stand in orderly lines patiently waiting for things.

(The whole fabric of society might break down if we refused to do this at the post office. It would be anarchy I tell you. Anarchy!)

Initially (for a split second) because of this her ‘rudeness’ annoyed me. However – in the great scheme of things what did it really matter? I decided that I wouldn’t look out for her as I exited the shop and instead would try to trust (instead of seeing her climbing into a badly parked Range Rover or shouting impatiently at a child) that she had her reasons – and that this wasn’t rudeness – it was necessity.

She might instead have had a sleeping child outside in a car with the engine running – or a dog on her passenger seat. She could have an elderly mother or father waiting for her outside just out of eyesight who needed her arm to walk back home.

I’ll never know – and that’s a good thing, because now I’m left thinking only good thoughts about that moment. My not complaining about this inconsequential slight had therefore ruined neither of our days and instead of both of us being left with negative energy I’d been left with positive feelings.

It wasn’t until later that I saw this list and maybe because of this particular moment it caught my eye. I’ll leave it up to you internet to decide whether it’s fluff or truth. It could be both. 

In other news – today I feel fat. I am not looking to stepping on the scales tomorrow. I might need a hug afterwards.

Davey

Avon Dassett to Loo of the year 2005

It seems a bit odd to me as I type it but somehow almost half a year has passed since I last visited Burton Dassett in February (link). Back then I was beginning to think of inclines and was already mentally leaning towards what I’d eventually need to be capable of when it came to climbing Snowdon (which is not far away now).

At the time I’d just tipped over the 10.5 stone lost mark at Slimming World (I’m almost at my 15 stone award now) and felt pretty chuffed that it took only 16 minutes to get to the top – where I took a selfie.

More of that later.

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Today my companion and I parked much further away than my last visit in the rather picturesque Avon Dassett. Looking very similar to Ilmington where I went for some hill practice two weeks ago (link) it’s an absolutely delightful sleepy little sandstone village.

We planned to follow the green dotted line through fields past the parish church and via fields of sheep to the blue flower shaped viewpoint near the landmark beacon. We would then head into Northend and take the walking route to Fenny Compton through the surrounding fields then loop back down on the right along the road to the starting point – around 7 miles away.

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The weather today was quite overcast – but occasionally there was a break in the cloud and the sun peeped through. Thankfully however the rain held off (probably just to spite me because I brought my waterproofs just in case) and although it threatened a downpour a few times it never materialised.

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Today neither of us were in any rush – and we took our time to explore. If a place of interest popped up then we had a look. If it took a little longer then who cared? We were in it for the pleasure of exploration and wandering through fields today.

Just like the last time I visited we stopped along the way for a mooch around the All Saints Parish church – which I featured in my blog before (link) so I won’t go over again. There’s a lot of history there and as I was with a different companion last time I felt myself compelled to let my current one have a look at the stories it contained for herself.

I thought that such an experience would be hard to top.

I know how to show a lady a good time – and pushing her into a dusty church talking about death watch beetles tunnelling through the walls seemed at the time unbeatable on the fun-o-meter. However my friend is the competitive type, and after retreating into the nearby toilets at the beacon viewpoint she returned (almost skipping with glee) with photographic evidence that topped any ecclesiastical structure mentioned in the Doomsday book.

She’d just had the envious pleasure of planting her posterior on and tinkling into a toilet inside the LOO OF THE YEAR 2005.

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Those who were involved in and remembered the titanic battle for the this prestigious and coveted award must have felt justifiably proud when their local WC hit the big time. Twelve years on this pride is still burning brightly in the 2005 loo of the year and the poster remains mounted behind protective perspex to ensure that past glories are not lost from the annals (correct spelling) of history.

It’s one of the many times that being a man has worked against me – and I again today fell victim to the blind cruelty of gender bias. In my nearby hilltop urinal there were cobwebs from over a decade ago, and a couple of ancient looking toilet blocks – but no certificates.

I felt crestfallen.

The only thing that would cheer me up was a gratuitous selfie.

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Although it’s not a massive change compared to my starting weight photos – I’m still pretty happy with the difference between February and now – which I can definitely see around my cheeks. There’s almost four and a half stone lying in a gutter somewhere and I don’t miss it at all.

Going up hills without it today was noticeably easier.

This by the way is a fantastic place to stop for a bite to eat. You can see for miles and miles around.

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I’ve been attempting to be careful with food this week (I want my 15 stone certificate on Saturday) and have been trying out rice as an alternative to some of the meals I’d normally have while I’m out and about.

Although I’m not interested in going vegetarian I’ve been consciously trying to reduce (but not cut out) red meat in my diet so that I focus more on oily fish rather than harder to digest lumps of protein.

Basmati rice, prawns, mackerel and gherkins may sound like the devil’s work but I assure you (unless you count my endless capacity for churning out farts after eating anything these days) that it isn’t and that it’s totally delicious (plus not too filling during a walk.)

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After a bite to eat we continued exploring and nearby noticed a lovely little coppice called Fox Covert -which was a small 1/4 mile wooded circular wooded walk near to the monument. We decided to have a look around its totally deserted paths – and it was like stepping into a cocoon.

Once inside the noise and wind of the outside world instantly disappeared – and all we could hear was birdsong above us in the leafy green canopy.

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After a short while wandering around here we continued on to Fenny Compton, leaving the loo of the year 2005 behind and making our way through some fields of cows – where my companion learned the hard way that it’s best to look at the floor rather than the view while walking through long grass with bovine neighbours.

Thankfully the cow-mined no man’s land soon opened out into a wonderful whispering sea of wheat – and the path began to wind along the tractor lines left by the farmer.

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Although often people want blue skies as opposed to grey there was something about the skyline today that looked dramatic and had a continued ‘presence’. It wasn’t too hot, we were never short of a breeze and there were even occasional splashes of colour with flowers popping up in the hedgerows and hilltops.

However – when we got back to Avon Dassett there was another treat. This small village houses not one but two churches. One of which (at the start of our walk) was locked up tight – but the second (Church of St John The Baptist) was open.

It also looked smashing from the outside. Easily better than the Loo of the year 2005.

However, upon stepping inside we realised that the church seemed completely unused. There was a thick layer of dust on almost every surface and stacks of roof tiles and bricks in the corner.

It looked like there hadn’t been a service there in a long time – but oddly it was in infinitely better condition (built in 1868-89) than the nearby All Saints (first recorded in the 1087 census) and according to the signs had recently been refurbished.

Although I have an affinity with buildings like this I’m not entirely sure about the wisdom of repairing (at great cost) something that people no longer use or appear to love. The cobwebs and dust that layered Bibles, red velvet prayer cushions and images of the crucifixion seemed profoundly at odds with the (clearly amazing) work that had been undertaken to repair the ceiling and stonework.

I left feeling conflicted – and wondering whether such buildings should just be listed and allowed to be re-purposed into homes or business premises like they have been so successfully elsewhere.

I still remain undecided. If it had been I wouldn’t be able to pop my head around the door and have a mooch – but then if it hadn’t someone wouldn’t have wasted millions on something that no-one seems to want anymore.

Either way – I enjoyed my walk and look around.

Finally – whilst indulging in a post walk coffee I asked my friend to take a final photo for the day for my ‘about’ page. It’s of me, sitting in my natural habitat (Starbucks) and to provide a contrast to a super heavyweight photo (taken in the same chair and almost the same place) that I’ve been using for ages now to show just how bad things got for me.

The new one shows me in the same seat 16 months later and almost fifteen stone smaller.

You can see it here internet.

Enjoy.

Davey

Draycote Water and fresh Apples

Today started well.

VERY well in fact.

A knock at the door early on revealed a smiling UPS courier and a small package. Inside was a (quite unexpected) presentation box wrapped in cellophane. When I opened it I could scarcely have been happier with the contents!

Instead of my old friend returning to my loving bosom I have a NEW AND IMPROVED FRIEND! 

I’ve had my teeny companion since September 2015 – and it’s seen some revisions since it was originally launched. My ‘1st generation’ model was eventually superseded by a ‘2nd generation’ series 1 and series 2 devices in late 2016. Both of these were upgraded versions of the original. Series two had GPS and water proofing – but crucially the series 1 had a faster processor than my 1st gen version which was then removed from sale.

Clearly Apple didn’t think it was cost effective to replace my 1st gen sensor (the circular panel housing it on the underside had come loose, making it turn like a bezel) and have now upgraded my nearly two year old watch to a brand new series 1!

How’s about that for customer service?!

After quickly restoring my settings from an old backup my new Apple Watch was soon right where it belonged – on my wrist – and waiting for instructions.

It soon got (quite literally) it’s marching orders, as today I’d planned to go for a walk with a friend. He’d originally suggested that we go somewhere further afield – but knowing I’d have to wait in for a parcel we had instead agreed to go a little closer to home – and have a look at somewhere neither of us had ever been.

Draycote Water (link).

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This is a Severn Trent reservoir – and according to wikipedia it can hold more than a few kettles worth of H2O…

The reservoir was created in the 1960s and was opened in January 1969 and is by far the largest expanse of water in Warwickshire. It covers more than 600 acres (240 hectares) and holds up to 5 billion gallons (23 million m³) of water.

As you might imagine it’s pretty big – and is expansive enough to have a five mile circular walk around the outskirts of it – meaning that there’s plenty of places to sit on the reservoir wall and have lunch.

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We started out quite gingerly – mostly due to my ongoing war wounds from a week ago. I got some pretty epic blisters during my 17 mile walk to Solihull (link). I had convinced myself that they were fixed up and as good as new – until I embarked upon my energetic 8 mile march around Warwick and Leamington yesterday.

Unfortunately this resulted in (amongst other things) the angry looking 3cm wide red/black/purple one on my left foot flaring up again. Today it was once again covered in elastoplast to reduce friction and pressure – but there’s only so much you can do to something that ideally you should just leave alone and allow to recover.

I can’t help myself though. I need to walk – and it’s really annoying to have loads of energy in your legs but to have sore feet that slow you down or eventually stop you altogether.

Thankfully we soon stopped for a bite to eat after a mile and a half or so, sat on the wall, looked out across the water and rummaged through our respective carrier bags.

Whilst my friend had packed a cheese and onion sandwich I had a whole cucumber. This had been a present from him the previous day and was fresh from his allotment. It was small (like a chunky courgette) and crisp (like a gherkin) and before setting out I’d chopped it into some basmati rice along with a can of mackerel and some beetroot.

Paired with a flask of coffee this (maybe odd – but delicious) combination went down really nicely!

However – if there was EVER a time I was kicking myself for not bringing a proper camera with me then today was that time. It was quickly apparent that the whole place was teeming with wildlife – and there were quite a few birds I’d not seen before. The Draycote birding site has a link to a list of the species that have been seen in 2017 and it’s MASSIVE (see here).

Annoyingly my iPhone just couldn’t do any of this justice – and the only things I could capture that didn’t look like flies in the distance were the geese – which were legion, and slow moving.

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I’m therefore going back again soon with my proper camera to see whether I can get some better shots!

Birds weren’t the only wildlife here though – and although we never saw anything today other than small whites there appears to be a cornucopia of butterfly life in this area – with Draycote having one of the most comprehensive lists of potentially viewable species that I’ve seen so far at a reserve.

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Although we didn’t have time to explore today there are also a couple of marked woodland walks around the reservoir that branch off into small areas of trees. I’m not sure how far these go but the Severn Trent site suggests that there’s quite a bit to explore –

There is a flat five mile tarmac road all the way around the reservoir which is ideal for a leisurely stroll. The Hensbrough hill top provides spectacular views and is a great place for a picnic, whilst the 25 acre country park provides enough room for young and old to play games and enjoy the outdoors.

There were lots of cyclists and sailing enthusiasts – along with several pretty large areas set aside on the banks for anglers – and the reservoir is apparently well stocked! There’s also a visitor centre with a cafe and balcony overlooking the reservoir.

Overall it seems like a great place to take the family for an active day out and it definitely requires more investigation. If nothing else it’s a supremely quiet and relaxing place for a stroll.

Even if your feet hurt!

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Now – if you’ll excuse me internet my slightly perkier and enthusiastic puppy dog of a watch is pressing me to stand up and do something – and who am I to ignore it’s well intentioned pleas for attention?!

Davey

Soopertrousers!

Boy it’s hot today – and as always in weather like this I’m the unofficial Warwickshire ambassador for moob and back sweat. I was talking to someone a while ago about something similar – and it’s incredible how people (such as myself) get paralysed by hangups that others don’t see as an issue.

I (like this person) used to be intensely paranoid about visibly perspiring in public. Sure, I saw others sweating and didn’t look down upon them, but I judged myself by a different criteria. I often thought that they (being thinner than myself) were fitter and were sweating ‘normally’. They did not deserve judgement therefore, because in contrast I was doing it due to being fat. In my head I felt I wasn’t allowed to in public, and realise now that I considered it to be some sort of ‘affliction’ that I felt I had to hide.

I’d also over time developed an odd mental picture of what sweating meant for my skin. Because I had eczema I was convinced that this exacerbated the condition – and often used my belief as an excuse to not go out.

Irritatingly I know now that the problems I had were mostly because my skin never saw sunlight, rarely had suntan cream on it and wasn’t moisturised enough when I was younger (something I only started doing regularly in my late 20’s and early 30’s). Somehow though these formative opinions stuck with me (stubborn thought patterns are admittedly a trait of my family) and I held them up as fact for ages.

In the same vein I also convinced myself for the better part of a decade that I hated peas – which was bizarre because I suddenly remembered that I loved them.

Not sure what happened there.

Brainfart…

I don’t care though now. I really don’t mind being seen all sweaty and I eat peas all the time. My view is I’m sweating because I’m not sitting on the sofa or lying down with a video game controller in my hand burning zero calories other than the ones need to move my thumbs and forefingers.

Not today. I’m perspiring and proud – and five miles into my eight mile walk for the day grabbing some caffeine and snacks. I took the scenic route to coffee today – and even though I don’t have my Apple Watch with me I know from experience how far all my usual routes are, what they do to my pulse, what speed I need to maintain to classify my workout as ‘cardio’ – and what playlists motivate me the most for the best results.

Today I’ve been trying out my new Berghaus walking trousers and flipping hell theyre awesome!

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Stand aside Supercoat!!!

Soopertrousers are in town!!!

As well as a really useful drawstring hem they have special vents in the sides of the legs for when you get too warm. These also have a helpful ‘VENTING‘ instruction on the zips – just in case you were in any doubt about their functions. Behind their openings are swimming trunk style meshes and when you open them up you get a cool breeze over your knees and thighs which is a lovely sensation when you’re walking.

However I discovered that it’s particularly nice when you step into a room with air conditioning! I’m so impressed with my purchase that it’s highly unlikely people will see me wearing anything else for the foreseeable future! They’re just snug enough around the waist (and elasticated as well) to ensure that they last me a little while longer than a pair of jeans with a static waistband might do – so I’m absolutely chuffed to bits.

Of course no pair of outdoor soopertrousers would be worth wearing without an accompanying picnic – which today is brought to you today courtesy of Aldi and Lidl and the supportive benchware of St Nicholas park.

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Apples, onion and chive cottage cheese, niiiiice ham and crunchy tomatoes with a flask of coffee.

I know as a Slimming World’r I shouldn’t really be counting calories but I like to know what my intake is compared to what I’m burning.

  • 200g Cottage cheese 150kcal
  • 200g Ham – 132kcal
  • 6 x small tomatoes – 96kcal
  • 6 x small apples – approx 210kcal

It’s a complete winner of a lunch and comes in at around 588kcal! My coffee is (as always) black – and syn free.

This evening I’m having salad and Quorn beef style strips. This may seem like an odd combination – but they need to be used asap after an unfortunate incident on Friday where the idiot occupant of my house (me) left the freezer door ajar.

The result?

Wonderfully cool feet on a hot day in a flooded kitchen but also lots of soggy prawns and Quorn.

But hey ho internet! The freezer’s loss is my tummy’s gain! I just have to make sure that I’m not eating for the sake of it and working off what I’m getting rid of and I should be good.

Plus if I get food poisoning that will speed up the weight loss!!!

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Davey

From 66 to 42

Yesterday was an empty day. 

After a wonderful night out with ex colleagues on Thursday culminated in an unusually late night (I fell asleep in a Diet Coke related heavily caffeinated state after the sun came up on Friday morning) I really didn’t feel like doing anything of consequence. 

Caffeine wasn’t the only thing keeping me up though. I was buzzing after seeing all of the people I used to work with. They’re alsolutely they best sorts (link) and when we get together it’s like no time has passed at all. We spent the whole evening catching up and I talked the night away until 3am before finally making my way home, tired but very happy. 

It’s one of those moments when you’re reminded that you can be as poor as a church mouse but rich in terms of friendship. Long may our reunions continue!

Consequently I mostly spent my time dozing off in the middle of things yesterday – and in the absence of Apple Watch didn’t feel in the least bit guilty. 

I have missed it terribly however – and called Apple yesterday to see what was happening. They’ve decided to replace the entire unit and a new one is hopefully going to be with me by the 10th.

I can’t frikkin wait as I’m sure I’ve done less without it watching me. Overall it’s been a good week for activity though – so honestly I felt it was ok to take my foot off the gas a little. 

The problem is that it in doing so (even though it was only for a day) I was consumed with fear just before bedtime that I’d ruined any chances of a good loss at the scales this weekend. 

Thankfully that wasn’t the case, and after a good 2.5lb loss I’m firmly back into the teens!!!


To say that I’m happy would be a vast understatement. I was so worried that I’d be above 20st again this week that I dreamt about potential failure last night and woke up panting and sweating. 

This particular milestone is no small thing to me and I need to cling onto it for all I’m worth. 

Honestly I’m mildly amazed sometimes that I’m still in the zone and feel like this about losing weight 15 months on from when I started. 

I still really really want (need) to get to my target weight even now, after all this time. It’s simply inconceivable to me that I won’t do it. My brain will no longer accept failure as an option. I’m getting down to 15 stone (my current goal) by hook or by crook. 

I’ve only got another 2.5 lbs to go and then I hit the 15st lost mark – but as I said in group this morning it’s less the increasing numbers in certificates that are motivating me lately and more the task of decreasing the ‘teens’. Being in the 19st bracket is great – but it’s just a staging point to hop into the 18st arena. 

Only 11lbs to go for that. 

It will happen though – and within reason I’m in no rush. As long as I keep making progress I’m happy. There are other things in the meantime that make me happier

In my continued quest to pick up items for my Snowdon climb I popped into a great local ski and trek shop in Leamington today called Lockwoods (link). 

The last time I visited them was October 2016 (link) and at the time I was incredibly impressed that they weren’t trying to fleece me – just give me the best possible advice. 

One of the owners is also a fellow Slimming World’r too – so I know I’ll be in good company there!

Today I found (what I consider to be) an absolute bargain in their walking trouser department -which goes up to a 44 inch waist (unlike all the other outdoors shops I’ve tried). In their reduced items were an absolutely wonderful pair of Berghaus walking trousers (with stretch!) for £25 in a 42 inch waist that fitted like a glove!


I know it’s just a number – but I started out wearing a 66 waisted pair of trousers and I’ve lost 24 inches to get to this point. 

(That’s 60cm for all my Euro-friends)


To put this in context my friend is four months pregnant and my old belt not only fits round the both of us but it also does up!!! So – as well as losing weight this morning (and no longer carrying a woman and child in my trousers) I view this as today’s most significant non-scale victory

That’s not the only one though. 

Yesterday I summoned up the courage (egged on by a multiple people) to sit in my IKEA Poang armchair without it being propped up against the wall!

One friend took it upon herself to nag me all the way from sunny Wales on holiday – pointing out that I was over 6 stone lighter than I needed to be for it. 

Another sent me evidence of his own Poang with one of the heavier members of his family stressing the tensile limits of the bonded wood. He assured me that Vinny (a portly but good natured lover of their Poang) had never had a problem with its weight limit. 


Encouraged by the fact that this feline tubster had managed to cheat the laws of physics I lowered myself into my own very very gingerly

It creaked a little, and then settled. 

I sat perfectly still for a while. I’d sensed a natural predator stalking me nearby (gravity – it’s evil and lies forever in wait) and it was watching me, preparing itself to pounce. 

However nothing happened. No cracking or snapping of wood! 

So I gently began to engage in the ‘bouncy uppy and downy rocky’ motion that you can’t seem to help yourself doing when seated in one of these. 

A little more creaking, but no splintering!

So – after several weeks of terrified ownership I’ve conquered the Poang!

So it’s been a good couple of days. They’ve seen a 2.5lb weight loss, my first pair of 42in trousers, and new territory for my ass cheeks to explore and bounce (gently) upon in the pursuit of perfect relaxation. 

There’s only one thing that can improve on perfection internet, and I’m currently working on consuming that right now!

Davey