Box throne

Boxes are getting pretty tiresome.

There has been a lot of unpacking done over the last week – and now we’re down to the last few ‘sod it’ boxes.

These were the ones where the task of organising and packing at the originating end had become so tiresome that we lost interest and just threw it in a box.

In other instances there were just bits and bobs left that we decided were to be kept but that didn’t obviously go together with similar items in an easily unpackable collective container.

This is irritating enough – particularly when it seems like there’s no discernible end in sight – but also because we’re struggling in many cases to find room for the everyday items.

I’ve lost count of the bags of pasta and rice we now collectively have.

I’ve enough bacofoil to roast an elephant, enough cling film to wrap it in (as well as the herd from which it sprung) and enough greaseproof paper and muffin nests to make a lot of ele-cakes and ele-pies afterwards.

I also have more than enough Tupperware to store the ele-cakes and ele-pies in and enough knives and forks for a small army to eat them with.

If they can’t consume it all in one go then I have about a thousand food bags in which they can take their lunch home with them.

If the army returns (still carrying their packed treats) they can happily heat their meals up in one of the two microwaves that we currently have.

If that wasn’t enough there’s also a second sofa in our hall that we have no idea what to do with.

The original plan was to take it to the charity shop in the Leamington recycling centre – which was partially why we hired a van last week – but it seems that anything Transit Van sized is not allowed on to the site without incurring commercial vehicle charges.

If you want to go in as a residential customer then you can do so with six ‘free tokens’ that you have to apply for online. However you have to own the van in which the goods are to be transported and that needs to be registered in a Warwickshire postal code.

This set of hoops is particularly unhelpful if you’re a resident who hired a van rather than one that just happens to be lucky enough to own such a vehicle.

If you ask the council to collect your item instead they charge £35.

Even then the next pickup is at an ‘undetermined future date’.

It’s no wonder people fly tip.

We’re trying to do the right thing but the powers that be don’t make it easy.

Charities also won’t collect for weeks (and want the item to be ‘saleable’ but aren’t particularly specific about what that means leaving me unsure about whether or not to schedule an appointment weeks in the future only to be told it’s not wanted) so if we want to see the back of it then we’re basically in a position where I have to take a hacksaw to it or leave it in my hall permanently.

I might try my luck on Facebook and see if anyone wants it before I get the power tools out though.

Sigh.

Worse things happen at sea I guess – and today is weigh in day.

I know that I’ve lost weight since I last stepped on the scales – but how much is still to be determined by the official scales at group.

(Author goes to group)

Well a week and a half of making good food choices (even when eating out) and cooking great meals for two appears to have paid off – and although I’ve not yet sorted out the gain from two weeks ago I’m on my way to getting things under control.

It’s annoying to see blips like this – but also encouraging to remember that they are just that – blips – and that there’s no point turning a molehill into an insurmountable mountain.

It will come back off eventually. I just have to keep on chipping away at it.

In the meantime, between boxes there have been moments of blissful normality where I’ve been able to continue introducing friends to my partner, and (whilst I’ve been writing this) watch her indulge her passion in Pokemon – which she’s been playing the new demo of on my Nintendo Switch.

As a detached observer of this gaming phenomenon over many years I’ve never quite managed to figure out the allure of it – but if there’s one thing that I do love it’s watching someone take pleasure in an activity.

That lady loves to catch Pokemon!

She also knows all of their names!!!

I can totally get how games like this can suck people in – and it’s quite comforting to know that whilst different genres may float our particular boats, once again we are more alike than we are different.

As comfortable as we feel on this score however we can’t yet see a point where every possession we own has a home. That seems to be light years ahead in the future.

There is however a distant light at the end of the tunnel because we can now see the (middle of) the dining room carpet again – and if nothing else that’s cause for celebration.

All we have to do now is find a place to put the Ikea delivery that’s coming in the very near future.

That’s a worry for another day though.

Tonight I go to bed a happy (and slightly lighter) man, because behind the bedroom door the mountain of folded cardboard is now a little bit higher.

My box throne grows…

Davey

Stardust and eggs

It used to be the case that an obsession with technology meant that you had a rather sedentary lifestyle – however these days (particularly today) I’m seeing evidence directly to the contrary.

The park has been packed this morning with crowds of people at it’s choke points (most have been dressed in black and look very pasty) all of whom are oblivious to people like me trying to get past. They’re all staring intently at their mobile phones and wandering around looking like extras from The Walking Dead.

Oddly this phenomenon doesn’t seem related to a single age group or sex – but appears to be crossing all demographics.

I had no idea what they were up to – and occasionally heard sentences like ‘I’m putting egg and stardust on!’ as I walked in between the little groups dotted around Jephson Gardens.

My curiosity eventually got the better of me and I decided to ask a man with his two engrossed sons what was going on. The boys had iPads and their dad was holding a large Android phone.

The younger (more fidgety) of the two children was relentlessly prodding a tablet that had a thick blue rubber case surrounding it. I noticed that it had either failed miserably in its job or had been applied after the device in the child’s hands had suffered a seriously smashed up screen.

The tablet seemed to be working nevertheless and he was furiously tapping here and there on it, intently working away at the task in hand. His father clearly didn’t think there was potential for digit lacerations – but to me it seemed like a clear and present danger.

All three were connected via three lengthy white cables to what I can only assume was a large power supply in the man’s messenger bag, which was hanging on a short strap in front of his stomach like a papoose.

They too were discussing stardust and eggs.

‘I have to ask…’ I started ‘..what is everyone doing? They’re all just staring at their mobiles!’

He seemed slightly irritated that I’d interrupted him, but answered me nevertheless, barely lifting his eyes from the screen in his hands as he did.

‘It’s an augmented reality game with a special event.’ He replied.

He didn’t look like he was planning to expand further but I dug deeper.

‘Oh really?’ I said. ‘Which one?’

‘Pokemon Go.’ he answered abruptly – before returning his undivided attention to scanning the bushes and chasing whatever creatures appeared to be visiting the area. He continued on his way in silence.

Ah. That explained it.

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When this game first came out in July 2016 I’d only just begun to try and get fitter by walking around my local parks – and had noticed many many people nearly walking into trees and rivers whilst hunting elusive little Pokemons (link).

At the time I spent a lot more time seated under trees than I do now…

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II wasn’t interested in this game at the time – which I found a little puzzling – as I was a devout video gamer back then.

I suppose I wanted to get as far away from the things that I felt had contributed to ‘my downfall’ as possible – and I’ve always viewed video games as one of them, although truthfully it was probably more of a symptom of wider problems than the cause.

The argument with Pokemon Go and other games like it is that they get people off their sofa and this means that they’re much more active than they otherwise would be on a Playstation or XBOX. If this morning in the park is anything to go by I can’t really disagree – although I feel that to call it exercise would be stretching the truth somewhat.

The game requires the bare minimum of movement from its players – and their engagement also meant that whilst they were physically grouped together the people playing seemed largely oblivious to their companions.

I guess the way that people interact these days is changing but I’m not sure whether this could be called progress or not. At least they’re not sitting on the couch waiting for a heart attack like I used to.

The fact that they’re outside (and together) is definitely a plus – and it’s nice to see that technology can play a part in encouraging this rather than preventing it – but I’d really love them to see what’s around them with their own eyes rather than via what’s appearing on their screens.

If they looked up and around them they’d see the most beautiful colours and sky as I have today whilst I’ve been wandering and eating my lunch.

 

However – not everything has to have colour. Some things look better if they’re a little more traditional and reserved – and with this in mind I can announce that I have finally completed the outfit that I’ve been putting together for the Slimming World ball in November.

I’ve been absolutely adamant that I didn’t want to wear a black tuxedo and black bow tie – and i definitely didn’t want to rent an outfit either.

This seemed to me like it was a total waste of money in both instances as I’m highly unlikely to wear this ever again if I own one and I’m just throwing money away if I rent it.

I’d like to be able to re-use it.

Plus – after some tests in M&S and Moss Bros I’m even more convinced that it would just make me look like a beardy Hugh Hefner.

 

When the missing piece of my personal puzzle arrived by courier yesterday I tried the whole ensemble on for the first time and took some photos for a few second opinions.

I’m loathe to reveal it just yet, in case I change my mind – but here’s a hint.

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It’s absolutely NOT this.

Right – now we’ve got that cleared up I guess I better let you know how I did on the scales yesterday.

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It seems that the week went well – although I would have preferred to lose weight rather than maintain. I want to go toward the bottom of my range (taking me down to 13st 11lbs) – but I’m detracting nothing from this. Crucially (and most importantly) it’s a win, my outfit fits perfectly and I’m still in target.

Now I’m in range I’ve stopped being quite so militant about #onplanoctober but I’m still taking very careful note of everything that passes my lips and paying close attention to my exercise as well.

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This month (according to my Apple Health app) I seem to be doing even more than I usually do – although to be truthful I haven’t been consciously trying to. I’ve just been keeping active and trying to fill my days productively, and this seems to have resulted in a fairly silly average of nearly 13 miles a day.

Still – it’s not forced in any way. I’m just genuinely enjoying getting out and about with people and chatting away about sunrises and changes of seasons.

My intention though is to be on tip-top form for the upcoming event – and since my consultant Angie is going to look like one of Charlie’s Angels when we stand on stage together (I s**t you not – I’ve seen a picture of her in the dress and she looks amazing) I need to feel my very best.

Anyway – that’s enough for the moment.

Feeling great and staying on plan means cooking proper meals and eating at the appropriate times, not just snacking – and so far I’ve been doing very well on this score. I have purchased zero Hi-fi bars or Aldi benefit bars this week (after recently identifying them as my ‘gateway drug’) and thats proven to be a great decision.

Last night for some reason I really hankered for garlic and my usual go-to chilli recipe found itself slightly modified to include virtually a whole bulb of the stuff and a few leeks.

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Needless to say there are times where it’s a good thing I don’t have a partner or smoke in bed – as I’m pretty sure I blew the duvet almost completely off on a number of occasions during the night.

A naked flame nearby my sleeping form would probably have meant that I’d have said goodbye to both my windows and most of the bricks in the front of my house…

Tonight I’m having a stir fry with smoked haddock.

I’m going to stuff another metric tonne of garlic into it and enjoy every last flipping mouthful!!! Feel free to pop round internet – that is if you no longer need your eyebrows and have lost all sense of smell.

Davey

 

Greek god or blueberry muffin

It’s not happening. I just can’t sleep. Currently it’s 2.45am and I’m unable to clear my mind. It’s just continually racing from one topic to the next.

I knew that I was preoccupied last night when my stomach started playing its ‘I bet you can’t fill me‘ game.

In the end I showed it who’s boss. It was a hollow victory though because I just wound up feeling a bit sick after putting its challenge to bed.

A combination of the spicy foods I consumed and other day to day concerns therefore are currently conspiring together to disturb my sleep. Both my stomach and mind are relentlessly churning away like a washing machine.

There’s nothing serious happening though. Everything is ok in the grand scheme of things. The issue is that by nature I’m someone that likes to have a relatively logical order and process in the world around me.

When I’m confronted with something that I consider to be a barrier to that, which is a bit chaotic or temporarily defies my attempts to understand or explain it I try endlessly in my head to turn it over and over, find ways around the problem and make sense of what it all means.

Since 1am I’ve been doing just that – drawing logic diagrams in my head, mentally screwing them up and then starting over.

It’s something I’ll figure out eventually – but in the meantime it’s not helping me in terms of shut-eye (or with occasional moments of over eating.)

Yesterday I consumed a lot of protein. Way too much in fact. I got a large amount of chicken bargains in Tesco on Thursday that were close to out of date and reduced – which I realise now was a bit of a tactical error.

I bought too much (and I mean a lot!) and then convinced myself that they all needed ‘using up’.

Silly Davey’s Friday looked like this…

19th Jan
Crudités and two packs of chicken pieces
Cayenne and paprika beef, two packs of chicken pieces, swede, carrot, potato, onion and tomato stew
2x large spicy chilli chicken breasts
6x large gala apples
450g pot of onken ‘whole grain’ yogurt (can’t find this in the SW app but it’s got between 4.5 and 12 syns I reckon)

So – it’s ridiculous o’clock and I need to sleep but can’t. The only sensible thing to do is make a large, strong coffee and play some violent video games.

Thankfully I found another bargain whilst in Tesco on Thursday. The legacy edition of COD Infinite Warfare for £10.

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I’ve already played some of Infinite Warfare about a year ago (only campaign – as I hate online adversarial) and frankly it was a bit average – although it’s fun in short bursts, quite pretty in places – and has Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington (John Snow) playing a snarling bad guy in it.

The real sweetener is COD MW Remastered (an absolute classic) which made this particular edition of the game an eye watering £70 when it was originally released.

(Author shoots lots of digital things until most of the things are dead but then the digtal things gang up, retaliate and repeatedly kill the author who switches off the silly silly game in retaliation.)

Bah. I hardly play games any more and I think it shows. I’ve become totally poo at them. Often now I just find them frustrating, and none of this has helped calm my mind.

How unusual. I felt sure I’d want to nod off after ingesting lots of caffeine and doing something that flooded me with adrenaline…

(Author goes to bed. Still can’t sleep)

It’s now 8am, my eyes think my eyelids are Brillo pads, and I spent the last 90 minutes lying in bed drawing a diagram of my challenges, how they can be worked on and what I need to do to accurately describe and understand them. It’s not completely out of my head but it’s a start.

Now all I have to do is go and stand on the scales in an hour or so. I can feel my stomach still processing spicy chicken and I just know the result will be crap – but hey-ho. I need to go and take it on the chin like I would any other weekend.

It’s just another day and in the scheme of things it really doesn’t matter.

(Author gets ready and goes to group)

Well as expected the scales showed a gain – and frankly I’m not in the least bit surprised. My belly feels like it’s still got half a chicken jammed in my lower colon so I reckon I definitely got what I deserved. To days of packing away the protein isn’t without consequence.

So, I’ve back tracked a bit – but you know what? I don’t really mind if I’m honest.

It gives me something to work towards next week – and if I just take it on the chin and carry on it won’t matter one little bit. There’s no rush to get to target and I’m not putting myself under any needless pressure.

The fact of the matter is that I’m not on a diet.

I’m on a healthy eating plan.

Dieters want to lose weight so that they can ‘start eating normally again’ whereas I want to be healthy for life – and this is just life.

Today I’m moving on, happy and content and I’ve been shopping instead – and I could scarcely believe what I found.

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I last time I owned a pair of these when I was 17-18 years old at the start of the 90’s.

Back then a pair of 501’s was a huge deal to me. I wanted to look like Nik Kamen, and take my jeans off in a 1950’s launderette to the sounds of ‘I heard it through the grapevine’.

Consequently I didn’t miss a beat – after checking for holes and wear etc I just took them to the till and without trying them on just handed over a crisp £10 note.

I’ve been abstractily looking for a pair in my size ever since I started buying things from charity shops – but frankly now I’m purchased them I’m actually a bit scared to try them on.

I think I’ll do it in the morning.

I’m hungry and have prepared a super healthy salad, which will be one of many this week. I need to metaphorically tighten my belt – which now I think about it may be an anaolgy that works pretty well in terms of my new purchase too…

We shall see…

Wish me luck internet – I’ll let you know in the next installment if my 501’s fit and more importantly whether they make me look like a Greek god or a blueberry muffin.

Davey

EGX Non-Scale Victory!

Yesterday was something of a personal triumph for me. Nothing particularly amazing happened in the great scheme of things, but what did take place probably wouldn’t have been possible even this time last year.

There are moments when for me everyone else’s normal still happens to be my amazing and this event is a significant non-scale victory.

I’d completely forgotten (until about three weeks ago) that I’d agreed waaaaaay back sometime last year (shortly after I started Slimming World) that I’d go to EGX 2017 at the NEC with some friends. It’s a serious geek festival for gamers – and it was something I’d dearly have loved to do many times in the past – but frankly I couldn’t because I was too big.

My friend has asked me a few times in the past to go with him but I was terrified of having nowhere to sit, being continually and embarrassingly drenched in sweat and suffering crippling back pain all day. I knew I’d not have been able to walk easily from the car park to the entrance when I was previously invited, let alone spend the day there exploring.

Instead I made excuses and said I was busy doing things that I wasn’t – or that the event wasn’t really my kind of thing, when really I knew it was.

I hated telling fibs – but I didn’t know how else to deal with it.

EGX is a big, brash, noisy and colourful event that’s spread out over a large surface area covering several exhibition halls. When we arrived at 11am they were just beginning to fill up with people.

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It seems that in the last year things have really moved on, and by the end of today it was the turn of my companions to look tired and worn out from walking – but not me!

As 6.30pm rolled around and others were flagging I was still posing for selfies, chatting to people on stands, peeping behind curtains, wearing silly hats, looking at tee-shirts and trying to win freebies by posting hashtagged pictures of myself on Twitter.

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After yet, after seven and a half hours of walking, queueing and standing I was still full of beans.

Furthermore, I fitted into everything I sat on and climbed onto or into. I went everywhere, chatted with everyone that seemed to want to natter and didn’t for one moment feel out of place or unusual.

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All in all the day was a resounding success – and was further enhanced by scoring a really cool freebie tee-shirt that actually flipping fits me!!!

This has never ever happened in my entire life! Absolutely every item of clothing that I’ve ever been given as a prize or a present has been completely unwearable – but not on this occasion!

Meet my new favourite tee-shirt!

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Anyway – today has been a long one, and somehow Friday has turned into Saturday morning. It’s 2am, and I’m knackered.

In 8 and a half hours I step on the scales and find out whether my largely awful week with a wildly undulating appetite (that I think I held mostly at bay) has been tempered by lots of exercise. I’ve done around 83 miles of walking and 162,000 steps this week.

That’s an average of 11.8 miles and 23,146 steps per day!

Last week I had two pounds to go before I weigh less than I’ve lost – but experience tells me that two rather epic weeks of weight loss are rarely something that continues completely uninterrupted for too long. At some point my body will no doubt slam the brakes on.

Still – if I get a maintain or a gain I really don’t mind.

The week may have started badly but it’s ended on a high note! I got to hug a Warlock from Destiny 2!

(shortly after this photo our intrepid hero was chased off by a grumpy Virgin Media employee for touching his mannequin’s bottom inappropriately)

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(Author goes to bed feeling tired but satisfied, then gets up, drinks coffee and goes to group)

Well – the expected happened, and I maintained.

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I wasn’t alone today in this respect – and it was completely expected – so I’m not in the least bit worried about it. My averages are still on a continually downward trajectory, so all I have to do is get my head down this week, keep working hard and things will come good.

I’ve had lots of positive chats with people already today and I have a walk with a friend planned for this afternoon. Furthermore my calendar has another two pencilled in for tomorrow as well – so I’m starting the week as I mean for it to continue.

I am determined that I will be on the upswing of life next week rather than feeling sorry for myself (which was something of a feature of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) and this means that I have to make some (any) kind of tangible forward progress.

I have a few ideas about what that will be – but haven’t cemented them in stone just yet.

In the meantime internet I need to have a spot of lunch before heading out into the countryside! I hope you enjoy your Saturday!

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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Too busy loving life

I was talking to a fellow slimmer this morning about the battle to stay positive – even when injured. I reflected on this afterwards and in truth I remember when it happened to me (thankfully I’ve been ok for quite a while – although my plantar fasciitis never truly left for good) I felt like I’d hit the bottom of the barrel emotionally.

I earnestly wish her a speedy recovery so she can get back in the saddle ASAP.

An incredibly active friend has been telling me stories like this for years – and each time she’s broken, snapped, pulled, torn or dislocated something significant (this has been something of a theme over the years) I’ve not long after seen her long term mood take a turn for the worst.

I’ll admit – in the back of my mind – I always half wondered why she didn’t just get an XBOX and settle into a 48 hour Destiny marathon. After all it worked for me. Why had everyone else in the world failed to realise how good this was for the soul?

I used to be very enthusiastic about this game. It filled my life almost as completely as I filled my armchair (which I eventually broke with my impressive bulk).


Thanks to my XBOX being almost as much of a digital spy as my Apple Watch I know that whilst practically immobile I played this for 1052 hours. 

To save you working that out if I divide this figure by 24, I sat motionless in front of it for almost 44 solid days. Or – if you prefer to look at it like a job and divide it based on an 8 hour working day that works out to 131.5 days. If you want to know how it stacks up per annum that’s 26 weeks (based on a five day week) or half a year

Amazingly I did all of this before I started losing weight or being made redundant.

If only I’d been paid for my time…

I haven’t really played games for any significant period for quite a while. Readers may be surprised (given my currently unemployed status) that I don’t feel I have the time anymore. I’m too busy with other things. If I do play it’s not long before I succumb to guilt and go for a walk (if I haven’t done so already) or jump on my exercise bike.

I miss exercise when it’s not in my day and when I can’t do it I get jumpy and irritable. I’m also absolutely certain that I drink as much coffee as I do because it’s a good excuse to go for a walk. The nearest Starbucks is 1.84 miles away. A steaming cup of joe means at least 4 miles of walking.

In retrospect I’m genuinely glad I listened last week to the people urging caution about my running attempts because today (free from the aching that had dogged my thighs for almost a week) I really needed to be on point and able to pour it on.

I needed a win.

This was mainly because (as expected) I didn’t lose anything in the scales at all. In fact I put on half a pound. 

Whilst it’s something I saw coming a mile away it still doesn’t make it nice to see on my ‘report card’. Ideally I’d like to see a steady loss every week instead of the rollercoaster I curently appear to be on.

I really can’t account for why this is. The last few days in particular have been between 1500-2000 kcal and I’ve burned a lot with exercise. Food wise I’ve eaten VERY healthily.

I’ve given up trying to figure it out for the most part though and have to tell myself over and over that this is just something that happens. The weight will be gone eventually and all I have to do is keep looking forward. In the meantime there are other wins to be had.

For the last few weeks I’ve not had any certificates for my progress (it seems that they are a rare commodity when you reach a certain level) but today in group Angie presented me with three in one go!

I have plans for these babies further down the line and I’m keen to collect as many as I can! As nice as they are to have though these are past wins representing things I’ve already done.

Today I needed another, tangible indicator of continued (even if it was gradual) progress.

And here it is.

I’ve been chasing the sub 16 minute mile for a long time and today (admittedly with a little downhill section and a lot of perspiration) I frikkin did it!!!

15 minutes and 27 beautiful seconds!

So there it is. Progress doesn’t have to be on the scales.

It can also be the lovely comment from a lady who almost didn’t recognise me today. It can be a chat to share encouragement with a fellow slimmer. It can be the phone call I just got to go for an impromptu walk with a friend and his daughter in the park. It can be the weather as the sun peeks from behind a cloud and reminds you that you’re not rooted to your armchair. 

That reminds me internet.

The armchair that I used to fill, where my stomach reached the ends of the arms when I sat in it.

Not any more.

There’s so much room in it I no longer fill it unless I sit differently.

Pfft. Half a pound. Whatever.

I’m too busy loving life to worry about it. 

Davey

Distance update

Although it seems strangely inappropriate to celebrate the number of miles I’ve walked lately (given that doing it to excess appears to have caused my current injury) this morning I’ve exported the data that has been gathered in Apple Watch during October and added it to my ongoing table to show totals for both miles and steps since I started Slimming World.

For those who are particularly forgetful (or entirely new to my blog) some months ago a friend pointed out that I had walked the distance of the English channel in a week. This was something quite new for me and I began to write about it in posts and discuss it with others. A delightfully jaunty lady at my SW group then suggested that I build on this milestone and plot my walking progress across a virtual earth.

In the related post (here) I thought it would be fun to see if I could walk the distance from Land’s end to John o Groats – which is 847 miles according to Wikipedia. I am now on target to complete this (hopefully) by Christmas.

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At the moment my left leg is elevated and I’ve just taken my pain medication – so I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this graph. Currently I feel like I’ve set myself back quite a bit by being too over zealous, and people I trust to tell me the truth are worried I’m pushing myself too much.

Every single day I’ve been walking I’ve had these totals in my mind and have been trying hard to do more and more month on month -continuously increasing my steps and miles walked.

My tendency (like when I had the flu last month) when I miss a day is to do twice as much the next day to make up for it. I’m going to be out of the game for at least a week this time and it’s probably unwise to risk another injury by repeating the same slightly obsessive behaviour again.

I think November therefore may well show a significant decrease in steps and distance – depending on how quickly I get over this.

Anyway – today’s post is not a long one, as not a huge amount of things happen when I’m largely confined to my house. I’m still keeping a close eye on what I eat and I’m trying to be as virtuous as I can with quantities.

I’m also trying not to think about the scales on Saturday – which are edging ever closer and looking (metaphorically at least) over my shoulder at my dinner. Mentally I’m not sure how well prepared I am for a maintain or (heaven forbid) a gain. I might need a little more than a hug if this is the case.

On the plus side, after fiddling around and faffing about on and off over the last few days in Skyrim on my Xbox I am now a level four mage and can cast a rather impressive fireball that appears to do a very good job of immolating the undead. I also have a new tunic for my wizard that improves my magic capability by 50%.

I’m sure that this revelation will prove to be a better contraceptive for the time being than any prophylactic or male pill on the market – but just in case this unexpectedly stirs any amorous feelings in my female readership please let me know in the comments and we can discuss my fireballs further.

If anyone needs me I will be lost in fantasy while things heal up.

Davey

Temporarily benched

I’m currently sitting in a blue fabric chair with fixed arms in the waiting room of my local doctor’s surgery.

Chairs like this are one of my natural predators – worse even than the hateful little (but armless) red chairs at Slimming World meetings. I’m always wedged unceremoniously into their unflinching confines and I’m usually in pain because of it.

Encouragingly however (while it’s still snug) this seat is no longer painful. I can fit into it – which wasn’t the case the last time I was sitting here several months ago.

Thankfully I can also (I discovered this morning) fit into a Ford Ka – and get the seatbelt on, which was previously impossible.

I say thankfully because it meant that my much smaller friend could give me a lift home today from the park when I finally admitted to myself (and her) that I could no longer walk properly on my left leg after hobbling all the way there from my house to meet her.

It turns out that ignoring advice from the NHS website is a bad idea. Saying (like a complete idiot) that I would ‘walk through the pain’ whilst on a ten and a half mile jaunt around Warwick and Leamington yesterday means I’m now unable to lift the foot on my left upward or push downward on it without considerable discomfort.

(Goes in to see the doctor after being called)

I’ve been benched. I’m now on the reserve team.

I’m not allowed to walk (or even use my exercise bike) for at least a week – and I may not be able to walk for two. I’m allowed to swim but I have no swimwear and fear boats with harpoons.

I have an official diagnosis of shin splints in my left leg (as I suspected in my previous post). According to the doctor due to my excessive weight a torn tendon will also probably take longer to recover on me than someone half my size.

Yay.

The doctor was actually very supportive, despite this rather demoralising diagnosis. We talked about possible causes and stretches I could do for a while, plus how I could prevent this happening again in the future. He was also very complementary about my weight loss, which made a refreshing change from the usual speech about needing to slim down and the likelihood that I would drop dead if I didn’t.

On the bright side it doesn’t seem like a stress fracture – which was a possibility according to the NHS website (as it’s only in one leg). He twisted, poked and manipulated my foot and shin bones for quite a while and was convinced it’s not bone related.

I was really worried about this. I’ve broken so many things (not just bones) with my weight that I think I’d have actually cried in his office if that was the case.

I’m REALLY REALLY REALLY &£*%ing angry though. This week was supposed to be all about me smashing my weight loss and sorting out the small gain I had on Saturday.

It’s de-railed me in a completely unexpected way and I feel like punching the wall. I hate the idea of sitting in my living room all day with my foot in the air. And I know that when I’m bored I’ll just be thinking about food.

It’s not a good place to be.

However – my friends have my back, and I have to listen to their advice. If I’m sitting down for a week I’m going to be burning a lot less calories and I must start considering what I can and can’t eat over the next seven days in the absence of exercise.

‘Maybe now is a good time to start thinking about portion sizes’ said an impressively fearless mate, who was valiantly willing to poke my particular bear for the greater good.

I’ll be honest – this line of conversation is something that raises my pulse a lot and instantly puts me in a mentally defensive posture. I usually have to talk myself down from the metaphorical ledge before I reply to anyone on this point (no matter how well intentioned or benevolent the person is) as my natural response involves either fight or flight.

I’m trying to be better in this respect and take well meaning advice as it comes.

Portion control is in many ways a much BIGGER issue for me than giving up alcohol or dieting. I always skirt around the issue and have not yet managed to crack this particular problem to the point that I feel free of the hold it has over me.

She is 100% right though. I’ve been avoiding this for a long time, and I told her as much last week over coffee.

Luckily so far I’ve been exercising like a demon and that’s picked up some of the ‘slack’ that I’ve caused caused by eating larger meals than I probably should. I’ve also been eating lots of good stuff rather than bad stuff.

These twin pillars of virtue have been holding up my little temple of denial, and have allowed me to put this important dietary issue on my ‘to do’ list rather than where it now has to be – on the ‘sort out now’ top five.

It doesn’t make me feel any better about it though.

I’m angry as I type because circumstances have conspired to make me confront something emotionally complex when I don’t honestly feel ready.

It’s particularly ironic because my conversation with a walking companion yesterday touched on just this topic – and once again it appears the universe was listening.

It heard my conversation – noted that my advice was incompatible with my behaviour and decided to make an example of me.

And here I am.

If I’m looking for some other plusses however this DOES mean some guilt free video gaming for a few days.

Maybe it’s not all bad internet. Maybe the universe just wants me to shoot more aliens. 👽

Davey

Memorial Park

Rather then head for a walk in familiar territory today I decided to go closer towards where my friend lives in Coventry. I’ve never walked around Memorial Park before – but I have to say having done so today I’m a little bit in love with it.

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When we arrived the sky was still a bit grey and there had recently been rain. Although the paths had dried everything still smelt earthy and fresh. There was a lovely breeze and also the ever present scent of freshly cut grass. There were lots of people from all backgrounds using the park – but a nice chilled out feeling seemed present in all we met and talked to (and we chatted to quite a few people!).

Some were jogging, some walking, some talking, some taking the dog out, some cycling, some playing golf, and one very impressive guy doing aerobics as he walked around with a big grin on his face.

I have it on good authority that its not always as serene as we found it today – and as the primary park of a major city I believe it can get pretty busy – especially around the Godiva Festival, which I’ve never been to.

However, from a walking perspective this place is GREAT.

One of my favourite parts of St Nicholas in Warwick is the long straight shaded avenue of trees. As you walk along it there’s a sense that you’re in a wooded womb, and protected not only from the elements – but the stresses and strains of the outside world.

There’s a MUCH longer wooded avenue in Memorial Park, and it curves approximately around half of the length of the main circuit. Sadly I forgot to start my workout app so I don’t know how long it is exactly – but with some wandering and investigating, three or so laps came to about five and a half miles.

Initially I was shown around by Boris and his owner. Boris is camera shy today and only wanted me to take pictures of his ass, the top of his head or of blurred movement.

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His primary concerns as usual were selfishly not my blog but instead allowing his ass to be sniffed and engaging in the sniffing of other doggy asses. Immediately after this shot was taken he also managed to ‘punch’ me in the family jewels when coming closer for a fuss – but I forgive the sweet little Ewok, despite being slightly winded.

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Not far from the car park is a busy little coffee shop, where after the first lap we stopped for a short rest and a cup of tea. I have to say I’m not a great fan of the loos though, which probably because of vandalism in the past (they show no signs of this currently and are in good order) have metal toilets with no seats.

On the final lap nature came calling and I can attest to the fact that not only is the toilet pretty chilly to enthrone yourself on, but that when faced with an above average sized ass is capable of forming a seal that forces a stream of cold water upwards to cool down any damage in the sensitive area that Boris may have inadvertently caused.

Thankfully it was well stocked with paper and the experience was certainly ‘refreshing’…

Part of the meandering we did on the second lap was to view the war memorial – and as I looked at the various plaques and bedding arrangements I realised that pretty much everything in the park is designed around remembrance of many conflicts. The primary monument (which is the park’s centrepiece) is concerned with the first and second world wars, but the other little gardens dotted around everywhere have their own sombre words about lives lost in far flung locations.

One that drew my attention on my third lap was the Rose Garden (sadly slightly out of season) which had some very neatly trimmed topiary and a sense of tranquility. I really need to come back and look at this when all the flowers are in bloom and at their best. I bet it looks really nice.

I realised when I finished that I’d spent the best part of three hours in the park, and time had absolutely flown. My friend had headed home after the second lap and I’d done a faster, more exercise oriented walk on the final circuit.

I’ve noticed Apple Watch is being a lot more stingy with its exercise ring over the last couple of weeks. Apparently it ‘learns’ your fitness and will only consider what you do exercise if you get up to a certain heart rate.

However – I have noticed that my heart rate is now lower than it was two weeks ago when exercising, meaning I have to move faster and do more to make it go up. This is of course a good thing – and I keep surprising myself over how long I can maintain a brisk pace these days.

Once I’d finished the third lap I headed back toward Leamington Spa. Today is Super Tuesday meaning I can get cheap cinema tickets and sit in a near empty auditorium and kick off my shoes while I watch the movie.

It’s total bliss.

I parked up at the top of town and walked down to the cinema (which was almost deserted) with a sole attendant on the ticket booth and the rest of the place seemingly unmanned (or woman’d).

I’d chosen Anthropoid – ironically enough (given the location of my morning walk) a war film detailing the Czech resistance’s assassination attempt during WWII on Reinhard Heydrich – who by all accounts was not a very nice man.

It’s well acted, at times pretty tense – and does a good job of showing the sense of daily oppression that the Czech people must have felt under Nazi rule. The constant fear that anything they did to resist the invaders would result in huge loss of life for the civilian population is also evident throughout. I also particularly liked the fact that this wasn’t a gung-ho action movie. The men tasked with the assassination are rightly terrified of their enemy, and nothing they do is without a corresponding sense of fear.

As well as being thought provoking there’s also quite a lot of action in it – and it’s pretty exciting. I’d say its definitely worth a watch if you like this sort of drama. It’s also got Cillian Murphy in the lead role – which is a treat for any fans of Peaky Blinders out there. He manages to ooze an unsettling and brooding menace in whatever he’s in – and despite the ‘oddness’ of him I find his roles quite compelling.

Bt the time I’d finished walking around town and getting a few bits and bobs I looked at my watch for the day’s stats.

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Not bad for a day out!

This evening I’m going to be doing something more sedate however and will be (in a moment) logging onto Destiny to play Rise of Iron, the new DLC which unlocks today.

Many many alien scumbags will die tonight – but I’m OK with their sacrifice.

I have it on very good authority they have all been very very naughty and deserve a good spanking.

With my new rocket launcher. The Iron Gjallahorn.

Internet – I think I’m in love! She’s so purdy!!!

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Davey

And the water!

Well so far my reformed approach to portion control hasn’t been awful.

I’ve been drinking the recommended volume of water, and becoming intimately familiar with visiting the toilet as a consequence. If someone asked me how I feel today the only (flippant) answer I could provide is ‘flushed.’

Last night (as planned) I started weighing things. One of the tips from the group that I picked up on was that a fry light lid contained roughly the 35g of allowed ‘healthy extra’ oats that I’m allowed to have, so I decided to test it. It turns out they’re right.

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The lid itself weighs 6g – so all in all I can’t have much in the way of oats. Compared to what I might’ve eaten in the past this is probably about 10-15 times smaller, but maybe half what i’d been guesstimating was 35g since I started SW.

Strangely this didn’t annoy me. At least I know now, and I can begin to work with what’s considered a ‘regular’ amount and begin to get used to it.

When combined with natural yogurt, cinnamon and fruit it’s actually still pretty filling.

And the water. I didn’t forget the water.

I had this (and the water) for my evening meal last night while I watched ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Rogue Cut’.

I’ve seen the film before – but not the special edition with the additional Anna Paquin footage, which in my view added a lot to the third act and really shouldn’t have ended up on the cutting room floor when it was at the cinema. It was a travesty – and some cool bits with Magneto and some Sentinels also went to waste.

This was in preparation for ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ today. But more of that in a moment.

The day started as I meant it to continue. Breakfast with speed and portion control.

I woke up and looked at the SW website for some inspiration, and also at the Facebook group that Angie has set up. Staring me in the face was a really nice looking BLT sandwich, and I decided that this was how the day would start.

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This was 2 slices of small toasted wholemeal bread, 1x fry light fried egg, 2x bacon medallions, 2x tomatoes and a couple of large folded iceberg lettuce leaves without spread/mayo.

And the water. I didn’t forget the water. Before AND after.

Once the business of breakfast and pill taking was done it was off to the flicks to meet Pete and Yuni. They were already there when I arrived and had picked up the (premium) pre-booked tickets. We strolled in to sit down and quietly chatted as we waited for the film to start.

The first thing that immediately struck me was the unusually large amount of premium seat legroom in that particular screen. I could extend my legs fully and was only just able to touch the seat in front.

This was tremendous!

Although then I noticed that the other seats in front were almost level to mine. I clocked this primarily because a harlem globetrotter sized monster of a man sat in the sat in front of me, and subjected me to the fluffy tuft of his crown underneath Jennifer Lawrence for the duration of the film.

On the bright side I’m sure he has no lower back issues because the f$%&*r sat bolt upright for the entire movie despite his massive legroom and ability to slump.

Still, on the plus side the film was absolutely excellent – and it was actually a pretty good story. It also didn’t (like the ‘first class’ movie that preceded it) play too fast and loose with characters that are beloved by fans of the comics.

There were a couple of plot holes, but nothing to spoil the enjoyment. Probably one of the best Marvel films I’ve watched lately if I’m honest!

I couldn’t help feeling as I left however that I was being watched….

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Once I’d shaken off Michael Fassbender we realised it was well past lunch time and decided to head off to the pub for a drink and a bite to eat.

Thankfully we were on the same page and Pete was also in the mood for a salad. I’d not had the chicken caesar at the Bear in the Spa before today, but as I was checking out the menu on the door before going in a lady randomly remarked that it was absolutely lovely, so I thought I’d give it a go.

It seems that their secret is Paprika salt – which was scattered around the plate, and added nice little ‘zing’ to a familiar dish.

I’m getting some asap!

Eating out also allowed me to have a lunch that was an appropriate size and I ‘syned‘ the Parmesan shavings and the croutons – which I guesstimate (I can’t measure in a pub sadly) came to about 5/6 in total.

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And the water. I didn’t forget the water!!! 

Well sort of. I had a pot of tea and a coffee in the pub and huge glass of water when i got home, but it still counts!!!

So the question is how do I feel at the moment?

I don’t know honestly.

I went to visit my friend yesterday evening and we discussed the whole issue of portion sizes and hunger – and truthfully I’m a bit lost on this subject.

I’m so used to impulse eating that I’m very unsure most of the time whether I’m eating because I’m bored or because I’m genuinely hungry.

I really don’t trust my ability to judge this – so I’m trying to ignore all thoughts about anything outside of what I’m allowing myself for main meals.

I sort of feel hungry at the moment – but then I’m also aware that I’m a bit fidgety and wondering what to do this evening. Filling time with eating or drinking is an easy way to divert myself, but it also leads me to be very confused about actually why I’m REALLY doing what I’m doing.

One thing I do know though is that today I’m not avoiding anything, and because of that (even if I do feel a bit hungry) I’m also feeling a little proud of myself for confronting what was scaring me, so honestly it’s been a good day.

Not sure what to do with my Sunday evening though…

In respect of the memory of Sgt Dwayne Johnson (before his untimely death in the events of Halo3) I’ll probably shoot some space aliens.

They really do deserve it. The bastards.

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Johnson put his perspective on this pastime very eloquently in Halo 3. I’m sure we can all take a quiet moment with the Sgt’s words to remember his insightful wisdom on the subject of human/alien relations, and ensure his death wasn’t in vain by carrying on his legacy:

SGT. JOHNSON (as the dropships approach the outskirts of New Mombasa):

Dear Humanity… we regret being alien bastards. We regret coming to Earth.

Inside the cockpit of the lead Pelican, Johnson leans against the bulkhead behind the two pilots.

SGT. JOHNSON:

And we most definitely regret that the Corps just blew up our raggedy-ass fleet!

PILOTS (in unison):

Hoo-rah!

(blogger wipes away a tear)

And while I’m doing this I’ll drink water internet. I wont’t forget the water!!!!

Davey

Pew pew!

Well. If I’m honest I sulked a little at the weekend. 

I was mightily annoyed by the result from the scales, and even Angie when she checked my food diary for the week couldn’t see the reason for me apparently  putting weight back on. 

However, shit happens – and it will take more than that to wreck my progress. 

This weekend therefore I’ve been very very careful indeed about what I’ve been eating and have also been working in the garden a bit too for exercise which has got the heart rate up a bit and made me feel better. I have a lot of work to do with the bushes but it’s a start. 

(I refuse to show the ‘before’ photo but trust me when I say this is a massive improvement.)


Once it’s dried out a bit I’ll go over it again at a shorter height to make it a bit neater. 

I also started on the weeds (behind the camera) – which have had a field day in my absence, but now know the bitter sting of weed killer and will think twice about growing in between my patio slabs in the near future. 

Comfortingly I found my mom’s wheelbarrow (rescued from the bungalow some months ago) to be extremely useful – and after carting things easily back and forth was moved to ask myself ‘WHY HAVE I NEVER OWNED ONE BEFORE?!’

(The answer is probably because I hate gardening – but that’s not the point. They are very useful.)

Food intake consisted mostly of salads thanks to the huge amount of fresh veg I ordered with my shopping this week. 

Online grocery shopping is a guilty pleasure of mine – and although I initially started using it for all the wrong reasons (laziness basically) I have come to think of it as the 4th emergency service. 

It’s impossible to impulse buy a day ahead, and you can’t just decide to pick up some crisps if you’re feeling hungry while walking round a shop. 

If done correctly it feeds me for the whole week. I’ve no need to actually spend cash any more and have had the same £40 in my wallet for weeks.

However sometimes they get it wrong. 

This week I ordered 5 bananas so I’d have one a day for work either with breakfast or as a snack. 

This is what arrived. 

Five bags with 4 bananas in each…

Initially I immediately wanted to send them back until the guy on the doorstep told me that the whole lot had come to 48p and the others didn’t have a barcode. 

Without a barcode he couldn’t send them back – so I had no choice but to keep them!

So – in the spirit of friendship (and the lack of a barcode) everyone at work got a banana today, which was a nice beginning to the week. 

Slightly more annoying was the lack of grated carrot on my salad yesterday however – which was not caused by a Sainsburys screw up but a Dave screw up. 

When I purchased the grater with my online groceries I had a choice between a large one with a box underneath or a smaller one. 

I already have cupboards full of crap so I decided to go with the smaller option. 

Incase you’re thinking that’s an absolutely HUGE pouch of microwave rice (hint. It’s not) what you’re viewing is THE SMALLEST GRATER IN THE UNIVERSE. 
At about 6cm high this bad boy appears to be designed so that Hobbits can grate peanuts for their butter. One at a time. 

It’s going back. 

In other news I killed masses of space aliens in Destiny and ranked up to 319 – mostly due to being very angry on Saturday. 


Despite this xenomorph genocide I am confident their numbers will replenish when I get back to killing them later. 

Their deaths are for the greater good, and they take my mind off other things at work and home which will hopefully eventually sort themselves out in the near future. 

Bang, zap, pow Internet! Pew pew!

Davey

Cowbridge

Destiny is the digital version of crack cocaine.

If (like me) you’re the type of highly intelligent, erudite and devilishly handsome person that plays video games and you’ve never tried it then part of me suggests you play it immediately because it’s without a doubt one of the absolute best first person shooters ever created.

Another part of me, more concerned with sleep deprivation and eye strain is likely to caution you against playing it altogether. Once you start it you may well get hooked.

Destiny’s major bonus is that although it doesn’t make me loose calories it doesn’t contain any either. If it did I’d probably be the size of a barn door, since (as mentioned in previous blogs) I’ve played it a lot.

In the last two years, according to worrying statistics it accounts for 28 days, 5 hours and 55 minutes of my life. The one saving grace is that my friends have played it with me for a significant portion of this time – which has been a great laugh.

I’m trying not to play it as much these days, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

This morning I woke up at 4am. I was rather excited to be going to Wales and seeing my friend for the first time in a few months and consequently my head shot off the pillow three hours earlier than I had intended.

I was wide awake and there was no putting the genie back in the bottle.

Initially I tried to return to sleep and spent a fruitless 25 minutes intently examining the inside of my eyelids.

They’re featureless and boring and only lead to thoughts of video games.

‘I could complete a couple of bounties in Destiny instead….’ I mused.

‘It would keep me busy and I MIGHT get a sweet loot drop.’

I got out of bed and padded downstairs to play my game.

Two hours later and after many many dead aliens (approximately 100 vex, 100 fallen, 50 hive and around 50 taken) I had no sweet loot, just eye strain and I felt tired.

I’d been suckered again by a game that’s both brilliant and infuriating in equal measure.

It decides when it wants to pay out loot – not you. There’s next to nothing you can do to ensure that you’ll get what you want. Often you feel like you’re just along for the ride – which would be bad if the ride wasn’t so exciting. Unfortunately though when you boil it down it’s basically a hugely complex fruit machine that I keep pressing buttons on.

Still – I shouldn’t complain. It got me from 4.30am to 6.30am where I managed to get to sleep again.

Consequently when my 7am alarm went off I was dead to the world. The only thing I was remotely interested in was pressing snooze – which I did three times.

When I eventually got out of bed I was running at least 10 minutes late.

This resulted in not two, but four slices of burned toast, as I managed to kill two batches of breakfast whilst pulling on trousers and socks.

As I set off late to Cardiff (well – if I’m being specific Cowbridge) I also failed to notice that Google Maps had chosen a route that took me via a toll bridge. An hour and a half later on the wrong side of a huge waterway I had no choice but to pay to get through.

£6.60p just to cross a mother frikkin bridge! Grrrrr.

I arrived early at 10.15 outside Cafe Nero in the Waitrose car park (proudly proclaiming its 2 hour wait time at the entrance) thanks to this minor financial sat-nav faux pas. As it happened this enabled an unexpected short period of relaxation. My friend, nursing an ill youngster had been up all night and just like me had overslept.

She would be a little while said her text, but would be there ASAP.

I purchased a large Americano in the almost completely empty shop and sat down to check the news and see what was going on in the world while I waited.

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My friend arrived shortly afterwards, still comedically dripping from her lighting fast shower.

As with all the best friendships time had once again failed pathetically in its attempts to separate us and we instantly launched into some hardcore nattering. It was as if we’d seen each other only the night before.

Time flew by as we chatted, drinking obscene volumes of tea and coffee and sharing stories about what had been going on in the last few months.

Both of us have had interesting years, and faced our fair share of very similar challenges. Thankfully we’ve always been able to provide a compass for each other and I always find myself drawn to her advice.

We stopped talking only to move coffee shops and hopped from Cafe Nero to Aroma Cafe two doors down.

This was primarily so we could move cars to confuse the 2 hour parking Nazis as they goose stepped back and forth outside. I noted that they occasionally clicked their heels together and saluted a black shirted colleague as they noted down offending registration numbers under Waitrose’s ever watchful searchlights.

Collectively they looked like fantastic contributors to the rich fabric of society. Their mothers would be proud.

As this new cafe served light meals I quickly took the opportunity to inhale a baked potato with tuna and my friend also gulped down their best toasted bagel with some pink salmon.

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Oddly, neither of these had any of the Cafe’s implied aroma, but I decided not to ask for my money back as I was in a good mood.

Shortly afterwards the stealthy but friendly staff carefully disguised their intentions toward us by continuously cleaning everything nearby, saying goodbye loudly to everyone leaving and offering us a choice of the day’s newspapers and supplements to TAKE HOME and keep.

Despite the subtle nature of their almost indecipherable hints, we got the message and at 4.30pm finally stepped out blinking into the bright grey drizzle of a fine Welsh afternoon for a big hug and to head off in our opposite directions.

It was a wonderful day out – and I left my mate feeling positively charged, despite the weather facing me on the way home – which in the best of Welsh traditions was wet, damp, waterlogged, rainy, moist, and generally sodden all the way to the English border.

Upon reaching the edge of civilisation it suddenly turned into an infinitely superior ‘grey and pissy’. This subtle shade and outlook is one that everyone in the English home counties knows and loves for its infinite (but rarely realised) potential.

So – now I’m home and the day (I feel) has been a minor triumph.

I’ve shown hundreds of alien b*****ds the error of their ways, driven to Wales and back without bumping into anything, hooked up with my mate, helped reduce the country’s dangerously high coffee surplus, set the world to rights, stayed on plan with Slimming World with my saintly baked potato and now have my feet on the comfiest pouffe in western civilisation watching the telly.

Life, frankly doesn’t get much better than today. I’m happy with my world and what it’s once again becoming. I’m a lucky man with good friends – and I  have absolutely nothing of consequence to complain about.

Now if you excuse me I’m going to have a teeny tiny nap and sleep off my tupperware box full of last night’s chicken curry. Which was yummy.

(burp)

Davey

Cleaning and Batfleck

While its absolutely great coming to terms with loads of heavy stuff in life and embracing change, its also nice to have a couple of days where you just begin to remember what the world is like when its uncomplicated and filled with family and friends.

After some spring cleaning my house is now a nice place to be once more, and the pile of things to go through related to mom is now greatly diminished.

Although one part of the house has taken the brunt of this. At some point I’m going to have to return my dining room to a place that can be used and not just a staging ground for my laundry and things that really should be in a tool shed.

At the moment its door is a shame filter and is firmly closed.

Otherwise though I can now happily repel any boarders safe in the knowledge that when they eventually leave in the morning their brief stay will have been a pleasant one.

All rooms are dusted, hoovered, washed, aired and cobweb free.

Its annoying when you realise that you’ve let this slip a bit because it underlines periods where you’ve not been coping too well, or other events have taken over your normal routine. Now however, it’s a new start in more ways than one, so its good to start as I mean to go on.

The garden is next on the list – but thanks to the weather it’s not going to happen for a little while. It’s like a marsh at the moment. Secretly this makes me happy. Lawn mowers suck ass. Still – my grass needs a haircut, and I can’t put it off much longer.

Thankfully this wasn’t an issue for Friday games night where the guys came round, filled up the living room, consumed wine, beer, takeaways and junk food. Grass was way down the list of priorities while we spent almost 12 hours hanging out on various consoles playing games the way god intended – on the sofa having a good laugh together.

The good thing about this is that you can put your feet up and natter while doing something pointless and fun to just chill out. Movie nights are good, but they don’t give you the same opportunity to just bounce off each other and talk nonsense while shooting stuff.

Its also nice at the end of the night to see a kitchen full of wine bottles and beer cans that have absolutely nothing to do with me and to wake up the morning after with a completely clear head (unlike some of my mates lol).

This was just as well as the weather was ‘inclement’ on Saturday.

When I say that I mean it was absolutely slashing it down monsoon style and I got an epic ‘bucket of water over my head’ style soaking after left the cinema with Pete and Yuni yesterday.

I think I’ve been drier after jumping in swimming pools…

The film was good though – Batman vs Superman (Dawn of Justice). It was lengthy, well made and very watchable.

However, I must take a moment to have a (spoiler free) nerd rant.

  1. Batman is not a killer (its kind of his thing to not be shooty and stabby) yet his body count is pretty epic. He also brands bad guys with the bat symbol. Not cool Batman. Not cool.
  2. Superman would also make every possible effort to save civilian casualties and limit collateral damage – however he seems to quite happily smash up Metropolis at every available opportunity. Take it outside next time Superman! 
  3. Lex Luthor is not a twitching sociopath in hipster jeans that looks like a 12 year old with ants in his trousers. Worst. Casting. Ever.
  4. Batfleck wasn’t as bad as I expected. He’s still a dick though. Christian Bale still has it.

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(credit to curseoftheradio)

Otherwise its highly recommended for the average cinema goer. I suspect Brumrah (you know who you are) will have a similar geek rage when he sees it however.

So that was my (nice) start to the easter weekend.

In some other pretty amazing news my friend’s lovely little daughter turned six today, meaning I absolutely have to start coming to terms with the fact that she’s had a baby (two in fact).

Time just flies – where does it go?!!

Happy Easter internet!

Davey

 

T-Rex

I’ve been trying not to overdo things lately.

OK – when I say ‘overdo’, what I really mean is do things a lot.

OK OK – thats not strictly true. When I say ‘do things a lot’ I really really mean do them obsessively.

Basically I do a lot of things obsessively. Or I do a lot of things not at all. There’s not really a middle ground.

  1. Drinking. Whilst involved in this pastime, a glass of wine will never suffice. Two bottles might just hit the spot however. Maybe three if i’m feeling thirsty.
  2. Food. A packet of crisps. Why have one, when there are two (or three or four) there?
  3. TV shows. How about one episode? Two? Three? Nahhhh – lets do the whole box set. In fact lets do it in a week. I’m looking at you Breaking Bad.
  4. Video games. Why play for short periods of time to fit in with a healthy lifestyle when I can make the game become my lifestyle? ‘Destiny’ – proud record holder and owner of the title ‘game that I lived on most of all’ shows 640 hours of playtime online…

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My previous manager can attest to the fact that I’ve taken weeks and weeks off work so that I can play certain games. When I do so I’ve cleared my timetable of everything and just buried myself in the imaginary world at hand.

Destiny is not unique. Not even close.

I recently nailed 243 hours in Fallout 4. Prior to that I took two weeks off work to concentrate on The Witcher 3. I spent almost 18 hours a day playing it and updating my YouTube channel with content from it, for 14 days solid, only stopping for the toilet when REALLY necessary.

When I returned to work I was shattered.

It gets so bad when i’m doing this that I can’t sleep, and without fail I dream incessantly about the game world and the characters in it.

This can be fun sometimes, but most of the time if I’m really honest it’s not. I tend to get locked into ‘levelling up’ or collecting ALL of a certain item, and I can’t stop.

I had such bad RSI in my thumb after playing Borderlands 2 obsessively that I couldn’t move it properly for nearly 3 weeks and couldn’t play games at all for nearly 2 months. It still hurts now when I play some games, and aches even when I don’t.

At times if I’m honest I wonder what I’ve gotten out of the activity. Maybe a sense of order, or satisfaction at a ‘job’ completed?

I’m not sure.

I also obsess over words I like the sound of – and get hooked on one or two, sometimes for weeks – even months saying it over and over in my head. They too visit me in my sleep continuously. Parochial was a recent culprit, which is still on a post it note on my PC at work, because I’m worried I will forget it and its meaning.

I struggle to stop doing things like this and I’m aware its not normal. It’s addictive behaviour.

In the past I’ve read that Cocaine users are always chasing the feeling of their first high, but its actually unobtainable because the body will never react the same way again, and each hit they take brings a diminishing return.

Anyone that’s drunk a lot or (like myself in the 90’s) taken drugs to excess will understand this. Either you get locked in regardless and do it till the bitter end or realise it’s a fruitless pursuit and give up.

Around the time my mom died I stopped playing almost completely.

I remarked to a friend in an unguarded and honest moment a few weeks after this that I was scared that I would go back to playing obsessively, and that it would detract from dealing with events in my life. Gaming was ’empty’ time  and I didn’t want to get locked into the same behaviour patterns again.

However there are two sides to everything.

Just as in ‘real’ life you make friends at work through shared experience and common goals, you do the same while gaming. It’s a bit like being a pigeon fancier, but less specialised.

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When you meet someone with similar gaming interests you instantly have a wealth of past conquests and memories to share, stretching back decades. Gamers often have a strong bond because of such shared interactive experiences (‘Do you remember the first time you met the T-Rex in Tomb Raider? How cool was that!? etc etc), and they come from all walks of life, both male and female.

I realised on Friday that I had mostly cut myself off from these people when I stopped six weeks ago and had removed the all the gaming good from my life along with the gaming bad.

I’d gained contemplation and creativity time but also lost a lot of the ‘people’ time I had when I played games with my friends and idly nattered.

Despite the geek stereotypes, people that play games together don’t just talk about games. They talk about life. They talk about whats going on with each other, and they do it in an environment where they’re relaxed and usually open because they’ve having fun and the game provides common goals.

Sometimes we also just take the piss out of each other all night and have a laugh – which is also really important.

So, last night I rejoined my friends for a game out of the blue and it was really really good. we killed baddies online in ‘The Division’ for a while, set the world to rights, joked around, sneakily blew each other up when we thought we could get away with it for comedy value and generally had a great time. When all three make believe good guys were tired and needed to go to bed we hung up our controllers and went hunting pillows instead of terrorists.

Last night I didn’t dream of the game. I just slept well.

I’ve decided that I’m (for the time being at least) only going to play this game when they are around and use it to keep in touch with them and how they are.

I’m hoping to get more tips on obtaining balance in life when I start my counselling properly in a week and a half, and this is just one of the areas that I’m going to try and deploy that knowledge in.

Until then, as the subtitle of the blog reads (which my dad finally noticed for the first time today after reading my blog for a month 🙂 ) I’m just learning to live life.

Davey