Introducing friends

This morning I’ve been out with a couple of firm friends, who only met each other for the first time this today…

Initially they were quite wary – but in no time at all after some introductions they were getting on famously.

Probably bonded by their mutual love of bird watching Boris and Freckles seem to get along pretty well when they first met, and happily sniffed each other’s behinds for a while as their pet humans above greeted one another with (less socially developed) handshakes.

I doubt that Freckles and Boris would have minded me joining in – but I didn’t want to intrude and instead stuck to human pleasantries. Also – as fragrant as their behinds must be I was actually more interested in the other wildlife – of which there was quite a lot today at Arrow Valley.

The Pooches also seemed unusually willing to be photographed this morning.

Normally they refuse to stay still for the camera, yet today here they were allowing me to take snap after in focus snap.



You might think that I’m a charming Dr Doolittle given how calm and collected they are, or what sweet little cherubs they have been to pose for my photo. However what you can’t see just behind me is the piraña like feeding frenzy going on.

A little girl was flinging giant lumps of bread to a growing collection of birds at the official ‘invigorate the ravenous little monsters with wings‘ baked goods slinging platform – and Boris and Freckles were both transfixed by the resulting commotion.

As I turned away from them to watch it struck me that some days what initially might seem like a great stroke of luck is actually the exact opposite.

Sometimes life isn’t what you expect when you’re the little duck that catches the golden crust.


I think that the moral of the story today is ‘don’t **** with the seagulls‘…

As we left the beleaguered little quackers and continued around the park it was clear however that not all was well elsewhere. The strike by refuse collectors in Birmingham is having a pretty dramatic effect on this usually well kept space and the bins are currently overflowing at each and every corner.

(you don’t need photos of this – it was grim)

People have left carrier bags full of rubbish close to them and as you might expect with a lot of wildlife around these are quickly getting ripped open. Frankly the park is a mess today – and I really hope that this doesn’t hurt the birds – especially the fledglings.

On the main island there are a few nesting Herons – and from what I read on the visitor centre bird spotting chart they have some young with them. However when I looked I couldn’t see any – and only one of my full zoom photos of an adult came out clear enough to use.


Apart from the overflowing bins and the skinhead-like seagulls though Arrow Valley was quite serene today. Whilst idly strolling we did around 3 miles around the reserve – all the time with Freckles and Boris sniffing away in the bushes and trotting back and forth to say hello to passers by and other dogs.


As lovely as all this was though I must fill my green exercise ring on Apple Watch (which sedate strolls do not do sadly) otherwise my OCD will cause my head to explode. As lovely as my amble was I needed to do MORE!

Since I am still in need of a pair of black trousers, I headed out when I got home for a brisker walk into town to try and find some.

Sadly these are proving difficult to find – especially given that I have mentally budgeted only £5 for them. All in all I walked a further six miles trying to find my mythically cheap item of unicorn clothing and returned empty handed – but I will persevere!

(I have heard a rumour that there are some in a pot – just at the end of a rainbow!)

On the plus side every step I do is something toward the scales next week – and given that the theme of last Saturday’s image therapy session was step counting and ‘body magic’ (exercise with Slimming World counts to awards) I’ve been trying to keep my numbers up.

On Saturday I finished with 21,314 steps, Sunday was 13,057, and today is currently 22,110 – so I’m hopefully on track for an average of 20,000 a day (around 10 miles).

I’m also trying to ‘tweak’ my food a little bit to reduce calories and today swapped out kidney beans from my favourite chilli dish and replaced them with an aubergine and some chopped green and black beans (both of which came from a friend’s allotment and were delicious).


The other ingredients were a courgette, broccoli, red pepper, leeks, mushrooms and 5% fat pork mince. The seasoning was cumin, smokey paprika, chilli powder, salt, a beef stock cube, some garlic – and finally to season some freshly chopped coriander was thrown in at the end.

Honesty this was so good that I may just forgo the kidney beans altogether from now on. A can of them has 280kcal in it – whereas an entire aubergine has 50Kcal – and 100g of green beans has 25kcal.

Thats over 200kcal saved today!

Finally – Rusty McBike is now back in the saddle!

Well – at the very least Rusty has a new (old) saddle (courtesy of a friend’s dusty garage contents) and although I’ve not yet had a chance to properly test her out on a long journey yet things currently seem very secure indeed.

She has even got a new donated strap-on gel butt cushion to alleviate the intensely bruised bottom that the previous saddle was immediately capable of giving me. It’s early days but I’m hopeful that this superb combo means that we’re going to be very happy together.

If worst comes to worst another friend has been a dumpster diving hero and secured yet another saddle clamp from the clutches of a nearby skip (in the right hand pic). As rough as it looks as long as I have a spare then I’m pretty happy.

It saves money on eBay and every little bit can go to my unicorn trousers!

As soon as I get a chance I’ll take her out for a spin and let you know how I get on. It’s most likely to be Wednesday however as I have even more planned for tomorrow! Time and tide waits for no man!

Anyway – I must get some sleep – nighty night internet.


The thought

If yesterday proved anything to me it was that just when I think I have a handle on life – and that I’m sorted and happy – a chance thought comes along, yanks the rug out from under me and leaves me feeling profoundly blue.

Yesterday morning I felt like I was on top of the world and my post at the time reflected this.

Then – I changed my clothes. My shirt didn’t fit. In fact it looked way too big.

There are worse problems to have though right? A year ago I’d have donated a kidney to have to deal with that particular hardship.

Then I started trying on smaller clothes.

Items that are more ‘fitted’ now all seem to highlight that underneath my clothes (and above what is becoming an increasingly fit underlying person) is a flabby and increasingly sagging exterior that’s no longer padded out with bulk.

Then the thought entered my head. I italicised and coloured this to indicate that it’s a big one – because it is. The thought goes along the following lines – although there are several subtle variations on its themes.

‘Who are you kidding? What’s the point? You’ll never look normal. You’ll always be a mess.’

This thought process hit me like a brick around a decade ago when I was lying in bed on holiday in Cornwall. Back then it was the precursor of a number of awful life decisions that saw my eating and drinking habits return to ‘davepocalypse‘ levels of excess.

I’ve written about it before – which (I realise all of a sudden) was oddly almost a year ago to the day (link).

Honestly I’ve lived in fear of this mindset returning. It’s come from nowhere many times in my past and served help me sabotage myself over and over. It primarily has its roots in a long held and warped self image that effectively tells me because I’m physically and visually imperfect no one (particularly a prospective partner) will want me.

It doesn’t take into account my personality, my mind or my other capabilities. It’s all about what I look like – so before you think ‘he’s not remembering any of these things’ that’s something I’m completely aware of.

The problem has been in the past (despite knowing that it’s a skewed opinion of myself and that this thought process is an unbalanced and distorted one) that it’s tough to shake. When I’ve hit this stumbling block previously I’ve found it very hard to work through.

However if (as I’ve done a lot of times before) I avoid dealing with it or acknowledging it’s importance then it has a progressively corrosive effect.

So – at the risk of writing a ‘downer’ post – I’m trying to be honest and purge it onto the page (or in this case my WordPress app). I’m also going to openly admit that yesterday afternoon and evening was firmly what Slimming World refers to as a ‘twighlight day‘. This is basically when you’ve weighed in and then the brakes come off and you stuff your face.

Thankfully I don’t do pizza, kebabs, McDonald’s, alcohol or processed food anymore – so the excesses I used to indulge in didn’t happen but I still ate a LOT of food. The vast majority of ‘nice’ things that were in my house are now represented by a bin full of wrappers and pots.

As I type I’m aware that I feel intensely annoyed that comfort eating is still part of my emotional lexicon.

If there was any chink of daylight to be found during yesterday’s dark mood, in the middle of my morass of self pity I decided that sitting inside the house with the curtains closed eating was probably a bad idea so I metaphorically slapped myself and got up to go for a walk.

I can’t understate how much exercise is my current salvation.

It’s all too simple to close the curtains, turn on the TV, and sit with a large tub of yogurt and a spoon eating despite your brain telling you it doesn’t need any more. Getting up and doing something to change your mood is the only way to change that and sometimes you have to force that impulse into being – because when you’re down it’s not there naturally.

I didn’t want to move and felt like my sofa was covered in velcro – however I ended up aimlessly walking along the canal in between Warwick and Leamington – and by chance met up with one of the few things that could have possibly lifted my mood.

Little fluffy baby creatures.

A fellow blogger over at Hayleyslims (she has a nice writing style – check her out) who is a self confessed ‘crazy bird lady’ (maybe as a nod to my ‘swanlings‘) refers to these are ‘geeselets‘ – which naturally I rather like.

These little guys and their lust for life just make me smile – and wish that I could be as uncomplicated as they are.

I very much doubt, swanlings, geeselets or blackbirds wake up in the morning and think ‘do I look fat in these feathers?’ They just get on with the business of staying alive and looking after those that they care about.

Maybe this is why I adore them so much.

Nature has a way of stripping away all of the meaningless bullsh*t that we complicate our daily existences with and presents the world on its most fundamental level. It’s about the basics of survival and living from one day to the next. When everything else is removed all that’s left is a lust for life and the impulse to just live it to the fullest extent every day.

Sometimes it’s hard – even brutal – but it’s also beautiful in the extreme.

All told I was out walking for a few hours.

I’d be lying if I said that by the time I got home everything was better, because it still wasn’t. Not completely. I ate another large punnet of cherry tomatoes, a small tray of chicken pieces, a 2nd tub of cottage cheese, 6 apples, a banana, some frozen berries and the rest of a tub of fat free yogurt.

By the close of the day I guesstimate I’d eaten (broadly speaking) around twice what I would eat on an average day, and I went to bed still feeling a bit raw whilst avoiding all of the mirrors in the house.

So – how do I feel today?

A little better.

The blackbird was still on her nest in the garden when I checked this morning – and watching me closely as I peeked in to make sure everything was OK. After making sure she was well I walked into town and engaged in a small amount of retail therapy.

It’s started raining unfortunately though (it was sunny when I came out) and I’ve retreated into a coffee shop, which is where I still am writing this. I do feel somewhat cleansed now – having written it all down (yet again) and I’m hoping that having done so I’ll be able to gradually move on today and get some perspective. I’m certainly going to try – but it’s not going to happen on it’s own. I will have to make it happen.

I’m definitely not having another afternoon and evening of comfort eating though. That’s just NOT going to happen.

I refuse.

I’m absolutely never ever ever ever going to go back to the way I was, and this blog is my method of ensuring that. The ability it gives me to look back on previous posts and old pictures to remind myself that I did this to myself in 9 months the last time is hugely beneficial.

I can clearly remember the self loathing that putting all that weight back on in 2008 generated and I know that what I felt so acutely yesterday and to a lesser extent today is the tip of the iceberg in terms of how low I can make myself if I turn inward.

Therefore today is all about nature, life and looking on the positive side of things – regardless of whether it’s raining outside. Every morning the sun comes up and the world keeps turning. This is all the reason I need to be happy, because there’s something in every moment these days to be thankful for.

All I need to do internet is keep that at the front of my mind and put one foot in front of the other.