Sussex and a Twenty One Stone Award!

I’ve been quiet.

I know I know.

It’s all good though. Whilst a period of radio silence on my blog usually indicates either a lack of worthwhile content or a pronounced dip in my mood neither could be further from the truth this time.

I’m both really happy and have a lot to write and think about – although not all of it fits in with my strict criteria for blog inclusion, so I’ll gloss over some of what’s been going on for the time being.

I’ve been on a holiday of sorts over the week between Christmas and New Year and have been exploring the wilds of Sussex – which have actually turned out to be rather lovely.

I was told by one of it’s denizens that this is something that I must not talk about publicly however, because if I do then people would soon start flocking to its beauty spots in much greater numbers – and the sense of supreme tranquility that I observed would be ruined.

Instead I was told to say that Sussex is a monstrous carbuncle of concrete covered with traffic and urban decay – but it’s difficult to tell such horrendous fibs – especially when it looks this lovely.

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After getting intimate with the beautiful but rather muddy countryside near Cuckfield  on Thursday I went on a rather longer (and seriously picturesque) walk on Friday to explore the South Downs.

They frankly have some pretty wonderful views.

On a clear day (which this thankfully turned out to be after some rather grey clouds disappeared) you can see all the way to Brighton and Hove on the coastline and the North downs (a future destination for  sure) in the opposite direction.

I’m reliably informed by a rather spirited local (who appeared inexplicably to know rather a lot about geology and geography) that the long ridges of the downs used to actually be a giant dome, stretching from the white cliffs of Brighton to the North downs in the distance.

The whole region comprises of a thick band of porous chalk – deposited during the Cretaceous period around sixty million years ago. Movement of the landscape over time caused the top to gradually crack ‘like the chocolate surface of a mars bar being bent in the middle’ (or so they said). Subsequent weathering and erosion during the last ice age then sculpted its landscape into these rather lovely valleys, hilltops and ridges.

They’re really really beautiful.

The endless views of the downs are a major contrast to nearby Brighton though – which I had never visited before.

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This well known resort’s plurality seems to be part of its character – and nothing underlined its sometimes contradictory facets better than the rather rustic looking piano near the entrance of its (quite lovely Victorian) train station.

When I disembarked from my short train journey on Saturday this was the very first thing I spotted, standing there like an ambassador for the charms to be found in the nearby streets. It looked like it was simply aching to be played – but simultaneously it was not in the mood to be touched in any way shape or form.

Nothing says ‘don’t you dare fiddle with me’ better than a giant padlock

I had no idea that Brighton was actually a city until I started exploring – and had always just assumed (underlining my woeful lack of southern geographical knowledge) that it was a seaside town.

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On the one side is tradition – with its pier and pleasure beach harking back to a stubbornly bygone era of British holidays and postcards – and on the other there’s modernity.

The rising glass viewing donut of the British Airways i360 is an impressive sight for sure – although I hear that it has something of a reputation for getting stuck at the top, so I resolved not to chance it on this particular occasion…

Despite its occasionally unreliable visitor attractions Brighton is otherwise a bustling metropolis with consumerism standing side by side next to alternative counter culture.

It consequently has interesting and pronounced contrasts between seaside tackiness (it’s practically impossible to avoid the scent of burgers and chips wherever you walk) a very bohemian area, clear problems with homelessness and extremely aspirational retail outlets contained within an extremely well to do shopping mall.

I like the mix though – and not just because there are some particularly well named shops (look closely) in the windswept and interesting parts.

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Not only is the more ‘hessian and unshaven’ area of the town a great place for geeks (who seemed to be constantly in evidence as I browsed) but it’s an excellent location to have a mooch around if you like Star Wars.

As well as there being absolutely masses of figures, comics and statuettes in the stores there was some really cool bespoke art to be found in the nearby galleries too.

Sci fi seemed to be a theme that ran throughout the day like letters in Brighton rock – and I couldn’t help but explode in a shower of nerd joy when later on I saw a Millennium Falcon the Lego shop in the exclusive Churchill Square shopping arcade.

In particular I marvelled not only at the detail (look at the little lego Mynock on the hull!) but the frikkin price!!!

£650!!!

How on earth can parents justify a Christmas present with a tag that huge?!

I guess the answer is that it’s not just children who are obsessed with Lego these days.

I know this because I overheard a conversation with a seriously crestfallen nearby man. As I passed he was receiving clearly distressing news from a surprisingly earnest store assistant that a certain edition of the Lego Batmobile was now a discontinued item.

Obviously the staff knew the upset such news could cause.

This was no joke.

‘Oh……… Oh………’ Came the response, as the guy processed this unexpected information.

‘Right…. OK….’ He said, clearly trying to deal with what sounded like a sudden bereavement in his family.

The assistant nodded with both hands clasped in front of him as if he were a Lego pall bearer. For a moment I half expected him to place a reassuring hand on his customer’s shoulder – but he stopped short and remained in quiet attendance of the man in front of him.

The guy next to me really wanted that Batmobile.

I can understand it though – because if (like me) you’re a fan both Lego and of something like Marvel films and comics then a massive version of the Mark 44 Hulkbuster Armour from Avengers: Age of Ultron is a huge bucket list item.

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Coming in at an infinitely (no pun intended) more reasonable £120 (!) the only reason I didn’t buy this (apart from preferring to eat food rather than Lego bricks and not having endless money to waste) was because my head was turned by the MOOHASSIVE Harry Potter Hogwarts diorama nearby.

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I know of at least two regular commenters on this blog that would probably donate organs to own and play with this.

With an asking price of £350 they may well have needed to…

Saddened by the absence of a bottomless wallet in my pocket I moved on from shop to head turning shop – all full of items that I consider both lovely but also way too expensive to buy.

Practically the only thing I could have justified in that whole arcade was the delightful handfulls of Lego sitting in huge bins like cinema pick and mix.

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Talking of cinemas – this turned out to be the reason for my second visit to Brighton the following day – when myself and a fellow geek decided to see the seriously cool Into the Spiderverse animated film.

 

It’s rare that you can go to a movie that’s classified as ‘Universal’, has kids on booster seats nearby and still have the entire audience so captivated by the subject matter that there’s barely a peep out of anyone in the auditorium until the end credits.

I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone that likes Spider-Man (or indeed animated movies) and not only because it’s a great film with a brilliant storyline, but because it contains a really really poignant little cameo from the late and great Stan Lee (may he rest in peace).

It’s worth te trip for anyone (and their kids) – so make sure you go before it’s no longer showing on a big screen!

I’m quite sentimental so this particular cinema ticket is a keeper.

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Sunday was sadly my last evening in Sussex though – and the following day I reluctantly headed back to Warwick – only focused by the fact that on Saturday I’d missed yet another weigh in at Slimming World.

I don’t like doing this – particularly as I’ve now got plans for next Saturday too (if my group are reading – sorry guys!), so I resolved to weigh in at Angie’s Monday group instead.

However – before I could do this I had to cater to another borderline OCD habit. My mildly obsessive side was also in need of a swim – and it had been a few days since I’d enjoyed one.

I do find though that taking a break from exercise for a little while often means a surprisingly effortless performance increase when I do. Both my stamina and endurance seemed to have been recovering/building while I was away, meaning that I managed to shave almost five minutes off my previous time for a two kilometre swim.

What’s more – I did it with a lower average heart rate too!

When I finally arrived at the Monday group’s 4pm New Year’s Eve weigh in session (which unsurprisingly seemed to have a lot of new members joining with resolutions to lose weight in the new year) I already suspected I was a lot lighter than before I’d headed off to Sussex.

I’d been pleasantly diverted the whole time I was there by many different things, and for once my focus had not been food. I’d managed to occupy myself far better than I normally do in the evenings and as a consequence had eaten significantly less than I normally would – whilst still maintaining a good level of activity during the day.

When I stood on the scales therefore I was out of my target range – but for the FIRST TIME EVER this was because I was way below the 13st 11lbs minimum I needed to be rather than way above it.

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This is the lightest I have ever been in my adult life!!!

Although I’ll need to put some weight back on (hardly an awful problem to have at this time of year) by some kind of wonderful Christmas miracle I managed to lose a frankly ridiculous six pounds over the festive period.

On top of that I only went and got a TWENTY ONE STONE AWARD!!!!

How wonderful is that?!

Happy flipping New Year!!!

I’m sure you’ll agree internet that my time away has been time well spent!

Over the coming days I have more things planned, and this may also mean a period of radio silence – so stay frosty people.

Just like The Terminator ‘I’ll be back.’

Davey

Once upon a showcase

Last night I took a trip with a mate (who generously invited me along as he had a spare ticket) to see ‘Once upon a Deadpool‘ at the Showcase in Coventry.

I’m used to going to the Vue cinema in Leamington – and I have to say from a comfort level this is a definite upgrade.

The whole place has had a huge makeover since I last visited.

Compared to the rather basic staffing level and recent bargain basement approach to pricing (which is admittedly my main motivator usually) this is a bit different and rather swanky.

Although I couldn’t get a picture of it the seating in the auditorium (screen 5) it was seriously awesome.

I found myself unexpectedly in an electric reclining leather armchair with absolutely acres of room and I have to say I felt a bit like a rock star!

This feeling didn’t last too long though – because in order to stick to my SW plan I had taken with me some sugar free sweets to suck (Aldi ‘Dominion’ Strawberry and Cream and some honey and lemon Fisherman’s Friend).

By the time the film had finished I could barely contain the apocalyptic consequences.

Thankfully I maintained an impressive rear clench (I reckon I could have cracked a pool ball with my butt cheeks) until I got back to my own car – which stoically bore the brunt of my methane propelled journey home.

Lesson learned. Next time I’ll take a coffee instead…

The film was enjoyable however – even though it’s the second time I’ve seen Deadpool 2 at the cinema.

OUAD is a little different mind you – as it’s a censored version of the original and you can view this a number of ways.

On the upside it allows a genuinely funny film to be seen by a younger audience with less gore.

It also has new sequences that riff off scenes from ‘The Princess Bride’ and include the highly amusing Fred Savage.

On the downside much of the humour and ‘flow’ of the film was contained within the now heavily edited violent sequences – and when you’ve seen the original what remains can feel rather disappointing.

The opening – which explained much of Deadpool’s motivations for events of the the film (and it’s central theme of being a love story) is now gone entirely – and has been replaced by a dialogue between Reynolds and Savage that does little to sell the film to anyone that doesn’t already know what’s coming.

Weirdly these chatty segments sell themselves as knowing censorship (Deadpool is one of only a few characters in the Marvel universe that’s aware of the ‘fourth wall’ (link) and knows he’s a comic book character) that enables viewing by a younger audience.

This is is an odd contradiction however because these new sequences simultaneously appear to be written for an audience that’s already seen the film and knows what’s coming.

It’s a real shame and an odd mix – but you can kind of understand why it’s turned out the way it has.

Deadpool 2 was uber violent (in a comical rather than horrific sense) and there’s absolutely no way that they could have edited this and other segments into sequences which would have maintained a ‘family friendly’ (their words not mine) rating.

Oddly this push for a lower classification is yet another problem (albeit more of a regional one) because in the UK the film received a ‘15‘ classification – which barely makes sense – but in the US it’s migrated from an ‘R‘ rating to a ‘PG-13‘.

I agree with a lot of the reviews (which I only read this morning because I never look at them in advance) that this version of the movie only serves to justify the need for Deadpool to retain its usual adult rating in future releases (link).

If you’re going to see it then know in advance that big chunks are missing – and if you can make sure that you watch the original instead.

Either way I can’t fault the showcase’s ‘cinema de lux’ seating or the quality of the picture and sound.

It was a really nice experience overall and to be able to recline so far back and just chill out was awesome!

If you’re a tall person then this is a really good choice of venue.

(Thanks to my mate!)

In other news I have decided (after having a quiet word with myself the other day) that a rather militaristic approach to swimming that I’ve been developing over the last month is not the way forward.

I tend to notice quite quickly when I’m bleeding the enjoyment out of an activity because it quickly becomes all about an absurd competition with myself.

It descends into Davey vs Davey – which rarely results a winner.

I always want to see continual improvement that I can demonstrate to myself with stats – and when I am a little bit slower one day or feel like I have no energy I needlessly beat myself up.

The groups at Slimming World aren’t present when I’m walking or swimming and sometimes that’s a real shame.

I’ve long maintained that the power of the group is that you treat one another as friends and give support accordingly.

Gatherings of like minded people propel each other along with positivity.

We tend to succeed more often in groups (in my view) precisely because of that.

There are times that we all need an advocate to highlight the positive aspects of everything we’ve achieved rather than being left with what can often be our own internal monologue.

The flip side of being determined and driven (which is a good thing) is that it can often result in being very self critical (clearly a bad thing).

The truth of it is that I think I’ve reached my own little (at least for the time being) plateau with swimming – because I’ve found that grinding out ever increasing distance at continually higher speed is having some negative side effects.

  • My appetite has at times been stimulated way in excess of what I’ve actually burned off – leading me to overeat and occasionally undo the good work I’ve done in the pool.
  • I’ve become annoyed with myself because of a perceived ‘lack of progress’ – when in reality I’ve made huge strides mentally and physically to be swimming in the first place.

So I’ve decided to make a mental pivot.

My emphasis will now shift from speed and distance to instead maintaining a constant speed and swimming for 45-60 minutes at a pace that feels comfortable.

The objective here is NOT to become an athlete – and I’ve never felt I needed to be an iron man slogging through mud with a log strapped to my back.

All I’ve ever wanted is to have a life that’s naturally filled with activities and my approach to losing weight and being fit for life so far has enabled that.

Whilst I’m still a bit anal about my walking it’s now become such a massive part of my life that I get genuinely annoyed when I have to use my car.

In short I can’t imagine my life without it – and that’s just the way I like it.

I’m far more likely to be this way forever if I can build a range of such structures into every single day.

The other great thing about having several enjoyable exercise activities is that I’m always covered in case of injury.

If I can’t walk then I can swim, and if I can’t swim then I can use my exercise bike.

I want swimming to be another string to my bow and constant in my world. As long as I keep it at a sensible level I’m hopeful that it will remain this way.

So this is the (current) plan.

I think that around 50 25m lengths 4-5 times a week is the way forwards, because mentally it seems to me like this is not only easily achievable – but it’s enjoyable, takes less than an hour, doesn’t leave me too hangry afterwards, keeps a good cardio rate up and also burns a really great amount of calories.

December is still shaping up to be a great month for activity either way – and I’m determined to keep the average up.

I doubt it will come as a surprise to anyone that I’m still very keen to keep an eye on my stats!

Anyway – I must get on internet. I have a whole bunch of things to accomplish today and sitting here nattering to you guys isn’t getting any of it done!!!

Davey

Cognitive Miser

I don’t really do late nights any more if I can help it – not unless it’s a special occasion anyway.

Then my brother suggested a while back that we pre-book a one minute past midnight showing of Avengers – Infinity War on Thursday morning.

I almost said no.

A midweek late night with a normal work day afterwards?! What planet was he on? The film – to add insult to injury – was not a brief Hollywood 90 minute jobbie either. The showing he was looking at finished at 3am!

When I started writing this post it was 7.30am after the film and I’d had an hour and a half of ‘not quality’ sleep with mostly fitful bursts after that. I had a day of work ahead and I was still suffering from what appears to be an endless head cold but WOW!!!

I mean… just… WOW!!!

What a movie.

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It’s now Friday (I was too frazzled to write anything more) and I’m still buzzing.

(You will note that the author fell asleep half way before completion because it’s now Saturday)

If you haven’t done so already you NEED to see it. I’m going to go again at some point this weekend.

I’m also in a good mood at the moment because there are days and weeks where I look around at the constituent parts of my life and realise that I’m actually right where I want to be.

This week I’ve been surrounded not by wealth or material things but by people and conversations. There’s been a lot of walking and a lot of talking. There’s been so much in fact that I haven’t actually had much time to write anything of significance – so for that I apologise.

The vast majority of my time has been spent making it from A to B.

Honestly the weather has not been my constantly smiling companion. In the mornings of some days it’s been teriffic and for the first time in aaaaggggessss I’ve broken out the sunglasses on my way to work!

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Then on my way home I’ve instantly regretted my summery approach to clothing…

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It doesn’t matter though.

It never matters these days.

As the time has passed since my last post I’ve been struck by how happy I am and what a good place I find myself in lately.

I’ve been acutely aware that the sub-title to my blog – ‘learning to live life’ – has never been so prescient, and this week I’ve been completely swept away by events in a calendar thats been unusually stuffed with little events.

I’ve spent time just experiencing and enjoying them and my usually constant need to evaluate and think through or write them down has (for once) taken a back seat.

For the most part that is – because I’m still me after all – and I still like to mull stuff over.

Someone asked me this week in the middle of a chat ‘do you think you’ll ever drink again?’

I looked at them and didn’t answer immediately.

I thought about it for a moment, musing on the events they’d been describing about nights out – and imagining some of the fun that I too could have. For a fleeting second I also had a flashback to many years ago of a younger (and pretty rose tinted) me, drinking with friends in the pub and in this memory I was also having fun.

Then – almost as soon as those thoughts had arrived – I came full circle and remembered that all this filtered out the fact that the enjoyment eventually became numbed, along with everything else.

After that all I felt was increasingly deeper unhappiness as my world shrank around me.

‘No. I don’t think I will.’ I replied.

‘Not even one?’ he asked.

‘Nope.’ I concluded.

I walked home with this final ‘nope’ hanging in the air like an invisible punctuation mark and the thoughts it provoked led nicely into one of my week’s earlier conversations where a friend of mine casually hit me with a term I’d never heard of before – and it stuck in my mind.

It’s ‘cognitive miser’.

Oddly this phrase been remarkably relevant given many topics for discussion with other people this week (some friends of friends are making very bad life choices that make no sense) and I ended up reading more on the subject and telling others about it.

I like to share when I find something stimulating.

It turns out that I’ve always been intimately familiar with this theory of psychological behaviours because it’s how I went about the majority of my own life.

(From Wikipedia):

It is (…) a unifying theory which suggests that humans engage in economically prudent thought processes, instead of acting like scientists who rationally weigh costs and benefits, test hypothesis, and update expectations based upon the results of the experiments that are our everyday actions. In other words, humans are more inclined to act as cognitive misers using mental short cuts to make assessments and decisions, about issues and ideas about which they know very little as well as issues of great salience. Fiske and Taylor argue that acting as cognitive misers is rational due to the sheer volume and intensity of information and stimuli humans intake. However, other psychologists also argue that the cognitively miserly tendency of humans is a primary reason why “humans are often less than rational”.

So – in essence (if I understand this theory correctly – and I’m no psychologist) we as human beings are pre-disposed to take the fastest path to an answer based on previous similar choices because this reduces cognitive load.

Often this can come across as inflexibility because when we give knee jerk responses (I liken this to a burn reflex) it can seem as if we haven’t really thought things through and have just reacted on impulse. The answer that we might give because of that isn’t always the best one for us at the time – it’s instead the one that we’ve learned works in most situations.

I used to do this all the time when opportunity arose. I reacted without thought because deep down I felt afraid of the world. I lived with a constant sense that I was hemmed in by my life – but because I didn’t want to continually think about that my cognitive miser took over to protect me from difficult and upsetting choices.

My outward voice became negative because my inner voice was saving me pain or embarrassment. I ceased to question why or how and instead defaulted to ‘No’ as an answer to almost every question.

It protected me.

Maybe in some respects I’m still very much a cognitive miser, because where a man who was endlessly stuck in the same negative thought processes once stood there’s now one that does the same thing with newer, more positive structures.

There a lot of things I’ve re-trained myself not to think around and that I just react to.

For instance I still say an automatic ‘no’ to lots of potential decisions, making the same pre-formulated, potted and easily deployable snap judgements that I used to – but these days they’re for a different reason.

Now instead of saying ‘No’ to spending time with friends the no’s are always to cake, kebabs or alcohol. It goes further though because ‘Yes’s’ are also miserly. I know without thinking for a single moment how I’ll respond in certain situations.

‘Absolutely I’ll go for a walk or climb a mountain – YES!’

I don’t think my processes have changed – but how I use my miser definitely has.

Anyway – I’m packing him back in the box for the moment and getting on with my weekend.

For the next couple of days I have a guest staying over and we mean to make the absolute most of the time available. There’s going to be lots of twalking and lots of coffee, a bit of cinema, a few meals and hopefully a good time being had by all.

I’m going to be ‘living life‘.

I also won’t be weighing in at group today because of this – but just because I’m not going to be there it doesn’t mean that I’m ignoring anything. I stood on the scales of ultimate accuracy this morning to make sure I’m still focused – and this is what they said…

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I’m still perfectly inside my target range!

I’m might still learning to live life internet but I’m also learning that I love it.

Davey

20st lost – I’m now a Slimming World Target Member!!

Normally I’m a creature of habit on a Saturday morning but today I’m more akin to a cat on a hot tin roof.

I’d generally go out shopping first thing and run errands but my stomach is turning cartwheels and I’m insanely nervous. I’m lying in bed instead trying not to think – which is impossible.

I’ve only one thing on my mind.

Will today be the day when I hit my target weight?

I have no idea. I’ve not yet stepped on my own scales and I don’t know what their ‘ultimate accuracy’ will report. Yesterday’s indications were good – but today? Who knows?

In an effort to take my mind off anything food related last night I eventually gave up twiddling my thumbs and went out to the cinema for a late showing of the Black Panther.

I’m not gonna lie. It was a chilly night for a walk to the local picture house – but if the alternative is turning my mind in knots at home then I choose frozen fantasy every time.

It did take a while before I was willing to entertain the idea of taking my thermals off however. I sat dressed like this for a full half hour before removing my woolly hat.

Usually I’m like a kid in a sweet shop with a new Marvel film – but for whatever reason I’d not been looking forward to this one in quite the same way that I normally do – and (maybe because I was rather tired) I found myself nodding off after an hour.

Maybe it was Martin Freeman’s ridiculous American accent or the lack of any character that I felt I liked or related to – but this film fell completely flat for me.

If you have to choose between this and ‘The Shape of Water’ then I would go for aquatic antics every time. Maybe if I watched it again I’d feel differently but I doubt it. I really want to like it but I don’t.

Hopefully Avengers Infinity War will come up with the goods that Black Panther didn’t.

Oh well. I guess that I better get up and do something to take my mind off weigh in. It’s two hours away and time is moving backwards.

(Author potters around the house for a while and fiddles with technology to distract himself. It doesn’t work. Instead he climbs onto the scales and realises that success today could come down to the clothes on his back)

Ok ok. I’m getting increasingly nervous. None of this should matter BUT IT DOES! My Slimming World Facebook group are linking their comments my name and posting messages of support. I can’t help but but feel excited now.

I’ve just been standing on my scales of ultimate accuracy and they suggest that this morning could either be ‘close but no cigar‘ or ‘holyflippingamazeballs!!!

I’m so stressed!!!

I’ve been trying on clothes that are really really light in my wardrobe in an effort to find a suitable outfit for standing on the scales. I think I’m wearing it now and there’s only half an hour to go until I have to be there.

(Dammit! Why is time going so slow and why is my heart pounding like a drum?!

(Author goes to group)

OK – I’ve only gone and done it – and by ‘it’ I mean burst into tears in front of everyone.

I’m now a target member (I surpassed my goal actually) and have reset my target to where I landed at 14st 7lbs. This is where I plant the flag. I’m staying right here.

I’ve now lost 20st 1.5lbs and I’m overwhelmed.

I can’t believe I’ve finally done it.

I’m kind of lost for words if I’m truthful – and after so many posts where I had more to say than I often knew how to put on the page I find myself currently at almost a complete loss.

This is enormous.

If I think I cry (happy tears) and if I type I cry (I’m crying again) so I’m instead going to just post some pretty incredible pictures of me and Angie, my Slimming World consultant – without whom I might not have made it.

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She’s wanted from the very start of my journey to join me in my trousers, and who am I to deny a girl the honour of such a request? I didn’t think I’d fit in one leg, but it seems I do.

What’s incredible is that I used to fill these…

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In contrast we can now also both get into my old shirt!

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And this is my old belt!

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She’s formed an important piece of a complex set of inter-related reasons that I’ve been able to do this and her ability to make everyone feel welcome, cared for and included in her sessions has been the social glue that has in turn enabled me to gather continual support from a group of people that have firstly changed my life and secondly never been any less than generous and encouraging.

Collectively they’ve lifted me upon their shoulders and their kindness has helped to carry me over this finish line.

To each of them, and to all of the people that read on and comment on my blog I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Each and every on of you that’s been there, clicked like, commented – followed me n Instagram, messaged me, told me that I’ve inspired you and even just reached out to say hi.

This is for you internet.

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Davey (target member)

 

Flamingo

This evening I’ve whiled away my time in a comfortable dream world – and have been snuggled up in the cinema watching the ‘The Shape of Water’.

It’s rare that something so odd, so obscure, so unusual feels so familiar and so wonderful.

There’s a truly magical world inside the fairy tale confines of this film – and as you unconsciously suspend disbelief and become drawn into the dark, yet tender world that the characters inhabit you can’t help but notice the incidental details.

Throughout the movie the main character picks different coloured shoes to wear – seemingly based on her mood and at the very end one poignantly leaves her foot in a very memorable scene.

The camera doesn’t let you forget the moment and it’s an arresting image.

Although for the most part her clothes don’t define her and what she wears is largely utilitarian there are little moments (such as her shoes) where her character and passion shine through.

It’s interesting to me because clothes and incidental details are something that’s been on my mind recently.

I’ve found myself looking at some rather colourful items of clothing as I’ve lost weight (link) – and I’ve begun to recognise that my recent fascination with looking smart and occasionally a little (ahem) ‘loud’ may not be a new phenomenon.

I’ve always rather liked a Hawaiian shirt for instance – but often felt far too ashamed to wear anything that made me stand out from the crowd any more than I already did at 35 stone.

It’s yet another part of my personality that I lost sight of – suppressed because of the crippling shame I felt in relation to my weight.

As I change and grow (and shrink) I learn more and more about myself with each passing day.

When I initially started shedding the bulk one of the first things I did was begin to wear flamboyant shirts. The only reason that I didn’t do this more was the cost of them and the availability.

As time went on and online retailers and some high street stores became an option for purchases I found more and more items that caught my eye.

I began to buy less muted colours and was drawn to items with a variety of patterns and different palettes.

I purchased one whenever I found something I liked – but sadly none of them lasted very long before they were too big.

On the plus side my continually moving target for clothing enabled me to engage in lots of experiments – and I began bit by bit to rather enjoy looking in the mirror and examining how a particular hue, pattern or cut of fabric looked on me.

I previously hated my reflection – but this enabled me to look past my own self criticism.

If I looked like an idiot – who cared? Most items that I wore were the clothing equivalents of a may flies and quickly fluttered out of my wardrobe into the hands of charity shops sooner rather than later.

Now I’ve even started to wear pink – something (that for some reason) I once vowed never to do…

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I find that rather than feeling self conscious and that I am standing out when I would prefer to blend in that I quite like looking like a flamingo…

It’s not just shirts and ties that I’m drawn to though.

On Saturday I found that I was lingering in a shop (that I’d never normally go into in the first place) looking at rather loud trainers – thinking ‘I’m waaay too old for those!’

Then I stopped for a moment.

Am I?

Am I really?

Probably not as it happens.

I have a significant birthday on the horizon – but I’ve never felt younger and more alive – so why shouldn’t I embrace every single colourful rainbow that I find?

The brutal truth is that without clothing my body clearly shows the signs of a difficult road travelled.

My stomach sags, my inner thighs wobble, my wings are bingo enabled and my butt looks like the Andrex puppy with the air let out of it.

Clothes transport me to another reality – one where I’m not a road map of excess – but instead an example of a smart, fit man who is at ease in his surroundings.

My cufflink obsession is in its infancy – but I can already see that it’s taking hold quickly. I love the fact that you can hide a teeny tiny element of flamboyance in plain sight whilst looking otherwise suited and booted.

I relate to the lady in the film. Her shoes seemed to be a reflection of her inner self and when she wore them she had a spring in her step.

I never previously related to the impulse to add little flashes of the unusual or little beautiful things to the picture of me before – but now I do and honestly I’m revelling in it!

I have limits though. So far the most I’ve paid for a pair of cufflinks is £3 – but today I pushed the boat out and bought some fo £6 from eBay! I’m quite excited! They look REALLY INSANELY COOL!!!

Those are for another day however – and I need to sleep internet.

If you see nothing else at the cinema I suggest you do your mind (and heart) a favour and go out to see this movie – and when you do, make sure you wear something a little colourful 👠

Davey

The final frontier

Maybe unsurprisingly there has been a price to pay for my enthusiastic walking exploits on Sunday.

I spent the first part of Monday morning hobbling around like a pensioner and it seemed like pretty much every muscle in the lower half of my body had seized up. On top of this sudden cramp and some rather tender blisters (which are slowly on the mend) I now realise that I’ve aggravated an old plantar tendon strain in my right foot.

It’s not as bad as the original plantar fasciitis problems that I had when I first started walking – but it’s clearly related to the weakness that had developed there before. The pain is annoyingly familiar and is a dull, aching sensation along the length of the underside of my foot that seems to be continually present.

I walked into work yesterday (which was quite a painful experience if I’m honest) and at the end of the day decided to catch a lift back home with a kind colleague so that I could rest up for the evening.

I was hoping that it would just go away and initially this morning it did seem better – so once more I set out on foot – and was feeling pretty good until just over half way.

Up until the point where a noticeable pain made me slow down I was powering along without a care in the world. Although it was bitterly cold (which probably didn’t help a cramping tendon) the universe seemed cheerful as well and was busily trying to treat me to yet more free coffee.

I’ve discovered four beans in the last week alone – and it seems that as long as I keep up my solemn promise to pick up other people’s casually discarded rubbish and put it in a bin I keep getting provided with free caffeine.

Regardless of my enthusiastic womble-esque activities however by the time I’d reached work the pain was intense. Thankfully the previous owner of my desk (apparently a sufferer of back pain) left behind lots of ibuprofen gel, and shortly after I sat down for the day I started smearing this all over the affected area.

It’s worth saying that on the plus side when I was a lot heavier things like this were a much bigger problem. Now they’re more of an irritant than a game changer because I’m putting much less pressure on any injury that I might pick up – and I’m sure it’s nothing that rest can’t fix over time.

I think I just need to stop being a complete idiot and trying to power through problems like this (as I did in 2016) and make them worse than they need to be.

It’s still annoying though because I would really like to be holding a 19.5st certificate in my hand on Saturday – and without my usual levels of exercise I fear it might not happen – but we’ll see…

In the meantime I’m comforting myself with a bowl of Weetabix in unsweetened almond milk whilst watching the latest episode of the new Star Trek series (again) on Netflix – which I have to say has been superb! It’s quite amazing how the franchise has managed to get such a new lease of life after the motion picture restarted the whole timeline a few years ago.

The really clever thing that JJ Abrahms did with his time travelling 2009 film (link) was re-invent and revitalise something that (I now realise with retrospect) came with a huge amount of baggage.

You no longer needed to know any history about the hundreds and hundreds of previous episodes and movies. This was something comfortingly familiar but at the same time new, youthful and exciting – with lens flare!

I’ve been a fan of Star Trek for many years – but it’s pretty hard to argue that the formula hadn’t been thrashed to death by the end of ‘Enterprise’, which was sadly cancelled after just four seasons because of poor ratings.

Since then it’s taken twelve long years for Star Trek to return to the small screen and boy oh boy have Netflicks and CBS done a good job on the reboot. They’ve spent a small fortune on each instalment – and their budgets are reportedly around 8-8.5 million dollars per episode!

(from Wikipedia link – ‘ …an average episode of the first season had ultimately cost US$8–8.5 million each, making it one of the most expensive television series ever and exceeding the original Netflix deal, though CBS still considered the series to be paid for already due to the number of new All Access subscribers that the show was expected to draw.’)

The jaw dropping special effects budgets are just a small part of it’s draw however – because the hard core geeks also appear to be present behind the scenes to satisfy the (much more than me) hardcore fans.

Whilst turning on subtitles to help keep the noise down last night I noticed an unexpected option in the menus….

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Wait… What?! KLINGON SUBTITLES?!

Surely not!!!

(I turned them on)

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Yep. Blinking flip. Actual subtitles. In KLINGON.

Wow. Now THAT’s how to cater for a fanatical fan base at the same time as a casual viewer.

Fair play Netflix. I take my hat off to you!

For anyone out there determined to never proceate with the opposite sex again there’s a Klingon language institute that you too can join. Once indoctrinated you can learn every nuance of what is a made up – but very real language (link).

They have your back when it comes to every possible scenario – and if you find yourself surrounded by bumpy headed aliens and need to ask the way to the toilet then this is the just place to find out how you overcome the problem (link).

For those in just such a situation, with their legs crossed and a rapidly developing sense of bladder related urgency the (made up) words you need are nuqDaq ‘oH puchpa”e’.

(you’re welcome by the way.)

So – I’m going to keep on enjoying Netflix for a few days and do a little exercise here and there, but nothing that will nail my recovery. Who knows – I might even dust off my exercise bike for a change. It’s not seen any action for a while internet and I feel that it’s been rudely ignored.

Watch this space.

(It’s the final frontier)

Davey

Canal walking via Packwood House

I’m gonna get right out in front and just say it.

Star Wars was flipping awesome!!!

There. I’ve got it out of my system.

(No spoilers follow)

I have to hand it to J.J. Abrams (even though he only produced this time rather than directed) because not only does he know how to fill every shot with his trademark lens flare (and a look of gritty celluloid authenticity) – he really knows how to make an exciting, engaging, fan pleasing and actually in places quite surprising movie.

I honestly thought (having avoided all fan theory videos, spoilers and behind the scenes featurettes that I could) that there were just some things that would be a given.

I was wrong.

Most fans thought Disney’s first attempt to rekindle the franchise was very much a thematic remake of ‘A New Hope’ (which was by no means a bad thing in my view) and because of that I for one expected ‘The Last Jedi’ to be very ‘Empire’ – but it’s not.

I won’t spoil any potential plot points for readers or say where I thought it didn’t work quite as well as it could have – but I will say if you love Star Wars then JJ has your back. You’re in good hands.

Buy the ticket, dress up like your favourite character and go to the cinema.

(Oh – and Porgs are cute! 😍)

Phew. I feel better now.

Ok – on with the rest of the day.

DSC03715Today I’ve been out and about, blowing away as many cold and flu related cobwebs as I can before I start my new job on Monday.

Although I found out a while back that I’d secured it I’ve been doing my ‘new old job’ until yesterday when I took off one hat in preparation for a new hat and a new part of the office doing my ‘new new job’.

My cartography obsessed friend had been hunting about for a walk worthy of my last free weekday for a while and had come up with several choices – but ultimately we settled on this (link)

4C17A5C3-326F-49AB-AB48-24ECF2A47884Starting at the Navigation Inn (point 6) I had been informed that this five mile circular walk took in some rural countryside, a couple of local pubs and a lovely stretch of (previously unexplored) canal.

DSC03711DSC03712My friend is (ahem) prone to (ahem) taking accidentally scenic routes on the way to our destination and typically I’ve learned to add around 1/4 to the overall projected distance we might actually walk rather than just accept the initial estimate.

Truthfully I rather like this element of our excursions – and the fun of getting slightly lost has a pleasure all of its own.

DSC03724This photo, taken in a lovely snowy field should actually have never been taken, because by standing here we were already heading in completely the wrong direction.

To be fair to my friend however this is really easy to do when we go twalking because we rarely stop nattering – and I’m pretty certain that it’s this element of our time together that causes us to go ‘off piste’ so often.

The conditions were a bit icier than I expected today – as only a few miles away in Warwick pretty much all of the snow and ice from last weekend’s dumping has now melted away.

In parts our walk was simply a bit damp and muddy (particularly around Packwood House) where things seemed to have cleared up completely.

However – slightly further on and along the canal the absolute opposite was true – and anywhere that there was even the slightest bit of shade things were very different, with sheets of dangerous ice underfoot at pretty much every turn.

The waterway in particular looked spectacular – and the huge sheets of floating ice, partially broken by the passing boats looked incredible.

Most of the time however, both of us were just focused on not falling over or falling in – and trying to gain as much purchase underfoot as we could whilst looking at all of the really lovely bird life that can be found along the fields and hedgerows bordering the canal.

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One of the slightly annoying things about Packwood house (which was approximately half way around our route) was the rather officious gatekeeper – who refused us entry to the coffee shop because neither of us were national trust members.

This wouldn’t be a problem however if we agreed to buy a raffle ticket each for a pound a go.

Although this isn’t much money (and it goes to a good cause) both my companion and I objected to the hard sell of the lady on the door and had decided to use the loo and keep walking instead.

By the time we reached The Boot we were really ready for a drink – and boy was it an inviting little bolt hole.

Something I’d never really appreciated until recently was the warmth of an open fire.

It sounds stupid – but I never got cold in the past. I was always more than warm enough or simply too hot and sweating. Sitting in front of a fire was pointless – but today it felt sooooo good to take my gloves off and warm my hands by the lovely little fireplace near our window seat.

I mentioned this to my friend – and related to her how quite often I find a child like pleasure in things that others may take for granted.

A roaring fire is a pleasure I’ve never appreciated at any time in my life.

Even as a child I was chubby and never liked being close to any heat sources. Now I feel a continual need to drape myself around them whenever I find them.

After I passed my biscuit to my buddy and we drank our coffee we headed off for the last leg of our journey past the canal junctions (where the Grand Union and Stratford routes split apart) and back to the Navigation Inn.

This wasn’t a particularly long stretch – but it was by far the most slippery and downright hazardous. Both of us nearly came a cropper on the ice a few times and had to balance against a wall or hand rail.

By the time the Navigation appeared (after seven and a half miles of twalking) both of us were ready for more caffeinated beverages and stopped in for coffee round two.

 

My companion of course got the Belgian biscuit and the sugar remained in its little pot.

After yet another satisfying natter to complement the previous natter (that had been preceded by a long natter and followed by further nattering) we drove home (whilst nattering).

For my part I decided to walk into town for a coffee before all the shops closed and that’s where you find me now.

It’s been a good couple of days and I couldn’t think of a better way to begin my last (long) weekend before I begin a fresh challenge.

However.. it’s not over just yet. There’s more to come over the following days internet!

Watch this space 😄👍🏽

Davey

Grasshoppers and Atomic Blondes

Atomic Blonde is an awesome movie.

I’m just going to get that out of the way from the word go. If you like your action slick and stylish with a pumping, and totally authentic soundtrack that completely evokes memories of the period (1989) then this is the film for you.

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I went to see it late last night and shortly after midnight left the cinema still absolutely buzzing and chatting it over with my friend as we walked back to my house along the dark and strangely quiet streets.

We were both of the opinion that Charlize Theron and James McAvoy absolutely knocked this out of the park – and although I (kind of) guessed what was going to happen from the beginning, the payoff at the end of the movie was still nothing less than completely satisfying.

If you’ve not seen the trailer yet then you can find it here.

However – if you also fancy buying the (awesome) soundtrack then I’d advise NOT getting it on the currently ridiculously trendy vinyl format. Amazon appear to have temporarily allied themselves with Sioux Indian tribes and are busily engaging in modern day scalping…

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However – if you can pick yourself up off the floor after that whopping £50.99 kick in the man globes (or sensitive lady parts) it is possible to get it cheaper. iTunes (if you’re feeling virtuous) is more reasonable – but I’ll leave it up to you.

Go to see it and then try not to want the sountrack.

I dare you.

Another reason to love this film by the way is found in the evocative East German punk grunge backdrop – and graffitied concrete decay surrounding the Berlin Wall prior to it’s fall. One thing in particular that stuck with me in a club scene was a glowing neon message on the wall in the background.

It said simply ‘Everything you want is on the other side of fear’.

I’ve not seen or heard this phrase before – and it metaphorically stopped me in my tracks. The words could have been pulled right out of my head that morning and thrown onto the screen in front of me later the same day.

I was talking with a fellow Slimming World’r outside of our group on Saturday and we were both reflecting on how life has changed for us – particularly regarding how in our past lives (losing lots of weight is for those that go through it something akin to a reincarnation experience) we’d learned to just say ‘NO‘ to everything in life, because of long held and deep rooted feelings about how embarrassing saying ‘YES‘ would be.

Saying we WOULD do something as opposed to NOT doing it would usually mean we were in unfamiliar places, out of breath, in pain, unable to fit into seats, sweating profusely climbing stairs – and a whole variety of other tortures.

So we instead just said ‘no’. All the time.

This meant the world just got continually smaller – and our attitudes to everything (without realising it) began reflected our fears in order to explain our behaviour. ‘No’ provided an invisible barrier, that eventually we didn’t even recognise existed until it was stripped away.

As time’s gone on both of us have started saying ‘YES‘ all the time, and trusting that things will work out, because we’re now stronger, more nimble and more able to cope with the world.

It’s a difficult habit to get out out of though – and we agreed that it sometimes still requires a conscious decision to say YES after decades of automatically saying NO – but when you DO then your world starts to blossom.

It’s really true. EVERYTHING you want is on the other side of fear…

I awoke today really early, and still in a blindingly good mood thinking about this, so I decided to spread cheer/p*** the neighbours off and mow my lawns.

It was glorious outside at 8am – but it’s been a few weeks since I paid the garden any serious attention and it was looking a little ‘fluffy’ around the edges. It was a perfect opportunity to stick some chilled out beats on my headphones and go for it.

I’m absolutely addicted to this track by Pogo at the moment.

He’s hands down my favourite source of unique YouTube music – and I consistently go back to him again and again. I must have listened to this track about 100 times already and it was only uploaded by him yesterday.

It was also a really nice soundtrack to a sunny sky and swaying trees and grass.

I’m pretty glad that I’m not a lawn Nazi. If you let it grow a little bit there’s so much more interest to be found.

My frog population seems to have retreated a little – but all of a sudden (with a lot of dead ivy leaves falling from my tree after I cut their roots) I have a mushroom invasion – and seemingly out of the blue I noticed yesterday that there were some pretty epic ones hiding in the grass.

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As well as this (when I eventually took my headphones off) I realised that the lawn was absolutely alive with masses of little crickets – who were all making a symphony of noises.

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If they weren’t chirping away all over the lawn then they were languidly sunning themselves on the warm wood of my shed. There were whole colonies of them, just chilling out and saying ‘please take a close up photo of me whilst I relax!’

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Who am I to say no?

After a couple of hours of weeding the borders and mowing my front and back gardens they were back to (almost) good order.

Once I have some more space in my green bin I will have to attend to the bushes to the right out back – but otherwise it’s in good shape at the moment for the autumn and I won’t have to spend much energy keeping it in a tidier state.

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Anyway – thats my lot for today.

I’m going to sit out there with a cuppa later this afternoon and read a book. It’s all ready for me and I don’t aim to keep it waiting. Before I do this though – I have a busy busy busy day tomorrow, and need to post some eBay items as well as prepare some food for tupperware storage.

I only just realised internet that my local post office is open until 10pm on a Sunday! That’s the bestest thing ever in the history of really awesome bestest things.

(Yes. It’s true. I’m very easy to please!)

Davey

Swedishly frugal

It”s 9.50am on Saturday and I’m listening to Classic FM. I have my feet up on my POÄNG footstool and I’m in my POÄNG armchair, feeling very Swedish. I’m also feeling very frugal as – thanks to some patient bargain hunting – I managed to get both 2nd hand for a total of £14.

This compares very favourably to buying them new – which for the particular combination I purchased would have been £135 (although the covers do need a run through the washing machine).

However – to an extent this purchase is partially aspirational, because although the chair is rated to support a weight of 170kg (about 26st 10lbs) I’m convinced I’m going to break it, so I’ve propped the back of it up against the wall. It’s going to be a while before I have the balls to put the armchair in the middle of a room and sit there bouncing up and down like everyone else does…

The problem that I still think that my bulk will break most things I sit in – because it always used to. I’ve broken so many pieces of furniture over the years (and car seats) that I gave up counting how many had turned to splinters and sheared metal.

It’s a really difficult mindset to get out of at the best of times.

Last February I was attending some group therapy sessions – and the room was filled with these same POÄNG chairs in a big circle. At the time I was around 35 stone (222kg). I remember myself and another large lady having to ask for office chairs so that we could sit amongst the other attendees.

Unfortunately this made us about 2ft higher up than everyone else. On top of the rather stressful reason for being there (I was looking for support whilst giving up drinking) it was just one more thing to feel self conscious about.

I had a similar issue when I started Slimming World a few months later (link) and walked into a room full of little red chairs intended for an infant school. At the time I was convinced they’d collapse. Now I’m just used to them – but that took quite a while.

At this precise moment though putting my weight on a chair is a secondary consideration and I’m thinking more about stepping on scales – which I’m really not in the mood for. Still – sitting here worrying about the damage I did on Saturday (link) won’t solve anything. I need to get going!

(Makes way to Slimming World)

Well I’m still making steady downward progress – and I’ve lost another pound and a half. The Slimming World site’s progress chart shows that I’m levelling off a little – but still heading in the right direction.

I’m actually rather happy with the current pace. On average I’m losing about 2lb a week and that suits me perfectly. That’s 104lbs a year and would see me reach a weight of 15 stone in 37 weeks.

I may lose it faster, I may lose it slower – but it’s nice to know that at this continued pace I can get to where I want to be by approximately Feb 24th 2018. I think this mindset is much better than sudden dramatic losses followed by a slow week where I never really know what went wrong. That’s an emotional rollercoaster that I want to get off and never get back on again.

Besides – I’ve come to the conclusion that rushing is pointless. I plan to continue going to Slimming World every week once I reach my target anyway. It really doesn’t matter to me in the long term if its a pound a week as long as it’s coming off.

Everything in the right direction is better than standing still or putting weight on!!!

(Author leaves Slimming World for his next appointment.)

After group I headed over to see my friend and have a mooch around his allotment.

Previously I’ll be honest and say I could never really get my head around why people had allotments – especially if they had gardens – but there’s something supremely relaxing about going to one and just soaking up the calm.

You’re surrounded on all sides by things that are growing – and the whole area is both quirky and old – yet full of life and promise at the same time.

 

The variety of the plots and things that people are planting is fascinating. Everywhere you look there are different little shoots starting to flower and bud – birds hopping in and out to forage for food, and the odd crazy looking scarecrow and other strange methods deployed for deterring slugs or mice.

The other wonderful thing about this particular allotment is that there are quite a few little redbrick buildings on the plots. These apparently have preservation orders on them and can be used as sheds, but not modified in any way. They all have pretty unique characters, and I’m told that people used to live in them when they were first built so that they could guard the food on their plots.

 

They all added a lovely visual calm to the place that perfectly complimented the peace and quiet of the plots – most of which were like self contained kingdoms with large hedges and mature platings and sheds.

After the tour we stopped off at my friend’s allotment. Until today I’d never tried Chard – which he’s mentioned he’s been growing a few times. Having tried it I’m still not quite sure what I think of it. He refers to it as ‘peppery’ – but honestly I can’t quite classify it. It’s not sweet and not bitter – but on the cusp of both…

Chard is the red and yellow stalked leaves in the picture – which apparently grow voraciously and can regularly feed a family if pruned and managed well. It’s supposed to be highly nutritious. Its certainly beautiful and crunchy too!

 

My friend was keen to give me some things to try – and I walked away with some topped garlic (these taste like super hot garlic spring onions), a lettuce (it’s so fresh and greeeeeen!) a few leaves of red, orange and white chard, and a good handful of strawberries.

All Boris wanted to eat was grass.

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Despite my continued patient questioning over many many months Boris is still unable to answer the philosophical conundrum I keep posing for him. He just looks at me – and seems unwilling to voice any potential conclusions that he’s silently reached.

Until he comes up with a response I guess I will never know who is a good boy then…

I live in hope that one day he’ll share his stoic wisdom.

(author leaves with his veggie bounty and heads off for his next appointment)

Well – it’s now late evening. Much later than I usually post, so apologies to those who’ve already enquired how the weight loss went this week!

I’ve just been to see ‘The Mummy’.

Honest one word review time.

‘Mmmmmmsookay.’

I don’t think it’s absolutely the best film I’ve seen recently – but also far from the worst. Tom Cruise is as always watchable, running away from lots of things just before they blow up, doing ridiculous stunts and making everyone wonder if somewhere, locked away in an attic there’s a rotting picture of him getting older day by day.

Does the guy never age?

I’ll say one thing for him – whether he’s a scientology nut or just an average Joe he looks after himself. They mummy however? She’s really let herself go. That’s one lady SERIOUSLY in need of a manicure…

Anyway – I now have some Chard and strawberries to eat while I make a salmon stir fry.

I popped into Tesco as I walked home from the cinema and blundered into a (quite literally – there was pushing) feeding frenzy at the reduced food counter. I picked up 6 punnets of raspberries, and loads of stir fry veg trays for 8p each!

Tonight internet I’m going to dine like a (healthy) king for next to nothing whilst sitting on my cheap Ikea chair feeling Swedishly frugal.

Davey

Gold bra

It’s the early morning (just after midnight) and I feel wide awake! Although admittedly I had a coffee a couple of hours ago this time it’s got more to do with an invigorating brisk walk home in the pouring rain.

When I arrived home and closed the front door behind me I stood quietly in my hallway for a moment or two. All that I could hear was dripping. LOTS of dripping – and all of it coming from me. The floor was fast becoming a big puddle.

I got a pretty epic soaking – but BOY it was enjoyable!

Although I’ve been out walking in the rain a lot recently (the weather hasn’t been the best but it’s not stopped me) I’ve not been caught in a torrential downpour wearing just a shirt.

Sure – getting wet usually sucks – but when it’s also rather warm and you’re getting comically drenched (including splashed by cars going through massive flash puddles) there’s little else to do but smile, turn up the music and enjoy it!

I was also in a pretty good mood thanks to the film I’d just been to see. I had pretty much zero expectations going in but surprisingly it turned out to be frankly excellent.

There aren’t many trips to the cinema that can make a boy dream of owning his very own gold bra and a lasso – but a screening of Wonder Woman just about did it for this one!

Honestly I’ve absolutely despaired of the ‘dark and gritty’ DC superhero movies that have been coming out of Warner Bros lately. Everything they’ve made has not only been really depressing (Batman killing people and Superman all sulky) but it also seemed like the stories were mutilated by committee well before they ever reached our screens.

Suicide Squad was a mess of plot holes that relied mostly on Margot Robbie’s digitally enhanced bottom in hot pants to sell it (although she also played the part of Harley Quinn exceptionally well) while Batman vs Superman needed 30 frikkin minutes of deleted scenes to be restored for its DVD and Blu-ray release.

Also (and probably more importantly) none of them have come close to the sense of fun and excitement to be found in the Marvel universe movies.

Until Wonder Woman. 

Granted – the underlying theme of war isn’t a particularly bright one – but somehow it still manages to arrive with a sense of hope.

I’m also very happy to report that my cynicism about this obviously being sold in the press lately as a feminist film that’s purpose was to present a ‘positive female role model’ was unfounded. I’d initially suspected that this was just signposting that the finished article was awful enough to have advertising teams scrambling to sell it as an Emmeline Pankhurst biopic instead of a superhero jaunt.

However it most certainly delivers on it’s ‘role model’ promise – and the lead actor (Gal Gadot) seems both a worthy character for girls to look up to and a presents Wonder Woman as a proud bastion of independence and intelligence.

No one saves this lady but herself!

Anyway. Bed time. More to come tomorrow after the (probably crap) weigh in results.

(Author toddles off to bed to dream of his gold bra.)

It’s Saturday morning – and I’ve had the battery for my aging (it’s 10 this year!) compact camera on charge in the hope that it’s short optical zoom could capture the blackbird nest in my garden a little better than my iPhone. I think it can – but it’s still not ideal…

Once again I tippey-toed out of the back door to see if the nest was still occupied and thankfully it still is! Mommy blackbird is still sitting stoically on her eggs with one watchful eye on me whilst I take pictures from a distance.

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Even though it rained heavily last night and the nest is a bit exposed she’s still good!

That’s cheered me up. Time to make some coffee and face whatever the scales have to throw at me in Slimming World!

(author heads off to weigh in)

Yaaay! I lost two and a half pounds!

This leaves me edging ever close to sub 20st – which actually means way more to me now as a goal than the increasing numbers of stones I’ve lost. When it eventually happens it’s going to constitute a major milestone for me and I really really want it!

It’s not always easy to find long term or short term goals and it’s even harder to find ones that actually mean something.

After a while everything becomes just another number when you have so far to go – but this threshold is a big one for me. It’s like a major birthday or wedding anniversary. To me being under 20st says less about how far I’ve come – but more about where I’ll be.

I’m pretty sure I’ve not been anywhere close to this size since I had the word ‘teen’ after the numbers in my age.

Frankly because of this as long as I’m losing a little bit each week regularly then I’m happy. There’s no need to rush anywhere – or get unduly hung up on success or failure.

Slow and steady wins the race – as this little graphic that my friend sent me a year ago underlines. It motivated me waaaaay back when I started and I still look at it from time to time to remind myself of where my focus needs to be.

Back then this particular friend reminded me that even a pound a week was progress – despite the nonsense thoughts I had in my head that were telling me the opposite (link). He pointed out to me that one pound a week equalled four stone per year. This really stuck with me – and it’s something I’ve used to remind other people in group (as well as myself) of where they can be with regular (seemingly small amounts of) progress.

As I looked back in my WordPress media files for the above picture I also noticed the blog it was attached to – which came slightly later than his advice. It was called ‘Bro’s before mow’s’ and was from May 12th 2016 (link).

This passage reminds me how far away I was back then from the 3-4 hours a day I’ve been spending working on my back garden over the last couple of weeks.

‘The lawn looks kind of nice now. My back didn’t hurt that much and I only had to sit down once. That’s pretty good for me. In the past I’ve been so breathless I could hardly stand.’

To be clear – I was writing about mowing my FRONT lawn – which is 1/4 of the size of my rear one and requires almost none of the pruning.

At the time I was 33st 9.5lbs and if I’m honest I was struggling to get my head around the SW plan and in the same week I wrote this I gained weight (link).

Around that period I felt quite despondent – and regularly a bit overwhelmed when I thought about how far I had to go. It all seemed so far away.

I now realise that back then I wanted it all as soon as possible – and despite what I said outwardly deep down I wanted to somehow power through it all in mere months. It was all a bit of a fairy story in my head compared to what it is now – and I was a long way away from a point where I could appreciate (truly) that what I doing was not a race and to a finish line with the word ‘normal’ written on it – and that it would have to be a lifelong change.

In retrospect even when I came to terms with that I still had difficulty believing that IT WOUD BE.

That took a lot longer. It’s one thing saying you want to change forever – but it took quite a while for me to REALLY believe deep down that I could. Now a lot of what I do is just habit – and this also applies to other crutches that I used to use to get me through life as well.

I realised totally out of the blue on Wednesday that I’d stopped counting the days since I’d had any alcohol. One day for no apparent reason I’d simply forgotten that stopping drinking was a thing that I once needed to focus really hard on.

Now it’s just who I am.

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It has been quite a while though (pats self on back) 🙂 .

So – all is well with the world this Saturday internet. Gold bras rock, blackbirds are in their nests and my weight is still going in the right direction.

Time for some dinner 🙂

Davey

Moobs, bingo wings & duck sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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

It actually translates to 3st 2lbs.

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

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

Today isn’t that day though.

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

How should I describe how my arms feel right now?

Hmmm.

I think I’m going to go with…

‘Ow. Ow. Ow. Owwwwww.’

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

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

On reflection that was a silly thing to say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Davey

Thirteen and a half stone later…

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talking of moving in the right direction…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

weight progress

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

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

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

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

Davey

Sayonara 13 Stone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Davey

No songs or Northerners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday

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

Sunday

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

Monday

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

Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Davey

Determined

Something that’s surprised me lately is how I have begun to react to disappointment.

I could easily have been criticised in the past for using failure as an excuse to give up. I also actively shied away from competition of any kind because I knew how I felt when I lost. It left me feeling diminished somehow, and it almost never resulted in a will to do better. Instead it just confirmed my already negative feelings about my abilities and got stacked on the pile of other similar experiences labelled ‘evidence that Dave is not good enough’.

A few weeks ago I had a massive weight loss, which came as a huge surprise to me.

Don’t get me wrong – I worked for it. I mean I really really worked for it. I counted every calorie, exercised loads, ate way less than I normally did – and it all paid off in spades.

The thing that was slightly different about that week compared to others is that the Saturday before I’d put three pounds back on. It was a huge kick in the man globes at the time and I was angry with myself. Initially this began to turn into self recrimination – but then for some reason that suddenly morphed into determination.

My friend has a nickname for me. She has taken to calling me (amongst other whimsical things) a ‘determined f****r’.

It’s partially related to something she made me realise many months ago when I said to her in passing that I wasn’t an ambitious person. She poked me across the table and said ‘you’re talking crap – you’re the most ambitious person I know!’

I was more than a bit surprised.

She made me realise that evening in the pub (as she gently read me the riot act over a glass of diet coke) that ambition was not solely related to industry and that just because I didn’t want to be CEO of a fortune 500 company I was still driven in other ways.

‘I don’t know anyone else that has changed their life in the way that you have.’ She said.

‘That takes ambition. You’re AMBITIOUS!’

If you read yesterday’s post I was underwhelmed with my weight loss – despite my certificate and bothered by silly numbers in trousers. For a moment I took my eye off the prize and forgot to stand back at and look at the bigger picture.

That picture is rather lovely when viewed with a sense of perspective. I’ve lost eleven and a half stone. I don’t know anyone else in my private life or past that’s done that.

Not only have I done it once –  I’ve done it twice (I lost 10st before putting it back on in 2008).

I know how to do it the wrong way and now (hopefully) I know how to do it the right way.

So – when I woke up this morning I was driven. I had a lot of plans for the day – and TOP of the list was fitting in as much exercise as I could. My Sunday morning alarm went off at 7am, and I was on my exercise bike by 7.30.

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The weather was supposed to be crap today – so if my plans (walking with a friend at 10am) were derailed by rain I could at least say I’d done my bit.

By the time my friend arrived for our planned walk I’d also filled the slow cooker and was beginning to cook my lunches for the week at work. I had forgotten to buy ham slices for my mini quiches however – so (since it wasn’t yet raining and look quite nice) we decided to walk to Sainsburys two miles away and get a coffee at the same time as my ham.

After some brisk twalking there and back (along with plenty of caffeinated chatter in Starbucks) we bid each other goodbye and I carried on with my cooking – now armed with the right ingredients.

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I chopped up a salad for work, ate four of the mini quiches that I’d made, boxed up the rest, and in the meantime cooked a chilli for tomorrow and the day after. I gave the slow cooker a good stir and then headed out for my next appointment.

Logan.

The cinema was a mile and a half away – so I decided to go for it and see if I could beat my mile record. The last time I managed a 17.23 (my previous best) in the park on a flat surface with no roads to cross and no gradients. This was over busy roads and with hills – but what the hell. I’d give it a go.

I only managed to beat it – 17.14 and an average pace of 17.10!

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This feeling of success was greatly enhanced when I was waiting outside the cinema (slightly early) for my brother and his wife to arrive.

As he rounded the corner and walked over the road I noticed he wasn’t he wasn’t paying any attention to me. I assumed he was having a bad day and was in a grim mood – until I saw a surprised look on his face as it lit up and I caught his eye.

‘I didn’t recognise you!’ he said.

As we went into the cinema and the lights went down I asked him ‘were you joking or did you really not recognise me?’

‘No – honestly! I looked right through you and didn’t recognise you!’ he said.

I was a bit stunned. My own brother no longer recognises my shape.

We watched the film (it was excellent – I highly recommend you go and see it), said our goodbyes and made our separate ways back home.

The weather had changed. It was getting cold. freezing in fact – and I was stuck waiting for the traffic to let me cross the road with a biting wind in my face.

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As I stepped off the kerb I felt a spring in my gait and realised that despite having already walked a lot that I had more energy in the tank.

Despite being delayed I thought I’d go for it again and see if I could once more improve on my time. This time I’d walk as fast as I possibly could and only stop if things really started to hurt.

When Apple Watch tapped my wrist to tell me I’d done a mile I checked the time and nearly stopped dead on the spot. Despite waiting at the road to cross, despite walking up a hill afterwards, and despite the wind being against me I’d smashed it again!

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I can now do a mile in 16 minutes and 33 seconds!!!

By the time I reached home I was in a supremely good mood. According to my stats today I’ve done 21,180 steps, walked 10.61 miles, burned 2080/4867 active/total calories and completed 150 minutes of cardio.

Now was the time to celebrate. With food. GOOD FOOD.

I opened the lid of the bubbling slow cooker.

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Inside was a stew made with: chopped chicken breasts, a leek, a medium potato, half a swede, half a courgette, one large carrot, a carton of passata, a can of chopped tomatoes, three cloves of garlic, an inch and a half of finely chopped spanish chorizo, 3 bay leaves, a chicken stock cube, salt, ras el hanout seasoning and cinnamon.

It smelt and tasted divine.

I’ve just finished a bowl of it while I’ve been writing this.

Almost as soon as I arrived home the heavens opened and I can hear the rain hammering down outside my window. I’m warm from the exercise, full from the soup in my belly, supremely happy with my level of activity today, over the moon that my own brother didn’t recognise me.

I’m generally a bit high on life.

So – this is the way I mean to go on this week. I’m not going to think about how much exercise I can’t do – I’m going to think of ways that I CAN do it, because somehow, by hook or by crook I’m going to nail that 12 stone certificate, and I’m going to do it soon.

Do you know how I know that internet?

I know it because I’m a determined f****r, and I’m not going to take my eye off the prize this week, or the next, or the one after that. I’m going to own it and I’m going to nail it.

Davey

Sixteen inches smaller

Day two of ‘operation salad’ is in effect and so far things are going very nicely, although last night I found myself to be incredibly peckish which was annoying.

As well as trying to eat significantly less calories this week I’m also trying to eat less in terms of portion sizes. Usually this makes me go quietly insane.

I’m not so bad during the day when I’m busy – but when my time isn’t occupied in the evening I’m my own worst enemy.

Sunday came in ‘on budget’ however and finished with the following food consumed.

  • 4 x pork medallions (134kcal each)
  • 1 x large baking potato (90kcal)
  • 2 x sweet potato (130kcal)
  • Salad and home made salsa (all speed)
  • 7 or 8 Pickled gherkins (speed)
  • Can of mackerel (180kcal)
  • 2x sugar free werthers originals (1syn)
  • Cup of light hot chocolate (2syns)

Dinner looked pretty nice on the plate yesterday evening too. I’d made a red pepper, Chinese leaf lettuce, celery and mandolined carrot salad for speed. Next to that are garlic and sea salt wedges I’d done to accompany the remaining home made salsa left over from Saturday’s group tasting session.

The salad dressing is cider vinegar and wholegrain mustard and ‘yes’. It DID taste as good as it looked. 😏

I don’t faff about counting the speed food as it’s so low but I think the day came in at around 1000 kcal.

I know I’m not supposed to worry about calories on Slimming World – but I don’t want to leave this week to chance.

I also did the following exercise:

So – I’m counting yesterday as a tick in the ‘win’ column. This should be a day where I burned a lot more than I consumed, and therefore will hopefully equal weight loss.

There’s also some other good news to be had today, and it’s pretty darn great – even if I do say so myself.

After my post last week regarding the stress I’ve been going through surrounding clothing (and what I can affordably wear now that things are getting big) I made a few test purchases.

One of these was at my traditional high street source, and two others were via online stores reccomended by readers.

The first of the two online ones (from Jacamo in this case) came today and I took the long route around Warwick, through the park and over a couple of hills to pick up the parcel.

I no longer have stuff delivered to my house if I can help it, and instead get it sent to local drop off points approximately two miles away. This means that I never miss a delivery AND I get exercise walking there to pick it up.

When I got home (after a drink) I opened the package. It contained two 4xl tee shirts and two pairs of 50inch waisted jeans.

Now – I’d bought all four of these items fully expecting them to be snug, and to have something to work towards. My trousers in particular I assumed would be a significant work in progress.

Not so. My new jeans not only fit but there’s room in the waistband for me to put my fist in there easily! I will need to wear them with a belt and can start to use them right away!!!

This is now the lowest sized pair of jeans that I have owned in recent memory. I think this actually takes me back to a period in history before the millennium – as I have absolutely nothing to compare with them in my wardrobe, apart from the 52’s I’ve been wearing that were at the bottom of my clothing suitcase. They were purchased in 2008.

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THIS MEANS THAT I HAVE NOW LOST A STAGGERING SIXTEEN INCHES FROM MY WAISTLINE!!!!!

So there’s my non-scale victory for the day. Heck – this one will probably last me for the month!

In other unrelated news I watched ‘Sully’ (the story of the Miracle on the Hudson) the other night.

If you like Tom Hanks then you’ll love this – as he’s at his best playing the modest Everyman hero that he does so well. Plus it made me cry. Twice. So it’s probably good for a date night too (since Valentine’s Day is edging ever closer) as long that is as you are going on a night of romance with a partner that has a stiff upper lip.

One of you will need keep it together so they can be in charge of passing out the tissues to the blubbering wreck like me!

Anyway – time to cook dinner… I still haven’t decided quite what to have yet internet – but whatever it is there won’t be many calories!!!

Tune in for the next exciting instalment of ‘the tubby man eats lettuce‘ later this week, where our hero might just grate some ginger and make something nice!

Davey

Rogue Two

Although it’s a bit of an extravagance sometimes a film is sooooo good that it’s worth seeing a second time. Star Wars: Rogue One is (for me anyway) that film. Today was also doubly exciting because its the first time in quite a few years I’ve been to an IMAX screening of something – and it made my second viewing a really great way to re-visit it.

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I’ll be completely honest and say the reason I haven’t done this for a while is that IMAX seating is often (because of the tall, curved auditorium) a more restrictive width with less legroom than conventional cinema seating.

In the past the seats have really hurt to sit in – and that’s taken all of the pleasure out of my visits. Not any more!

However – my width restriction has now been replaced by ticket costs as IMAX isn’t cheap!

This week (since I am super frugal at the moment and have a tight weekly budget) in order to pay for it I’ve only bought food if it’s been reduced in the supermarket, and I’ve walked there to buy it when I needed it rather than use the car. I guesstimate that I’ve saved almost the money it required to treat myself to today’s visit so I’m guilt free.

Another plus is that I have loads of carrots, broccoli, cabbage, celery, lettuce and leeks and have been eating like a (rabbit) king for next to nothing this week. Currently as I type there’s a super cheap beef stew bubbling away in the kitchen that smells delicious!

It’s only been a month or so since I saw Rogue One last – but the second time around it was just as exciting and fresh as the first time – and I even saw some things I missed the first time.

I have to say though when the film closed I was actually in tears (which took me quite by surprise) thinking about Carrie Fisher – as Rogue One’s ending leads directly into to the events in ‘A New Hope’. I won’t go into what happens for fear of spoiling what is a really cool finale – but my bottom lip lost the plot.

I also have to hand it to Disney though – because despite my reservations when they purchased Lucasfilm it appears that they are doing a way better job of being George Lucas than George Lucas ever did. Still – he’s now richer than anyone ever needs to be so I doubt he’s particularly upset about how things turned out. If he so desires he can make lots of full sized Jar Jar Binks dolls and have an army of Gungans populating his ranch.

As long as there’s none in the films everyone is happy!

So – in conclusion, if you haven’t already – GO AND SEE THIS MOVIE IN IMAX ASAP!!!

In other news I came home and did five miles on the exercise bike to make sure I filled my green ring on my activity tracker. I now have five days in a row with all rings filled and that for me is previously unheard of.

I’m actually feeling a lot more energetic already with the added cardio and I’m actually really really glad I set myself the task of getting this Apple Watch achievement!

Finally – still no news on the job front. Many people have said that no news equals good news – but I don’t know. I’m trying to ignore it but the pessimist in me is fighting a brutal war with my realist and optimist sides for air time.

The good news is that all three of them agree that I should just get on with looking for other stuff and forget it for the time being – which is what I’ve been doing. Hopefully more news will come in the not too distant future and I’ll know for sure either way.

Anyway – the cheapest, healthiest syn free soup in the known universe is just begging to be eaten and I must oblige it.

Laters internet. May the force be with you!

Davey

That’s no moon…it’s a space station!

As is now customary for a Friday my routine today has mostly revolved around quietly stressing about whether I’ve done enough to lose weight on Saturday morning.

For this reason alone I don’t think I’ve slept properly on a Friday for about nine months. I’m always like a cat on hot bricks – simultaneously wanting to stand on the scales and also not wanting to go anywhere near them.

I’ve noticed that I’ve fallen into a routine that I suspect most fellow slimmers will recognise. On Saturday afternoon I’m full of thoughts that mostly revolve around putting my feet up and having as big a dinner as I can possibly get away with. By the time Monday arrives I’m thinking that I need more vegetables and less meat followed by a bloody good walk, and by the time Thursday and Friday land I notice I’m eating smaller portions and walking loads. According to Apple Watch I’m almost at seven miles so far and the day’s not yet over.

People that I weigh in with are also never less than intensely focused as they stand in line – and often don’t say much until they know the good (or bad) news. It’s the fulcrum of the week for many of my fellow dieter’s emotional states – and I’m no different. It means a lot to ALL of us.

Last week there was a lady weighing in from anther group in just her pants and a vest to get the vital few ounces off that she needed – and while I was impressed by her willingness to disrobe in front of strangers (and to an extent I definitely understood the impulse) tomorrow I will have to make do with just taking off my coat and shoes.

None of the lovely ladies there need to be subjected to my expansive underpants just yet. I’m a long way from feeling confident enough to stand in front of a room full of people in just my trunks.

However I’m getting ever closer. I had three rather monumental little moments yesterday.

The first was that I took this rather boring and mundane photo.

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You might ask why the empty inside of a suitcase warrants inclusion in my blog – and you’d be quite right to do so.

In April when I started going to Slimming World this suitcase was full (and I mean FULL – I could barely lift it off the wardrobe) of perfectly good clothes that I was no longer able to wear. Back then when I started I was wearing 8XL shirts and 66 inch waisted jeans. The sizes inside ranged from 7XL to 4XL and from a 60 inch waist all the way down to a 52 inch. It held around 15 pairs of jeans and trousers, 20+ shirts, a couple of tracksuits, 9 polo or teeshirts and a pullover.

Although two of the items that were in there are still a little snug, EVERYTHING THAT WAS IN THIS SUITCASE AND MY WARDROBE NOW EITHER FITS ME OR HAS BEEN TAKEN TO CHARITY BECAUSE IT’S TOO BIG.

The second was that (without realising it until much later) I smashed my mile walking lap time.

I’d agreed to go for a walk with an ex-colleague yesterday when we were chatting at our meal on Saturday, and for the second day in a row I found myself at Arrow Valley park to meet him. The weather since Wednesday has been a bit more misty – but despite the beard dew that this causes (I look like a wet Wookie after a few laps) it’s great for getting out of breath and sweaty because it’s nice and cool.

As I’d never walked with this person before I didn’t really know whether it was going to be brisk or sedate – but since I’m generally good with either these days I didn’t really mind which it turned out to be.

As it happened the pace he set was slightly quicker than I’m normally used to – but not at all unpleasantly so. We were still able to walk and talk perfectly well and had a fine old natter about lots and lots of things which ended (as most truly great things in life do) with coffee.

When I got home and checked my stats later in the evening I realised that I had cracked the 19 minute barrier and done the first mile in 18.37!!!

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Honestly I was a bit surprised about this as I truly didn’t think that I had this in me (yet) – but it just goes to show what you can do if you put your mind to it.

Those with a long memory and lengthy patronage of my blog might remember my first attempt to track my fitness with a (rather crap and unreliable) application on my phone called Walkmeter. On June 3rd using this I recorded a slightly shorter lap of the route we walked yesterday, which shows that my average pace per mile back then was 40.09 minutes.

I’m now more than TWICE faster than I was on that day – and I was much slower before I began using technology to keep note of my achievements.

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The third was that yesterday was ROGUE ONE DAY!!! 

After months and months of salivating over trailers and teasers involving Darth Vader the 15th on December was finally the night that the release date crawled round. As I’d booked the tickets shortly after midnight when they became available a few weeks ago myself and four friends were front and centre to watch arguably one of the best films yet to come out of the franchise.

It was very different in tone to the main films (no John Williams music for instance) in many ways – but also instantly familiar in all the areas that mattered. It’s DNA is pure Star Wars and it definitely deserves your visit to the cinema.

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Anyway – now I have some decisions to make. Tomorrow morning is not only weigh in day but it’s the Slimming World Christmas party, where we are all encouraged to wear festive attire and bring in something that we’ve cooked at home to share with the group.

I have a couple of ideas for what to do internet but as yet I can’t make up my mind. 

Whatever happens I’ll take a few pictures of the culinary carnage and let you know how it goes. Either way I’ll be cooking something that I know I want to eat – so even if no-one else likes it then at least I’m guaranteed a pre-prepared lunch!

Fingers crossed it all goes well!

Davey

 

Appreciating freedoms

I was grocery shopping in Aldi yesterday morning.

As budget shopping goes I’ve come to really appreciate the minimalism of the place and the sometimes bizarre apparel that they sell right next to the cherry tomatoes.

If the zombie apocalypse strikes while I’m out shopping then I’d prefer to be in a grocery store that sells a full size fire axe. It will make hacking my way home through the undead infinitely less bothersome – and I’ll also arrive with some tasty provisions.

I’ll be honest though. I avoided Aldi for many years.

I used to associate it with my first serious relationship in the early 90’s where our watchword was poverty. Eating beans and frozen waffles until payday was often a depressing reality when we lived together. The people who went to Aldi when I shopped with my ex were not so great and neither was the food, which came in oddly named or generic packaging or in the case of meat often without a little window to see a representative of its contents.

Aldi has made great strides over the years though and is now my first choice for shopping based on value AND quality. My salmon comes in comfortingly clear packaging now and looks delicious.

Occasionally however there’s still a windswept and interesting individual exhibiting a unique personality. The person with colourful character traits yesterday was a woman in her mid 20’s having a heated discussion with what may or may not have been her partner.

‘Calm down!’ Her companion said quietly.

In my experience never in the entire history of calming down has the phrase ‘calm down’ ever resulted in someone calming down. This instance was no different.

‘I’ll calm down as soon as the world stops treating me differently because I have a VAGINA!!!’ said the lady in reply rather loudly.

She was about 6ft away from me. I resisted the temptation to turn and look at her. She then began to address her fellow shoppers.

‘Oh yea – NOW you’re interested!’ She said at the same volume. ‘All because I said VAGINA!!!’

I put some frozen prawns in my trolley. I’d defrosted my freezer the day before and now it was free of icebergs filling it seemed like a good idea.

Oooh haddock! That’s cheap!

I continued to ignore her as she ranted and moved the bargain fish from the chest freezer into my trolley as I looked further along the row for frozen berries.

Ironically it hadn’t occurred to me to treat or think about her any differently before her outburst – but now all I could think about was her vagina and what it had done to get her into trouble.

I must admit to at the time being quite amused by the whole incident. Her petulant and public display of outraged feminism however did little to make me sympathetic to whatever her plight may have been.

This morning though I awoke to a different reality – and the ugly spectre of sexism was writ large when I opened my eyes and checked my phone.

Going into detail in this case would be indelicate and unfair – but it brought back a lot of painful memories from my own past where a person very close to me was for a long time emotionally blackmailed into something that she absolutely did not want to do – and over the course of several years the implications of this affected and changed the course of both our lives.

I was in a somber mood therefore when I met a friend for our planned walk this morning. Despite some excellent conversation and some absolutely beautiful woodland the incident I’d learned about earlier in the morning was at the top of my mind when I left to drive home.

It was sitting there right alongside a growing anger about the fact that however much things in the world change, they also remain depressingly the same.

Back then in my past I hadn’t ultimately been able to change anything for this person. I’d felt powerless and swept along by the currents of feelings and events both before and afterwards. Today was different however and I’d offered whatever help I was in a position to give – but it still didn’t feel like enough.

Even if I could change someone else’s reality in the here and now (and I’m not sure I could) it wouldn’t stop the underlying evil of inequalty and prejudice from existing – and that was the saddest thing of all.

Some belief structures exist to perpetuate one sided power – be this race, disability, age, sex or otherwise and it’s maddening sometimes to see that not only does such blind prejudice still exist – but sometimes it gets worse.

When I was at university I studied Grace Nichols and her book ‘The Fat Black Woman’s Poems’.

I’ll be honest – at the time it wasn’t my cup of tea, and I gravitated to other works in my American fiction module that fired up my imagination. They were by male authors like John Steinbeck, Tim O’Brien and Don DeLillo.

However one phrase that my tutor used to describe Nichols’s book stuck in my mind -because at the time it began to open my eyes to a new and rather uglier reality.

‘The most disadvantaged person in society is a fat black lesbian in a wheelchair.’ she said to our seminar group.

It took a while for the gravity of this depressingly true statement to filter in. The prejudice that I read about in books wasn’t just something that had happened in the past – it was alive and well in the present day. At the time my aforementioned history was my present day and bit by bit that phrase came to mean more and more as I watched the resolve of the person close to me get slowly chipped away until it crumbled and ultimately failed altogether.

Sometimes little seems to have changed – except that we can probably now amend the statement (given the increase in religious fundamentalism and ever growing intolerance in both the west and east and from multiple religions) to:

‘The most disadvantaged person in society is a fat black lesbian in a wheelchair wearing a hijab.’

Brexit in the UK doesn’t seem to be helping to heal racial and ethnic divides – and I despair at the capability of our world (I’m looking at you Donald Trump) to talk about building walls, finding enemies behind every bush and demonise entire cultures because of the beliefs of violent and despicable minorities.

I’m sure in another 10 years time I will be able to add another identifier to the list – and the burden for that poor made up woman will grow yet heavier. Maybe it will be communism again – who knows?

I don’t claim to have insight into every nuance of intolerance – nor have I experienced it all, understand it all – or know everyone else’s pain.

But I can try to empathise with those that I know.

I’m a human being and I know what it’s like to be descriminated against. I know what it’s like to feel bullied and weak and apart from society – yet I am theoretically at an advantage by being the owner of a penis, having white skin and coming from a secular first world ethnic group and society.

If it feels crap in my shoes when I’m abused by a passing transit van it must feel a million times worse for that fictional occupant of the wheelchair. Especially when you heap all the other burdens (such as motherhood) on top.

I hope that tomorrow I wake up in a different world.

Although I probably won’t.

In the meantime I have to try and look around me for positivity and take the time to appreciate beauty and goodness wherever I find it.

Today I walked around Hay Wood with my (male) friend. It was a lovely, peaceful free walk, where we both took the time to stop and look at the world, stroke moss, examine tree stumps, marvel at the huge variety of fungi, squirrels, birds and proliferation of LIFE.

Then in the afternoon I strolled to the cinema, at my leisure, under my own steam, and sat watching a film with my shoes off in a largely empty, comfortable auditorium.

It’s true that I don’t often appreciate the freedoms I take for granted.

Today Internet, as I looked at the woodland and sat enjoying my film I really really did.

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