Christmas update

I really am a big kid in many respects.

If you tell me I’m going anywhere nice then the possibility of me sleeping properly beforehand is practically zero.

It’s why I’m wide awake right now.

My mind can be quite hyperactive at the best of times but honestly when it’s faced with the prospect of going to do things that take me out of my usual comfortable bubble then I start going into ‘planning mode’.

This is the side of me that makes lists and lies awake at 2am completely unable to nod off.

It’s thankfully not a huge element of my personality – because for the most part I prefer a degree of last minute chaos.

I’m not the type of guy that typically chips away at gradual preparation – and find usually that a pressing need to do things with very little time to spare usually results in better creativity.

Such added urgency also means that tasks appear to get completed in lightning fast time with practically zero faffing.

Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

I like to think that doing things at the last moment saves time, because there’s rarely a wasted moment just before an event.

I guess the truth is that I actually just fit in all the dead time before I finally give up procrastinating and get around to doing what I have to do.

It’s not hard to faff about over the Christmas period though.

It’s what the holiday’s there for after all!

While I’ve been doing some exciting new things over the last couple of weeks (more on this maybe in another post further down the line…) for the most part I’ve been experiencing a rather relaxing Christmas on my own.

Many would may see this as the absolute opposite way that Christmas should be spent (and at any other time I may have been in agreement) but I’ve rather enjoyed it.

With very good reason I haven’t felt as if I’ve been in solitude at all.

Everyone that matters to me has been in practically constant or semi regular contact – and once again I’ve been reminded that I have some very creative and very caring friends who (it appears) are always thinking about me when it comes to gifts.

Newer readers may not have heard of Swanlings before – but back when I first started losing weight and could barely move around the park, I motivated myself for a while by following the progress of some cygnets in St Nics.

Nature can be cruel, and out of a large staring group of several cygnets they slowly dwindled in number until only one remained.

This swanling (now fully grown) is still a solitary presence in the park – and whenever I pass by him or her (I have no idea!) I can’t help but stop to say a metaphorical hello.

We’ve both grown and developed together and because of that Swans (and in particular their offspring) hold a special significance in my heart.

My friend (initially a passing blog reader who eventually became much more) clearly understands this and totally out of the blue made me this wonderful piece of embroidery for Christmas.

When it comes to gifts It’s true that big things don’t matter at all.

It really is the thought that counts.

This year I’ve received and given items and cards that probably cost much less in monetary terms than any preceding year in my history – but in truth what’s passed in both directions has probably done so with more love and thought than ever before.

This has led to me feeling rather cared for and supremely relaxed – and has probably been the cause of another feature of the last few days.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day definitely saw me take my foot off the metaphorical gas – and despite ambling around the park for a while on The 25th and 26th (the swimming pool has been closed!!!) the vast majority of my time has been spent eating, reading and playing video games.

I know that dietary excess is something of an expectation that goes hand in hand with the Christmas experience, and I shouldn’t really do guilt – but I can’t help harbouring a little.

I always find periods where I let my appetite off the leash somewhat unsettling – because I immediately realise I’m still capable of eating a LOT of food in a short space of time.

It’s really easy to undo hard won victories on the scales in a very short time – so I resolved relatively early in in the experience that Christmas would mostly be vegetarian.

With the exception of chicken on some days over the holiday season the last few days has consisted almost entirely of roasted and boiled veggies with a few carbs and lots of apples or plums.

Everything I’ve made (particularly in the above picture) was practically oil free and very Slimming World friendly.

I’m not gonna lie though and say I had small portions – because I ate the flipping lot as well as a huge pile of fruit afterwards.

Truthfully I enjoyed every last mouthful of it.

Consequently the evening of the 25th saw me flopping heavily into bed after playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider for the vast majority of the day.

I was quite satisfied with my resulting food coma and felt rather Christmassy.

At least one of us got a good level of exercise in.

By time time I fell asleep (in comparison to my short five mile stroll around the park in the morning) Lara Croft had killed two rather deserving jaguars (whom I turned into some rather fetching boots after they relentlessly stalked me for two levels) brought a swift end to several bad guys and in doing so had clambered over a significant amount of South American jungle.

Frankly I was exhausted just watching her – but couldn’t help admiring her new attire.

I’m just a hair’s breadth away from her approach to personal styling myself – and I’m barely one party invite away from buying something ridiculously outlandish to wear just for the hell of it.

I’m genuinely surprised that many of the things I’ve tried on recently (mostly as an attempt at personal humour) have actually resulted in me thinking ‘You know what?! I’d actually wear that!’

This is a sign that I’m far from unhappy in life – and that the man I’ve become is in a place where he feels so secure that experimentation is just something that happens naturally every day – instead of to be avoided at all costs.

I am still a creature of habit in some respects mind you – and I do like some certain things to remain the same.

As well as regular canine contact (how can you not love a face like that?!) one of these has been the continued joy of bottomless coffee and a good read – which you may well have noticed has taken the place of writing over the last few days.

This is partly because another very generous friend gave me an old (slightly damaged but still fully functional) Kindle as a present – and having never owned one before I can say with complete surprise that I’m totally in love with it.

It only has one purpose (unlike my iPad) but the featherweight nature of its construction and razor sharp text make it instantly pleasurable to read in any light.

The only problem is the numb posterior that it’s caused in both coffee shops and the smallest room of my house…

So that’s been my Christmas internet – and it’s not over yet.

When day breaks I’ll be off to do the things in life that make me happy.

There will be lots of twalking and lots of exploration.

It’s gonna be fun!

Excuse me though. I need to see if I can get at least another hour’s sleep under my belt…


From 66 to 42

Yesterday was an empty day. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only 11lbs to go for that. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

(That’s 60cm for all my Euro-friends)

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

That’s not the only one though. 

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

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

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

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

It creaked a little, and then settled. 

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

However nothing happened. No cracking or snapping of wood! 

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

A little more creaking, but no splintering!

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

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

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


Flat white

I was wandering through Sainsburys the other day with my brother when I happened to stop in the tea and coffee aisle and ponder a particularly decorative box.

It was labelled ‘womankind’ and clearly not aimed at me, but I like shiny things and couldn’t help but stop and look.

This pink box was swathed in floral artwork and would have easily looked at home on the shelf of Laura Ashley with perfume or moisturiser inside it next to some nice curtain material.

On the front, amongst its flowery battle camouflage were its feminine credentials.


‘A delicate dance of organic cranberry, rose and sweet vanilla’

Girl tea danced! Why didn’t my drinks gayly cavort in this manner?

I wondered what the inevitable blue box for boys covered in footballs and cars would contain and looked left and right for ‘Mankind’. It was nowhere to be seen.

Nothing had been made to sway rhythmically for me. Quite the opposite in fact. There were no man specific herbal teas with infusions of diesel oils, essence of brick dust and a delicate bouquet of football turf made as a companion to this most ladylike of beverages.

Only oestrogen was on this side of the aisle, and it seemed I was trespassing on its territory. As a woman reached over me to grab a box of Womankind I looked around wondering where Pete had gone.

Over on the dark side of the aisle my brother was browsing the weaponised caffeine and hunting for something without a hint of roses or organic anything. It would be fair to say he is a big fan of coffee and can occasionally be heard remarking that beans have been burned (or something) and coffee not made correctly. I nod like I understand when he says such things.

Recently he and his wife introduced me to a new drink.

A flat white. It sounded boring.

‘What’s that?’ I asked, calling him on the way to pick them up at Coffee Architects in Leamington one day a month or so ago.

I’d never heard of a flat white but on the other end of the phone Pete and his wife were extremely enthusiastic. My sister in law Yuni (having been a barista) does not recommend coffee lightly.

‘Just try it – you’ll like it.’ My brother said with his wife chattering in the background. ‘We’ll get you one and a Pastrami sandwich as well.’

I wasn’t convinced. I fear change. But they mentioned food. My kryptonite. I was caught off guard.

‘OK cool.’ I replied.

They’d been raving about Coffee Architects for a while and I’d been meaning for some time to see what all the fuss was about. Some time ago the owner had made me a diabetic friendly fruit cake for my birthday (on Yuni’s instruction) which was truly fantastic.

Now they wanted to introduce me to ‘architected’ coffee.

Honestly my flat white was smaller than I expected – but boy did it taste good. Probably one of the smoothest cups of coffee I’ve had. Ever.

‘Niiiice!’ I said turning to my brother as I drove.

I carried on to our destination, gripping the steering wheel tightly and pressing the accelerator further to the floor.

It appeared that this was white coffee with attitude, and came with an outboard motor to strap to the back of your head. Sadly however it didn’t come with a pillow for me to fall face first into afterwards when the inevitable caffeine crash came.

I looked the drink up after my withdrawal headache had subsided and realised that it was an Australian delicacy (introduced relatively recently to the UK) that was basically two double Espresso shots with not much milk. Because it masqueraded as normal coffee it went down fairly quick and gave a hell of a buzz.

I’d like (in a rare moment of increased testosterone) to say that it’s a man drink – but my diminutive, hardcore sister in law destroys this argument in its entirety. She just necks that kind of drink straight from the kettle while laughing before strolling off to arm wrestle some builders.

I’ve been trying a lot of different beverages since I gave up drinking alcohol in an effort to pass the time – particularly where there is a large libation gap in the evening.

Chai tea latte and I recently had a brief flirtation in the hours before bedtime but ultimately she left me underwhelmed and with an odd taste in my mouth.

We broke up recently, mutually deciding to call it a day.

Then I bought a big box of herbal teabags with various fruity flavours. They all smelled lovely but tasted like I was licking the underside of my lawn mower.

I hope they are happy in the bin and I wish them well on their way to landfill.

Camomile and Spearmint teabags have been nice at work (I ran out of Earl Grey – don’t judge me) but fail to give me any ‘oomph’. Also, upon further inspection I noted the container stated they would give ‘A moment of calm’. This clearly isn’t what’s needed to motivate me 9-5.

It also has flowers on the box and I think I should steer clear of this poison.

My body is used to craving stronger coffee based motivation, and I know where it’s come from.


About three years ago my friend gave me a Nespresso machine as a housewarming gift.  The first fix was free it seemed, and I had a pack of 20 pods in the box to get me started.

Clearly knowing how the addiction would pan out she also kindly purchased a further 200 pods of insane strength coffee that could legally wake the dead. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Making sure there was no way out of this spiralling dependency, for Christmas she also purchased me a milk frother. She might as well have been selling me crack.

Starting the day without my product red Starbucks flask (also bought by my ‘dealer’ friend) full of the largest sized ‘Lungo’ is inconceivable.

It never ceases to amaze me that I regularly forget to take my morning diabetic medication – but have never once had to drive back to the house for emergency coffee.

It has it claws in deep.

Still at least while I’m lying wide awake in bed at night, I can be assured that one drink that was intended for this particular man prompts rhythmic motions.

Unfortunately however instead of dancing this is the procession back and forth to the smallest room in the house, after which I lie twitching until I’m completely worn out and finally nod off.

I’m sticking with coffee despite its inconsequential and minor flaws – Womankind are welcome to their organic twigs and berries.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.