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

Cinema day

I’m feeling loads more like myself today – and oddly it seems to have coincided with a suddenly rainy cold snap.

I’ve suddenly realised that although I haven’t suffered at all with the heat (it’s amazing how much better I feel in hot weather now I’m thinner!) I think I’ve been carrying around a lot of excess water.

This may explain some of my struggles in the past seven days where my weight has fluctuated like a yo-yo.

Yesterday – almost immediately as the temperature dropped I found myself going to the toilet like a racehorse that had swallowed a swimming pool – and whaddaya know – today I feel as light as a feather!

I’m also sick of giving myself a hard time so today (just like yesterday) is all about being nice to Davey and not him grinding himself into the flipping floor with walking and guilt.

Every day recently when I’ve fancied going to the cinema I’ve talked myself out of it – and as a consequence there are loads of films that I really wanted to see but haven’t gotten around to.

If I don’t hurry up they won’t be showing any more and that would mean seeing them on a small screen – which just won’t do when it comes to big budget action movies.

First on the agenda today is The Incredibles 2.

I flipping love Pixar films. They just contain a totally ageless joy that other animated films can’t quite seem to replicate – and this one has been on my must see list for a while.

It’s on at 10.10am – and I’m heading out now to see it.

It’s raining but who cares?

I’ve spent the last couple of years building an all weather wardrobe and it’s time to pack away the Hawaiian shirt, stick the shorts in a drawer and break out the walking boots, fleece and my waterproof coat.

Sigh.

Hello rain.

I think I’ve actually missed you!

(Author walks to the cinema, watches his film, drinks coffee eats some sugar free sweeties and emerges into a drizzly Sunday at midday)

Yaaay! That was flipping awesome!

Is there such a thing as a bad Pixar movie?

I think not!

This time Elastigirl gets to take centre stage and we get to see Mr Incredible stay home and look after the kids.

Jack-Jack starts developing powers, Dash and Violet get more to do and the whole thing is just as exciting and funny as the first one!

It’s highly recommended!

No it’s time to go for a walk and get a coffee.

Next on the list is Ant Man and the Wasp.

This is at 3.25pm. I’ve got 2.78 miles in the bank so far – so I have plenty of time to make a dent in my walking goals for the day.

You didn’t think I could sit still ALL day long did you?! 😏

(Author goes for coffee)

Well – I’ve wandered around town and I’ve got a couple more miles under my belt – although no serious exercise – but I don’t really care.

I’m caffeinated and I’ve had some spectacular luck with bargains on the dead and dying counter at Tesco – meaning I’ve been both frugal and on plan today.

Town is quite busy at the moment – which is rather surprising given the rain.

The weather seriously can’t make up its mind at the moment though and between precipitation and clear skies – and it’s not swinging either way.

Time to go and queue for another ticket in the cinema.

(Author watches Ant Man and the Wasp)

Yay! Another great sequel!!! That was also an improvement on the first one and I really didn’t expect that!!!

It has no links at all to Avengers: Infinity War until the first of the two hidden endings – leaving it on a real cliffhanger!!

Nuts. Now I want to see the next instalment!!!

I was planning to go for Mission Impossible after AMATW – but I think I’ve reached the limit of my ability to sit in a cinema.

It’s nearly two hours long and I need to walk.

(Author walks, and eats absolutely tons of tasty blackberries on the numerous bushes that seem to be absolutely everywhere!)

At the moment the things falling off bushes and trees are absolutely everywhere and I’ve taken home loads of apples and blackberries over the last two weeks.

It’s hard to see why anyone would pay a couple of pounds a punnet when you can wander around with a couple of plastic bags and fill your pockets completely for free!!!

I decided in the end (even though I’m only just over 7 miles for the day) to just chillax and slowly meander home.

Once I did I put my feet up with a huge salad and some Luke Cage on Netflix.

It’s amazing how nice a freshly grated carrot and balsamic salad tastes with beetroot and olives.

Of course the mint sauce, tuna, orange pepper, lettuce and cucumber didn’t hurt either.

When I make a ‘Netflix and chill’ salad I really make a mondo one!

So internet – that’s my day.

Nothing deep.

Nothing profound.

No soul searching.

No guilt.

No worry.

Just a lazy rainy Sunday relaaaaaaaxing in the cinema 🤗

I hope yours was as great as mine!

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

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.

dayssince 2

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

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