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motivations for events of the the film (and it’s central theme of being a love story) is now gone entirely – and has been replaced by a dialogue between Reynolds and Savage that does little to sell the film to anyone that doesn’t already know what’s coming.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

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?! ūüėŹ

(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 ūü§ó

I hope yours was as great as mine!

Davey

What else happened this week?

Wow.

It’s been a cathartic week in blogland for me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so driven to tell people how I arrived at where I currently am in life.

Mentally it’s been a little exhausting though and truthfully at times a little upsetting.

Although much of it has been shared before I’ve never attempted previously to condense so much into such a relatively small space. I’ve written 550+ posts in the two years that I’ve been blogging and fitting everything that’s been important into 5 (admittedly lengthy) posts has been a real challenge.

In many respects I feel I didn’t do some of it justice.

Some things have been left out to save space – but for the most part I’m happy with what parts one to five represent.

I genuinely hope that people enjoy reading them – but more than anything else I hope that they help.

Although I’ve had a week where I’ve written more than ever before I still have an itch to scratch.

Gradually more and more people have been prodding me since yesterday afternoon across the internet and social media asking how I got on with my weigh in on Saturday.

It seems I’ve created a weekly need in some quarters to read exactly how much I weigh!

You’ll be glad to know (and thanks for asking) that things went well and I managed to lose the gain from last week.

I’m now back down to my lowest weight and still firmly in target range.

My first month of maintenance is done. Only eleven to go for my diamond target membership!!!

Whilst I’ve been writing my episodic blog I’ve also been out and about. A lot of my time has been spent in coffee shops writing – but where I can I’ve been doing a lot of walking too.

It’s not always been easy because the weather has been awful this week.

On Wednesday I walked the whole Stratford Greenway and back – and for the first half it was pretty grim.

Honestly though sometimes walking in the rain is nice – and when you’re twalking with good company it’s rarely better.

Myself and my companion chatted about a lot – and even though I ended up with a 12 mile blister the day was really satisfying!

I’ve also been eating very well – and even experimenting a little bit with new things – mostly because they’ve been reduced when I’ve walked into the supermarket.)

These two pictures represented a really nice meal.

I’ve been trying mixing up vegetarian and pescatarian food this week (I find I lose weight quite quickly without red meat) and I picked up some fresh sprouting lentils to pop in a Quorn stir fry.

It turned into an absolutely delicious meal and simply has a stock cube and some soy sauce in it with crushed garlic for a little flavour.

You also can’t go wrong with weetabix and some banana and blueberries if you’re feeling a bit hungry.

I find that spending a few syns on Weetabix (I’m supposed to have more healthy extras to maintain anyway) and a large helping of unsweetened almond milk is a great way to fill up at the same time as staying on plan.

Finally this one is something of a cautionary tale mixed in with a recommendation.

I knew what I was eating before it passed my lips (you don’t lose the weight I have without checking things before you put them in your mouth) but if I hadn’t looked at the app when I picked it up in the shop it could have been a bit of a shock afterwards.

This healthy and extremely tasty pouch was mixed in the picture with some speedy cauliflower and broccoli rice (which I stir fried beforehand with a chicken stock pot) and frankly it was delicious.

However according to the app this innocent looking portion (300g) sets you back 13 syns.

Now – don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying ‘don’t buy this’.

I’m actually saying the opposite – because I think you should purchase food like this.

It’s good for you and it’s infinitely better than wasting 13 syns on chocolate. The whole meal really filled me up and tasted wonderful. I strongly recommend you try it!

Finally on Friday (mostly in order to take my mind off food before my weigh in) I decided to go to the cinema.

I went to see ‘Ready Player One’ and it was absolutely flipping awesome!!!

This was just as well because I got an absolute soaking on the way there. The rain was practically arriving in literal buckets and left me looking like I’d wet myself twice (opening up some potentially interesting gynaecological questions about how this might have happened) when I arrived.

For an hour I just sat cold and wet in the cinema foyer waiting for everything to dry out.

The film was worth the wait though.

I hadn’t realised how long it had been since I’d seen a ‘proper’ Speilberg flick – and just how much wonder and joy they can evoke.

This is truly a movie that not only can stand alongside the likes of ET and Back to the Future – but actually surpasses them in many many ways.

Visually it’s stunning. Without a doubt you’ll be blown away by what he’s managed to bring to the screen. The special effects are incredible.

It must have been a licensing nightmare to make though because there are so many pop culture references layered throughout the film that I felt I’d need to watch it many times over in order to spot them all – and even then I’d probably still be picking up something new.

So there we have it internet – although it’s a little late that’s been a flavour of my week outside of my episodic blogs.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the slight change of pace as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them because it’s been a genuine pleasure.

On top of that the feedback on social media and in person has been heartfelt and humbling when it’s been given so I’d like to say a collective thanks to everyone that’s given me feedback.

You rock internet. Thanks for reading.

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…

most hated photo 2 (1)

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 ūüφ

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! ūüėć)

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‚Äôd secured it I‚Äôve been doing my ‚Äėnew 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‚Äôm pretty certain that it‚Äôs this element of our time together that causes us to go ‚Äėoff piste‚Äô so often.

The conditions were a bit icier than I expected today Рas 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 ūüėĄūüĎćūüŹĹ

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

Good result

In space no one can hear you scream.

However in the cinema people can definitely hear you s**t yourself – and given that I’m usually the world’s biggest scaredy cat (who famously threw his popcorn all over the place in Jurassic Park and could only watch Scream from behind a pillow) I was expecting the worst when I went to see Alien: Covenant last night.

However – I thankfully managed to hold it together throughout, and was still mentally in one piece when it came to the walk home (alone and in the dark) from the cinema.

It was an excellent¬†movie and (if you’re into Alien – but maybe not so much if you’re expecting¬†Finding Nemo) I urge you to go and see it. If you liked Prometheus then you’ll love this.

I think it carries the narrative forward from that film really really well. 

I’d also strongly suggest watching the YouTube prologues before you go. They don’t spoil the film at all – and instead give you a little snapshot of the crew and their relationships, along with some of the back story associated with Prometheus.

It will come as no surprise to most that there were other reasons however I wasn’t fully invested in being terrified.

My blog late last night (link) describes one of the reasons – but the second is related to (as is customary for a Friday evening) my usual concerns about whether I’ve lost any weight – because¬†it’s been a heavy week for exercising.

In the past Angie at Slimming World has suggested that the¬†(large amounts of)¬†cramp I currently feel means my muscles will be retaining fluid as they repair and improve. This seemed to hold true last week when after a week where I didn’t deviate once from the plan I managed to put a pound on.

Aside from my jogging attempts since then I’ve briskly walked over 70 miles – furiously pedalled around 20, done numerous upper body weights sessions and spent several hours working quite energetically in the garden.

Consequently I’m aching. A lot.

One can only hope that when I head off to be weighed shortly that this doesn’t mean I gain for¬†a second week in a row.

Not only have I been exceptionally active but you’d think I was bugs bunny if you’d have seen my dinners this week. I’ve eaten (rather large) salads fit for a king and generally thrown myself wholeheartedly into preparing really really healthy and tasty low calorie/syn food all week long.

We shall see…

(Author leaves to shave and have a shower before going to group)

Well – I’ve recovered the pound I put back on and then some! This is a good result!

I’m still not sure why I didn’t lose anything last week though. It didn’t really make much sense at the time and still doesn’t – but since I’ve managed to turn it around today I’m not going to dwell on it. It’s highly likely to be muscle mass/water retention related because I don’t think I’d lose this much otherwise.

I’ve eaten properly – and I’m about as far from conventional ‘diets’ as you’re likely to get. I’ve just been consuming¬†tons¬†of good things and haven’t starved or deprived myself in any way.

Interestingly if you add up the sum total of pounds lost and gained in the above shot over the course of 7 weeks I’m still managing to average 3.35 pounds p/w – which is awesome!

Furthermore with today’s 7lb loss I’m now convincingly in the 20st¬†weight¬†bracket.¬†I have only one pound to go and I’ll have lost fourteen stone!!!

Anyway internet – I need to go out and get some more exercise. My legs feel like lead weights and my thighs are a tight cramped knot of pain and creakiness. The only fix for this is walking it (gently) off.

I might see you while I’m out and about hobbling from A to B!

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 РI 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

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

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

The Dalek and The Electric

I love a slow burning film. No Country For Old Men style plodding noir is something I can get completely lost in.

You have to be in the right mood for one though, and I woke up today feeling refreshed and ready to meet the world on my own relaxed terms. I wanted to go on a little trip to somewhere languidly nice, and I had just the place in mind.

Over the last month I’ve gotten maybe a bit too used to a life lived at the pace of my own heartbeat, and to the hours of my day dictated only by my sleep cycles. Lately they seem to vary between really really short and quite long – which I guess is just my body taking as much as it does or doesn’t need.

Oddly this seems a bit hedonistic, and has caused me to feel strangely guilty. I’ve been used to getting up for work for so many years that a perverse situation has developed after being made redundant where I actually feel bad about sleeping well and getting up when I’m not tired any more.

Maybe it’s this guilt that’s driven me to go outside so much and push ahead with my plans to get fit. It feels when I do this that at least one part of my life is structured and that I’m making progress.

Today (primarily for this reason) I decided that I’d build on my previous trip to Birmingham by NOT driving to the train station outside of Warwick and doing the whole trip under my own steam. It’s become REALLY important to me that I remove as much reliance on my car as possible. Proof positive that this is happening  can be found in the fact that after three and a half weeks since my last fill up my car still has over half a tank of petrol.

The plan this morning was that I’d go to Birmingham to see ‘Hell or High Water‘ at The Electric powered only by feet (and a couple of trains). However this was not the ONLY thing I wanted to do. When I went to Birmingham the last time I hadn’t realised (until a few people pointed it out to me on Facebook and WordPress) that the Central Library hadn’t been nuked altogether – it had been replaced with a modern one in Centenary Square.

After getting off the train and purchasing my tickets early at the Electric box office (saving 45p by not booking online ūüėĄ) I wandered off to the library via theTesco Metro behind New Street. I managed to hit the reduced food counter at just the right time and got a bottle of water, some cooked salmon, ham and a few organic apples for breakfast and lunch.

I hadn’t really planned to eat it anywhere in particular – and knew nothing about the library – but as I got closer I realised there was a balcony half way up and people seemed to be wandering about up there, looking down at me.

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My initial lukewarm feelings about the ‘marmite’ external aesthetics began to mellow. It looked quite nice actually and was slowly growing on me.

It grew on me LOTS more as I progressed inside.

If you’re no fan of vertigo (I was ok but tightly gripping a LOT of barriers and trying not to look straight down!) I’d advise that when you visit you focus on the stairs or the lifts and avoid the escalators. These appear to delight in showing you the ground floor, no matter how high you go up. From some places you can see from the top almost to the bottom.

It does look stunning though. It’s a fantastic space designed for quiet contemplation and exploration. I LOVE IT!

The outside decked and seated area was a bit breezy today – and was one of the reasons I don’t miss the old days and having flowing golden locks of long hair whipping me to death.

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I used to look a bit like Thor. True story.

The views were expansive – but I think ‘developing’ is probably the best way to describe the vista. Birmingham appears to be undergoing open heart surgery.

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From what I can see on the various billboards the results will be impressive – but it’s hard not to feel a bit conflicted about this re-generation at the cost of ¬£500,000,000 when so many doorsteps surrounding some of the city’s iconic spaces are full of the homeless, begging, sleeping, or just looking depressingly lost.

It’s disquieting to say the least – but I don’t think it’s a new problem. I remember this from when I used to come here as a young man. Somehow the poverty back then seemed like it ‘fitted’ though, and almost went hand in hand with the run down looking Digbeth coach station and the concrete eyesore that was New Street and the Bullring.

Maybe it’s a testament to how much has been done to structurally improve the centre that this rampant homelessness now seems so jarring and out of place.

On the way past lots of big issue sellers was the mailbox – providing a sharp contrast to the consequences of economic austerity with the exclusive shops and concessions contained within.

Oddly this space seemed also affected by recession, and appeared partially drained of life and commerce, with the lower floor almost appearing as a modern art installation. Two enormous bespoke benches were flanked by almost no shops and I felt like I was in the bottom of the Tate Modern rather than a mall.

However, my temporarily moody view of the world faded when I noticed on the third floor in the reception area of the BBC studios there was a Dalek!!! 

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It’s difficult to explain why to someone who doesn’t like Dr Who – but seeing a Dalek makes me feel like a five year old. I almost skipped through the front door into the BBC reception and started taking photos, much to the amusement of the security guard, who asked if I wanted to see a TARDIS.

‘What?! No way!!! You have a TARDIS? Where?!’ I said, managing (I think) to maintain an air of adult calm and composure.

He pointed at the lift. It was painted to look like a TARDIS.

‘Oh.’ I said. ‘The lift.’

I took a photo of it to make sure he wasn’t disappointed.

‘No – if you go upstairs in the lift there’s a TARDIS.’

‘Woohoo!!!’ I replied (further maintaining my grown-up demeanour) pressing the button and taking photos of the TARDIS LIFT DOOR OPENING!!!!

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I headed upstairs and sure enough there was a full sized TARDIS, and some iconic character heads, including Davros!

After a few more photos I went back downstairs to the security guard, who smiled knowingly at me.

‘Happy?’ He said – his arms still folded and his legs slightly apart in the standard security guard pose.

I really really really am!‘ I giggled and grinned like a Cheshire Cat as I left the building.

The next stop (via a bizarre Starbucks for coffee where all the baristas were dressed like cowgirls) was The Electric Cinema.

The atmosphere here took me right back to picture houses of old and I instantly felt that spending money here was worth it – just to keep this slice of history alive. The Art Deco touches, hand made slices of cake at the box office, the quirky cocktails, the old style tickets and the plush red velvet seats oozed history and charm.

I’d been looking forward to this for AGES and I wasn’t disappointed.

I had booked a front ‘sofa’ – which was in reality an armchair, and not a particularly wide one at that.

However, when I look at seats these days I still tend to view them with the mindset of a man who has not lost any weight. This seat some months ago would have been a BIG problem. Not any more though. Sure – It was a little ‘fitted’ – but also felt comfortably ‘snug’.

I had the front row to myself so I put my feet up on the leather pouffe and chilled out.

The film was excellent, and the cinema going experience was about as close to perfect (in my humble opinion) as you’ll get. Plus I made my way there under my own terms with no car and no feelings that anything was a strain.

As I type I’m on my way back to Warwick on the train for the last part of my walking, the mile or so back to my house, and we’ve just reached my stop.

Back in a minute. 

Well – now I’m home, and I’ve been looking at my activity log. Today was a busy one from a walking perspective – and I’ve been keeping a close eye on what Apple Watch has been counting. I’m very confident indeed that its stats today reflect real world effort.

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There has been some interesting discussion (after my request for input on my last post) regarding my walking and whether I should take the Apple Watch figures and add them up to count toward my virtual walk along the length of the U.K.

No-matter where people shared their thoughts the common themes in the feedback were ones of huge support and positivity about my progress – which I’m always thankful for, as it really does help when there’s such spirited and well meaning energy being thrown at me from all directions.

I have decided to take the figures as they are – even with their margin for error and count them toward my goal. Every month I’ll add up the totals and see how close I am to virtual John o Groats.

At the moment – since I started Slimming World (from April to August inclusive) I have walked 349.5 miles.

Although there are slightly different figures everywhere for the true distance on the internet I’m following Wikipedia which says the distance by road (roughly around when Ian Botham would have done it in 1985) is 847 miles.

I therefore have 497.5 miles to go.

Piece of cake internet. I can do it, and I’m going to have a lot of fun along the way. You’re welcome to join me for the journey, although I might stop a few times on the way. Man can’t live without coffee and the cinema after all…

Davey

 

Stick around

It’s been a lazy Sunday after a busy week and a busy Saturday.

Although I woke up early I ached all over and didn’t feel much like getting up. However since a shower usually brings me around at 8am I hopped in and turned the heat up as far as I could stand it.

I’m not sure why but recently I’ve come to like the almost but not quite burning sensation of hot water, and hold my hands under it until I can take no more. It produces a tingling sensation that I always hated previously, but like with sprouts at Christmas as you get older your tastes change.

Movies for instance are a good example.

When I first bought my own colour television and a video recorder (Nicam digital stereo and a SCART connector no less) I purchased VHS after VHS of all the latest and greatest movies.

I must have worn my copies of Terminator and Predator out with the constant rewinding.

I just loved the action, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

These days I still like a good action movie, but I’m not always so keen on the violence, or come to think of it the noise.

Whilst explaining this to a friend & telling them why they should watch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel recently, my friend replied ‘pffft. I’ll watch it when I’m old!’

‘But it’s a good film!’ I protested.

‘Yea but I’m not old!’ He replied.

It’s difficult to argue with facts.

He wasn’t old (neither am I!) but I felt he was missing the point. When Arnie pinned a guerrilla to a wall with a machete and said ‘stick around’ I used to giggle with glee.

I still smirk now if I’m honest, but mostly with nostalgia and humour at the cheese of the line.

Nowadays I like to think I’m more likely to be found in the documentary section of Netflix rather than the blockbuster section, and although I definitely like action movies I often find myself these days yearning more for a good plot and some well acted characters, or a bit of history that educates while it entertains.

This afternoon after a spell where my armchair and I had been enjoying some intimate alone time together I decided I needed to avoid an impending coma and headed off to the cinema.

People had been recommending ‘Deadpool’ to me for a while, knowing that I’m into superhero movies so I decided to give it a go.

While I enjoyed the in jokes and the comic and film references that the film revelled in from start to finish it fell a little flat for me. I left and came home wondering if I should look for a good documentary before donning my slippers, pouring my mug of Earl Grey, filling my hot water bottle and heading for my early night sucking a Werther’s Original.

Netflix filled my TV screen and I hunted through the documentaries.

History? Nah.

Politics? Triple nah.

Gangsters? Mmmmmaybe….

Then I remembered. I had a Vin Diesel film I hadn’t watched yet where he played an immortal witch hunter, killing anything that had smaller biceps than him with a huge axe or an even bigger sword, whilst grunting the occasional line of dialogue.

I sipped my Earl Grey tea. I’m trying to be sophisticated lately and drink it without milk.

Surely there was a more cerebral documentary? Something to broaden my mind?

I tapped my finger on the rim of my mug, considering the educational documentaries on offer, and what the Discovery Channel could provide.

Two hours, several dead witches, a few bullets and lots of chopping and grunting later I had finished my Vin Diesel backlog and felt rather satisfied.

I had also decided that Deadpool was after all a bit amusing, and giggled about the bit where he got shot in the bum. I think if I’d gone in with different expectations I’d have rather enjoyed it.

Clearly I just like a lot of different types of films and someone getting a slapstick bullet in the rectum still makes me laugh.

Pffft. I’ll watch the documentaries when I’m old. Life’s too short to be serious.

Now where’s my copy of Predator 2 and that pint of milk?…

Davey