JezzWarren.com

I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.

PSVR

VR has arrived, with all three major headsets now on the market, and a number of other options also coming on stream, it is safe to say VR is here for the foreseeable future. Out of the three main options “Sony’s PSVR” has the best chance of gaining enough of a player-base to make gaming on VR a commercial option for developers.

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I have had my PSVR headset for a few months and I have found it to be very immersive, highly playable and above all an experience for everyone.  I tested it out an a few friends and Wayne and I often play games together on it, one thing the developers have added is the support to make sure no one is left out, either the wearer or the onlookers.

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The set up is not overly complicated, once you get around the mass of wires and follow the simple numbered set up instructions you will be ready to go in 5-10 mins. Putting on the headset is something that takes a little bit of practice. The visor slides out, and the band expands via a button on the back of the headset to fit over your head. The weight of the headset is taken onto the top of your forehead and the visor just gently slides up to your face.  I can safely play a PSVR game for a few hours without any discomfort but that took me some time to do so as VR takes a little time for your mind, body and senses to get used to it.
While in use the tracking is actually very good, not only can you look around in 360 degrees but you can lean in to get a better view, stand up, crouch down and move around the play area freely.
It is strange how a game that looks so basic in construction and graphics soon becomes so immersive and with the accompaniment of 360 sound via the inline headphone jack it makes for a sometimes too real of an experience.

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Outside of the VR games the PSVR does have some additional functions. You can view 360 VR videos via the Media Player, you can also utilize Cinema mode to watch Netflix or Youtube or play non-VR games. This essentially puts the game on a massive cinema screen.  With a recent update to the PS4 there is now an option to be able to watch 3D content without having to worry about 3D glasses, in the VR headset content jumps right out at you.
Motion Sickness is a big issue for VR. It is pretty simple, your eyes and brain are fooled into thinking you are moving, but your body knows it is stationary. The result is you can start to feel unwell after a short time, the symptoms are quite like travel sickness if you suffer from that. This varies from person to person and I found that keeping some ginger sweets next to my gaming area really helped, it only took a few weeks of daily gaming before I became a VR pro and did not need to worry about consuming vast amounts of ginger.
One downside to the PSVR being so new, is that developers like to keep on throwing us gamers these so called VR experiences but really they are nothing more than glorified HQ video demos that cost and arm and a leg for maybe one or two views, I found it easier and far cheaper to go on youtube via the VR hub and take my experiences that way.

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Some games require move controllers and if you was lucky enough to have had them from your PS3 then at least one thing is for sure, you will not be hit by the now over priced move controllers that are on sale today. 
So I guess one question stands.
Is the PSVR worth getting?  
Hell Yeah!! I love that whole new gaming experience and the bundle deals now are so much better than on first launch, you get way more for your money now.

Driveway

Way back in March of 2015, shortly after we moved in to our new place we had already made room for two cars but after many a time of me driving onto the driveway the mud beneath my car finally moved and slowly created a dip where my back wheels would eventually sit.  So after a few phones calls and a break in the weather, Neil came round with another work college to give the driveway some much needed attention and now we have a lovely driveway to put both cars on, no dips, its all smooth.

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Mod Man

Do you ever look at you closet and think, what shall I wear today?
I sometimes get stuck in a rut and think, shall I just put on a pair of joggers and a baggy top with some sneakers.
Since working at Waitrose I spend most of my day in a uniform and then when I get home I change into something casual or my jim-jams, but I have found increasingly since being in a group that also has a large social calendar then it also means that there are occasions that I have to wear something a little bit more than just casual.
For years I have never really had a style other than what felt comfortable to wear and that fitted, but since losing so much weight I can finally get into something more than casual sporty wear and I also now have a meaning and need to do so. Life has become a fashion parade again, my own style, clothes that fit on me and not just hang off of me and now not just an unnamed brand.

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Okay I may never get into they styles that the youngsters are wearing today, but then how quick they change maybe it is not wise to either.
I have discovered that H&M have a good range of clothes that are trendy, stylish, smart, value for money and above all not in silly sizes. I can choose to shop in store or via an app, so I guess when I don't have time to go to my nearest store I always have a delivery service to fall back on. Another app I like to use to show me more styles and also from other outlets is a very clever app called 'Mallzee', its a tinder style app but for clothes, you simply search a style of clothes and then swipe left to disregard and swipe right to add to your favourite list. You can then choose to buy or if you are still unsure or a total bargain hunter then you can set up a price drop alert for that item or all your chosen items. It is simple and transparent with how to order, how much delivery will cost and several options about returning items, you can even choose where you want your items to be delivered to if you do not fancy the home delivery option.

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The other place I choose to shop for styles that are a little bit out of the ordinary is Amazon but this does mean that there is no universal size guide as we all know that one designers idea of a medium is another designers idea of a large. Okay so it does mean that I have to order and possibly reorder again but with my prime account its easy to get delivery to an Amazon locker for collections and returns.
So now I have plenty of choices of what to wear and where to buy it from my next big drama is getting out of the rut of wearing the same things that I feel comfy in, I push myself to step out of the box and wear something different and that people do not expect to see me in, 'Fashion Surprise' is what I call it.
Now having such a choice of different clothes is one thing, but remembering what I have actually bought is another, yes I organise my closet in colour order and styles but to remember what best goes with another item or wondering do I have say a red top to go with those dark grey jeans is another problem all on its own and when I am getting ready to go out the last thing I want to be doing is trailing through rails and draws of clothes and then having the dilemma of having three or four choices when all I want is just the one choice.
Thats when I stumbled on the Mod Man app. Its simple to de-clutter your style and organise your closet with the Mod Man app for men, by snapping the pictures of your clothes and shoes, and organising them with Mod Man, you can browse and search your clothes or add new clothes anytime and anywhere.

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The other great thing about this app is to be able to store your chosen outfits and give them a name or description so for the next time you want to wear a casual red funky number then you just take a look at the section of the app called your 'Lookbook', you can even if you wanted to be really finicky add your underwear to the app so you now what is most comfortable to wear under your clothes.

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If you are still unsure of what best goes with what then there is also a 'Inspirations' section to the app to guide you as to what also would look good with what you own.

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So now in the palm of my hand I can buy my style, choose what to wear from my digital closet and now I am just awaiting the next social gathering.

A Years Service

To think just over fourteen months ago I applied for one of the companies I wanted to work for and look at me now as I have come on in leaps and bounds.
I started off doing only but a few hours on the delicatessen until a full time post was available on the welcome desk, which was one of my most challenging posts to date, however the one that has had the most rewards and also where I have learnt the most.  I think that if I had not taken on the full time role on the welcome desk, then I may not know as much as I do today, if anything it has helped boost my career.
In my time on the welcome desk I have heard so many people and partners for that matter say how easy the job is, they comment ‘you just stand there’ and until we became the ‘Modern Waitrose’ and cross training was a compulsory element they clearly did not realise just how complexed the demanding the job could be.  I love roles like this and I guess it is for that reason why I have learnt so much, it was not just a role to me but so often a daily challenge that admittedly had its highs and lows.
I can never stand still in a job and I am a strong believer that 'knowledge is power’ and so with this I have demanded to learn more, even if it meant that I had to go out of my way to do so.
My career with Waitrose has unfolded to another stage and now as a CSA I am another run up the ladder.  This role is a supportive role for customer services and though many see it as a general dogs body for the section, when looking closely it is actually a role with great responsibility, being your own boss that requires you to make sometime quick concise decisions (sometimes out of the box) that benefit the whole section in getting the job done, there is a big element of customer care (more so in a supervisory role) and having welcome desk knowledge under my belt has helped this role massively.
I like that with my CSA role I get to not only be able to suggest ideas but also the think outside the box and implant them.  I have recently been worked along side both my Deputy manager and Branch manager to find a better way of dispensing expensive alcohol through check outs quicker.  In the past CSA’s have had to wait to be alerted by checkout operators for such items and then take the sometimes long walk across the shop floor out into the warehouse to collect the item and then back out onto the shop floor back to check outs, this to most might not seem to much but it can soon change a days step count from an average fortune thousand steps to a whopping twenty five thousand steps.  So with this in mind I took it upon myself to clear space in a stock cupboard for these such items and made it my goal to keep it stocked up for everyone.  It did not just stop there but I also took on extra work to bring stock over and unpack it before then putting the display boxes out on the shop floor.  This probably does not seem much to most but this simple thinking out of the box has not only cut down on theft, it has boosted productivity, cut down in man hours and ultimately has got the product quicker to the customer with little or no fuss.  Everyone at work knows I am very much into my tech and I have been using several apps over the Christmas period to estimate what stock I should be increasing in shelf capacity, not only along with special Waitrose discounts but also social trending of 'whats hot and whats not’ and I think I have achieved my goal as I have had so much praise from my senior partners, especially from my Deputy manager and Branch manager.  It was especially a nice touch that I was rewarded with what I can only describe as a connoisseur bottle of Gin, something I have been wanting to try, a bottle of Gin Mare. 

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I am currently training for cash office and though I know shortly I will be fully trained I know that I will be looking for something else to further my career, I already have ideas of what I want to learn to increase the stings in my bow.
I guess it is now a case of watch this space.

Tick Tock

I have been looking at this particular bedside clock for some time and every time I passthrough the gift section in John Lewis I would be thinking to myself, should I buy it or not?  
Well, after opening all my Christmas presents this year Wayne surprised me with one last gift.
It was the clock I have been wanting.
It proudly sits on bedside with its pleasant tick tock sound.


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One of my favourite Indian restaurants to eat in has a lovely friendly and family atmosphere, that is the Sakura Indian restaurant in Carshalton Beeches.  So I decided to use this venue for my 45th birthday meal. Wayne had bought me some birthday cupcakes and this year they were a little more tamer than in previous years.

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We met up with Nik & Paul, Michele & Dean, Deb & Jim, Sam & Ian, Ali, Lizzie and finally Kim & Ricky. It was all so nice to see everyone and even for friends to meet my favourite work colleges out of work for a change.  What a great night had by all, even Sam who does not usually eat curry, the Sakura stepped up their game and made a special dish for Sam.
Thanks for all me prezzies even to those who could not make it and yet still treated me to something to open on my birthday.

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JLP Fright Night

Something that I am lucky to be part of, is the extensive array of special trips and discounts that are available to both Waitrose and John Lewis partners.  They are available throughout the year and then there are some special events exclusively for its partners.  

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Just before the close of the theme park season, JLP hired out the entire use of Thorpe Park for its annual ‘Fright Night' scare event.  In previous years it had been open to partners and guests of partners for only several hours exclusivity but this year it was a day long event from 10am to 10pm, ride all you like with little or no queues in day light and in the dead of night.

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My work bestie Ali had never been to Thorpe Park, not even with her kids and so I took advantage of this great deal and had a fab day out with her.
We had a few hours of rain but that did not stop us from jumping on all the rides and just meant in some cases donning on a plastic poncho to keep dry.

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There was several scare mazes, some of which I had not been in, only heard about.  Ali entered them fearlessly telling screaming girls, ‘step aside, I’ve had kids’.
What a great day, roll on next years event and I will even do it in fancy dress.

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How Long?

It has been some time since I last posted and it has not been for want of trying but more the case of not having the time to post.
My time has been taken up with work, but then that is nothing new and any time that I have had free has been getting some energy back to potter about in the garden, visit friends, eat and sleep.

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I have been planning how I want my garden to look and though it is a work in progress, slowly but surely vegetables have been growing, herbs have been picked and flowers have grown from small cuttings to full blooms that have started to fill what was once empty spaces.

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I cannot believe that just over a year ago my garden was nothing more than a rubble site and now it has produced bright colours on even the most of darkest of days.
I have for the first time had cut flowers in the home, something I have never done before but with the success of a steady flow of well planted bulbs I have had many a vase filled with brightly colours flowers.

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Tomatoes this year have grown very well and I have gone from planting a small crop in tubs to a variety of different tomatoes planted at the back of the garden.

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I have one last project this year for my garden and that is some nice lighting round the edge of the second patio, I am going for a nice soft blue glow.
I am going to let what plants and shrubs I have in the garden take shape and bloom, then next year I will plant more in the gaps I have and each year my garden will grow until there will be no space except for that of a few boarder flowers.

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Worn Again

Anyone who knows me will know of my quest for trying to find a pair dungarees, ideally the pinstripe ones I once owned way back in my teens.  As I was pottering around Brighton one day I came across a shop that sold retro and second hand clothes, eager to find my beloved clothes from yesteryear I had a wonder about the store and low and behold a came across an array of dungarees, some of which were American imports (the best) and some others that I had not seen before, so I set about heading to the changing rooms to try on and many pairs as I could lay my hands on in what I thought might be me size.  I came away with two very nice American imports for only £35 each and also I have now found a new shop to fulfil my love of retro and imported clothes.  Sticking yet another great shop on my Brighton map, the shop ‘To Be Worn Again’.

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Brighton In The Rain

After and eventful day at Warner Bros Studio Tour what better way to end the week than with a trip to the coast.
Despite the good ole British weather, yes you guessed it, rain, it did not stop Harrison and I having a day out in Brighton.
After taking the back roads into Kemptown as I used to when visiting David.  One of the good things about knowing someone who lived in Brighton meant I knew all the cheap places to park and way into town that meant I was not forever stuck in traffic.
After finding the ideal parking spot we had a ten minute walk into town through the top of St James street but that was great as we could stop off for a bite to eat and a hot drink at one of the friendliest gay coffee shops in Brighton, Cafe Rococo. 

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Every trip to Brighton I have visited this cafe and each and every time is has been consistently clean, friendly and value for money, overall a clear winner for a stop off for a snack and hot drink and with Harrison’s craving for a sausage sandwich and hot chocolate this was ideal, you can eat, drink and people watch and generally watch the world go by here.

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It was to be Harrison’s first trip to Brighton and no trip would not be complete without a trip down to the North lanes and into one of the treasure troves known as Snooper Paradise. This flea market has everything from taking you on a trip down memory lane, to stepping you back into something vintage and is really a trip to Brighton all of its very own. The vast array on offer covers more than just the ground floor, what many do not know is there is a attic filled with vintage goodies and a day trip just to this shop will have you looking for hours. I knew that a trip here Harrison would come across something to add to his collection and low and behold he found something.
After a few hours rummaging we worked up an appetite and we headed to the theatre district of Brighton for a bite to eat at Yo Sushi!

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I was going to order some Yo Sushi deserts but it seemed to be the only thing that had not updated on their menus so what better way to let our dinner go down was to take a walk down to Brighton pier and have something sweet to eat there in the way of fresh hot doughnuts covered in sugar and cinnamon.
I warned Harrison that it would be best to eat the doughnuts before entering the pier as those flying rats, seagulls, would have no fear in swooping down and grabbing a doughnut right out of your hand, I’ve seen it happen before and heard many a kid burst into tears when it does happen, thankfully no kids today and also a warning meant we got to eat them and not the birds.

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We had not long finished eating those hot doughnuts when the heavens opened up and decided to give us another downpour so we headed to the arcades for some fun on the 2p machines, knowing full well we would spend, win and then lose it all again but in the process have some fun.
The rain did not last for long and a walk down to the end of the pier past the closed rides was a nice change and also burnt off the doughnuts we had scoffed. 
By the time we had walked to the far and of the pier and back again it started to get dark and so we thought it best we head back to the car and finish the night off with a drink and some sweet treats at Cafe Rouge down by the marina before finally heading home.

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Pottering About

It had been one from the bucket list, I wanted to have my photo taken on platform 9 ¾  so this trip out covered just that.  A trip to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour with my friend Harrison.
Probably not one of the easiest of places to find when traveling through central London but we made it, well with the help of Harrison and his additional satnav skills, something amazing for someone who does not drive, what a true co-pilot.

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So as not to spoil any wood-be visitors or Harry Potter fans I will try not to add any spoilers.
You enter the experience through the doors to the great hall which is breathtaking enough on it’s own, you will see why when you visit, then what lies behind is the start of your journey.
I was already giddy from sheer anticipation of what’s to come. And rightly so!
You can see Diagon Alley, Privet Drive, Harry’s house in Godric’s Hollow, the Knight Bus, Arthur’s flying car (which you can sit in), Hargrid’s hut, hundreds upon hundreds of wands stacked up and generally everything any Harry Potter fan could ever wish for. That’s not to say that the tour would not interest you if you are not a Harry Potter fan.

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There is so much to see and learn about the ‘making of’ that it is enough to keep anybody entertained.
It is not like any other studio tour that give you a set time to take it all in and then ship in the next group, this is a tour that you can really take your time and I guess for most, get their value for money as without sounding like a damp squid, it is not a cheap day out by far, especially if you have a butterbeer, something to eat in any one of the snack areas and then on top of that want to have your photo or video taken in the interactive green screen sets, then you got the gift shop at the end.

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You get to see video clips from the directors, designs for the buildings and props, models and a whole host of larger than life sets and what made it more interesting was being able to hear it all on our audio guides, for and extra little fee but both me and Harrison thought it was worth it as it really enhanced the tour.

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Yes we sat in the courtyard area to have some butterbeer and both before and after our visit we spent time in the fantastic gift shop that felt like a tour of its very own.  You can purchase all kinds of amazing items including chocolate frogs, Bertie Bott’s every flavoured beans, wands and much more besides, however the lack of wands of the female cast members I thought was a bit of a let down, if like me you liked characters such as Molly Weasley, Lily Potter, Madam Hooch, Dolores Umbridge and Bellatrix Estrange then you was in for a nasty shock, No Wands!

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Apart from all that it was a great day out and on leaving the tour Harrison noticed that maybe, just maybe something was about to extend the Harry Potter Tour, could it be Hogwarts or gringotts?

All In A Week

I can see why some people really look forward to planned work leave, even if they don't go away to some tropical destination, just the few days off and the thought of not having to get up at the crack of dawn, that's a break in its self alone.
The last few days I've had time to shop at a leisurely pace, get the garden ready for growing this years fruit and vegetables, socialising with friends and family and eating in some new and old favourite places.
My week started with sitting back and watching a few film, eating some very tasty flavoured popcorn.

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By recommendation I tried a new place to eat in Kingston, Cau. The food and service was great with a hip yet very rustic feel about it and for a change enjoyed the virgin side of drink, all the taste and buzzing flavours on the tongue but with no alcohol.

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The garden got some much loved care that it had been lacking over the winter months and some nice bright primroses and pansies helped brighten up the boarders until my spring bulbs come up.

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I have had a wonderful week of doing everything at random and not worrying about when I had to be in bed ready for when I had to be awake the next day.

W.....Wait For It.

It has been a fair few months since I have written anything on my blog but in hindsight, once I explain your see just why.
Work was not kind to me and with the demise of my hours something had to give. So instead of sitting about complaining I decided to do something about it. I put together a LinkedIn profile, then set about making a cracking CV. I had focus to who I wanted to work for, even if only part time and then started the ball rolling with application after application. It did not take long before one of my top picks, John Lewis Partnership to answer my plea.

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I was called for an interview at Waitrose Epsom for a catering assistant in the staff canteen, but after careful consideration to the job role I decided it was not for me, I thought that it would be putting me in deep water, to deep for my liking and sadly had to decline their offer, but wait....They told me to hold on as the word was that some hours where becoming available as someone in branch was transferring. I was expecting to hear in a weeks time but it was only the next day that I had that phone call for those allusive words "would you like to come in for an interview?”
Needless to say I was offered a job at the end of my interview.
It has been serval months now and I have gone from strength to strength, I have survived my first Christmas in retail and coming on in leaps and bounds and going from one role to another within customer services. I am now working on the front line of customer service, call it the firing line if you will, but it is my most challenging and rewarding role yet, I am now the trendy face of Waitrose Epsom at its helm, The Welcome Desk.
I can only see this is my starting springboard to other goals and aspirations.

Ditch & Merge

Just a quick entry to keep my readers up to date.
I have been very busy of late getting my life in order and deciding what is relevant, or not so as the case may be.  For those that were my friends on Facebook, you may have noticed I have not posted anything of late, that is because I have ditched my account as I am sick and tiered of how much Facebook tracks me outside of my profile, yes I know you can turn on and off certain privacy functions but the down side to that is, that overtime when Facebook decides to update itself it also sets how it wants your privacy settings to be, but that may not be what you want.  I think that privacy and data protection should be your right with no exceptions or changes to how you want it, regardless of updates. 

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I have also been working on combining both my photo website and personal website to just one webspace as recently I have sold work on ‘Scoopshot’ that requires a registration for tax purposes, so it seemed only the right thing to do that I should register as me an not as a business as ultimately I want to be recognised for my work.
It took a good month to merge the two websites and then also a further week of re-watermarking any images I had on the photo website, they are now sitting comfortably and well organised in their new home.

Thorpe Park 2015

Every year I make an attempt to visit at least two theme parks, one at the start of the season and one at the end of the season and today was the first.
You would have thought that finding a rollercoaster buddy would have been easy, yes back in the days when we was younger but alas some have settled down with family life or maybe taken on a high powered job that made free now hardly any time or this kind of treat was just simply a retired treat.  Thankfully my friend Harrison was going to step out of his comfort zone and come with me to Thorpe Park and see what 2015 had to offer in the way of thrills.
The day started with a 5:30am rise for me, something unheard for those that know me, but in all honesty I actually got up before my alarm clock went off, I could not really sleep well the night before, even going to bed early did not work as I had to much excitement in me.
I headed over to pick up Harrison and then after a quick pee break we headed off to join the early morning commuter traffic, thankfully not as bad as I thought, but leaving early meant we could stop off for a drink and snack before the days adventures.
I have been seeing the steady change in Thorpe Park over a number of years and I think that today it has finally slowed down, as no new rides had emerged, lots revamped but
nothing new but that did not matter for Harrison as everything there would be new and exciting today.

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Surprisingly there was not many queuing, unlike some times when I had been, might of been down to the recent Alton Towers incident.  Today the park was open for an extra hour, closing at 18:00hrs and a change in luck meant that for some reason it also opened ahead of its scheduled 10:00am with the gates opening at 9:45am, all be it only 15 minutes early, but thats enough time to make your way over to your chosen first ride of the day.
Last year when I was here with Kelly, ‘The Swarm’ ride was closed, but not today and it was our first ride of the day, we decided as the park was empty that we would ride ‘The Swarm’ backwards as when the park is in full flow that would be the longest queue line.  Later in the day we also rode it the traditional forward facing and If I had to make judgement on what was best, undoubtedly forward facing won.

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You expect that prices over the years slowly hike up but I was shocked that a ride photos had almost doubled in price, from £5.99 in 2014 to a staggering £10, luckily they did a deal of £30 for unlimited digital photos and that worked out great for me and Harrison, as we could download what photos we liked and also to collect every ride photo, good or bad on each ride that had a photo opportunity, in some cases we had several to choose from for each ride we went on more than once.  Personally nothing is worse than carrying around ride photos for the day or getting them all printed off at the end of the day on some shitty printer that has been over used to the point that if you shut one eye and squint then you can just about work out it is you screaming a ride and anyway digital photos last forever, my ‘Picsolve' account has a good collection starting to build up.
Todays trip saw the relaunch of Thorpe Parks ‘Reserve N’ Ride’ app that normally is only in operation during the summer holidays but today and for the foreseeable future this app is here to stay.  Once registered it is a breeze to use and makes light work helping you enjoy your day whilst your vital queuing buddy waited in line for you.  Admittedly it had its faults, such as staff members not knowing the correct specially created entrances and the fact you could only add one ride at a time, but with all that aside it did mean that when ride queue lines were more than 15 minutes in length or that you just did not want to queue at all this app did it all for you.
We decided that as the park was not busy that it would be best to do all the major big rides and when boarding one ride then use the ‘Reserve N’ Ride’ app to queue up the next one, then break for lunch and after lunch do all the more sedated water rides and then finish the day off with the rides that we could not use the ‘Reserve N’ Ride’ app for.  It worked out great and saved heaps of otherwise wasted time.

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Colossus is probably one of the oldest rides in the park to date and thats what adds to its appeal, another ride Harrison enjoyed.

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So called a family rollercoaster but when you ride this after it has had a few hours to heat up it whips round the track.

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Fast paced at any time of day, whipping you around in every direction leaving you not knowing whats up or whats down, not one of Harrison’s favourites and left him feeling the need for a short ride rest.

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I think that the Stealth ride showed just how extreme some rides can be, but this was one of Harrison's favourites.

We stopped for lunch at the newly themed ‘Celebrity Jungle’ Bush BBQ, which was really the old BBQ area that Thorpe Park had really let go, no need for a revamp here to make it look dilapidated, it was already showing signs of that by itself.  We both has the  ‘Bush Tucker Burger' with lattice fries and some critters and a Harrison had a Sprite and I had a Slushy.  Due to the renovation of the park for some new ride in 2016 this BBQ area would normally of been a cut through to the other side of the park from one themed area to another, but was now a no through zone that made it ideal for a less busy retreat and a quite area to have a sit down and lunch.

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After lunch and a rest we headed to the depth charge, log flume, rapids and storm surge.  For some reason it does not matter where I sit on a water ride I end up always getting the biggest spray of water in my face or the one that gets drenched, am I just a water magnet? Oh yes and my so called friends who duck out of the way and let me take the soaking, cheers, Kelly you did that to me last year on the log flume and cheer Harrison for doing it to me this year on ever water ride, don’t think I didn’t notice.

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It ended up a great day out even if some rides had been closed due to the Alton Towers incident and the weather though it started off with a little rain shower soon became a scorcher.  

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After a long day we both knew that neither of us was going to cook and so ended the day off with dinner at the Toby Carvery in Ewell and a well deserved rest before heading back homeward.
Here is looking forward to the next theme park visit.

Ramsay's

Around Christmastime 2014, our gardener Barry and his wife Mel kindly gave Wayne and I a gift voucher to dine at anyone of the Gordon Ramsay restaurants. We chose the one situated in Chelsea. We booked it sometime ago in April and finally the day has arrived to dine and enjoy the Gordon Ramsay experience.
If you are not used to fine dining it can be a little daunting and sometimes a tad intimidating. Understandably, as soon as your escorted to your table you are aware that the dining room is full, all be it that there is only fourteen tables. Any awkwardness is quickly diluted by the friendliness of the waiting staff. The tables are dressed beautifully and yet simply. There is ample space between tables and you certainly do not feel that your are sitting next to strangers on another table.
I could try and describe how everything tasted, but its an experience only your own tastebuds can experience.

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Pea mousse was an hors d'œuvre served with a homemade ricotta and is presented with baby spring veg and flowers.

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Agnolotti served with young peas, broad beans, St. George, mushrooms, mint, majoram and sariette de banon.

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Fillet of Cornish Cod wrapped in kombu, sesame with shiitake mushrooms and grilled onion.

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Roasted rabbit loin with Bayonne ham, baked turnips, toasted hazelnuts and pickled mustard seed.

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Roast pineapple with coconut parfait, coriander, rum and lime sorbet.

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Strawberry ice cream coated in white chocolate and served over smoking dry ice. Also served with a chocolate peanut brittle and elderflower Turkish delight.

Would I recommend you visit a Gordon Ramsay restaurant?  Hell yes but maybe only as a treat due to the fact that it can get a little exorbitant when you start adding bottles of Ermitage Cuvee Cathelin at a eye popping £2,450.
You would think that having a meal of such small dainty portions that you would be left feeling hungry, but the fact the food is so exquisitely rich, you find yourself enjoying every last mouthful and yet feeling pleasantly full.

Cheam Meal Out

You either get it or you don’t, but Wayne’s sense of humour can be quite something at times and tonight Wayne found his perfect partner in crime when he met Harrison.
I picked Harrison up at his place and drove him back to our home and then after a brief introduction and a cuppa tea we headed out in Wayne’s car to Beijing Gardens for and all you can eat buffet. I think the best introduction to someone is when eating out as it breaks down so many barriers and we all have to eat at some point.
On route we thought it be really funny to do a little detour and see how Harrison got in with the ridiculous speed humps on the Park Road, Cheam. That proved to be a joke all of its very own and set Harrison off laughing, I am not sure if those speed humps are not there just for the amusement of the pub on that road, as patrons watch from he beer garden to see unsuspecting drivers and passengers get thrown from pillar to post as they drive over it, certainly started the night on a funny note.

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The food was great as usual and we had the restaurant to ourselves so the sound of laughter filled the room.
Harrison and Wayne laughed most of the night over silly jokes and things that they had done in the past in the way of practical jokes done on others and I also ended up being the butt of many a joke that Wayne had recorded and posted to YouTube.
A great night and boy do I feel stuffed after the all you can eat buffet and many a chuckles.

Smart

Since owning a convertible car I have only ever wanted to now drive a convertible for the duel feature of having the top down and keeping cool in the summer months and also the roof up in the winter months, a kind of year round all in one package.
As with most cars, as they get older they lose their value and some more so than others, particularly if you car manufacturer is one of those that brings out a new car every few years.  
I always keep a track of how much my insurance creeps up each year, even though I have never made a claim and also the cost of road tax, so when I realised that if I kept my car for another year it would cost me a further £20 in road tax and possibly the same in insurance, I decided to look about for a new car.
I have realised that buying a convertible car in the cooler months of February to March is a lot cheaper than as apposed to June or July time when the same car can be £700 to £900 more expensive, so I thought now was as good a time as any to see what was about.
I wanted my next car to be more city efficient and started to look at a smaller car as the seating capacity of my Peugeot 207cc never really got used so I could quite easily go for a two seater this time around.  I have always loved those Smart cars and after reading many reviews the Smart Fortwo has matured into a more serious contender in the microcar segment. It has not lost its quirky and funky looks, but the Fortwo now sports improvements where it counts, including revised powertrains, new premium features, and a stronger body structure.

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Parking is a real big factor when you live in the urban jungle and this car lets you park like other convention cars or the perfectly legal Smart park way.

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Part of what gives the Smart Fortwo its more mature looks is its evolution from a one-box to what Smart calls a "one-and-a-half-box" design. That is apparent thanks to the Fortwo's distinct hood. The wheels are still pushed out to the corners and the rear track is still a bit wider than the front, which helps maintain the Fortwo's sturdy-looking stance. Speaking of sturdy, Smart has improved the Fortwo's tridion safety cell, which is normally painted a contrasting color to add visual pop to the exterior.


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For anyone who has never looked closely at or for that matter sat inside a Smart car, they will be pleasantly surprised.  I am 6ft 1 in statue and of a clunker build and yet there is more than enough room inside this tardis of a car.
Inside the Fortwo boasts improved materials, design, and features. The dashboard, for example, is highlighted by a number of infotainment options including smartphone integration, CD/DVD, navigation, a touchscreen, and a premium JBL sound system. The interior features accents finished in a honeycomb pattern, which is also used for exterior elements including the grille. The dashboard and door panels are available with a mesh-like fabric, and the three-spoke steering wheel can be optioned with multimedia buttons. Taking a page from recent Benz models like the C- and S-Class, the Fortwo features instrument and infotainment panels that appear to float in front of the dashboard. Oversized round air vents and bright colour schemes, however, ensure that the Fortwo maintains its funky look.

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Some cars boast a wow factor just sitting on their forecourts and others have that driving experience like no other but for me the Smart car had that funky fresh look about it and was more than practical and economical. If I had not chosen the sporty convertible version of the Smart ForTwo then I could have saved even more money as the entry level Smart ForTwo’s have zero road tax and congestion charge, but for me paying a mere £30 a year road tax and a reduced rate congestion charge has still made this car the ideal choice for any city driver.

New Look

It has been some time since I last tapped on the keyboard in order to let everyone know what I have been up to.
Well, what with the move to the new house and endless amounts of Ikea furniture I have put together, finally we are living it and enjoying our new home.  Yes of course there are still things to do like the garden and the lounge but other than that I have finally managed to not only update, but also redesign both my websites and put up a few posts.
I think I am slowly getting back to catching up with this site and with a few days with my fingers clattering on the keyboard I am sure that this space will be worth a read.

Wheely Good

Since owning my car there has been one thing that has been put on the back burner from day one, it is that of the wheels. It seemed that the last owner looked after the car except for the wheels. The previous lady owner drove the car off of the forecourt for less than a few weeks and found the car to powerful for her but in the process of ownership for those few weeks she managed to scuff every alloy wheel.
It has been bugging me since owning the car and finally I got round to finding someone who could come to either my home or workplace and repair my wheels.
Alex from Autoshine-alloys did a cracking job and now they look like new.

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Delivered Or Dumped

Probably that worst service I have received was from both Yodel and My Hermes.
I buzzed in the courier and he could not even be bothered to bring my package to the door, instead he hurled the package with enough momentum to slide and tumble towards the front door.
The trouble with companies like yodel my Hermes is they employ Joe Bloggs, someone who is trying to earn a few extra pounds so has no understanding of delivery protocol i.e. How to deal with customers, how to deliver a box or how to pick up a large box safely. So the service you receive may be cheaper but of less quality and absolutely no standards.

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However using a company like UPS or TNT or even Parcelforce they actually employ people to work and represent their company they do not subcontract so as a result you have a person who delivers to your door with a kind greeting possibly calling you sir or madam, and delivering to you as a customer, everything about that delivery is all about customer experience it is about training retraining and to give customers the best possible service. It might be slightly more expensive than companies such as yodel or parcel to go or my Hermes but that money is reflected in the quality of service it costs to train individuals that work for such companies. It is therefore a reflection on the price you are paying for ultimately the quality of service.

Misfit Or Misfortune

I have had my troubles with fitness bands, trackers and motivational tech and last week was no exception. The Misfit Flash so appropriately named met on all the tech but lacked on comfortability and so tracking health and fitness came at a price, the cost of comfort and so another tracker bites the dust.
I have opted for the Jawbone Move, a similar bit of tech slightly cheaper but far more comfortable and a perfect substitute until the release of all the big named wearable tech in March/ April of 2015.
I was a bit disappointed that the Misfit Flash had so much going for it, it was stylish, compact, affordable and yet lacked in comfort after long periods of wear, the sort of thing you do not expect from wearable tech and for me clearly a Misfit or was it misfortune?
So the Misfit Flash has be returned and exchanged for the Jawbone Move, lets see how tiny tech does now.

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The Flash

The wearable has become the new bit of tech that the body conscious or those who are concerned that they be sitting on their arse a bit to much are using at the moment, but that is all set to change in 2015.
The tech on these fitness bands are becoming so advanced that more and more data about yourself can now be monitored, in some of these wearables sleep tracking is also an option.
Several years ago I had a Nike Fuelband and I think because at that time, wearables were in the early stages, it just did not meet the expectations that Nike had made the band out to be and the Fuelband was forever losing data in-between the sync relationship from phone to wearable, not a good start.
However the 2015 horizon is looking good for the best of the best.  Apple have jumped on to the bandwagon of wearables with its iWatch and those wearables that did not seem to come up to the mark now do.  Jawbone also had a misfortune in its early stages but now seem to be heading the way as wearers want more and Jawbone offer all that and more in its latest model the UP3, due to be released any time soon.
My only concern is what do you buy into in the meantime when you know there is going to be update soon for the bit of tech you really want?
I’ve opted for the Misfit Flash, the budget bit of tech that might be cheap but offers more than most for your buck and has released its latest model ‘The Flash’.

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Small and as colourful as you want it to be ‘The Flash’ is packed with preset features and is waterproof, lasts six months on a single battery, comes with a wristband and clip-on accessory, works with iOS and Android, and tracks steps and sleep.
The Flash is not just waterproof for the shower and the bath but to 3ATM, which means it can be worn in water down to 96 feet in depth (Note: water resistant and waterproof tech should never be worn in salt water, though). So you can wear it in the shower or while swimming. In the Misfit app it has a fitness tracking mode that recognizes swim activity.

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You click the Flash's soft-touch top to show daily progress as the LED lights complete a circle (for instance, if 6 of 12 dots are lit, you've completed 50 percent of your daily step goal). Afterward, it even tells the time via flashing dots for hours and minutes. 
Sleep tracking records automatically, just like on the Misfit Shine, and it does a pretty good job of guessing when you actually went to sleep. It records "light" and "deep" sleep plus the hours slept, which is not as rich a sleep-tracking tool as more advanced REM-sensing, heart-rate-enabled ones such as Jawbone and Fitbit's upcoming wearables, but it is fine for the price.  You can also set a smart alarm that wakes you at your lightest sleep pattern closes to your wake up time, a feature I tried out yesterday only to be woken a whole hour before my actual alarm clock, thankfully I did not feel groggy, so even though I was up earlier than I wanted to be I was not in a bad mood about it or wanting to go back to bed, The feature works.

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The Flash works via Bluetooth with the Misfit app, which is available for iOS and Android and soon for Windows Phone. You will need Bluetooth 4.0 to sync with the Flash: iPhone 4s or later, iPod Touch 5th gen, and iPads going back to the 3rd-gen Retina, or Android 4.3 or later phones. It syncs easily, and the Misfit app cleanly lays out daily progress in steps and sleep. It allows you to label activity sessions, and the app integrates with a variety of other ecosystems: My FitnessPal, RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Walgreens and many more.

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It comes in seven bright colors. It's cute. Does it reinvent wearable health tech? No. Keep in mind that the Jawbone Move also costs about the same price and does nearly the same thing, but it's not water resistant and for recording sleep you will need the wrist band that is at, yes you guessed it, an optional extra.
I have used Jawbone apps and find that they go that bit deeper for information, but I like wearing my wearables in the shower, too. So until the latest UP3 is available this is the bit of tech for me.
Budget, but beautiful in every way.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell is an American chain of fast-food restaurants based in Irvine, California. A subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., they serve a variety of Tex-Mex foods including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, other specialty items, and a variety of "value menu" items. Taco Bell serves more than 2 billion customers each year in more than 6,500 restaurants mostly in the U.S., however the United Kingdom has not missed out on its Tex-Mex delights as in 1986, a location was opened in London on Coventry Street (between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus) followed by a second location in Earls Court near the Earl's Court tube station. Taco Bell sites in the UK in operation at the Strategic Air Command and United States Air Force bases at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath and whilst visiting Gary I got to try a taste of Taco Bell.

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Everything Is Big

What is it about the Americans? They are often referred to as doing everything so much bigger, whether it be food portions, household appliances, their homes or their cars. Is it because the major of Americans are built larger than us in the UK or is it a status symbol?
Well, one thing is for sure, there is a whole load of things bigger than me and there was me thinking I was large until Gary took a photo of me when on base at RAF Lakenheath.

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Commissary

After spending a short time on the RAF base in Lakenheath one thing instantly caught my attention, a large plain looking building with just the words Commissary on it. For those of you who do not know, a commissary is the equivalent to a grocery store on a military base. So I already liked this place based on name alone and it was here where I would go to get some treats to take back home with me. Unlike supermarkets here, isles were just dedicated to a certain product such as cereals, candy and the choices were endless.

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Some of these sort of products we here in the UK and can get them in larger Waitrose stores, Harrods food hall and online specialist sweet stores, so this was an opportunity to stock up on those items that over here in the UK we are ripped off with import duties and retailer mark ups.

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Luckily my visit coincided with an American tradition of Halloween and candy, what we know as sweets, where plenty and mainly in large bumper bags. My mother is partial to Hershey chocolate and the variety meant I had to get one of each choice and as Gary said “it’s your mother you should get her the choice”. Wayne had heard in a song about Tootsie Roll and wanted to try them and I wanted cereals and in particular ‘Lucky charms’ something that over here is about £7 a box, but on base it is closer to $1.99 a box.
As much as this was about getting to know my new friend Gary, the trip to the Commissary was defiantly a highlight and an insight to the joys of American eating, all be it most of my purchases were candy and cereals.

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Toll Change

One of the biggest advantages of going to see my new friend Gary is where he lives, it means that on route in both directions I can visit my mum and sister, whether it be for a sleep over or for a few hours to break in the journey.
No matter when I visit, the biggest hold up is that of Darford crossing, something soon to be a lot easier as the barriers will be removed and like the congestion charge, you will be able to pay by text, account (with a reduced rate) or a one off payment online. The big downside to the new and hopefully less congested Dartford crossing is a rise in toll fees, yet again the driver is hit with another increased fee. I think when the fees come into play I will open an account and then that way my fee for crossing will be a lot less, even with the increase in effect and as credit does not expire it means I can top up once a year for those journey to my mum and sisters or to see Gary.

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Scheduled

Everyone who has ever tried to do something long term has probably found that the biggest challenge is not reaching your goal but maintaining a schedule to do the task in hand and when it comes to weight loss this is one of the biggest hurdles faced by most, since goals like that are not seen with quick results.
Last year I had sports injury that stopped me from running and so had to take a more sedated approach to keeping fit but unfortunate last year that did not happen and I fell more and more into a progressive slump.
This year I feel more motivated to want to lose the weight and keep fit and being an owner of a treadmill there really is no excuse to why I’m not at least using that, I cannot blame the bad British weather for not using that.
From experience I have noticed that when you become aware of your body shape and decide you really do not like what you see then you have two choices, you can shy away from the whole issue and cover yourself up in lose baggy clothing or take a firm stand and decide at present that you do have a curvy body and that the shapes do not quite fit into place so you set a realistic goal and a schedule to do something about it.
I have set a goal of 18 months to lose weight and scheduling a daily run for 30 minutes on the treadmill with the aim to lose enough weight that I am happy with what is see looking back at me in the mirror. I find setting a goal like this is realistic and something I will stick to, being told to lose X amount of kg might be a medical achievement for some but that type of goal is no good if you still look at your body and still know you are physically fat rather than medically fat.
I have tried lots of diet plans and as much as some are helpful in educating you to eat right the one thing they all have in common is that it is a complete change of lifestyle that cannot be maintained long term and you then understand why the diet industry is worth a staggering two billion a year in the UK alone, just on dietary products to help you maintain losing weight.
Luckily for us iPhone users there are applications that make tracking weight and goals a lot easier and making life that little bit easier to maintain your goal.

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I have been using a application called ‘MyFitnessPal’ and works well and is simple to use. After signing onto the program, you enter your weight, age and goal weight. The application asks you to judge the amount of daily activity you do. You can then choose how much you plan to lose each week. In addition, you set your exercise goal. Next, you are told the number of calories you should eat each day in order to lose that weight. Each day, you will fill in two daily logs: what you eat, and what you do for exercise. My Fitness Pal stores thousands of different foods, including many brand name items and wight he iPhone application you can just scan the bar code and enter how much you ate of that item or go wight he recommended does that the barcoding reports back. for those items without a barcode or un-scanable barcode you can type in a search term and choose the closest matching item. Your food diary on My Fitness Pal will save foods that you commonly eat, so after entering that food once, all you need to do when you eat that again is just check the item and add it to that meal.
Along with entering your meals, you can enter your exercise for that day. Just like the food diary, the exercise diary section lets you type in the type of exercise you have done and tell how many minutes you did. It will calculate the number of calories you burned and add those additional calories to the total amount you can eat that day if you so wish to, I however prefer not to.
When you have finished entering your log for the day, you will get a note which tells you how you are doing and what your weight progress will be in five weeks.
If that was not motivational enough of not clear enough then wight he new iOS 8 operating system the Apple ‘Health’ application lets works along side most diet application and shows in its main dashboard dietary and exercise information to keep you motivated.

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Everyone wants the latest iOS but waiting over six hours to download and instal is in my minds eye is a joke. Apple should adopt a ticket request system next time a new iOS is available. It could act as how theme parks allocate ride times, so when a device requests the download then a ticketed time slot is allocated for that device, this way the servers would not be overloaded and downloads would be quicker.
But I hear you say “what happens if I miss my time slot?”
Well in all fairness I would say “tuff luck” and you should be made to request another ticketed time slot, I think for those who have patiently waited their turn should not have to wait any longer and abusing the system means your have to join the que again.
Maybe I should not be in so much of a rush to want to download the latest iOS then I would not be waiting so long for my download.

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Float & Borough

Today was a treat for Wayne and Kelly as we made our way to Float Works (it was Kelly's first time).
After having a relaxing float it was time for a bite to eat and thought that going to Borough Market would be good because of its wide range of foods, drinks and treats to eat but also the fact is was within walking distance and only a few steps away from Floatworks.

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Kelly and Wayne had never been before and I knew they would love it, with the endless choices of different world foods, drinks, ices and sweet treats from all over the globe, all of course homemade and served to order. Despite Borough Market being a busy place and the hive of all good food there is still plenty of places to sit down and enjoy your food and the bustling atmosphere. We all had something different to eat and also enjoyed some fresh juices and ice teas as today was exceptionally hot, could not have picked a better day to go to Borough Market. We was going to find a bar to have a drink in but that seemed to be everyones idea on such a hot day so instead head homeward and rounded the evening off nicely with a Chinese take away.

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Waitrose Delivery

Ever supermarket does it, it is home delivery, but what one is the best?
I have in the past tried a few of the leading supermarkets take on home delivery and have never been really satisfied with the results as the food delivered was either close to its use by date, packaging was damaged, tins were dented, the list goes. But I thought I would give it one last try with Waitrose.
I am glad I did as the service is excellent, you can order from either on the web or via the Waitrose phone app and it is just like all the other supermarkets where you pick your time slot, order your goods and also have the day before your delivery to amend your order.

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But one thing that really made Waitrose stand out from all the others was the after sales service. On the very first delivery two of my items were close to their use by date and instead like the other supermarkets that you would just have to use these items first or freeze them where possible, Waitrose add a kind note to your delivery notice “We are sorry that some of your items are close to the used by date so instead of not including them in your order we have given them to you for free of charge.” I could not quite believe that some of my shopping was for free, no other supermarket has ever done this, in fact Waitrose is the only supermarket to do this. If I thought that was good service on another delivery experience I ordered a bag of Lemons and one of them looked a bit worse for wear and unsalvageable so I called customer services and they took my delivery number and not only did they refund me the full value of the item in question (£1.50) but also gave me a further £1.50 refund and said it was there way of saying sorry to give customers a double refund, result.
When your items are delivered the drivers are always well presented, polite and above all extremely helpful, they offer to carry your goods into your kitchen and items are placed in appropriate labelled bags i.e. freezer items, fridge items, cupboard items and instead of giving you all of your shopping at once, you are given it in the order that is most important, freezer items first, then fridge items, fragile items and then the remainder of your shopping.
There are a few improvements that could be made, such as a large choice of its own branded essential items and lowering the cost of how much you spend to get free delivery but other than that it is a truly wonderful service that has made me want to use Waitrose for my grocery shopping.

Lens Conclusion

Simply put, I just did not get on well with them, I had so much trouble getting them in my eyes that it would make my eyes sore and then I would not want to wear them. For me and my lifestyle contact lenses are just not right, but at least though I can say I tried.

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The Mill House

Wayne and I do like to try out new places to eat and many a time we have driven past ‘The Mill House’ and wondered what it was like there, okay it is only a Harvester but it is not one of those town placed Harvesters so they tend to be a lot less full of hustle and bustle and was pleasantly peaceful with lovely surroundings. Wayne had the rack of ribs meal with unlimited salad, hot beverage and ice cream sundae. I had the Tennessee grill combo, unlimited side salad and summer breeze juice (orange and cranberry).
The visit was so nice that we are going to make this our Harvester of choice.

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Contacts Trial - Day Three

After yesterday's failed attempt it has put me off attempting today and then coupled up with my right eye still feeling sore from yesterday, bugger me if I'm going to attempt to poke about with my eye again. I am going to leave it a few days before having another go at it as a friend suggested.
So in the meantime I am going to write a list of pros and cons for wearing lenses and then take a step back and see if it is really worth the hassle of wearing lenses over glasses.

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Contacts Trial - Day Two

Day two of the contact lens trail and from last night I noticed that the lenses did not feel as strong as my glasses so I popped back to the opticians to discuss my concerns and I was told that they will never be as strong due to the fact they sit in your eye, unlike glasses that sit a short distance from your eye. So do I put up with the slight difference in lens strength over convenience?
I give up, it cannot be that hard to get them in, really it is supposed to be an improvement not a headache and with half an hour to get one lens in and failed and one wasted set, I will now have to try again tomorrow as my eye is so blood shot from todays attempt. Nothing is worth this much hassle, is it?

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Contacts Trial - Day One

I think with everyone who wears glasses, they get to a point where wearing them is inconvenient or they simply forget to have them to hand when they need them, like an unexpected meal out and you need them to read some small print on a menu and they are at home on your desk, so at times like this contact lenses seem to be the best option.
I went to my opticians and enquired about wearing lenses and I have taken one of these free trails, it lasts five days with five pairs of daily disposable contact lenses and a teach session on how tout them in.
I was quite nervous when I arrived at the opticians but soon over come that and my only stumbling block was not putting something in my eye, it was being able to lift my top eyelid high enough to be able to get the lens in as every attempt the lens would catch my eyelashes and prevent a successful insertion.
Getting them out is even easier and that has not proved to be a problem.
I am quite surprised how comfortable the lenses are and after not thinking you have them in your eyes you do forget they are there.

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A Day Not Being Mum

I am lucky that when I go to any theme park, I do not have to worry about what rides I can and cannot go on, I say that because this year I took Kelly to Thorpe Park and normally when Kelly goes to such places she has her boys with her who can only go on certain rides because of height restrictions or the fact the ride might be a little to fast or scary for them, even if you have the luck of going with another adult and doing the parent swap idea where one que’s up, goes on the ride and then they swap places after the ride, it is still very much a long winded process that can really eat into you day at the theme park. So this trip to Thorpe Park was extra special for Kelly as it was just an adults day out.
I wanted it to be extra special for Kelly by taking the driving element out for her and so I picked her up about 7:30am and took a pleasant drive there, allowing for plenty of time and hoping not to get caught in to much traffic, we arrived with plenty of time on our hands and had a good hour before the park actually opened and so drove a few miles down the road to find somewhere open to grab a coffee and a snack. We found a garage that served Costa coffee and sticky cake treats and it had a nice private parking area, so I parked up and broke the rule of allowing people to eat and drink in my car, well it was a special day out.

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After we had our cake and coffee we headed back to Thorpe park and this time when we arrived there was a few more cars and it was time to grab a parking bay and head to the gates and wait for them to open. Like so many other visits I wanted to get the biggest rides out of the way and so headed straight to ‘The Swarm’ but today the ride was closed so we headed for ‘Saw’.

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I had in my mind a plan of action that we would try and get as many main attractions out of the way at the start of the day and then if we wanted to go on them again I would buy fast track tickets for the individual rides. That was a special treat for Kelly as she had no idea that I was going to do that for her, I wanted her to experience the top rides in the best position, it is know as pole position, it is front row seats.

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The weather had turned out to be quite hot, in fact hot enough to go on the wet rides in the middle of the day rather than at the end of the day when you do not mind getting a little wet. How is it though, that Kelly actually did not get very wet at all, I took most of the soaking, oh well the day was hot enough that I dried off very quickly, we did however give ‘Tidal Wave’ a miss, that was taking getting wet to the extreme.

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The park was not busy so we did lots of rides several times and then only needed to do fast-track for three of the rides to be able to sit in pole position, we even managed to spend some time in the arcade and I had to have a go on the claw grabber machines and I won a cuddly toy, we also spend a few pounds in two pence’s on the penny flips and Kelly won a few things for the boys.

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All in all the day turned out brilliant, we had time to ride on all the rides, some several times, stop and have a spot of lunch with time to rest, go on the water rides and dry out and collect ride photos at the end of the day and then leave before the park closed, we actually left when we was tiered and could not rid anymore. Kelly and I are looking forward now to the next theme park visit later in the year.

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Quick Four Minute Workout

Hands up how many of you are happy with your weight, yes I thought so not many show of raised hands. Yes, we all hate the fact that it is far easier to put weight on but so hard to get shot of it and diets or going to the gym never seem to work because it is all about committing far to much of the little time that we do have, or there will be another excuse. But I think I have a solution that will not eat into to much of your time or make you commute to a lengthy gym membership.
The solution is a quick four minute work out that can be done anywhere, anytime and with no need for equipment, the only equipment you need is will power.
I gave it my best shot today and yes it is intense but that is the whole aim of this type of work out, it is known as HIT which stands for High-intensity Interval Training and is used by lots of Olympic athletes. It works by doing a quick four or seven minute workout that gets your heart pumping and your major core groups working together. It can be done from your iPhone, iPad or from the developers website.

App link: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/quick-4-minute-workout-tabata/id803491681?mt=8
Web link: http://www.tinyhearts.com/7-minute-workout-quickfit/

What have you got to lose, oh about four or seven minutes in your day and some or that excess weight.

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Broadening The Range

The scenario is, you are using your iPad in the lounge streaming your favourite movie or on a FaceTime call with a friend, then you head to the kitchen and then all of a sudden, you are in a wifi no-spot.
What do you do?
The solution is a wireless extender or signal booster. Like other wireless technology, wireless range extenders use radio frequencies to transmit data. Your wireless router transmits data to a network-connected device, such as a laptop or network-ready printer, over radio signals. These signals have a maximum distance they can travel and if the device is far from the router, may never reach the device. Wireless range extenders sit between the router and the device to capture the signals. The captured signals are amplified and retransmitted to the network. This process allows for a greater network area without physical wiring.
Today the BT dual band wifi extender arrived and the set up was really simple, it was simply just plug it into any power socket within your existing wi-fi range and it’ll connect wirelessly with your router, giving you the improved reliability and speed of dual-band and helping to make dead spots a thing of the past.

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10 Years Loyal

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I have been a loyal customer of T-Mobile for 10 years and when I first joined, the service was perfect but then you joined forces with Orange and suddenly the service became like the old service we came to expect of Orange; it was unhelpful, unprofessional at times and my loyalty of 10 years was meaningless!
Back in April of 2013, I started to experience a loss of service and I had cause to contact customer services: Violet that raised the case to the Tech Support team. I was put through to Ross in Technical (Device Escalations - Team 342) who suggested three options 1) Cancel my contract, 2) the offer of half price line rental or 3) a signal booster box. As both myself and my partner are loyal T-Mobile customers, cancelling was only ever going to be a last resort and half price line rental would not solve the problem so we opted for the signal box. Ross sent out a Signal Booster Box S3 (14th June 2013) and explained that it connects to the internet and should give us full service. Because of the disruption of service that Ross could see we were experiencing, he sent out the box for FREE including FREE P&P. The box arrived on Monday 17th June 2013 just shortly before 9am. I was eager to get the booster box plugged in and my service returned to how it once was, so I made a call to register the box and shortly after, is when the real problems started.
On the 17th June 2013, I called Gillian at Tech Support in Greenock Team Number 544. I explained to her that after connecting the booster box, the home wi-fi stopped working. She then messaged Device Escalations to pass on this information.
Later that day, Gillian called back and obtained more information about the Signal Booster Box. She said that it can take up to 9 hours for the box to update itself and then for the wifi single to return to normal. After leaving the booster box plugged in for the full 9 hours, it still crippled the wifi and I had to resort to unplugging the device. As soon as I did, the wifi returned to its usual lightning speed. I called Gillian back again and she put me through to Mandy in Retentions and Cancellations. Mandy made a few enquiries with Technical and spoke with her Manager. I had noticed that T-Mobile also did a Nextivity signal booster box that required no internet connection, however this was only available for business customers and in my desperation, I asked Mandy if there was anyway that I could upgrade to a business account in order to obtain the Nextivity booster box. Mandy said that this was not possible and that she had written an email to Ross in Technical (Device Escalations - Team 342) asking for him to call me on the 18th June (around 10am).
On the 18th June 2013 - following Mandy’s call in Retentions and Cancellations, she was unable to get hold of Ross in Technical (Device Escalations - Team 342) and instead, James called.
James asked me to give him 10 to 15 minutes to sort out the problem as he needed to speak with Network Support and that after that time, he would call me back.
James was not very helpful when he finally called some 4 hours later. He was confrontational from the start.
As there was no resolve when James called back, I asked to speak to his manager as I did not want to have to listen to his confrontational tone anymore, however he replied very rudely: “no amount of asking to speak with a manager is going to make any difference. We are a very busy small department here, too small, if you ask my opinion” and then after I confronted him about his manner and tone of voice, he then said: “please don't tell me what I should and shouldn't say.” I got off the call absolutely disgusted with how I had been spoken to and worse still, my problem had not been resolved.
18th June 2013 - Either phone conversations are recorded at T-Mobile or it was just a fluke that Kirsty called me at 7pm to enquire as to whether James had dealt with my problem or not. I expressed my grievance with her. She was most understanding and apologetic and asked if it would be ok for her to call me back in a few hours so that she could review what was said and try to resolve my ongoing and unresolved problem. At 9.15pm Kirsty called again to get the IMIE number from the signal booster box to pass on to Network Support. Kirsty informed me that Network Support are going to make contact every other day in an attempt to resolve the problem with the signal booster box and to find out if there are any particular times in the day that the booster box does the job it was intended to do.
21st June 2013 - Network support failed to call yesterday and have not called today.
23rd June 2013 - 5.45pm - I called T-mobile and was finally put through to Peter Perkins in Wales and he suggested that I plug in the booster box one more time as he said there had been a number of problems with the internet communications at their end and the information it was sending to the signal booster box. He also asked that I email him tomorrow night after 9pm as he said “that's enough time to establish that it's all working well.” Both my partner and I ran tests, e.g., made a voice call, had a FaceTime call, turned the Playstation on during another call, tested the iPads and iPhone signal strengths, however I was still encountering a few problems but I maintained keeping the signal booster box turned on and connected to the internet.
22nd Aug 2013 - 12.15pm - Spoke to Kami in Device Escalations in South Wales, who gave me an explanation as to the likelihood of a rapid LED flashing on our booster box, and yet, I felt that we were being fobbed off.
I kept a record of the performance of the signal booster box so that any further person I spoke with at either Device Escalations or Tech Support, could see that the problems may marry up with problems that either departments may also be experiencing.

Booster Box Record 2013
18th June am 1 Bar to No Signal - pm 2 Bars to 1 Bar
19th June am 1 Bar to No Signal - pm 2 Bars to 1 Bar
20th June am & pm No Signal
21st June am & pm No Signal
22nd June am & pm No Signal
23rd June am 1 Bar - pm 2 Bars to 1 Bar
23rd June After Box working 5 BARS
24th June 1 Bar as Box not working, red light
24th June - The booster box throughout the day fluctuates, it goes from one extreme to the other.
11th July - Another random test of the signal box only to find that today the box is flashing green and yet no one in the household is making any phone calls.
22nd Aug - Yet another day where the booster box throughout the day fluctuates.
15th Sept - Good service on the booster box, no problems today.
17th Oct - Booster box seems to be working ok and have had a good service.
8th Nov - Spoke too soon booster box is playing up again, solid red light today.
18th Dec - Booster box has been working ok, however at least once a week the box will go to a static red and service for that day is very poor.
Booster Box Record 2014
5th Jan - Booster box has been working ok, however at least once a week the box will go to a static red and service for that day is very poor.
11th Feb - Booster Box rapid green flashing light.

20th Feb 2014 - To date, Network Support have still not made any communication with me and due to the abysmal service that I have received, I will not be renewing my contract in March 2014.
I have been using a Virgin 30 day rolling contract sim on a 2nd phone and the service of both reception and customer service is superb; way better than I have ever received in the 10 loyal years that I have been with T-Mobile.
21st Feb 2014 - Gareth at Retentions and Cancellations knows the problems that I am facing with T-Mobile and is very apologetic and extremely helpful with trying to keep my custom, however he can only offer me one deal that still requires a 12 month contract, similar to that with Virgin; unlimited text and calls but only 5GB of 4G data at a cost of £18 (normally £36). Gareth tried to keep my custom as he said "Virgin hive off EE" and yet the signal on Virgin is better than that of T-Mobile. Gareth also said: "my hands are tied and I cannot offer you anything near to what Virgin are offering.”
It saddens me that today on 24th Feb 2014, Derek at Retentions and Cancellations called and because of the limitations to what he can physically do, my only choice was to leave my 10 year relationship with T-Mobile and take my PAC number over to Virgin.
It is a real shame that the only thing T-Mobile have actually performed well is giving me my PAC number.
Why is it that the service of T-Mobile is not only poor in customer services but also in its retail stores as well? As today, I walked into a Virgin media store and was greeted as customers should be; with a warm welcome and not of that I have experienced when entering an EE store.. who think that it is ok to call me: ‘Mate’ and being asked ‘what we gonna do for you then?’ This is unprofessional and where it might be appropriate some of your more younger clientele, it is most certainly not acceptable with me.
I cannot believe that T-Mobile are not willing to reward loyal customers and would rather lose a customer with 10 years worth of loyalty. Retentions and Cancellations need to have the power to price match and because they do not, you have just lost another customer!
T-Mobile, I have been loyal to you for far too many years and this is how you reward me? Well no more! The buck stops here! I’m leaving you and I will not be singing your praises as I once have done.
Joining forces with Orange may very well have been your financial lifeline but it has also been your downfall as you have adopted their poor customer service skills and lack of customer loyalty.
T-Mobile, EE, whatever you want to call yourselves, if you cannot improve on keeping your loyal customers happy, do at least do one thing right, give all your staff the same training, if stores such as Apple, John Lewis and Ikea can do it and be consistently good at customer services then why can’t you?
Disgruntled former customer

To Bed

Some of us suffer from not being able to get to sleep when we need to and some of us work to many hours and do not get enough sleep, either way how much sleep do we all need to have?
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, though, it is a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation. There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function optimally.
The amount of sleep we need depends greatly on our age as Newborn to 2 months old needs about 12 to 18 hours of sleep and yet and child between the ages of 5 to 12 years old only needs 10 to 11 hours of sleep. While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best.
The biggest trouble I have is, do I need to be reminded of how many hours I need and when is the best time to go to bed?

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This is where the ‘To Bed’ app for iOS users comes in handy. The app states “Like your loving Mom, the app knows when there is no need to remind you. And when vacation comes around, just activate "vacation mode" and there will be no mentioning, whatsoever, about getting to bed.
Probably a little sexist that it talks about mom waking you up when it could have been dad that woke you up, other than that it is easy to use. You set the time you need to be awake by and your age then it works out how much sleep you need and alerts you via the notifications centre as to when you have half an hour before you need to be in bed. All the settings can be customised as some people might want reminding an hour before it is bed time, either way I have been using the app for just over two weeks now and I am feeling more awake and more energetic than I once was due to having the right amount of and when I should be going to bed. I am now no longer a night own, well only when I want to have that late night.

Popcorn

I love to watch a film with a bucket of popcorn between my legs, slowly munching away but doing this with shop bought popcorn can be bad for your health as it is normally loaded with all kind of salts, sugars and fats but making your own is another matter, so I treated myself to a popcorn maker for my movie nights.
There are a few that you can buy and some need you to add oil for the cooking process but adding oil means adding fat, so I opted for the healthier alternative and purchased a electric heater style popcorn maker. It is so easy to use, just fill the hopper, flick the switch and in only 3 minutes out shoots light, fluffy popcorn.

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Popcorn is not just a food that is naturally high in fibre, low in calories, sodium, sugar, and fat-free but also it has more of a past than we relies.
Some Native American tribes believed that a spirit lived inside each kernel of popcorn. The spirits would not usually bother humans, but if their home was heated, they would jump around, getting angrier and angrier, until eventually they would burst out with a pop.
Popped popcorn comes in two basic shapes, a snowflake and mushroom. Movie theatres prefer snowflake because it is bigger and confections use mushroom because it will not crumble when treated with flavourings and packaged for retailers.
Our love of popcorn started when American vendors began selling popcorn at carnivals in the late 19th century. When they began to sell outside movie theatres, theatre owners were initially annoyed, fearing that popcorn would distract their patrons from the movies. It took a few years for them to realise that popcorn could be a way to increase revenues, and popcorn has been served in movie theatres since 1912.
Nowadays, many movie theatres make a greater profit from popcorn than they do from ticket sales, since for every pound or dollar spent on popcorn, around 90% of that is pure profit. Popcorn also makes moviegoers thirsty and more likely to buy expensive drinks.
It is a good thing that popcorn is low in calories, sodium, sugar, and fat-free as when we eat popcorn it takes our brain receptors longer to let us know we are full.

Cup O’ Joe

I love my Nespresso coffee machine and it proves to be very convenient at times but it can be costly when you have to purchase fifty capsules at a time and then wait for the courier to deliver it. So sometimes I like to have a nice pot of black coffee and so doing it the old way is just the trick.
Going "old fashioned" may seem like you are taking a step backward and it often is. However, there are some things that are just better when done without the new devices and gadgets. Making coffee is one of them. Now, I know what you are thinking, there is nothing wrong with my electronic coffee maker. Maybe not, but until you have tried brewing your morning cup o' joe via stove top, you do not know what you are missing!

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50% Off At Tattenham

Have you every been approached to take a store discount card and all the company needs is your email address. I often avoid such card schemes for two reasons, one I do not know who will end up with my email address, will it be used for the right reasons or will it be sold on and secondly not another card I have to carry with me because it is not one of those scale cards that I can add to my stocard app.
However I am glad I decided to take on the offer that Beefeater had as my first reward was 50% off any main meals in January. So the weather was not nice but the food was as both myself and Wayne decided to take up the offer and head over to the Beefeater at Tattenham Corner for a late lunch.
The service was cheery even though the weather was not and the endless plain or spicy fries was a great bonus. We both left full and for once not wanting or needing a dessert.

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It Is On eBay

Some people have a spring clean out and others let it build up and though I have in the past collected way more than I should have, it has come to that time that soon I will be moving on and setting up a new life in a new place. So it has meant that some things need to go, I am not packing years of items I will not use in my new place, only to be put back in a cupboard that they came from.
One item I want for my new place is a new fridge freezer as the one I have now is not only thirteen years old but surprisingly I find is not big enough for my needs and so I have listed many of my items on eBay in order to get a few extra pound towards that new fridge freezer.
It has felt like a full-time job in listing items, answering buyers questions and many trips to the post office but all that aside I have made more than enough to buy my new fridge freezer.
Next on the list to save up for is a washing machine, I wonder how much more I need to sell to find funds for that?

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From 13 To 14

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This is my first post of 2014 and I know that it is a little overdue but I have been wondering just how to put it all down.
It has been an eventful year with a few ups and a few downs but all in all not to bad and with out going into to much detail I think this quote sums up 2013.

Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can't buy more hours. Scientists can't invent new minutes. And you can't save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you've wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.
Denis Waitely

Here Comes The Rain

The UK is not best known for its good weather, if anything it is more known for its bad weather. Normally just before Christmas arrives her in the Uk we get a flurry of snow and ice and other cold blustery winds, but this year we had heavy rains, rains that did not let up and that caused across the country flooding.
Some streams became rivers, rivers overflowed and became lakes and anywhere that water could flow to or through, it did.
For most, Christmas eve is all about doing the last minute things just before everything shuts down for the holiday period.
The property that I am currently living in has had problems for a few years now and the lack of maintenance from the housing association has shown and has added to its dilapidation, so much so the building has subsided and caused a few more problems, one of them being that cracks and entry points that water can get into.
This year Christmas was eventful but for all the wrong reasons, the heavy rain made its way in through the cracks in the wall and what should of been a relaxing few days turned into hours of mopping up water, wringing out towels and emptying buckets.



Obviously emergency services were stretched to breaking point due to the bad weather and the fact it fell right on top of the holiday period did not help, but Hyde Housing association took four days to come out to an emergency call out, one word; Negligence.

Ethan & The Piano

I never tend to venture out on a Saturday, but today both Wayne and I headed to the Greyhound pub in Carshalton to see Ethan play in a musical recital.
Ethan and I have bonded well and as of such he was pleased to see both Wayne and myself, he smiled and sent a small wave to the back of the room where I was standing whilst waiting for his turn to play.
Ethan looked dapper in his shirt and bow tie and though he was a little nervous (and possibly anyone would be nervous in the same situation), he held his composure.
Ethan overcame his nerves and played his piano piece through to the end with not a single mistake, hesitation but not mistake.

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Shop & Wrap

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I have not had much time to blog but then like everyone else I am Christmas shopping and wrapping gifts, luckily for me I am only getting stocking fillers as I finished all my main Christmas shopping way back at the end of October.
It seems like most people are leaving things to the last minute as per usual but this time hoping to get a good deal but as every shop is competing all year round, the deals always seem to be there come rain or shine and no matter what month of the year it is.
Shops have changed but looks like people are still thinking that you will get the best deal at the last minute.

XMAS

Here’s a holiday surprise that only the dictionary can provide. Do you find the word “Xmas,” as an abbreviation for Christmas, offensive? Many people do.
You won’t find Xmas in church songbooks or even on many greeting cards. Xmas is popularly associated with a trend towards materialism, and sometimes the target of people who decry the emergence of general “holiday” observance instead of particular cultural and religious ritual.

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But the history of the word “Xmas” is actually more respectable and fascinating than you might suspect. First of all, the abbreviation predates by centuries its use in gaudy advertisements. It was first used in the mid 1500s. X is the Greek letter “chi,” the initial letter in the word Χριστός. And here’s the kicker: Χριστός means “Christ.” X has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years. This device is known as a Christogram. The mas in Xmas is the Old English word for “mass.”  (The thought-provoking etymology of “mass” can be found here.) In the same vein, the dignified terms Xpian and Xtian have been used in place of the word “Christian.”
As lovers of the alphabet, we are transfixed by the flexibility of “X.” The same letter can represent the sacred, the profane (“rated X”), and the unknown (“X-ray“). What does the “X” in Xbox stand for?

Down To The Pins

As much I liked the design of the Mophie juice pack I had to return my case for a refund as there was one distinct design fault that let this case down. The case was designed that the joining of the two parts of the case was at the bottom of the phone inline with the lightning connector, as usual you take the case apart and slide your phone in, then join the two parts together. Most cases of this nature have the joining at the top of the phone so as not to interfere with the charging area, this is where the design fault is on the Mophie.
In order to connect battery pack and phone there needs to be a joining connector, a circuit connection, most cases do not need this as the phone slides in from the top but as the Mophie is different in design, it needs some form of connection.
At some point you do need to remove your phone from its case and doing this with the Morphie will be its downfall. You see there are two pins in the removable lower part of the case that connect to two receivers in the top part of the case, it only takes for the pins to come unaligned or the connectors to be pushed to far back into the case housing and then you get what I got, no connection and no charge.
Sorry Mophie your cases are nice to look at and are sturdy but the design is the letdown and ultimately in a case that you are paying nearly £90 you would have thought it to be more durable and without flaws.

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Frank B's

Wayne had promised his sister Nikki that he would take her shopping in Kingston and buy her a Pandora charm and normally I leave them to go and have brother and sister time, this time I was invited and it was a nice change.
When we are out it is hard to please everyone in where to stop off and have a bite to eat, you know shopping can be real tiring work. We had passed by Frank B’s every time we headed to the Centreview restaurant and thought of it as nothing more than one of those fun themed restaurants, we took a brave leap and was pleasantly surprised, it was more than just an American diner.

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The theme of the restaurant was as you would expect in a recreation of an American diner, some can be a bit over done but this was just right and they managed to capture the ambience just right. They did the usual array of burgers and fries, cokes, floats and shakes, stuff for the kids, the vegetarian option and then a few extra things you would only find in an American diner. The food was cooked to order and though this made for a slightly longer wait, it was worth it as you knew the food was not only hot but also fresh, this a key component to a good restaurant, people do not mind waiting a little longer if the food is freshly cooked rather than on a keep warm quick blanch basis, nothing worse than double cooked food.
Wayne and Nikki decided to share a burger and order extra fries and I had a burger to myself, who would have thought beetroot in a burger could be so refreshing.
If I was to be asked “would you got back again” then my response would be “yes”. The food was great, the choice was varied and the combinations of extras was better than I have seen in most places, overall a good place to eat unless you are not into the American diner experience.

Juiced Up

With a new iPhone means buying new accessories and the iPhone 5s is no exception, but as the phone is relatively new it does mean that the only products available are from those companies that have always been in Apple line of sight, these are Mophie, Belkin and Twelve South. These products however are part of the high end range, but with quality does mean they are not cheap, if anything they are the most expensive but I do believe you get what you pay for, buy budget you get budget, buy quality you get the best.
The Mophie Juice Pack Air is an iPhone 5s case that offers substantial protection, but more importantly contains a built-in battery that enables you to run the iPhone 5 for longer.

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Short battery life is a problem that plagues many smartphones. Apple has paid close attention to maxing out the battery life of its products. Indeed the recent iPhone and iPads are little more than batteries with components embedded inside and screens attached. Apple claims eight hours of talk time, and 10 hours of video playback on the iPhone 5s. Typically this should be enough but there are circumstances when the battery runs short: keen gamers, those who use the iPhone 5s as a Sat-Nav and anybody on a long-haul flight will find solace in this Mophie Juice Pack Air iPhone 5s case. The Mophie Juice Pack Air completely surrounds the rear and sides of an iPhone 5s. The bottom part is removable and forms two pieces that clip together around the iPhone. Once clipped into place the iPhone 5s display and buttons are accessible, but the rest of the phone is neatly sealed in.
There are gaps for the earphone socket, and camera lens and replacement buttons on the sides of the Mophie Juice Pack Air.

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These push down the appropriate buttons, and adjust the Mute slider as appropriate. In all the iPhone 5s worked exactly the same as before. Impressed with the fit and finish of the Mophie Juice Pack Air iPhone 5s. Like previous Mophie products it is clearly made of high quality plastic and metal with a styling designed to somewhat mimic the iPhone 5s (there’s a metal band running around the side). There are also build in speaker grills so the audio from the iPhone is pumped out from the front. The only technical difference is that you charge the Mophie Juice Pack Air iPhone 5s with a Micro USB cable instead of the usual Lightning connector. It is worth noting that you cannot sync to iTunes with the USB cable, although you can sync an iPhone 5s wirelessly these days).

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On the reverse of the case is a rocker switch so you can choose to charge the iPhone 5s or just hold the power in reserve. It also sports a button with four lights that you can press to get a charge status.

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The case did not interfere with call or data function, although there is no getting away from the fact that it bulks out the iPhone 5s.
It doubles the width of the iPhone 5s and takes the weight of the phone from 112grams to 188grams. I did not find it unwieldy though, and the extra weight did not seem much of an issue. Probably because the iPhone 5s is especially lightweight to begin with. Still, it is a direct trade-off between form and function. The case is essentially a large battery and I found that when it was attached to an iPhone 5s it charged up an iPhone from flat to 85%. This offers a lot of extra time to use the device. It is enough to see you happy on any long-haul journey, but probably overkill for day-to-day use but then we do use our smartphones more and more these days.

Thud

All I remember was being in the bathroom sitting on the toilet and then telling Wayne I felt faint. My intention was to make my way to the bedroom and lay down until the dizzy feeling had passed, clearly I did not make it to the bedroom, instead I awoke with paramedics looming over me as I came to. I had blacked out, fallen to the floor and on my way down I hit the back of my head on a door handle.
Is it just typical that I have treated myself to a trip to the barbers with a new hair style only for it to be ruined with blood and shredded flesh.
I was told that Kelly, Wayne's daughter went into first aid mode whilst Wayne felt helpless to what he could do, it was only yesterday that Wayne had been watching a documentary on JFK and seeing the head injury was all he could think about and panicked as it was not just but blood he was faced with but flesh to.
I was rushed to A&E in an ambulance where I was treated for a head injury and lacerations to the scalp and once cleaned up I was glued back together, medical advances mean no more stitches.
I have just got rest up for the next 72 hours and make sure in that time I do not spend to much time watching the TV, being on the iPad or iPhone and drinking lots of fluids whilst being watched over.

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Got My 5s

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I know previously I blogged about not buying and iPhone 5s but after playing with one in-store and the realisation that the iPhone 6 would not be out until at least December 2014 it was a bit to long to wait for a new phone, I was also not going to get stuck in the rut of buying from my network provider and being locked into a 24 month contract again, just so I could have the latest phone and also to do that I would be subjected to a monthly bill of the of £47 at least, an increase to my contract and being that my provider was not really doing a good job of providing it worked to be the money saving object even if it did mean spending money. Buying a sim free phone did mean I could decide who I wanted to get my mobile service from, to the point that I could change as often as I liked till I got the service that is expected of mobile providers today.

Before The Bangs

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For the last few years I have been incorporating my birthday with bonfire night and this year was no exception, however this year both my mum and sister came to stay and joined in with the party celebrations and fireworks. For some reason less and less places were selling fireworks and my regular places that I bought fireworks from in past years were not doing them this year, so I had to look for another supplier and so to buy in plenty of time I thought it best to go to an all year round firework specialist, thankfully we have several in the area to choose from.
I have been buying Kimbolton fireworks for the last couple of years and this year I changed over to Bright Star and was pleasantly surprised, not only were they cheaper (and we got a good deal on what we bought) but also the array was more spectacular and varied, it was not all about cheap whizzes and pitiful bangs but great big bursts of colour, huge explosions and sounds that everyone including the neighbourhood could hear, overall Bright Star were the better fireworks.
My mother suggested that we cut down on what food we did this year and was not going to over do it as that left it wide open for error, this year we did homemade curry and chilli with rice and good old Jacket potatoes with the choice of cheese or beans, or if you wanted curry and chilli, the jackets went down a storm this year.
Even though we had a light mist of rain it did not spoil the night apart from one fireworks fuse that got a little damp and did not go off, other than that a great night enjoyed by Wayne, Kelly, Debbie, Nikki, Anthony, Michele, Dean and this year also my mother and sister.

Lights On Lights Off

We are in such a throw away society that when things break we just bin them, but what happens when we need to fix them because throwing them away is not an option?
Today one of my break light on the car decided to blow and I had the choice to book my car in at the garage and pay about £25 to get it fixed or do it myself. I thought that if the instruction were int he car manual then it was designed to be fixed and not to use a garage to do the same job.
I had the bulb and so I thumbed through the pages of the car manual until I came across the lights section. Ok it was not overly easy to disassemble but breaking it down in stages and taking my time, I did change the bulb myself and so saved myself a trip to the garage and a bill at the end of it.

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Vicki Wig-Do

Every year you have that choice of what to do for your birthday, do you go out for a meal with friends and family, do you take a days trip out, do some exciting adventure or throw your own party?
When it is one of those big numbers like 18, 21 or 40 then most make it an event to remember, Vicki did just that last night.
Vicki was celebrating her 40th birthday with a themed night, it was not surprising that she kept the theme in close keeping to her work, so being a hairdresser the theme was all to do with hair, in particular wigs.

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A complementary drink was served to guests by a door whore as you entered the village hall and then a numbered tag was stuck on you, this was all to do with Vicki offering a prize for the best and worst wig.

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Food was provided by the way of a burger van that Vicki had hired for the night so chips, burgers and hot dogs were being served.
A photographer was there with a backdrop and props. It was a good night that everyone participated in, even Irene and Brian from the Isle Of White had made the long journey to be there.

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Mavericks

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There is not one thing that jumps out with Apple's new Mac operating system, known as Mavericks and that is a good thing. Mavericks has plenty of modest refinements that add up to a system well worth the upgrade, even if Apple were not giving it away for free.
Many years ago, Web surfing changed dramatically when the Opera browser offered a way to open multiple Web pages in tabs instead of separate windows that cluttered the computer desktop. Most browsers soon followed, that concept now comes to file management as part of Mavericks, which Apple released Tuesday for new Macs and older ones running Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain Lion. You can now use tabs rather than separate windows for various folders, disks and networked servers.The change may seem cosmetic, but it saves time. As I opened a file here and move a file there in previous versions of the Mac OS, I could easily have a half-dozen or more windows open. If I closed them, I would have to go through the trouble of finding those folders and drives again later.
Tabs mean I no longer have to accept that clutter. All the tabs are neatly organised at the top of a single window. I can access files and move them around more easily and to further assist with file management, Mavericks lets you assign one or more tags to files. It is similar to the approach Google's Gmail uses to organise email. I have been trying to go paperless by scanning or requesting bills and receipts electronically, but they have been scattered in more than 100 folders and subfolders.
The problem is that an individual file might belong in a number of folders. A receipt for a museum membership might go under "receipts," ''museum," ''charity," ''taxes" or in a folder for the credit card I used. With tags, I can label the file with all five and find it more easily. It does not matter anymore what folder I put it in. Searching by the tag will automatically pull the relevant file up.

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Apple e-books also sync. Mavericks introduces an iBooks app for the Mac, so you are no longer limited to iPhones and iPads. You can start a book on an iPhone and pick up where you left off on the Mac. Any highlights and notes transfer over. Bonus: Copy a passage into any app, and Mavericks automatically adds a citation.

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Safari, a new Sidebar offers quick access to bookmarks, sites marked for offline viewing and suggestions from people you follow on Twitter or LinkedIn. Unfortunately, Facebook links are not part of that. A continuous scrolling feature automatically grabs the next site on your list when you get to the bottom of one.
Apple's Maps app comes to the Mac. Last year, that app deposed Google Maps as the primary mapping app on iPhones, only to lead many people astray with mismatched landmarks and faulty directions.The mobile app has gotten better, and the Mac version shares many of its attributes. You do not get turn-by-turn voice guidance on the Mac, but you can send results to your iPhone with two clicks. It is much easier to plan a trip using a real keyboard.
Apple does integrate the service with its other apps, something it can do by building a stand-alone app. Click on an address in a Mail message for a small map within the app. You can then add the address to the Contacts app or pull up the full map in Maps and when you fill out a Calendar entry with an address, Apple uses it’s mapping service to calculate and block out travel time from the previous appointment. It also shows you a small map and the weather.

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The Calendar app, meanwhile, is easier to read. Weeks no longer have to start on the same day each week, usually Sunday. Months don't have to begin on the first. You can view the last two weeks of one month and the first two weeks of the next on one screen, for instance.
Mavericks also offers easier ways to reply to chats and emails when notifications pop up on the side. I did have trouble when a friend and I sent each other streams of chats at once, without waiting for a reply. I can reply with only one line without returning to the chat app and if another chat comes in as I am replying, I see only the first message in the reply box.

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Mavericks offers much more you will not see, but might feel, includes better power and memory management. There are also improvements when working with multiple monitors. By offering it for free, Apple is following the model it has adopted for iPhones and iPads: Make money on devices, and keep customers happy with the latest software innovations. Just remember to back up your files before downloading and installing the update through the Mac's app store.

Rotera

So I have bought all the fireworks for this years display and now I am just doing all the finishing touches to make this years display better than last, I have a feeling I will be doing the same next year to better this display.
Last year I lit the viewing area and steps in to the garden with a trails of tea lights in terracotta pots, this year I decided to use lanterns (Rotera) that I got from Ikea. They are lovely galvanised lamps with cut out stars.

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First For Fireworks

Last years firework display was great but as I left buying fireworks to almost the last week the choice was not there, but the prices were better than half price.
This year I wanted to have the choice and as two of the garden centres were not stocking fireworks this year I had to make alternative plans to get great fireworks at a good price but maybe to use another brand or supplier.
Buying direct from such specialist companies has been known in the past to be fairly expensive and with hefty postage fees due to the fact of high insurances costs it puts a lot of people off, luckily in Morden there is a fireworks specialist stocking Bright Star fireworks.
In past years that I have been having fireworks I have been using the Kimbolton brand and have not used Bright Star before, but the choice that was at 'The Firework Factory' in Morden were very reasonably priced and they did some special offers too.
Harvey served us and after we told him what we wanted to achieve and our budget, he then gave us good advice and also they had a DVD of all the fireworks they stocked, so we could see what we were letting ourselves in for before we committed to buying anything.
I started off with buying an aerial selection box that Harvey said was very popular and that gave you a great bang for your bucks, he pointed out that some items he had in stock were BOGOF and so made even better value, that meant I could get some fountains and a few ground display fireworks.
Last year I started the firework festivities with everyone playing with sparklers as it gave me time to set up the display order and a firework display is not the same without a few sparklers, this years sparklers are a lot larger, I have chosen mammoth rainbow sparklers.
Harvey suggested some rockets that would create a massive aerial explosion and also sound great, so Wayne treated me to some.
I wanted this year to have a finale firework and we settled for thirty-two shot barrage display, these are great fireworks as all you have to do is light it and walk away, the display takes care of itself.
Harvey looked after us by adding a free Kimbolton firework reminiscent of the sort of fireworks I had last year and a pack of firework lighting rods.
I felt well looked after and got what I wanted and more, looks like I have found my future firework supplier and because they are an all year round company, I do not have to rush out mid October with everyone else and be at the mercy or supermarkets and garden centres with their limited displays and high prices.

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Centre View Fish And Chips

Today I had to visit the Apple store in Kingston as my iMac had a part that was recalled.
Once I had handed over my iMac, Wayne thought it would be nice to find somewhere to have a meal out and we thought that we would give the Centre View cafe at Bentals a visit.
I was pleasantly surprised that the cooked to order service was swift and food tasted great, cooked just right.

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I Am Waiting

I like my gadgets, and generally consider myself an early adopter. When my friends are looking at buying a new piece of technology, I am the one they ask as they know I have either owned it or have tried it.
So you might be surprised to learn that my phone is an iPhone 4S and even after the unveiling of the 5s (no, I do not know why it suddenly became lower-case either), I am planning to wait for the iPhone 6 before upgrading.
It is not that the 5s is not impressive from a purely technological viewpoint. It is. A 64-bit phone? That is a pretty incredible achievement. Delegating sensor functions to a separate chip to enable constant use without the usual battery drain?
Brilliant.
A truly state-of-the-art fingerprint sensor?
Fantastic.
A larger phone sensor with lower pixel-density? Exactly the right approach, and I was delighted to see Apple refusing to join in the stupid megapixel race.
But I am still not going to buy one.
Much as I love hi-tech solutions for their own sake, I still need to see practical benefit. While I am wowed by the 64-bit CPU, I cannot honestly think of a single occasion when I have been using an app and wishing my phone were faster. Perhaps I would if I were a gamer, but I am generally not. My experience of using my 4S is that I touch a button and something happens. Mobile data delays, sure, but waiting for the processor to do something? Does not ever happen for me.
It is not like a laptop. The switch from 32-bit to 64-bit there was night-and-day with some tasks, like processing lots of photos and video editing. But those processor-intensive operations are not the kind of thing I do on my phone.

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The M7 co-processor really is a piece of genius. If you are not familiar with the concept, normally the CPU the A7 chip in this case does pretty much all of the work. Not just running apps, but also all the background stuff too: keeping track of the phone’s orientation, looking out for new wifi networks to join, that kind of stuff. What the 5s does is have a separate chip to take care of the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass. For example, if you are running a fitness app, instead of the CPU being active the whole time, collecting that data and passing it to the app, the M7 chip simply logs it all and makes it available later to any app on demand. That means the A7 chip has less to do, and you get better battery life.
Fantastic.
But in my typical usage, it is rare for me to run out of battery life. My office is at home, and I have an iPhone dock in my car, so the phone generally only needs to operate on battery power for a few hours at a time. There are exceptions, but for most of those the 4S still copes and there are battery power cases for the few times they are needed.

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Fingerprint sensors are not new, and they have even made it into phones before, but the 5s one is incredibly advanced. With many fingerprint sensors, you have to roll your finger across them, and the finger has to be in a consistent orientation. With the 5s sensor, all you do is touch, and it offers 360-degree recognition, so it does not matter how you are holding the phone or how you apply your finger.
I love that. But it is not enough. Give me fingerprint-protected NFC, so I can leave my wallet at home and only carry my phone, and I would have been setting up camp outside my local Apple Store. Let me unlock my banking app and Paypal account and I would have been pretty tempted. But just to unlock my phone? Well, that’s a waste of good technology.

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I have been using my phone more and more to take professional photos and that new phone sensor and f/2.2 lens? Ok, Apple, I admit you did tempt me there. While everyone else crams in more and more pointless megapixels to a tiny sensor just so they can put an impressive-sounding number on the box, you actually understand photography. You know that once you have enough megapixels to produce a decent-sized print (and honestly, even 4MP achieves that), what matters is the quality of those pixels. And for quality, sensor size is king. Couple that with a wide-aperture lens to let in as much light as possible and you have a camera that will be incredibly capable in low-light conditions.
The new styling? Hmm, sorry, Jony, it is pretty and all, and you have achieved an absolute miracle in creating a non-tacky-looking gold phone, but I honestly prefer my all-white 4S.

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I also will not be buying one because my nearly two-year-old iPhone 4S still looks new. It still looks modern. It still performs beautifully. The buttons and switch all work perfectly. The attention to detail and manufacturing quality that made it a winner then leave it still a winner today. In short, if I were to walk into a phone store today and buy my 4S, I would be happy with my purchase.
Apple, you got me to upgrade from the iPhone 4 to the 4S. Siri did that. But I will be able to get the iOS 7 goodness just like those who have splashed out on the 5s, and there is nothing else I want enough to join them. In essence, Apple, by creating a quality phone and then allowing me to update it to the latest software two years later, you have cost yourself a sale.
But then that is also the reason I will likely still be a customer many years from now. Long-term, Apple’s strategy is bang on the money.

Winter Veg

Yesterday whilst out with the boys I bought some seeds so as to have some winter crops as I did not want my garden to look to bare after a nice summer crop.
Wayne loves his coriander and rocket, so I made sure I had planted enough, so much so I made use of the larger pots.

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Signed Off

It was my last visit to the fracture clinic today as it was confirmed that they could do nothing else for me, it was only time and exercise now that would heal my ankle.

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Trained Steps

I have done all I can do inside the comfort of my own home and the range of motions are returning and felling less awkward and more like walking, now it is time to put all this rehabilitation back ingot he real world, a walk outside.
I am used to wearing only trainers for running and normally I just wear flat style footwear, that has all got to change now as if I am to venture outside then I am to only do so wearing trainers.
Here goes.

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First Walk

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The day has finally come that I am to walk unaided, no stick, no cam walker, just a few steps on my own.
I am taking it so easy, just a few steps around the flat at first, a walk to the kitchen, bathroom or bedroom but no venturing outside just yet.
It is surprising that in just over ten weeks how the muscles around my ankle have shrunk so much, I now have odd ankles, so to speak.
I felt a bit wobbly, but then that is to be expected and as my left side has been doing most of the work and over compensating then I am going to have to overcome my biggest hurdle, using both legs to do the job they both need to do together.
I have been told to walk using all of my foot, walking from heel to toe on one continuous motion, this does mean slowing right down and almost following through mentally my actions.
This way of walking will put all the correct muscles back into motion and heal together, nothing overworked or underused.
Slowly does it, but I am getting there.

6+4

Well, today it is my return visit to the factor clinic to find out if I am able to return to normal life.
The news is not good, I still have to use the cam walker for a further four weeks due to the healing taking a little longer, oh well I would rather it heal properly than rush it and the repair not be so successful with the possibility of future walking problems.

One Sock

So far this summer we have had some really hot days and also some cooler ones, but I got a feeling that the usual British summer time is not going to last.
I have noticed in my rehabilitation that the change in temperature is affecting my ankle and on colder days I am having to wear one sock on my damaged foot to keep my mobility at maximum and muscle ache at bay.

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No Stick

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Long gone are those pesky crutches, I am now walking about as if nothing had happened, well okay I still have to wear my Cam walker until the 7th of August, when I will find out how well my rehabilitation has gone.

Scooting About

The aid of the Cam walker has been great for me to get my mobility back, however taking it easy to not walk to far was advice given by the fracture clinic and only do as much as I could manage, do not over do it.
So, when it came to doing the regular weeks grocery shop I knew that I would not be able to manage every isle with the gusto I usually have. What made it easy when visiting Asda Burgh Heath was the use of an electric scooter.



You must have seen people on them before and thought how slow they move, but this was not the case for these nippy scooters in Asda. They turn on a sixpence and make getting about your daily shop with absolute ease, the only problem you might face is it could run out of charge as you are not the only user of this scooter throughout the day, as I soon found out.
I had got most of the way around the store when what I thought was too many heavy items in my scooter basket slowing my scooter down, it then happened, the scooter slowed right down to a standstill, but Asda Burgh Heath being such a friendly bunch, it was just a matter of a staff member getting me another charged scooter and transferring over my shopping to the fully charged scooter.

R.I.C.E.

Sooner or later, everyone is going to experience an ankle injury. What you do with that injury could make the difference between an ability to function normally, and a lifetime of chronic pain. The very first thing to remember (even before going to the doctor) is R.I.C.E.

REST: Rest does not mean that you should do nothing with an ankle for days or weeks on end after injuring it. It means that after you sprain your ankle, you need to get off of it right away to prevent further damage. It may mean you need to lay off of sports for a while or get a pair of crutches for a few days. Just remember, studies on football players have shown that injured players who stand on the sideline to watch the game (instead of sitting down), take almost twice as long to get back on the playing field post injury.
ICE: This is a critical step in the healing process. Ice is a vasoconstrictor (as opposed to a vasodilator). In English, this means that ice “constricts” arteriole blood flow at the site of injury and slows down inflammation. Inflammation, contrary to what most people think, is the release of the chemicals that used to be inside of cells, into the extracellular fluid once those cells are injured and die. The inflammatory chemicals attract the fluid into the surrounding area and cause swelling. Some swelling and inflammation is a good thing and actually promotes proper healing. However, too much swelling causes, among other things, a build up of scar tissue. I strongly advise not using anti-inflammatory drugs to deal with swelling because they have been scientifically proven to cause injured ligaments to heal 1/3 weaker, and about 40% less elastic. Not good for preventing recurrence!
COMPRESSION: A bandage or ankle “sleeve” will suffice here. This simply helps keep swelling down.
ELEVATION: Elevation helps keep swelling down as well but only if your ankle is elevated above your heart! Simply propping your foot up in a recliner is not good enough.

Cam Walker

So it has been a few weeks now and I have got used to living my life with crutches, well for the time being anyway.
Today I got a change to my rehabilitation in the way of a Cam Boot.

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Pneumatic Adjustable Inflation medical boots (often called Air Cam Walkers) allow you to inflate an air bladder to the needed compression for increased stabilisation of their injury. Air cast cam walker fracture boots accommodate different swelling patterns that often occur during the recovery process. This gives the ability to adjust the comfort level of the medical boot.
For the first time I can see the full extent of my injury and I can understand why I was in so much pain as it was not just the ankle that was badly bruised but also my calf area.

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Adjustment

Although it is called a “fracture”, an avulsion fracture of the ankle is not a fracture like you are probably thinking of. Ligaments and tendons anchor into bones via microscopic Velcro-like “hooks” called Sharpey’s fibers. When your ankle is twisted violently enough to pull ligaments and tendons off of bones, they usually take a chunk of bone along with. Sometimes these are big enough to show up on x-ray, sometimes they are not. An Avulsion Fracture is simply a Grade III sprain that has pulled tiny chunks of bones away from their attachment points on your bones.
Sometimes these require a cast, sometimes they do not.
My Avulsion Fractures of the ankle required casting for about 3 weeks.

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This is bad news for the injured tissues. Bone is the only tissue in your body that requires immobilisation to heal properly. Soft tissues must have movement to heal properly, otherwise they heal with scar tissue.
So from today I have to make a few adjustments to my working and home life in order to get this problem resolved and for the area to heal better with no long term scar tissue.
The only way I can do this is for no weight to neon my ankle and so for the next few weeks I will have to get used to life with crutches.

Still Swollen

After a night of elevating my ankle and applying an ice pack, this morning I could see there was no change and instead of wasting the time of those at A&E I got an emergency appointment with my local GP to see what I had done to it.
The GP could not do to much for me, other than fast track me for an x-ray.
There was me thinking it was just a severe sprain but the x-ray had confirmed that I had actually broke my ankle.

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Car Park Injury

Todays jog was no different to that of any other that I had done here in the past apart from one thing, the injury that I received when walking back to the car.
I have walked across the same part of the car park many a times and it was only today that I slipped and fell at a strange angle down a rather bad pot hole, one of many that this car park is littered with.

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I knew I had done something quite bad, as the injury caused my ankle to swell up considerably, about the size of a satsuma, barley being able to work on it I limped back to the car where the real shock of the event happened, comparing my ankles I could see the damage and the twisted inward facing foot.
The pain was so bad I could not drive back myself home and Wayne was given a lift to Epsom to retrieve my car for me.

Down In The Dumps

Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and the person looking back was not you?
I have been getting those feelings day after day and today was the breaking point of it all, seeing that fat unhappy man looking back at me.
Because I did not see the weight fall off last year from the jogging then this year had a knock on effect with the lack of enthusiasm for this year.
This year has to be different, I really do have to work at it, I need to be stricter with myself and start off with recording my intake in the way of a food diary. I must get used to drinking more water, it is something I really do not do and should. I think cutting out sugar in drinks will help towards just how many calories I do take in daily, cut back on snacking with those sweets and treats and just treat myself at the weekend as a reward.
I am kind of glad it came to this stage, because it has not just let me know I need to make changes but also my friends around me can see how important this is to me and on days when I am not feeling on top of the world then they know to give a gentle nudge to pick me up.

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Great Bakes

Normally a Wednesday is a day for Wayne and I to go out and spend some quality time together and visit either a historic location, clothes shopping or take in the sights of a new surrounding. Now all this is all well and good if the weather permits, but the typical British weather can be so unpredictable, take todays forecast, the weather was in no fit state to be leisurely strolling about town or countryside.
So today Wayne and I took the opportunity to do some home baking together. Today we jointly made some Florentines and for the first time, some Beetroot bread.
Now all we both have to do is wait for the results.

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Italian Meal Out

The restaurant was Il Laghetto and there was no celebration. Just a spontaneous evening meal out with Wayne's sisters Nikki and Michéle and of course Wayne. The restaurant was excellent, not too big or small and the clientele were all quite refined and lovely. The service was faultless and the food was even better. I would defiantly recommend this restaurant for those meals out that you do not want screaming kids running about or background music overpowering the art of conversation.
I have a feeling I will be coming back here again very soon.

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Wind In Your Face

It is that time of year again to get back into running and after not being out in the fresh air for some time due to the abysmal British weather, now is a time when I have to push myself to get out and feel the wind in my face.
While the allure of the gym with its climate-controlled settings and convenient location is the obvious choice for most runners, especially in winter, science suggests there are more benefits to exercising outdoors that cannot be replicated on a treadmill, bicycle or a track.
You stride differently when running outdoors, for one thing. Generally, studies find, people flex their ankles more when they run outside. They also, at least occasionally, run downhill, a movement that is not easily done on a treadmill and that stresses muscles differently than running on flat or uphill terrain. Outdoor exercise tends, too, to be more strenuous than the indoor version. Comparing the exertion of running on a treadmill and the exertion of running outside, treadmill runners expend less energy to cover the same distance as those striding across the ground outside, primarily because indoor exercisers face no wind resistance or changes in terrain, no matter how subtle.
The same dynamic has been shown to apply to cycling, where wind drag can result in much greater energy demands during 25 miles of outdoor cycling than the same distance on a stationary bike. That means if you have limited time and want to burn as many calories as possible, you should hit the road instead of the gym.

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But there seem to be other, more ineffable advantages to getting outside to work out. In a number of recent studies, volunteers have been asked to go for two walks for the same time or distance, one inside, usually on a treadmill or around a track, the other outdoors. In virtually all of the studies, the volunteers reported enjoying the outside activity more and on subsequent psychological tests, scored significantly higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem and lower on tension, depression and fatigue after they walked outside.
Of course, those studies were small-scale, short-term and only done from two walks. But a study last year of older adults found, objectively, that those who exercised outside exercised longer and more often than those working out indoors. Specifically, the researchers asked men and women 66 or older about their exercise habits and then fitted them all with electronic gadgets that measured their activity levels for a week. The gadgets and the survey showed that the volunteers who exercised outside, usually by walking, were significantly more physically active than those who exercised indoors, completing, on average, about 30 minutes more exercise each week than those who walked or otherwise exercised indoors.
So now all I have to do is get that start off motivation rolling and then the rest should be plain sailing, or in my case, plain running.

No Snacking

I have been thinking how the hell do I get my weight down to something controllable, my weight has been yo-yoing and now all I want to do is get it to a body that I am happy with.
So from today, I am making every effort to cut back on those snacks and sweet treats, eat at regular intervals and make sure I have breakfast, the one thing I miss every day.

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It is early days and I am not craving for anything sweet yet. I am feeling a lot fuller on the fact that I am eating breakfast, if I need a snack then it is some fruit or raw vegetables for me.
So that I do not go down the route of starving my body of all things sweet then I shall do this healthy eating of a weekday and any treats will have to be at the weekend, a bit like when I was a kid and was only allowed sweets and goodies at the weekend, something to look forward to.

Champagne Tea

Over the bank holiday weekend, other than setting up mum and Hayley's new iPads, we all took a breather from the iPads and did the rounds of the local charity shops in Banstead and Reigate. We had mainly good weather apart from one slight down pour that gave us the perfect opportunity to grab a cup of tea and a hot buttered toasted tea cake.

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The day was finished off with a fish and chip supper.
Being the bank holiday we all knew that where ever we decided to go on the Sunday it would be packed and after a failed attempt to check out the new refitted Woodcote garden centre I decided to put on a posh Champagne afternoon tea with sandwiches cakes, tea, coffee and champagne, it gave me a chance to use the superb cake stand that had been bought for my birthday last year.

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All The Pieces

I never found the right case for a past time interest until today when Hayley bough me the perfect bit of kit. Now I can do my jigsaws without taking up all the lounge table.
This handy portfolio case with very sticky inner panels allows for me to lay out all my pieces and also do jigsaws up to 1000 pieces.
I have warmed up with two 250 piece jigsaws and now I am working on a small 500 piece jigsaw that Ian bought me in readiness for the bigger 1000 piece jigsaws that mum and Hayley bought me.

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The Visit

I had not seen my mum and sister for quite sometime and missed the christmas break time last year to see them, so an overdue visit was in order.
Hayley was excited because she was waiting to visit so that she could go to Apple and get her iPad and one for mum too, what they did not relies was that I was going to treat them to an iPad mini each.
After picking them up from Morden, we decided to have a quick break and then head off to Kingston to buy the iPads as this was a bank holiday weekend and getting it done today was the quitest of days to do it, also it would both give them a chance to set up their iPads on the day they needed to rest up after their journey.
After getting mum and Hayley their iPad minis we headed over to John Lewis to get them a case for each of their devices as Apple only sell the smart covers and no protective cases that cover the whole device. Mum at the moment is really into the colour pink and she found the perfect case, Hayley also got the same case but in a nice bright green colour.
We turned this day from just a trip to Apple into a Kingston shopping trip but first was a visit to Montazuma's for a tea and in mine and Wayne's case, a hot chocolate break.
A shopping trip with mum and Hayley would not be complete without Hayley going into two or three shoe shops, strange this time round she did not buy any, she must be to excited about her new iPad.
After doing the usual mooch about the shops in some rather hot weather, we decide to head home and set up both their iPads and give them a chance to rest up before Ian made his debut, oh I do hope Ian remembered the promised peanut brittle for Hayley.

hayley, Wayne, joan @ montazuma 2013

A Year's Worth

After last year’s bad gardening season most new gardeners would have been disheartened and possibly given up, but not me.
Even though I never got the super crop I had expected one thing that has paid off was that of my compost bin. With a few handfuls of someone else’s compost that had those wiggly helper, worms to you and me. I then filled the compost bin up with all manner of garden waste, fruit and vegetable peelings, egg cartons, crushed egg shells, paper, card and let nature take its course. Yesterday when planting some more vegetables and herbs I got to add some of my own compost to this years crop.

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The 2013 Garden

How To Write It?

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I have had lots of days and nights out since my last March entry but one thing I am having a real problem doing is transcribing my events into text. It is not for the lack of how much I have done but, how to best put that into words to make it an interesting read, it is all well and good to add text and images to a blog but if it means nothing it is as good as a blank page.
I took a brave decision to not write anything and leave it until I was ready. Seems like a rash move to make for someone attempting to get his own life down in blog format but, the choice is paying off as that small break has now turned my writers block into time to think how I want to proceed with my blog from now on and also to not make the same mistake again.

Believe It Or Not

It was that time of year that I wanted to get away and have some fun time with Wayne. I was planning on going to Madame Tussauds but, when we got there prior to the opening time we saw the massive queue running down the entire side of the building. I knew that this attraction was popular but did not relies just how popular, I am so glad I did not commit myself to advanced tickets as we would have had no choice but to have waited in the very long queue and on a day that was not particularly warm, if anything it was bitterly cold. I have discovered that this attraction it one of the biggest tourist attractions that London offers and with over 200 people queueing outside before opening hours then I can now see why.
Wayne and I headed to Fortnum & Mason's Fountain restaurant for breakfast, so this minor setback in venue choice meant that breakfast was just a few minutes drive away.
The food was great and the service just as good and though the food was a little expensive it was great to have had the experience to dine at Fortnum & Mason's.
So with Madame Tussauds being off the list of places to visit, I knew of a place just a hop, skip and a jump from Fortum & Mason’s that would be just as adventurous.
A trip to the museum; Ripley's Believe It Or Not.
After a few hours at Ripley's we all headed for China Town for a late buffet lunch.

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Loving LoveFilm Update

I have been so impressed with the service that LoveFilm offered that I decided to upgrade again to a unlimited three disc package and now I get to have one film from all my three lists sent, that means a film we can all watch on our boy’s night in, something scary for Ian and I to scream and jump at and then a list just for me filled with a selection of discs that I am thinking of owning, so best to see if it is worth spending the dosh on.

Loving LoveFilm

I started off with a subscription service of Netflix and after several months of streaming its contents, I was slowly running out of things to interest me, not running out of things to watch, there is plenty to choose from, just finding what’s right for me. So like most of us we look for an alternative and that was when I stumbled on LoveFilm.

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LoveFilm offers the same streaming service as Netflix does but you also have the choice to rent films too. This did not interest me to start with but when I got my HDD Blue Ray player, that all changed.
What was I to do, change my subscription service to only have streaming for both services or ditch one and go for LoveFilm and up my package to include rentals?
I cut my losses and ditched Netflix and went for one provider, that being LoveFilm and upped my package to include unlimited two at a time disc rental and the streaming service. Going for the new package I still have saved money, it worked out cheaper to have this service than it did to run both Netflix and LoveFilms streaming service together.
So this is how it all works…You just search or browse the site to choose the films and TV shows you want to watch. Just click the ‘rent' button when you have found something you are interested in. These go on to your rental lists (if you have more than one list, you choose what list you want it to go onto), where you can prioritise which films you want to receive first. LoveFilm then send them to you first class for free, you watch them and send them back in the prepaid envelope, then your next one will come.
LoveFilm works best with playlists, I guess you are wondering what playlists are inside of LoveFilm. Well, this is how it all works. You can have two or more separate lists. You could, for example, have one for comedy movies and one for horrors and thrillers; or one for children; or one for you and one for your partner. So if you have a package that allows for two films and you have two lists then one film from each list can be sent at the same time or if you have package that allows for more discs at home, this means there will always be something for everyone to watch. It is like several checkouts for each list and the best bit I love is prioritising your film list, you choose what you want to be higher up the list and than those guys and girls at LoveFilm pick from your list of whats back in the vast LoveFilm library. You do not get to pick what films they send you but rather what is higher up the pecking order, this is great as you know more often or not that you are getting something in your high priority list but just not sure what one, call it a lucky dip of your top titles. This, I think keeps renting those films interesting, so planning a film night is gets that little twist.
I have noticed that from the time of dispatch at LoveFilm, to them arriving at your door ready to watch is about a three day turn around, in which I am finding is plenty of time to watch one then send it back and by the time you have watched the next one then another arrives at your door. If you have a package with more than one film then I suggest you get all your discs sent at once then only send one back at a time, this way there is a constant flow of films arriving at your door all the time.

Press And Record

Since TV companies started to show more programs across more channels, it is no longer as simple as tuning into BBC or ITV, there seems to be now plus channels. This is great for choice but also hard to track just what to watch and then what happens when one of your favourite programs clashes with another, what do you watch?
TV broadcasters have brought out catch up apps or watch on demand apps but not everything is always accessible, some programs run the once and then thats it, if you miss then tough luck.
So how do I overcome the vast range of TV programs I want to watch? I found a result today as I purchased a HDD BluRay TV recorder..

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I got to say if you do not have the time to watch as when broadcasted then this is the best solution and what with a great big 500GB hard drive I can record hours of TV that I watch when I want, never to miss another favourite program again. A great feature that I am new to, is the ability to do a series record, one press of a button and then the whole series is recorded, I never miss and episode.

Anthony's 17th Birthday

I will always see Anthony as my younger gaming buddy and even though it is his 17th birthday today he will always to me be little Anthony, you get older but somethings just do not change.
Anthony is a good lad and for his birthday he wanted to learn to drive so everyone has chipped in to buy him some driving lessons.  I think being a smart lad that he is, if he passes his theory test it will not be long before he will be passing his test and on the roads in his own little run around.


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MBW

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I think by now we all know how much Wayne loves his cars and at any given opportunity that he gets to test drive a new car he jumps at the chance, this gave me an idea for last years christmas present as buying gifts for Wayne was getting evermore harder to find something new and original.
Last year I thought that getting Wayne a driving experience at Mercedes Benz World would be just the ticket, but not any old driving experience, I had to get him the works, the complete package with all the circuits, skid pans, wet straights and above all for the whole experience to be recoded all in a sporty AMG.
Even though today was cold, it was a nice clear and bright day and from the short themed video I put together you can see that even the cold weather did not stop Wayne from enjoying himself.

Lunch At The Well House Inn

Wayne and I many years ago had by accident found a little pub called the Well house Inn in Mugswell. From what I remember the food was great, the welcome was friendly and so today we decided to visit it again to see if it was as good today as it was back then.
This place has not changed, its as welcoming and as warm as the real log burring fireplace and the food is great with the extra additions of the chef specials.

Wayne & Jezz @ Well House Inn

Routine & Rhythm

Routine & Rhythm

Since last year's knee injury my running has not been getting the attention it so deserves and I did not got into the routine I so desired. I have not been lazy but motivation has not been my key focus, until now.
Last year admittedly was my first year with regard to running properly with a trainer, the year I am still with my trainer and we are both looking at 2013 to be something that I need to set a realistic goal to push towards to.
This week I stared using the Wii in an aim to get my body into better form in an effort to help in-between runs, something that would also tone and relax my body and hopefully make sure I do not end up with a recurring knee injury, or worse, another injury. Every morning I start with a few easy cardio exercises to wake and warm me up and to also get the blood pumping round my body. I am finding that five sets of Wii tennis is excellent for slowly working you up into a sweat whilst still being easy on the body, you do not have to dart about, just some simple twist and stretch movements.
Sleeping has been a real problem for me for many years but I have noticed that doing a twenty-five minuet Pilates work out of an evening is really helping my body and mind relax and since starting it this week I have had probably the best nights sleep in a long time.
I aways used to enjoy my Pilates classes at the gym, even if I was the only male participant in the class. Pilates is great for so many things and works well as a combination activity. But what is Pilates all about and how does it really help?
Pilates is a form of exercise, developed by Joseph Pilates, which emphasises the balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility, and awareness in order to support efficient, graceful movement. One of the best things about the Pilates method is that it works so well for a wide range of people. Athletes and dancers love it, as do seniors, women rebounding from pregnancy, and people who at various stages of physical rehabilitation.
When I first looked at Pilates I thought it was going to be easy like most onlookers seem to think, it is however exceptionally hard to do even though it looks quite graceful, it is all about getting your balance and posture correct and once you have maintained that then your body goes from a wobbling mess to a posed dignified state.

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Using the Wii balance board to do these exercises really helps as you are guided with your breathing and also your balance, if you pose falters then you are also guided in how to rectify your position. After each exercise you are shown how well you did with your balance and also this information is mapped out on a graph so you can see visually how you did.
When you have done several exercises a few times it is only then do you feel core elements start to kick in, as the flowing movements of balance and breathing work together. I have felt this when I have done a movement incorrectly as I do not feel any benefits, but get in the right pose and you do feel your muscle groups working. With poses such as sun salutation, warrior, downward facing dog and the chair it does make you wonder how such named exercises can really relax you.
I feel so relaxed after I have slowly stretched and got into a slow breathing routine, my mind is also relaxed and calm and providing I do not get excited with a PSN game or late night film then I can go to bed and sleep right though out the night in a calm and relaxed state, often sleeping only to well.

The Boy's Christmas

Christmas day started off with a nice creamy latte and a toasted 'New York Deli' onion bagel filled with salmon.

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I needed to make sure that the right presents were opened in the right order and big main presents left till last, so I distributed the presents out from under the tree and laid them out in groups, this made unwrapping them still fun and exciting but in a way that meant the lead up to the larger presents did not contain any spoilers.
Right, unwrap time.

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Advent Day One

Today we are also going to put up the tree and decorate it and this year I have opted for a small table top pink tree, something to add a bit of campness to an already camp household. At the moment the tree looks very bare, but I know that with a few tree decorations and the gathering of all the presents it will soon look very festive.

Bare Xmas Tree

That's A Wrap

I am ahead of schedule and today is the last day of wrapping up the Christmas presents for friends and family. I have been buying incidental gifts through out the year that would make great stocking fillers for anyone, but I have left the main present buying set out for the whole of October and November, not too late but also not too early, plenty of time for the possibility of delivery delays.
Thankfully this year I have only had two gifts that were of an awkward shape to wrap but after looking about I found two boxes that the gifts fitted in nicely. I dare say the weeks, days and hours of shopping and wrapping will end in less that an hour of unwrapping.

Presents

Wardrobe Detox

I have no qualms about going through my wardrobe and giving my unused, do not fit clothes to charity, but on the odd occasion some items are just to good to give to charity and normally at this stage it is a case of do I eBay them or not?
Do I save them incase one day I may just fit right back into them?

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It is normally just before the summer and winter that I have a clear out and find out what does actually fit and if I do get rid of those items, I can then refresh my wardrobe with some newer and better fitting clothes, well that is my excuse.
I had several items that I did not want to eBay and for many months now I have also not given them away to charity, I could hardly say that I would even get back into them again either as I had really put on to much weight and the chances of me being a waist size thirty-two again was over optimistic. They also held a sentimental value to them too, so if I was going to get rid of them then I would have to give them to someone who would appreciate some nice clothes, all be it hand me downs.
I could only think of one person who would not only be the right size but also appreciate some nice worn once clothes, that being Anthony.
He came over and tried them all on and only one of the items did not fit, but he walked away with some nice items today and I can be rest assured that they will be well looked after and get the wearing they so deserve.

iSunday Roast

I think when someone decides to treat Wayne and myself to a home cooked Sunday roast as a part bribe for wanting some technical Apple support, I am quite happy with that.
Michele and Anthony have always put on a great Sunday roast and from the remains of what was left on my plate, you can see why.
You can win me over any day with bread sauce, stuffing, pigs in blankets and roast potatoes.

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Birthday Bash

For the last few years birthdays have been a restaurant affair where a group of us get together at a local Beefeater for a few hours of food, drinks and merriment. This year however I changed to a more personal affair and kept it low key.
After my 40th birthday last year with those great fireworks I wanted to blend bonfire nights and my birthday for the forceable future, so this year I made use of the great garden space we have here at home it was the perfect space to have a few fireworks and then a cosy surroundings to have a bite to eat and a drink, far more personal than a large typical birthday gathering, that in its own rights can be fun for bigger birthday celebrations.

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Though my birthday was not until the 6th, Sunday was a day that would make it easier for everyone who could attend without the worry of it being a school night, so Sunday lent itself to being more of a relaxing environment rather than an extra commitment.
I invited Anthony, Michele, Kelly, Debbie, Simon, Andrew and Wayne and started off the night with a few drinks whilst everyone was arriving and it also gave me some time to set up the fireworks.

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Organised as ever I set the night out starting off with getting into the spirit of it all with everyone playing with sparklers. It is funny how waving a few sparklers around in the air reduce adults into a child like state.

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I have discovered that if you go to smaller garden centres and leave it until a week before bonfire night, that fireworks on sale become so much cheaper and in many cases better than half price, okay yes you run the risk of not getting the best choice but if like me and you are prepared to visit several garden centres then you can get a good selection and varied display. I did get one selection box of fireworks from the supermarket just to space out the display with colour and more ground level fireworks but the rest of the display was going to be big bangs and explosions with a final dramatic firework to finish the night off.

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In todays day and age it seems to be geared towards barrage style fireworks that you light, stand back and let them do all the work. They contain a selection of bangs, explosions, bright lights, whizzing sounds and usual consist of a dozen or more rounds, ideal for home use but with the performance of a professional display.
This year I never did the party bags that my guests have come to love, but instead I made sure that the fireworks would be accompanied by lots of sweet treats, cake and some classic old school treats, toffee apples aways go down a treat.

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I defiantly got my moneys worth of fireworks and next year when I have another display I will know what fireworks to look out for, what ones turned out to be the real crown pleasers. I will certainly look out for the 'Devils Wrath' and the 'Spooky Spiders and Snakes', they really filled the sky with lights and bangs.

Winter Warmer

There are three problems in a runners life, running in the height of summer, running in the cold winter and then there is injury.
Despite all our best attempts, injuries still occur when running or jogging and much as we try to avoid them for fear of breaking a training cycle, sometimes it just cannot be helped.
Take for example running in hot weather can negatively affect your performance with overheating and dehydration.

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Overheating is the result of inadequate cooling; when the body cannot keep up with the demands of evaporation of water from your skin. When the body heats up internally, it starts to sweat and sends more blood to the skin where it is cooled by coming into contact with the relatively cooler skin. However, while running, your body's demand for oxygen to the muscles means less blood will flow to the skin and this is when overheating occurs. And thus begins the tug-of-war within your body, especially if you want to keep up a certain pace. Either the blood (and oxygen) goes to your muscles to keep up with the pace demands and you start to overheat because less blood is going to the skin for cooling, or the blood goes to the skin for cooling, but less blood goes to your working muscles meaning you'll be forced slow down.
Dehydration is the process of losing fluid from the body, in this case through sweat. As you sweat you lose water and electrolytes. That's why drinking a sports drink containing electrolytes, as well as water, is so important. Because running in the heat exacerbates both overheating and dehydration, it is important to take precautions when running in the heat.
I have managed to use the lighter nights and extend running times to a cooler time but now one thing that is very new to me is that of running in the winter months.

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Falling temperatures and fewer daylight hours does not mean that your outdoor running routine has to go into hibernation for the winter. Running in cold weather can help shake those winter blues, boost your energy level but comes at a different pace.
There is nothing like a good run on a nice, crisp, sunny day. When the weather is perfect, not too hot, not too cold and your body is comfortable, your breathing is easy, and the sun feels warm on your face. These are the days when you love being a runner.
But then winter hits. You lace up your running shoes and go out for your usual run, and it is so cold your chest hurts when you inhale, and to top it off, the freezing wind dries out your skin. It is these cold winds that drive you indoors to either use your trusty treadmill or worse, makes you hibernate for the whole of the winter and fatten up just like the Christmas turkey only to have to start all over again in the new year.
Personally I am finding that after I got used to breathing in cold air and using my inhaler to help stop the cold air from forcing my breathing into a struggle. Running in colder weather pushed me further as my body wanted to run to keep warm and intern helped me cover a little more distance.
If anything my old knee injury is the problem to running in the colder months. I just need to keep that injury warm and then that will not be the excuse to not running this winter.

Ear Ache

This year I have had my run of bad luck with several ear infections and yet again before the year is out I have managed to get another one. I am not quite sure why I am suffering so much with them but one thing that it is effecting me more than anything else is my running, my sense of balance is all out of whack and makes running hard and sometimes gives me a very giddy feeling.
Oh well, no doubt I am destine for another ear infection later towards the colder months, but for now I will just learn to cope and live through it as best I can and not let it effect my running to much. Something I need to keep an eye on and maybe an investigation might get to the route of the problem.

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Other Areas

Today I have been working on my website, catching up on areas that have been neglected over the last few weeks and in updating my site, I have learnt a thing or two that I wanted to pass onto my readers.
I have learnt about the new iOS6 iPhone software update and a few tips and tricks, these can all be found if you head on over to the 'iPhone - iPad Plus' section on this website.
Have fun.

It Is A Hoax. Really, It Is.

I was shocked the other day to find that my best loved mobile application 'WhatsApp' was having problems and unlike most I did not just forget about it and wait for someone else to deal with it, just in case it was true.
I contacted the developers to find out if this was a hoax or the real deal and within a few hours I found out it was all an elaborate hoax. So I wanted to share with you what the developers at WhatsApp have to say to reassure those who may have got this hoax message.

“We have been getting a lot of emails and questions from you about this chain letter message circulating in our network:
WhatsApp is going to cost us money soon. The only way that it will stay free is if you are a frequent user i.e. you have at least 10 people you are chatting with. To become a frequent user send this message to 10 people who receive it (2 ticks) and your WhatsApp logo should turn Red to indicate a frequent user.
Please understand that this is a hoax and there is no truth to it. While we are flattered that we made it to Hoax Slayer, we would rather work on cool new features instead of debunking silly stories like these.

UPDATE: this is a hoax message as well:

Whatsapp is shutting down on 28th jan Message from Jim Balsamic (CEO of Whatsapp) we have had an over usage of user names on whatsapp Messenger. We are requesting all users to forward this message to their entire contact list. If you do not forward this message, we will take it as your account is invalid and it will be deleted within the next 48 hours. Please DO NOT ignore this message or whatsapp will no longer recognise your activation. If you wish to re-activate your account after it has been deleted, a charge of 25.00 will be added to your monthly bill. We are also aware of the issue involving the pictures updates not showing. We are working diligently at fixing this problem and it will be up and running as soon as possible. Thank you for your cooperation from the Whatsapp team”


Both of these messages seem to be doing the rounds and sooner or later someone will be held responsible for their actions. Okay yes it is great publicity on one side for WhatsApp but on the other it is also not a nice message to receive and our only combat to stop this is to DELETE the message. If you respond in the hope to get a resolve then you are wasting your time, if anything you are giving your information to probably some robot to distribute your now known active mobile number to other scammers and fraudsters.
My advice to any kind of message like this wether it be from WhatsApp or someone telling you they have thousands of pounds waiting for you to claim from your mis-sold PPI, the only way to combat this is to DELETE, DELETE, DELETE.
One day our data and information will be our own, until then companies will sell your information on and only we can put a stop to it.

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Had To Run

As you can see from the lack of diary entries something must have happened. Well, it is that time of year when most get the dreaded cough, cold, sore throat or a combination of all three. Luckily for me it was only my friends around me who suffered and all I seemed to have picked up was a slight cough, but still it interrupted my jogging routine.
Last night I pushed myself to go out and with all my efforts I managed to push myself further and beat my last marker that was set two weeks ago. I take it I must be improving.

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From Flower To Pea

Growing vegetables in a pot is excellent but you do not get to see to much of what you are growing until it is time to harvest the fruits of your labour. I wanted to grow some kind of green beans of some but was not quite sure whether to grow green beans, runner beans, broad beans or just regular garden peas, so I settled for mange tout which happens to be something both Wayne and myself enjoy.
I love watching my fruit and vegetables growing from my garden and it is great to watch them grow out of the ground, flower and then from the flower grows your fruit and vegetable, just amazing.
Not long now before I will have a tasty crop of mange tout.

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Shanghai Acrobats

Borrowing heavily from traditional Chinese circus but projecting a modern twist with its marvellous two hour extravaganza, originally directed by Cirque Du Soleil’s Guy Caron, combines acrobatics, modern dance, original music, martial arts and many other Chinese elements in an amazing adventure, with plenty of gasp-worthy moments for the audience. I can only put it into words as a total experience.

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The story centres around a little girl who awakes to the sound of a noisy Shanghai street. In a half-dreamy state, she starts to imagine being an acrobat and gets taken into the world of the acrobat and begins to participate.
Because it is Cirque du Ciel (circus of the sky) then there is a lot of aerial stuff going on I particularly loved the dramatic silks where a girl just plunges from the gods down towards the stage, a drop of 30ft or more, just fantastic stuff.

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The show used a mixture of recorded music and an onstage drummer, I thought the choice of music really helped the show create an atmosphere and the energy of the drummer was brilliant.

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We sat there stunned to see the talents of a girl who contorts and stretches her body through yet-to-be-invented angles while supporting herself on one hand at the top of a six-foot high pole; a ballerina who stands en pointe on top of her partner’s head and then the skills of à la the Guandong Acrobatic Troupe; a posse of young men who leap through hoops and fling each other across the stage with somersaults, twists and impossible landings and who were an inexhaustible supply of wonder.

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More sedate, but arguably the highlight of the whole evening, were the charming canton of girls with their diabolos. You’ve probably seen buskers at Covent Garden hurl their overgrown yo-yos high in the air and catch them on their bits of string to great applause. But have you seen them do a bit of skipping and a couple of somersaults while waiting for it to come back down and more breathtakingly in unison?

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The whole show just took my breath away and left me wanting more, a great afternoon spent in Kingston Rose theatre with Wayne.

Wisley Gardens

Wayne and I spent the day at Wisley Gardens, near Woking in Surrey.
It was a great day out and the sunshine was with utmost of the day and I got to build up my portfolio as I just took lots of photos as usual. We had a bite to eat in a cafe prior to visiting the glasshouse and after a long enjoyable day we headed back via the gift shop, of course a day out would not be complete without a wander or purchase or two.

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Brighton Day Trip

Wayne and I, along with his sister Nikki drove down to Brighton for the day.
We had a fabulous time and the day started off with a drink in the Poison Ivy in St. James Street. This was then followed by a stroll through the North Lanes and also some time down by Brighton Marina, we built up a right appetite and so stopped off for lunch at Carats cafe in Shoreham.

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Brighton is not Brighton without a walk on the Pier and some time spent popping a few pounds in the arcade, much to the delight of Wayne as both Nikki and I was feeding the slots to win prize tickets for Wayne and also to hear the sound of coins dropping over the teetering edge.
Had hot donuts and a refreshing cup of tea finished the day off nicely.

Chilli

Some plants seem to survive on little or no sunlight, but there was me thinking that a Chilli plant needed plenty of sunlight.
Looks like my Chilli plant has proved me wrong, as it has produced some succulent specimens.

chilli7

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Today Wayne and I visited Woodcote nurseries to see its yearly show of classic and vintage cars. This particular show has gone from strength to strength and is now firmly established as a friendly event for local car enthusiasts and anyone else with an interest.
The show is free to attend, so even more of a reason to get a chance to see vehicles from throughout the ages, there is a few local stalls selling cakes and drink with all proceeds going to the aid of St. Raphael's Hospice.
So all in all, a good day out.

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Misty

Some of us suffer with a lack of sleep due to not being able to lay our heads on the pillow and just drop off to sleep. I have to listen to some kind of relaxing music through a pillow speaker or binaural beats in my headphones to slowly send me off to that land of Nod.
I have discovered a range of products and in particular a mist spray that claims to help you relax and give you a better nights sleep. At first I was a little sceptical whether or not it would work. It was sold by Avon and when I found out I had a local rep, then I had to give it ago, luckily for me at the time it was on offer, so I thought why not give it ago, nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that.

avon_sleeptherapy_pillow_mist

After just a few days of using this mist spray, I noticed a significant difference and getting to sleep was a lot easier and also the quality of sleep was consistent to the point that I slept through the whole of the night.
Now I am not going to say that these products will cure sleep problems because they will not, but they do have a relaxing scent that helps you unwind and relax before and while in bed, so I am thinking if you go to bed stress free chances are your sleep will improve.
For me the scent is comforting and something I now do nightly.

Formal Thank you

It is nice when someone appreciates the work you have done and for most people they get a simple thank you which is always appreciated and goes a long way.
After all the hard work done on the CYC garden, today I got a pleasant surprise in the post with a formal thank you letter from St.Georges.

Tom

We have had a bad summer this year, however one crop has grown despite the lack of sun and today I am noticing that the once green flowery stalks of the tomato plant has now started to produce fruit.

1st_tomoato

From Bracelet To Necklace

For the best part of last year, both Wayne and myself started to collect Pandora bracelet charms and it was not long before we had filled up one bracelet and started on another.
I had been collecting silver charms for my first bracelet and then on my second bracelet I had decided to only collect Murano glass, so as to have a bracelet with a splash of colour.
To my surprise, today Wayne bought me a Pandora necklace with a selection of charms to add to my collection.

pandora_set_edit

Three Men In A Boat

Today Wayne and I saw the play 'Three Men In A Boat'.
The three men in question are J (Jerome.K. Jerome), George, and Harris. Archetypal ‘home counties’ chaps in blazers, the three pals plan to take a boating holiday, along with Montmorency the dog (who is played by an ornament, brought occasionally to life by a canine sound effect).

3_men_artwork

The quite original premise of this adaptation is that the characters are aware of the audience’s presence, as we are there to listen to a talk on the River Thames. Throughout the production, there are several knowing looks and comments to tell us that the characters are aware they are in a play.
This production of the story also adds an extra character in the form of Nelly the pianist. Played by Sue Appleby, who is also the Musical Director, Nelly is vocally mute, but provides music throughout the story, effectively reflecting the mood and pace of each scene or anecdote.
Alistair Whatley plays the character of ‘J’ and is interestingly also the founder of the theatre company, and the Artistic director. Whilst the other actors play a variety of roles Whatley plays only this character, and acts as our main narrator. Whilst not the strongest singer of the trio, Whatley has a commanding stage presence.

3-men_in_a_boat

Christopher Brandon plays George, and is notable for his strong singing voice and hilarious character acting, including his portrayals of both the whistling old man at the graveyard and the snooty German cat. Lastly, Tom Hackney’s Harris is the endearing and rather simple member of the group. His physicality and facial expressions were very amusing, as was his melodramatic Scots landlord character.
Despite a few small stumbles over the words, the production was generally well rehearsed and choreographed, with the inclusion of some physical comedy. The set stays same all way through, with imaginary changes of scenery aided by props. This works very effectively, and includes the boat made out of pub furniture, and a shared bed created by holding up a large sheet in front of the actors.
The music hall songs in the production were very good, but it would have been nice to hear some more in the first act. Thankfully, there were a few more in the second act, including a beautiful song about a lost love, that is sung when the body of a woman is seen on the bank. This is a total change of tone to the rest of the play, but works incredibly well, with just Brandon’s voice at first, then with an accompanying accordion.
This production tries to mix the traditional with the modern. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it does not. Some of which are very funny, such as a ‘generation game’ style memory game or the ricochet bullet that hits Nelly. However, others strike the wrong tone. The ‘Titanic’ spoof did not work. The end of the performance was camped up to the song ‘Rock the Boat’ which was a great finishing touch.
This production works best when it celebrates traditional roots, whilst remaining knowing and tongue-in-cheek. Overall, it is a highly enjoyable play, but it is a strange hybrid that does not seem entirely sure what it is, and sadly in some places not all the different elements quite fit together.
Nevertheless, the cast and company are undoubtedly talented, and this adaptation is largely successful. I would certainly go along to another of their productions with interest.

Makeover

Clearly my efforts in just tidying up the garden has caused a massive impact on both the patients and staff, that at the CYC patients steering groups meeting a request has been put forward that the garden could do with a makeover rather than just a tidy up.
I am up for a challenge.

No Support

It has been for many a month that my jogging has needed a little support, I mean support with my recovering knee injury.
I visited my doctor for a check up on the progress of it's healing and have now found out that there is a next step in the recovery procedure which is the removal of the knee support when jogging.
The knee support was there to protect the knee from further damage in it's early stages but now that the knee has repaired the affected muscle groups then the next stage is to strengthen those muscle groups and to do this will mean doing away with the knee support over the course of the next three months.

knee_support

My jogging program now means that on every other run I need to wear a support and this has to be put in place as part of my jogging routine for the next few months and by the end of the year I will only need my knee support in the colder months.

Fuzzy Face

I like small changes about myself every so often just to keep things interesting, so I'm starting to grow a little face fuzz.
I will update this post when I have something to show for it.

Green In The Garden

When I started my garden some items that I was growing may need the use a cloche.
Cloches come in a variety of designs and are used for protecting plants from the cold, frosts and pests. A garden cloche differs from greenhouses and cold frames in that cloches are placed over plants in their existing position, unlike cold frames and greenhouses which require the plants to be potted up and placed inside.

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At the time I wanted my garden to be aesthetically pleasing as much as it was practical so I opted for not using any cloches, until now.
Thinking that because I had a small and contained space that I would not be prone to much in the way of pests, has well been proved wrong that is to say it is not the case and if you have got something growing that the snails, slugs and caterpillars like to eat they will do their darn best to eat it.
I am lucky that I have a gravel bed to put my containers on, that greatly reduces the slugs and snails as they do not like to crawl along that kind of surface, however it does not stop those pesky leaf munching caterpillars.
I have been reading up on how to make the most of your garden and how to still keep it looking good as well as protecting it. Placing cloches over crops do more than just protect it, if anything they stimulate the plants into flowering so they produce a crop as early as possible.
Next year I will take on Ian's advice in order that my crop will be different in the fact that I am aiming for a good yield of munch free produce and I can still do this in a way that my garden can look great on the eye to.
I guess it goes to show that not everything in the garden is green and pleasant.

green_muncher

Return To Courtyard Garden

Today was the return to the Courtyard Clinic to finish off the tidy up. It was nice to see that on arriving the garden was getting used, glad that the weather was good for those to use the garden to its full potential, beats looking at four grey walls.

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Wonky Jog

It seems to be on a yearly basis that I get one blocked ear and more often or not followed by an ear infection, this is normally remedied by a trip to the nurse at my local G.P. and having my ears syringed.
There are two main categories of ear infections that adults can develop, acute middle ear infections and outer ear infections. Most ear infections in adults are outer ear infections (otitis externa), but middle ear infections (otitis media) can occur.
Otitis Externa is sometimes called 'swimmer's ear' because it is common among swimmers. It occurs when contaminated water enters the outer ear allowing germs to grow and thrive due to warm, moist conditions, also letting shampoo and soaps enter the ear when showering.
Symptoms of swimmer's ear include: ear redness, itchiness inside the ear, flaking of the skin on the ear, pain when moving the head or touching the ear and also sometimes a fever may develop.
Swimmer's ear is fairly easy to diagnose and usually treated with antibiotic ear drops. Sometimes pus and debris will need to be cleaned out by your physician. You can prevent swimmer's ear by using ear plugs before swimming or bathing, gently drying your ears with a blow dryer on the lowest setting after swimming or bathing, not inserting objects in the ears, and not swimming in polluted water.

ear

Well, times have changed and for some reason, they say for safety this has come to a stop as long term damage can be caused by this method, or at least only as a last resort.
I know that having your ears syringed can make you feel a little disorientated so after the procedure and on many occasions I have had to sit in the surgery waiting room until I felt right to walk.
I did not know that having an ear infection would give off similar symptoms and I only found out today after my jog in the park with Ian.
Tonight my jog came to an abrupt end as I felt so giddy that it made me sick.
Thankfully this problem is easily treated and for the next seven days I am taking an antibiotic ear spray.

Courtyard Clinic Makeover

Last year the Courtyard clinic needed volunteers to work on the garden that is situated in the centre of the courtyard clinic itself. However no interest was shown and as a result the Courtyard garden went from looking nice and green and full of life to a somewhat overgrown state.

before_makeover

Since being a new member to the Courtyard Steering group this year I was approached by Wendy Mejewska, as she had heard that I was an enthusiastic gardener and after hearing about my efforts in transforming my own garden she then asked if I would undertake the Courtyard Clinic's garden.
A few hours a month would not hurt in getting this garden into shape and transform this overgrown area back to its former glory.
Within just a few hours of back breaking work, this area was transformed from a space you could hardly sit in, due to its overgrown nature, to now a space that you would love to be in.

seating_area

I noticed that just within a few hours of clearing the garden entrance and seating area that people were starting to venture out into the garden. One gentleman said to me "It's nice to finally be able to come out here and make a phone call, before it has been so overgrown I could hardly get out here, keep up the good work, it is looking great". Just those few words were enough to make me realise that this area is used and more so required by the patients, but because of the lack of maintenance this has never been possible, until now.

cutting_down_overgrown_trees

After clearing the seating area I worked on giving the garden a trim and letting some light back into the garden and discovering that the garden had its own water supply, this gave us a chance to give the garden what it had been after for such a long time; life.

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I gave the paved area a good clean, bringing up the once grubby paved area to a now revitalised look.

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Hopefully with a few visits every other month should be able to get this garden back to its former glory and more.

Peas And Then Some

We have not had to good a summer, in fact a very late summer, the sun has only seemed to have come out over the last few days and this has really affected the fruit and vegetables I have been trying to grow. It has not just been myself that has been affected but also the garden centres too, as the selection of root stock has just not been there.
Well, as all gardeners do, they persevere and get on. I did just that and uprooted what failed to grow and got on with planting more hardy fruits and vegetables.
My garden now sees some new additions in the way of Garlic planted from cloves, mixed coloured Carrots from seed, two lots of Rosemary from plants and some Mangetout from seed. Also as the Lilies have finally come to the end of their flowering cycle they were replaced with some Pansy's and Winged Tobacco.

MangeTout & Pea Pole Week1

Pansys & Winged Tabacco

Tesco Direct

First experiences need to go without a hitch in order for you to use a service again, it is a shame that my first experience with Tesco Direct was not all met with smiles and joy, if anything it proved to be a real pain.
The actual ordering online went without a glitch and as advised some two hours later an email confirmation told me when my order was ready for collection, I had opted for the instore collection rather than deliver, thinking that would be the best option and also not having to wait around all day for my five minute window.
I had to borrow Wayne's car to collect my compost bin as the dimensions were to wide for my car, that was problem number one, but soon resolved, we got it in the back of the car with the seats down, just.
Now I do not expect staff to move collections from out the back to the customers in a perfect fashion and as most items are well packed it does then lend for items to be shunted across the floor, in most cases, unless you order a compost bin. The item had nothing more than some tape holding the lid to the body and as the item was so light I expect it to be lifted but instead it was scraped across the floor that did so much damage to the lid that aesthetically is was a write off. When you order a new product you expect for it to be in pristine condition, if I had ordered it second hand then, and only then can I expect scuffs from general wear and tear.
This was just one of the problems that I noticed when I got the item home, the other was the badly designed lid that had a section missing, not a good start to my first experience.

Compost Bin

I had no intention of returning the whole item back to the store at my inconvenience so instead I made it their inconvenience.
The only way for me to resolve this was to send an email with photos and explaining of the poor first experience that I encountered, in a hope to have a new lid and at least give Tesco some feedback in the service that they seem to think is good quality.
Several emails later and a lot of automated responses from Tesco's had taken its toll and I finally I had enough so I called them direct to resolve the issue.
Put it this way, even though I now have a new bin lid one thing I will not do is use Tesco Direct ever again or for that matter recommend them.

Something Hot, Something Sweet

The garden has really been coming on in leaps and bounds and my motivation for doing more only gets stronger the more I see it grow. I wanted to get the best out of my garden and give it everything it needed to help it grow and installing the water butt, this helped as what could be better for feeding the plants but with good old fashioned rain water? The next thing that my plants needed was some good structure for their roots and so far I have used nothing more than organic compost and absolutely no chemicals in deterring the pests and bugs, if anything I have used common sense and plant know how to rid my crop of unwanted guests.
What else could I do to help my crop?
What could be better than your very own compost, you know what is going into it and you are doing your bit to not fill up the landfill.
I looked online and noticed that prices varied from £20 to £190 and I wondered what was I paying for? The bin was merely a container that would house rotting vegetation, worms and organisms that would break down food, plant and vegetable waste. Finally I made my choice and with some help from Ian, who gave me some of his home made compost to kick start mine off, it is now down to nature to take its course over the coming months.

Compost Bin

With the compost bin now in place doing its job just like the water butt does, there only problem is they both look unsightly in such a small garden, in a big garden they would have fitted right in, water butt at the front end of the garden and hidden away in back would be the compost bin. So for me to overcome this problem and to also use up dead space, I planted the Tayberry close to the water butt and I am training them to grow up and along the wall.

Training The Tayberries

I have done something similar to disguise the compost bin. Two plants that will fill each of their growing space, a Chilli Pepper and a Sweet Pepper.

Chilies

Sweet Peppers

Another addition to my garden are some Tomatoes that Ian has been growing for the past few weeks in his greenhouse, making sure they were strong enough to be planted outside.

Tomatoes

Plums And Tayberries

I have been looking for a nice Victoria Plum tree and some Tayberries to finish off garden and today Ian came up trumps as he brought over a Plum tree and a Tayberry bush.

Tayberry Week 6 - 3

Victoria Plum Week 6 - 4

As usual, it was planted with all the love and care that a dedicated gardener usually shows on his crop but these two plants had some extra special 'Natures Own Potting Compost'.
A lot of time and effort has gone into this small plot of space in a very short time and already signs of that care are blooming with the lovely bright yellow lilies.

Lillies Week 6 - 2

Hopefully it will not be to long before I start to harvest my first crop, just to think that only six weeks ago these black tubs had a sprinkling of seeds, rich compost and some water and now look at them.

The Garden Week 6 - 1

Chessington And Chinese

After last Saturdays trip to Chessington Garden Centre, I was so impressed that I suggested that Wayne should visit there for a good look about and also a spot of lunch.
Other than garden essentials, there is also a big range of car things to, Wayne was in his element.
Kelly came over tonight for a Chinese takeaway and for us to show her that Chinese food was more than just chicken ball in sweet and sour sauce.

chinese_takeaway

100 Miles

Today was the day I hit the 100 mile mark.

100miles

Slowly but surly I have been jogging at Epsom Downs, Epsom Stew Ponds, Beddington Park and Horton using the Nike+ GPS iPhone application and on the odd occasion the Nike+ Sportsband combined with the sensor that fits snuggly in or on your shoe.
Today after a jog on the treadmill and a jog round Beddington Park I finally hit a massive milestone of 100 miles.
Not bad after only 37 runs and just 13,822 calories burned, this is just the start or things to come.

Apple And A Coffee

I knew that this would be a wise investment for me. AppleCare Protection Plan extends my Mac's 90 days phone support and one year warranty to up to three years. No sweat, no worry!
I have waited this long to get the additional cover, as in the 90 days I only used the phone support three times. I think it is for more peace of mind that if anything did go wrong then not only would the cost of the labour be covered but also parts too.

apple_care

For £139 it is a real deal, I just wish other companies were like Apple in this way because in the past the only reason why I have not ever bought an extended warranty is only due to the fact the warranty has been either more expensive than the actual product or nearly as expensive.
So today I made my way over to Kingston and purchased my apple care protection.
Whilst at Kingston I also wanted to add some flavour to my coffee, I wanted to make my so much loved mocha at home, but found out that after a lot of looking about for chocolate syrup, it is something that is near impossible to buy and yet every coffee house uses it. This might be due to that fact that the coffee syrups used are by a company called 'Monin' and tend to only supply to big drinks companies, bars and clubs. So finding a stockist is something that can only be done online, a route I will have to go down another time.

monin

I asked all the big department stores and also popped into Waitrose hoping they might stock it. Everyone stocked some kind of coffee syrup but no one stocked the chocolate syrup, that is when I stumbled on Costa coffee who had two syrup Monin selection packs and then lo and behold Whittards did their own range too.
Okay it is not quite chocolate syrup, but I have a whole range of other flavours to start me off and to give my taste buds an idea of what's to come.
In my search through many a shop, someone did suggest that I use a good quality chocolate powder or even better chocolate flakes would do just the same job as a syrup and would be something that would be easier to get hold of.
Luckily Wayne had spotted the connoisseur of chocolate flakes 'Charbonnel & Walker' and with this I have been making near to perfect Mocha coffees.

Charbonnel & Walker

'Chocolat Charbonnel' recreates the use of real chocolate as a drink. Traditionally in English Chocolate Houses it was a mixture of chocolate and water only, however, for today’s taste a richer drink is now made with milk.

Well, Fill My Butt

For a few weeks now, I have had an array of help from my good friends and slowly but surely getting the once overgrown area into what is now a place to grow my own veg.
Today was the finishing touches to complete what work needed to be done, an instillation of guttering and a water butt.
Michael my very handy man, or as we like to call him, our craftsman, rigged up some guttering in a jiffy and then the water butt connector to collect some much needed rain water.
A few hours and a screw here and there and it was completed and all I now need, is a little rain water.

guttering_&_waterbutt

Break! Break!



Today saw the first time in three years, some tinkering to my car.
Whilst driving home yesterday, a very kind motorcyclist flagged me over to say that none of my break lights were coming on. When I got home to check them it was an intermittent problem, was it a short in the trunk, oh perfect opportunity for the 9 to 5 sketch: Police officer notices the cars break blinking:
(*po-Police Officer, vn-Violet Newstead, jb-Judy Bernly, dr-Doralee Rhodes)

po-Evening, ladies. May I see your license and registration?
vn-Why? I wasn't speeding.
po-Your taillight is blinking.
vn-It is?
po-Are your signals on?
vn-No.
po-There must be a short in the trunk.
vn-A short in the trunk?
vn-We've got a short in the trunk.
po-Probably a defective wire. Want to take a look?
vn-Do we want to take a look?
dr-No. We can’t. We don't have time.
vn-We're on an emergency.
dr-That's right. She's a doctor.
po-You're a doctor?
vn-You think I'm a beautician?
po-I didn't see the badge. What's wrong?
vn-I’m taking this woman to the hospital, and she's very sick.
po-Which one of you is sick?
jb-I am.
dr-She is.
vn-They're both sick.
po-What is that you're hiding there?
jb-This?
po-Yes.
vn-It's rat poison.
dr-She ate it.
po-What?
vn-She ate the rat poison. That's why they're sick.
po-You ate rat poison?
jb-I thought it was Skinny and Sweet. It looks just like it...except for the skull and crossbones. Can we go now, officer? I'm not feeling well.
vn-She's not well. I've got a dying woman, and you want to look in the trunk?
po-I'm sorry, doctor.
vn-If we don't make it, you're responsible.
po-Don't worry, I'll give you an escort.
dr-An escort.
vn-He's going to give us an escort. Lord.
po-Follow me.
vn-Forget it, Man, we can’t wait!

Well, after phoning Peugeot, Croydon and being told it would cost over £130 just for them to look at it, Wayne started to phone around for a mobile mechanic and came across Mo-Tech advertised in Yell.com.
Mo, was great, told us the part to get and then arranged to come round today to fit it. The service was brilliant and he was quick, clean and very professional and also a very polite, a quality not often found in a mechanics.
Job done and all fixed for less than £40 including parts.

IMG_0257

WWDC 2012

Every Apple lover’s favourite time of the year has arrived. June 11 marked the first day of the Worldwide Developers Conference, and after weeks of rumours and speculation, we finally found out what Apple had in store for us.
With the kickoff of WWDC in San Francisco, Apple has announced the availability of their next major version of OS X: Mountain Lion. It will be available in July for £12.88 from the Mac App Store.
This version of OS X bridges the gap between iOS and Apple’s line of computers even more by bringing in elements that were formerly found only in iOS. What this means is a tighter integration of data for those that use an iPhone, iPad, and a Mac with 200 new features.
Apple announced its upcoming OS X operating system, Mountain Lion.

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Available for Lion users as a beta, the final version of Messages will be available preinstalled on all Macs with Mountain Lion.
Messages is the upgraded version of iChat, but now you will be able to send and receive unlimited messages from anyone with an iPhone or iPad (running iOS 5), and Mac. You can send text or photos, videos, documents, and even contacts through Message; the ability to send out a group message is built-in too.
Similar to BlackBerry Messenger, users can see when their message has been delivered and whether someone has read the message (if enabled), or if they are working on a reply. You can even make FaceTime calls right from Messages too.
Messages, just like iMessage on iOS, features end-to-end encryption, so you do not have to worry about your messages being intercepted, they will stay safe and private.
If you link your Apple ID on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac, all of your messages will be kept synced together, so you are able to continue conversations from one machine to another.

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With Mountain Lion, the gap between desktop computing and iOS becomes even more blurred since Notification Center is finally here. With it, you will be able to see whenever something new happens on your computer, whether it is a new email, message, friend request, calendar alert, or more.
Notification Center on the Mac will look just like its iOS counterpart, with the banner notifications that appear long enough for you to get a glance, and then disappear just as quickly so the interruption is very brief. With a simple swipe, you can pull up the entire Notification Center tray, which will show all of your notifications in a single, organised list. Clicking any notification will open the selected app, just like on your iPhone and iPad.

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Mountain Lion will have system-wide dictation. Now you can just type what you want to in any application.

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Also taking the stage at WWDC, Apple’s head of mobile software Scott Forstall kicked off his iOS 6 presentation noting how, with over 365 million iOS devices sold through March, Apple’s mobile software is doing very well in the market. The latest publicly available version, iOS 5, has been installed on over 80% of available devices. Released in October 2011, iOS 5 has seen exceptional adoption: over 140 million iMessage users have sent over 150 billion iMessages to date, making it over 1 billion on average every day. Directly integrated into iOS 5, Twitter saw a 3x growth increase, with over 10 billion tweets sent from iOS 5. The numbers go on and on.There is no denying on Apple’s part that iOS 5 has been a success for developers, the companies involved, and, ultimately, the users. iOS 6, previewed and released to developers as beta yesterday, is a major new release that, with over 200 new features, will take iOS devices in “entirely new directions”.

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Apple’s voice-based assistant, Siri, is getting several new functionalities, support for more countries and languages, and new iPad compatibility in iOS 6. Keeping true to its original promise, Apple today published an official list of the countries and languages Siri will work with in iOS 6. As for the iPad, Siri will work exclusively on the third generation iteration of the device, with an interface design that is largely similar to it’s existing iPhone counterpart, only available through a floating popover window that “pops out” from the Home button in landscape and portrait modes. With iOS 6, Siri will be capable of finding movies available in your area by location or showtime. Support for flicks goes beyond fancy GPS integration, however, as Siri will be integrated with Rotten Tomatoes to show you ratings and reviews with just a command of your voice; Siri will also be able to display trailers for movies you are interested in, and load additional information such as premiere date, actors’ timelines and guest starring in other movies, and more. Siri will be getting support for Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to post tweets or status updates directly with your voice without needing to fire up dedicated applications. But if you do want to open apps, Siri will also gain a new feature to launch apps, so this autumn launching Angry Birds or Tweetbot will just be a question away. At the keynote, there was no mention of a Siri API, but Apple notes on its site that you can “ask Siri to launch Facebook and see what your friends are up to, or take a look at the latest posts on your Wall”, quite possibly hinting at some limited functionality to launch an app’s specific section through Siri.

siri_gallery_overview

Lastly, Apple has been working with car manufacturers like Honda and Ford to bring “Eyes Free” to Siri: by having Siri integrated with existing voice control systems and steering wheel buttons, your iPhone’s screen will not turn on, you will not be distracted, but Siri will still be fully functional and operative.
From what we have seen at this years WWDC, iOS 6 will be about supercharging the iOS 5 experience and making it better from two standpoints: the original iPhone OS and OS X. iOS 5 didn’t get Facebook sharing, but iOS 6 will, once again stating how Apple sees social networking as a feature relevant to native and third-party applications, rather than competition.
Now it is just a waiting game to see how all these features are really going to work out and if they do become a helping hand or an hinderance, time will only tell.

Green Fingers

I cannot begin to describe just how ecstatic I am feeling right now, I am so full of energy too, despite just what both Ian and I have done today.
This morning after a few days of encouragement from Ian, I had decided to grow my own vegetables and herbs out side my bedroom window and today both Ian and myself were going to go down to Woodcote Nurseries to get all what we needed to start growing all things green and edible. After careful consideration another idea had hatched and a better location for growing a whole lot more herbs and vegetables sprouted, sorry for the pun.
The road that goes round to my garage has a nasty shrub area that is just so over grown with weeds, ratty old plants and a general dumping ground for litter, so today both Ian and I tidied it all up in an aim to use this area to plant my new little garden.
It took two trips to the garden centre and about eight hours of labour to finally get all the area clear and the plants in some nice looking pots.
I should have taken a photo of the before and not just the stages but never mind here is the stages from clear to potted.

transformation1

transformation2

Ian helped me pot from left to right: Chamomile, Carrots, Borage, Mint, Wild Rocket, Potatoes, Mixed Salad, Coriander, Heartsease, Spring Onions and Radishes.

transformation3

transformation4

Grow Your Own

A few days ago Ian brought round two terracotta pots filled with a variety of herbs to get us inspired to grow our own. It was first a thought for getting an allotment space close by, but after discovering that there was a waiting list of over two years we thought about could we grow our own in a space in the communal garden area.
As luck would have it we have a space near to our bedroom window that is secluded enough to be our own space but also an area that the sun light and other weather elements can get to, with the exception of the wind, as this area is protected by the high walls of the flats.
I really wanted to get Wayne on side and interested in growing something, I know he is not the best at growing anything, normally anything he grows or plants he gets as gifts tend to be dead within a week, but with some expert help from Ian and lots of enthusiasm I think a few herbs and hardy vegetables will grow.
So with that in mind, yesterday we headed off to our local garden centre and browsed pots and containers, seeing what would look best, be practical and not look out of place. We also looked at the vegetables and herbs in the grow your own section, so we had an idea of what it would look like once in the pots, kind of a visual head start.

sunny_day_at_garden_centre

Mint Tea

What could be better to help your tummy settle than a nice glass of mint tea?
Well, what could be better, would be mint tea made from a fresh homegrown mint plant.
I have been showing my interest in growing my own produce in a space out the back by my bedroom, a small section of the communal garden that I am making mine, well it is under my bedroom window so who really should be out there other than a few plant pots or a peeping Tom.
Not growing to much to quickly is the key and easily to grow plants can be some simple yet tasty treats right under my nose or in a more practical environment right under my bedroom window.
I have started me off with some simple herbs in a terracotta pot and so far it is looking good, a few herbs for Wayne's cooking and some mint for my healthy tea infusions.
I am just having my first fresh mint tea infusion and I have got to say it is so much better than what you get in bags, sorry tea pigs, better than what you do too.

grow_your_own

iPad Neck

Today I awoke with a very stiff neck, I can remember getting this some time ago when I relied heavily on using the laptop, now though it is from excessively looking down and possibly playing far to many games on the iPad.
Maybe now it is not called a stiff neck anymore but rather iPad neck.
While the first murmurs of so called iPad neck pain originated in the circles of massage therapists, the condition has been now been verified by scientists. The millions of people who use the devices, hailed as a bridge between laptops and mobile phones, are also at risk of neck injuries, claims a new study.

ipad_neck

Researchers found that the flexibility and convenience tablet computers are hailed for could actually be harming users, especially if held on their laps.
They are at risk of "iPad shoulder" or "iPad neck" because holding a tablet low down means that the user has to gaze downwards more sharply, increasing the pressure on their joints.
So it turns out that computing on your lap is a major strain, but is that not also how we usually read books? Yes, we like to have books at angles to optimise viewing angles, but tablets are harder to hold than books because of the active screen. You have to hold them on the edge so as you do not activate the screen with your touch, unlike books. This constraint limits how we can hold them, and if we read for too long, some postures get a bit too much too. While a steep viewing angle can work for watching movies or reading, it makes for uncomfortable typing.
My advice is to keep moving, do not get stuck in the same position for too long and following these few simple steps should help.
1. Shift positions frequently. Keep moving and changing your postures every few minutes. This will keep your neck, shoulders, and arms from tensing up or getting fatigued.
2. Invest in a case. If you are using an iPad for long bouts of reading or movie viewing, you will want to keep it propped on a table at about a 60 to 70 degree angle to prevent neck strain. Tilting the tablet in your hands for extended periods will be tough on your arms and wrists.
3. Set fonts to a large type size. This will enable you to read material more easily in a neutral posture with back and neck in a straight vertical line. If you cannot read the type, you will be inclined to round your back and thrust your neck forward, in a poor posture that is associated with shoulder and neck pain.
Other than just keep moving there are exercises you can do If you do let it slip and your body has got to a stage where aches and pains are already present.
1. Neck rolls are helpful for releasing a stiff neck. They can be done frequently to help keep your neck loose during the day. Just do half neck rolls by rolling from one ear to the other and dropping the head forward, To avoid compressing nerves in the neck and do not drop the head to the back. Aim for eight to 12 neck rolls each side. Then, hold the ear to the shoulder for a few deep breaths, just once to each side. It is important to keep the shoulders down and relaxed during these exercises. Take deep breaths and relax as you stretch. Neck rolls can be done several times each day.
2. Head Turns are simple ways to also help. Turn the head and look right to left. Try to gently look a little bit further behind you with each turn. Keep the shoulders down. Neck rolls and head turns are helpful if you work at a computer or other job where you tend to round the shoulders and neck forward as you work.
3. Across the body stretches help to, don not think that it is all about stretching just your neck. Bring your arm across your body and hold the elbow. Gently press your elbow towards your chest. Keep the shoulders down and relaxed. Hold for five to 10 deep breaths and focus on relaxing into the stretch. Repeat other side. This exercise provides a gentle stretch for the shoulder. Combining shoulder and neck stretches with using good posture and body mechanics, can help to ease stiffness and prevent pain.
4. It is not just neck and arms, think about your head to, that can also link the pain points. You can also bring your hands behind your head. As you squeeze the shoulder blades together, open your elbows as far as possible without hurting your shoulders. To involve the neck, gently press the back of your head into your hands. This not only stretches the neck and shoulders, but also helps to correct posture as well. Lifting the arms behind the head will help you to sit up straight. Pressing the head back into the hands will bring your neck in alignment over the shoulders.

Broken Link

Both Wayne and myself have been collecting Pandora charms and jewellery for best part of a year now and with that we have also been introducing our friends to the collections.
The Pandora bracelets and charms are something that makes a very personal gift that can be quite individual by the way of arrangement of certain charms and also can be as extravagant or subtle as you so wish.
We have introduced Anthony into the leather bracelet range when it was his 16th birthday, Kelly's birthday and christmases have been easier to buy for.
So far to date Pandora Kingston has been our dedicated store and they have had a pretty penny or two out of us, with that in mind we have been known as exceptional customers and likewise have been treated well.
With Kingston Pandora, transactions have been pleasant and the staff there have looked after us well, even down to the point when on the odd occasion we have had to return items due to the rare occasion of a faulty charm or of recent faulty bracelet.
Today I had to return the bracelet as a fault had developed in one of the links that then affect the rest of the linkage, I guess a chain is only as good as its weakest link, never a truer word.

broken_chain

Matt, the manager at the Kingston branch made an easy and no fuss transaction to simply exchange it with a new bracelet as he pointed out it was something they do for exceptional customers. Normally it would be a case that they would send the product back to Pandora and await a refund before exchanging items or refunding the customer, guess being an exceptional customer has its advantages.

Wednesday Lunch

Just had a few hours out in the sunshine slowly mooching about the shops with Wayne at Epsom and now we are both hungry for a bite to eat, where shall we eat?
We have headed over to Tattenham Corner for a Beefeater.
We both ordered the Apple and Onion soup, oh how tasty, then for me followed with a combo burger, bottomless chips and a side salad.

beefeater_lunch

Whilst having lunch I noticed that the car park situated near to where we run was clogged right up with fair traders and planning ahead I thought that both Ian and I should probably find an alternative place to run tonight, at least until the Epsom races are over, we agreed to change the route somewhat and head of to Epsom stew ponds and run there for a change.
It was a great run that evening, I got to break in both my new trainers and also we both got to use out new hydration backpacks, the change was good to so as to keep my body alert with a new running environment, however looking at the course we took it was not all plain down hill or what looked to be flatter surfaces to run on, the slight graduation in the land as it would rise from time to time was very deceiving but still a challenge and worth taking.

nke_shox

muddyfox_hydration_backpack

Run A Bit Further

Slowly my ability and energy levels are increasing, only a few weeks ago I was jogging less than a mile and now I have topped the 5K mark.
Even though I am stopping every so often to get my breath back, I am starting to notice that my ability to stretch out the next stopping point is getting further and further apart.
I started off by running to a pace that Ian had set for me but I am now releasing that I need to make my own pace even if it is slightly behind what Ian expects of me then that way I can see every single one of my improvements however small they are and to date I am seeing those changes, little by little.

keep-cal-and-run_on

Four For Lunch

Today Wayne and I caught up with Nick and Michael for a spot of lunch at one of our favourite Beefeater over at Combe Lodge and a catch up on what had been going on since we last met. Seems that it is same old same old.

Beefeater

Size Up

Slowly but surely I have been putting my iMac through its paces and in doing so I am discovering new features each day that are part of the system that just makes life so much easier.
I have discovered that you are not just limited to one desktop but now with as many as you want to create, so in effect you now do not need to have several monitors but just several desktops for all your applications.

mac_desktops

I have been running several desktops for my graphic design projects and my photography projects, with each application having its own space to work within.
Seems long gone with the days of needing more than one screen to work with and I do not need a screen solely for application palettes.

mac_mission_control

So today I made the jump with the grouping all my applications in their respectful genres i.e. news and Internet, journal and diary and so on. Now though I'm with only one screen I'm working on several desktops within Mac OSX.
This made my second monitor redundant so I thought it would be a nice gesture to give it to Ian so that he is no longer looking at a smaller screen at home but instead a swanky 22inch screen.
I was surprised that the installation of just plug and play on a windows machine went without a hitch, I had visions of certain windows drivers not working.
The evening was then finished off with a fab homemade Lasagne with a side of salad and a scrumptious Eaton Mess.
Yummy.

Week In, Week Out

It has been two weeks now of using the treadmill and it is slowly paying off. I have just done another Weigh in and I have lost 5lbs, result!

weight_loss

Red, White And Blue

Today I achieved another goal in my running, I managed to do 4 mini jogging session and no only did i cover 5k but I also smashed my previous 5k attempts.
As a reward was another Murano glass bead to add to my ever growing collection. This was one from the new and only just released collection for 2012.

Red, White & Blue Murano Glass

iPhone Update

Today sees the start of a new way for some of us, I am of course referring to my sister Hayley who is now an iPhone owner. She is lucky being the fact she is no ordinary iPhone owner but she has me to keep her ahead of most as bing so into Apple there is not many tricks and updates I do not get first hand, well at least before the masses.
I do not know what it is about my fascination for all things tech and in particular all things Apple, but at least one thing is for sure, those of you who are my close friends or family sure as hell benefit from my inquisitive nature of technology and the want to always need to know more.
Tonight I taught Hayley how to do her first iOS update and just like owning an Apple product were manuals are not needed, as the ability to use out iDevices is just second nature, so is updating your iOS.

ios

Books Are Dead

I can see why the popularity of ebooks are taking over the traditional methods of reading something that you hold in your hands, turn the pages and smell the print.
Before I invested in the digital ebook, if I needed some form of publication then I would go to the John Lewis of book stores; Waterstone's, until today.
Today I received the most abysmal service that has made me decide never to use the company ever again.
Why is it that customer services think they can treat us in this way, with poor service, lack of any manners and just generally a view to not giving a shit, it is not like the service they offer is exclusive.
Well I am not putting up with it anymore and I have a perfect platform to read book from, the iPad. One thing that conventional books lack, is the ability to be interactive so even though an iPad is a big outlay to start with, the overall experience of reading is for more fun and is no longer a case of just thumbing through the pages.
The bottom line is 'do you want more than just reading?' Start by asking yourself what you are really looking for.
Do you just want to read books?
How about magazines and newspapers?
What about browsing the Web?
Want to add multimedia to the mix in the way of music, audiobooks, or video?
Yes, you guessed it, you are thinking that the iPad is not such a bad idea after all.

ipad

Riddlesdown Park

My reason for moving to London was a job opportunity that came with accommodation in Purley.
All the time that I lived in Purley I had no idea that our home backed onto a wonderful park, that park being Riddlesdown.
I have been looking for places to walk with varied terrain in order to build up the muscle strength to my knee before I attempt to start running again and this park offered so much and yet I had lived near by for over a year and never quite knew the beauty of t his park, until today.
The name Riddlesdown was first recorded in 1331 as Ridelesdoune and is believed to be mediaeval English 'riddeleah' - cleared woodland. It is also believed that the Down was once capped with Beech trees which are common on chalk because of the good drainage provided.
Riddlesdown is of archaeological interest, and in 1962 three graves were found that may have been connected with a Saxon Cemetery that was found at the junction of Riddlesdown Avenue and Mitchley Avenue. Stone Axes have also been found on Riddlesdown and have been dated to new Stone age or the Neolithic.

riddlesdown

Treadmill

What with the typical British weather, attempts to go out for long cross country walks or running in the park do not always come into focus, so how do some of us get around this. Do we simply persevere with the weather and take a run in the rain and cold, join the gym and hope we get value for money or what?
I knew that my interest in running and cross country walking was not going to be a one hit wonder and short lived due to the sheer fact I having a running coach who motivates me to achieve my goals even despite to my recent knee injury.
So with the advice of friends I started to think about should I invest in a treadmill?
I had in the past thought about the very idea of a treadmill but with so many on the market place and prices ranging from a few hundred pounds to the thousands, it was hard to know what would be the best one to get and also the best one for my needs.
Finally from lots of research and reviews online and one final piece of advise from a friend, I made the decision to look into purchasing a treadmill and in particular the Reebok 'Z' range.
Is there something out there that seems to just know when I am deciding to make a choice as all the factors just added up, it was like browsing data and cookies in realtime as Argos was having a sale on its treadmills.
Lucky for me all of the Reebok treadmills in the 'Z' range were half price, that was the deciding factor and I went ahead and ordered my 'Reebok Z9'.
I am now the proud owner of a Reebok Z9 treadmill.

reebok_z9

The Green Girl Needs An M.O.T.

Those of us who own cars really do take it for granted just how well they run with some or little attention to what is under the bonnet. Normally the only attention we give our cars is topping up the windscreen reservoir and making sure the petrol level does not drop to low, other than that the car is left to its own devices to tick over from year to year.
Today however I put my car in for more than just an M.O.T. as today she got a full service.
I took the car down to my regular mechanics 'The MOT Shop' who looked after me for yet another year.
It can be such a job to find a mechanic that does not rip you off simply because you know very little or nothing about what is under the bonnet.
However much I tell people the best option is always to deal direct with the manufacturers this does not apply in the car world, if you stuck to that option you would be sure to get ripped off.
Well done Dave at 'The MOT Shop’ Wandle Service Station you have yet again done wonders with my car.

MOT

Another iPhone Owner

Today I helped my sister set up my old iPhone4.
Yes, you heard it right, she is now an iPhone owner as I have had a sneaky upgrade to the iPhone 4s as my contact came to an end. Value for money it was better option to get the iPhone through my mobile phone provider rather than buy is SIM free as I usually do, because what ever way you look at it I will always need to have a mobile plan. So far ever year I have taken a discounted line package but as I am on the bare minimum and so then my provider cannot really give me with anything less and in all honesty a £10 line discount does not really compare to owning the iPhone 4s, does it?
Well, it did not take long to get the phone up and running and as Hayley already had a Apple I.D. it made everything run even smoother, the only thing we did not manage to do was set here up a me.com email address that you get with iCloud. I think due to the fact it has been out for some time that all the best email addresses have gone, that seems to be the problem with anything Apple, you kind of need to get in quick and that is one of the advantages of my interest for knowing whats going on in the Apple world as soon as it develops.
It has been less than an hour and the phone is working a charm and with no manual to hand Hayley has already grasped the basics of using the iPhone, she has also learnt a few advanced features that I have shown her and I do not think before long she will be discovering a few more.
I could tell that before I even arrived the excitement of owning an iPhone had already kicked in as after we got the phone up and running, Hayley had already made a list of applications to download.
Oh well best crack on and get these applications downloaded for her, no better still I will pass the phone to Hayley and let her do it.

iphone_owner

Room For One More

It has not taken me long to fill up my Pandora bracelet and so I have started to make another bracelet with just Murano glass beads. My friend Colin started me off with my first Murano glass bead all the way from Italy and now I have an addition and my first one off of my wish list; the 'Cinnamon Ladybug'.

cinnamon_murano_ladybird

I also had to shift around a few charms on my silver charm bracelet, as Wayne bought me the 'Camera' charm.

pandora_camera_charm

Little Bay

If you fancy a meal out with a difference then the ‘Little Bay’ could be your ideal destination.
The restaurant is themed around the opera and so with this is the seating plan in a unique way. As with the opera, the best seats in the house would be that of the seating in Loggia or Grand boxes, this is the case for the restaurant layout.
The best part of the night though is not only the excellent food, service and atmosphere but also the entertainment, as local opera professionals perform whilst you eat.

littlebay

littlebay_seating

Tea For Two

We all have our own ways in doing things and we have our own luxuries. For some a mug of tea or coffee is how we like it and for others it is something more traditional. One thing Wayne and I do not own is a tea set and so today Wayne and I decided to buy a full tea set for those times when it would be nice to have friends over for a slice of cake and a cup of tea.

tea_set

A Good Friday

Sometimes when I am sat in front of the computer head long into work I forget the time and days around me. I forgot that his Friday was a bank holiday and because the retail stores seem to target such holidays so far in advance, It even slipped my mind that it was the Easter bank holiday. So it proved to be a short week for some and an unexpected holiday for me.
My good friend Ian had no work today and that meant he had today spare and so he visited for the day. We caught up on all the gossip and then I introduced him to a few games in the PS3 that both myself, Ian and Wayne could play.
It was a fun night and another introduction for Ian to the things that go on in my world.

Over The Years

I have been slowly but surely going through my thousands of photos in order to filter out the wheat from the chaff. It is so as to work on the better images.
It was then when I stumbled on a collection of flower images and then I realised that they had been bought for me over the years, I am noticing I have quite a taste for the finer floral things. I have told my friends that I do love lily and I wonder if why so many of the bouquets have a lily or three in them, as that is how you are supposed to buy lilies and if you buy in even numbers they for some reason do not tend to last, something is bound to go wrong, might be the reason why the lilies in the first photo only lasted a few days, they had a curse on them.
It is known that the lily stands for faith as our towering strength to begin a new life and the purchasing of an odd number is auspicious and relates to divine strength in Bible, not that I am religious in any way.

1lilly_folage

1lilly_rose

3stargazer_lilly_and_roses

1tulips

3mixed_bunch


2lillys_roses_and_carnations

2stargazer_lillys

1red_roses

An Apple A Day

Undoubtably the best decision I have ever made was ditching the slow non progressive tech world and opting to jump into the fast pace that Apple sets, always being ahead of its competitors on so many levels. I have never looked back since and as a result so many of my friends have followed and also wondered how they ever lived without their Apple products. I have said in the past and I am saying it again, "Apple are the king of interfaces."
With every device that they turn their hands to, for some reason the designs are seamless and the product is made to take out of the box and just use with ease and simplicity.
I think anyone who is into their Apple devices, such as myself soon become akin to only expecting the world around them to be just as stylish a chic and as a result my desktop area reflects that; nice clean cut lines, minimal surroundings and a nice stylish slick look.
Now with an addition to my working desk space, bought for me today by my very lovely Wayne.

apple_addition

Wii Workout

I am feeling very proud of my self and a little less worried about getting back into my exercise, as I have just completed my first Wii workout to get my knee back into shape and ready for walking then eventually running again.
The Wii is great for small classes specific to certain muscle groups or body area goals such as back or tummy exercises, so this was the first port of call to help put this injury into the past.
I started off with building a recovery exercise program, sorting the best exercises that would start me back into things easily and not to much strain yet, still build the muscles. My program started with a six minute warm up class consisting of the 'Warrior' yoga pose, Wii birds eye bulls eye and the 'Downward Facing Dog' yoga pose. This burnt off fifteen calories. My next class was a legs and hip class that consisted of an aerobic step class, the 'Chair' yoga pose and then fifteen rowing squats. This added a further six minutes to my program and also burnt another fifteen calories. Finally I concentrated on my Wii routine that was going to take twenty five minutes to complete but would also burn off ninety one calories and this class would consist of a selection of yoga poses, muscle stretches and balancing exercises.
After doing the class I could see from my results that in my period of injury I had shifted my body balance considerably over to my left side and I guess to be expected, my goal now was to get that body balance slap bang in the centre and also to build and strengthen the affected muscle groups that would stop me from re-injuring myself and if I lost some weight in the process that would be an added bonus, I have noticed that my BMI has gone down so that is a good start.

Back Into It

After just over two weeks of knee pain, lots of strong painkillers and of course rest, it is time to get those muscles strengthened up and back into a few light workouts.
I got to admit I am somewhat nervous about doing any kind of exercise let alone starting to run again for the fear of injuring myself again, it is almost like when you have had a car accident and you have to get back behind the steering wheel again to get over it.
I have been reading on the Internet and noticed on a few good sports recovery sites that using the Wii balance board and some simple stretches will get me back onto the whole exercise thing again and finding out it will also help towards the process of muscle strengthening around the knee area. One sports injury clinic actually adopted the Wii as its main recovery for knee and back surgery patients and after reading this article I then felt less nervous about using my Wii to get back into the swing of it all.

The Kazaar

I guess by now you know of my love of coffee, proper coffee not the instant stuff. Well, Slowly but surely my stock of Nespresso capsules are depleting and it's time to order more form the exclusive club. I placed my order last night and as if by magic they arrived this morning at 9:30am, talk about speedy service.
I ordered my usual full array of all the strengths so that Wayne and my guests who visit also had a choice of the lesser intensive flavour should lithely not like the strong stuff.
I also thought I would try out the new limited addition to the Nespresso collection, called Kazaar. It has been described as the "monster" of coffees, since it is a 12 rating in strength, but does it live up to hype that it has been receiving?

kazaar

Kazaar is sourced from Robusta and Arabica beans from South and Central America. It's recommended as an espresso blend, able to stand up to the added milk in a latte or cappuccino.
As far as flavour goes, It stays on the happy side of bitter, with a finish that lasts long than the coffee in your glass does. You will also find that because it is such a strong flavour you may need a flavour equally as strong to remove it from your palate or a good tongue scraping.
I am noticing that coffee is becoming a culture in its own right and I can see that all the time flavours like this keep on popping up then the experience of coffee will always maintain its high standards.
As for the social aspect of coffee, having limited branded additions appear every so often and with social network pages closely linked with its released is a great marketing strategy. The social networking hype must be great for coffee sales worldwide as that is what social networking sites seem to be so clever at doing, reaching the masses in the nearest and furthest corners of the globe.
A final thought for this monster of a coffee is, if you are a coffee lover and you own a Nespresso machine then this is one to try out and in my option I hope it becomes part of the permanent part of the Grand Cru range.

Walking

For the first time in weeks I have managed to get up out of bed and walk down the hallway to the bathroom rather than limping like a pirate with a wooden leg, no I do not need a parrot on my shoulder, I have Wayne squawking in the background.
I know it is early days and yes I am still wearing the knee support and taking the prescribed painkillers and array of anti inflammatories but it is on the mend. I can see that I may be running again in the next month or two, or at least by the summer time, be nice to do a late night run with Ian my running coach as the sun sets.

Everything Has A Price

It has been nearly a week that I have had this knee injury and the very idea of using running to keep fit and lose weight has come at a price, the price of not knowing how to warm up and cool down resulted in a lot of time not running but resting.
My biggest problem now is getting it repaired in order to not be put off with the very idea of running again as more often or not when you have an accident or injury it can be enough to make you not want to go down that route again.
It cannot be as easy as just resting to repair the damage, can it?
Unfortunately it is not that straight forward as the first thing you need to ascertain is the type of injury that has occurred and wether or not it is a case of cold or hot therapy. There is also two types of injuries that each require different procedures to heal them correctly.
An acute injury is something that happens quite quickly, normally a sprain or an immediate sports injury and something that is very visible such as, swelling or a bruising. Then there is a chronic injury which has no visible signs and tends to be deeper down such as a reoccurring torn muscle injury, muscle spasms and joint pains.
So once you know what injury you have, then you will know wether it is a case of treating it with cold or hot therapy. With acute injuries you would treat it with a cold, in other words ice. Applying ice wrapped in a towel, bag of frozen peas or one of the many ice gel pack that can readily bought should be done several times a day and only on the affected area for ten minutes at a time. You can repeat with ice several times in one session but, one thing you really need to adhere to is allowing the skin to return to normal temperature before icing a second and third time.
With heat therapy the rules are pretty much the same, but instead of using ice you would use a hot water bottle or the microwaveable wheat pack or snap activated heat gel pack. Because hot therapy increases the blood flow it is not recommended to use after exercise. You also need to remember that with both treatments you still need to apply the same safety. With hot treatments you should only apply to an injury for no more than that of fifteen to twenty minutes so as to prevent burns. It is said that the best hot treatment is that of a moist treatment, however this treatment is not very practical and so most opt for the wheat or snap activated gel packs.

ice_on_knee

I am lucky that I have acute injury that can be treated, cured and when healed properly can also be prevented from happening again, unlike that of chronic injuries that can only be treated to reduce and subside the injury.
With my injury, the healing process will have to start with cold therapy and then once the swelling has gone then and only then can I move onto hot therapy should I need it.
I have been looking online on several sports forums trying to find the best way to repair my injury as resting from exercise cannot be the only option to repair this knee. There is code used by professionals called P.R.I.C.E., yes something I paying dearly with.
PRICE is aimed at acute injuries and consists of five steps to follow to aid the recovery both better and faster.

PROTECTION: If injured, stop playing and protect the injured part from further damage. Avoid putting weight on the injured part and if need be get help in moving to a safe area.
REST: Rest is vital to protect the injured muscle, tendon, ligament or other tissue injury. Resting the injured part is important to promote healing.
ICE: Cold provides short term pain relief and also limits swelling by reducing blood flow to the injured area.
COMPRESSION: Compression helps to reduce swelling, which may delay healing and also some people find that compression can have some pain relief. Using a bandage or a elasticated tube bandage aids for the best results, but do remember that should the injured area start to throb then you know that you have the bandage to tight and should re-bandage the area a little loser.
ELEVATION: Elevating an injury will help to control the swelling and it is most effective when the injured area is raised above the level of the heart. For example if you injure your ankle or in my case your knee, then laying down with a pillow or two propped under your foot is ideal.

I started using this guide a few days ago and I am finding that this method is actually working and my knee injury is not as painful. I do not seem to need to rely on painkillers throughout the day as I did last week and only needing to take the prescribed painkillers twice a day. Here is to rapid recovery, well okay better recovery.

Quick Enough To Take

Another good day with the knee recovery, I think the combination of the tablets and the lighter knee support worn throughout the day is working.
I needed to run a favour for Ian today, nipping down to PCWorld and grab a wifi dongle for his new Internet connection, all sounds good so far. Getting the item was straight forward enough and doing the usual click and collect service goes without a glitch until I have a spur of the moment impulse buy for Wayne.
Typical, after that grief you have to endure in a shop so heavenly staffed on the floor and so little staff in the checkouts and the same is for returning items.
Yes I had to return an item and I could not believe how many questions I was asked in order to get a refund when only a few feet away was a six feet high printed poster behind the cashiers desk promoting about retuning your item with no problems.
That is another thing that gets my goat! Why is it a retail store and that is any (sorry Apple even you guys), can take your payment quicker than you can blink and yet when you want a refund the retailer tells you it can take anything up to five days for the transaction to be credited back to your card.
What is this all about? The middle man needs to sort it out. Come on, this kind of procedure is all about ones and zeros on a terminal.

The Doc Says

I knew the today's visit to the doctors would be met with some kind of rest, but I was not sure how long that rest period was to be.
Oh dear I have a case of Chondromalacia Patellae (also known as CMP).
CMP is caused by the irritation of the undersurface of the kneecap or Patella that is covered by a layer of smooth cartilage and when this cartilage area become irritated a knee pain is experienced. It is very common among football players, gymnasts, cyclists, rowers, ballet dancers and of course runners.

runners_knee2

I have found out that I will not be running for some time and part of that not running period will include two weeks of total rest.
I was prescribed some strong painkillers and anti-inflammatories and also told to wear a light knee support, such as a tube-e-grip whilst indoors but allowing an eight hour period of no support. If I needed to go out for any long periods of time I had to wear a stronger knee support, the one that is specific for sporting use. I have been told to keep my leg elevated of a night and to do some light stretching exercises and then when I do return to running again it has to be a program that consists of walking that progressively gets longer, slowly combining it with very short bursts of running. Looks like the Nike+ beginners twelve week program is going to be the best program.
Oh well such is life, you live and you learn.

On The Mend

I cannot quite believe it but today I have had my first day of what feels like a knee starting to improve. David told me to elevate my leg to aid healing, I was not quite sure why but I have done it anyway as my last bit of advise I did not heed out me in this state.
David, who incidentally is a qualified masseur, told me that the injury I have is something very common with new runners and joggers and that the injury I have fallen victim to that of fluid on the knee, commonly known as runners knee. The remedy to cure this problem is a simple and yet sometimes one the can take longer to put right. It is simply to rest the area effected and to elevate the leg so as the fluid around the area can drain away on its own accord. Luckily for me I have a reclining bed, so last night I raised the foot end and slept on my back with my kegs elevated. This morning was a breath of fresh air, being able to walk on it rather than limp on it. I must not take it for granted though that it is fixed because it is only early days, so a few more days, maybe even weeks before I can start to exercise again, gently and slowly in the efforts not to cause another injury. Exercising with my knees supports will also help for it to not recur and lots of warm up and cool down exercises to, must not forget that one.

More Walking

Yesterday's trip around Sainsbury's was about as much as my knee could take and todays plans are not going to let me off lightly. A trip to St.Georges hospital in Tooting to give moral supports to my dearest Wayne, who today was having and Endoscopy.
So I sit here happily typing away on my journal and occasionally looking up to adore the eye candy (some gorgeous clinical staff), walking the corridors in their flowing blue gowns and lose fitting bottoms. Oh I knew today would have it's benefits.

Shopping Trip

Today I decided to venture out and take a walk around Sainsbury's, grab a few bits of shopping and also exercise my knee. Well, I managed it but I do ache somewhat so that is it for today, no more exercises or putting it under strain. I did notice that when down in the freezer aisle my knee started to ache, that must of been the coldness from the chillers. I got another knee support and that is helping greatly, so when I do finally return to running again then I will use the knee supports to ward off against getting another injury. Oh and it has taught me to warm up, stretch, cool down and finish off with cool down stretches.
The lounge is really starting to have a sweet distinctive smell of Daffodils about it to. It is a shame that this is the only type of spring we are going to get for some time as the weather outside does not look good, it is far from my ideal running conditions to.

It Is All Updates

Today has been a day of updates, I have been slaving away pulling data from an old blog site to finally launch the TCell Blog and all my hard work has paid off, as now the blog is live with its first of many entries. Today's only draw back has been the non existent syncing of the 'Day One' journal application between my mac and my iPad.
The injury I done on my knee a few days ago is starting to heal as for the first time in several days I am finally walking rather than limping.

It Is Official

It is official, no running for a week till this knee has mended, it is words from a professional, not mine.
I clearly thought that I would be able to just start running but my body has proved me wrong, again.

Joggers Knee

I thought getting used to jogging was going to well. I, like most beginners starting out in learning how to run for fitness soon discover that running on Tarmac rather than a soft grass verge causes problems with underdeveloped leg muscles. After what has been for the last few days a routine jog around the park ended abruptly with a shooting pain to my right knee.
I have learnt early on and thank goodness I have, that an injury at this stage is easily repairable and it is only down to the fact that I do not know how to warm up and cool down properly or run on the right conditions that has caused this injury. I know that taking a week off to jogging will repair the damage and it has taught me a lesson that there is a lot more to learning how to run or jog.

Knee

Well after a night of discomfort and applying balms, rubs and cold packs I do think that my knee is feeling a little better, not sure I am quite up for returning to running yet but I am on the mend. I think a few days of rest and some gentle exercised should remedy the problem.

Too Much, Too Soon

I do not believe it, my fourth run and I feel like I have done too much too soon as I am having pains in my knee. Been looking online and also asked my running coach and both say it is a common thing for new runners as you simply have not used those parts of your body like that before. So it is just a case of a day or two of rest and then back into it. I found out that using my Nike+ GPS application that I have on the iPhone can also be used for indoor training so even though my route will not be mapped out, my work out still will. I think my biggest problem, being so new to running might be a lack of warming up properly and stretching the right muscle groups, or for that matter knowing the right groups to warm up. I asked other Nike+ users what was best for them, and the general consensus was that a few jumping jacks or high kneed running the spot was a good start to warming up before starting to stretch as stretching alone before warming up can cause muscle damage. Now I know my problem. I noticed that many users who had sustained and injury all got back into it after rest by the way of some simple exercises and also the use of an elliptical trainer, as this was a way to slowly warm up the body and all the muscle groups, luckily for me I own one, so looks like gone are the days of it being used as clothes dryer.
Cool.

The Day After

I was expecting to get up this morning after last nights run and ache all over but surprisingly I did not ache, I have a little tightening of my calf muscles but that is it.
I know that I have committed to a routine using the Nike+ application and though I have it in my diary for 11:30am, I thought that I do not have to keep it as regimented as that. I merely need to make sure that the reminder is early on in the day to keep me posted and then at some point in the day that I do my run, that way I do not beat myself up about not feeling like I have to do my run at that set time.

Epsom Run

Tonight was going to be my biggest challenge as it was going to be the first run at Epsom. I impressed myself, I was a little blown away to find out that I have completed nearly three miles, I am astounded I got that far, even with the rest breaks scattered throughout the run.
I am not going to push myself to far to quick and if I need to take a days break from my run I will do so. I would like to train at least three times a week but if I can only manage twice a week then so be it, in the meantime I will stick to my Nike+ training program so as to do something each day, all be it a light workout. I will also do more on the Wii as that can be done when it is to dark to run and also I do love my yoga and Pilates.

First Nike+

Just completed my first part of the Nike+ running coach and though it was a long brisk walk to start with, I could feel my body slowly warming up. When I hit the ten minute mark I was positively glowing.
Just having a lunch break then off to meet Ian at Epsom Downs for another work out in addition to my Nike+ running coach workout.

Brand New Day, Brand New Me

Today is the start of the brand new regime I hope will motivate me to get some of this weight shifted and also to shift my body pattern so I get more out of my day.
It is really hard when you are stuck in a body cycle that every day puts its self out of sync, so I think a regular bed time and a regular regime of exercise should do it. The reason why I say this may help shift my body clock, might be due to the fact my body clock has always been set on night mode, from the many years working in the brewery trade, people do not realise running a pub is not a nine to five job. When you have been doing long silly hours for so long, even when you stop, your body clock just still runs on that time and even just simply going to bed early does not work, well it does not work for me. I tried going to bed early but I would be wide awake for about three hours after I had gone to bed, unable to sleep till the little hand past the number three.
I hope that if I feed my body right and do a regular exercise plan that my body will be so tiered by hopefully 10:30pm, I should naturally fall asleep by no later than midnight, this will still giving me plenty of time to do all my chores, website updates, blog entry's and also some quite time.
So instead of getting up late in the day, today I am up at 9:30am having breakfast and a coffee and just writing this entry as my body is shocked into the brand new me.

Run Jezz Run

So far it has been all talk about wanting to start to run and doing it at home on the Wii is one thing but doing in practise with all the elements being thrown at you, well that is something else.
Today I downloaded the Nike+ GPS application and joined the online community and the world or running and fitness freaks, so far so good. I then looked through the Nike site and chose a goal to burn calories over a set period, that is when I stumbled on that there was more to this site than previously thought. I could start to train myself with a coached plan and luckily for me there was a twelve week beginners program that I am going to start tomorrow.
I thought that as the weather was good I would do a small jog around the lovely Beddington park. Well, I managed one and a half miles in thirteen minutes which I do not think is that bad for a first run, but by god did I know that I had done a run after. Full of phlegm, choking and a splutter afterwards and a very warm glow all over, but I did it.
I am hoping that as the days, weeks and months pass, it gets easier.

#HashTag That

It is all well and good posting items on the internet and for best results to get people talking is to post something on Facebook or Twitter. But did you know that for those of us who want the maximum coverage, then how about posting to Twitter and then putting a hashtag, one of these ‘#’ in front of your buzz word. Hash tagging works by linking other posts with the same buzz words together no matter what other content is in your tweet. In turn this opens your tweets up to the whole wide world and inevitably making tweeting far more social than ever before. Think of it this way, you post to twitter about a night out with the girls or lads and in your tweet is the name of the club you was at, simply putting a hashtag in front of the clubs name then adds you to the list of others who have tweeted about that club.
I have been doing this kind of tweeting for some time now and have meet a few really great people through it and have also got into some great discussions.
You never know where a simple hash tagged tweet will get you.
I have recently discovered that you can link your Twitter and Facebook together so that you only have to post the once to Twitter and then it adds it to your Facebook timeline. This is great for short posts but when adding lots of photos that you would like to group then it is best to do that direct to Facebook.

A Day Of Riches

Yesterday was quite, so I did not have anything to write about, but today has made up for it as it has been somewhat jam packed.
My day started off with an appointment at the clinic for my routine bloods and swabs as part of a general health check and all is good on that front. I then headed into town for a trip to sort out a banking matter and I did not feel my bank delivered the service I normally get, might have to look into that.
I am not sure if my expectations of service and customer care has increased anymore but I do think that because I do most of my shopping in Kingston and in department stores like Apple, Waitrose and John Lewis where customer service and care is of the highest standards everyone else seems to lack what they have and it really shows. Just walking through Sutton high street I could see the demise of what used to be a nice place to shop and now it is turning into a dirty, run down and frightfully full of common folk screaming out at their unruly children. I can safely add Sutton along with the likes if Croydon to the list of places I will not be seen shopping in again.
I have been slowly increasing my physical levels and now I have my new running buddy, I thought I would look about for some essential gear that would come in handy not just for my walks, runs but to use generally and as luck would have it I got some real deals today. I was in a retail park not far from home browsing in a sports shop when I cam across an array of Karrimor gear at silly prices so I had to treat myself. I got a pair of walking poles for under a tenner, an iPod sports armband for under a fiver, two pairs of sports earbuds (the over ear ones) both of which also under a fiver and then a water bottle belt pack and spare running bottle for under a tenner. Looks like I did well on that bit of retail therapy.
When coming home the news just got better, more treats. Apple announced it is releasing a new operating system 'Mountain Lion' just a year after 'Lion' OS X and as a taster before the release in the summer Mac users got treated to 'Messages' the new feature to replace iChat and make it more in tune with the iOS style of messaging. Slowly but surely I am seeing subtle changes since owning a Mac that OS X is merging with iOS to make a cross platform and universal application that works with all your Apple iDevices and big changes on how common tasks are now more integrated than ever before, like twitter and text chats that can then turn into video chats with a flick of a switch.
If your curiosity has got the better of you then click on the ‘Mountain Lion’ icon to see a short video of what you can expect this summer. If that is not enough for you and you want a little treat then click on the ‘Messages’ icon to download the Beta of ‘Messages’.

mountain_lion

messages

To cap off todays events, was some offerings from the PSN as last months offering for PSN plus customers was not to great but yet again today showed they are making up for it as the latest content was the biggest. I have managed to download today a total of twenty-five dynamic PS3 themes, four PS3 full game titles and eight PSP titles all for the price of zero pounds and zero pence. Membership is showing some clear advantages and when my renewal comes up in the summer I will sure be subscribing for another year.

Two in one day

How nice it is to get some mail in your inbox or posted through you letterbox, it is just great for that bit of communication, even better though when it is in person. Today I got two in one day, two visitors that is. I was up early knowing I had guests coming over, whipping the hoover about in places I had missed a few days earlier and then headed of into town for a few cakes.
I bought home a selection of cream cakes and just in time for our first guest.
Not seen Peter in several months and it was nice to see an old face and catch up. My next visitor arrived shortly after, Colin who's been a good friend for a few years now, one of those people you meet and instantly click with.
Oh well that is about it for today. I wonder what tomorrow brings for me?

Monday Blues

What could be worse than a Monday morning stuck in traffic?
Monday morning in traffic, heading to the dentist. Fortunately my dentist in Wandsworth is excellent and also extremely cheap compared to my last dentist who though was a little closer to home was also a lot more expensive and she had no compassion towards my anxiety of sitting in the dentists chair. So today I may be £17 out of pocket but I got some pearly whites to show for it.
For a few days now I have been experiencing a little trouble with applications loading and my iPhone running a little sluggish and today I could not get the app store to load so after a hard reboot and a tweaking here and there and still no joy, I had no choice but to do a system restore and it feels like I have a brand new iPhone.
A word of waring for anyone who has to do this procedure, for god sake BACKUP YOUR IPHONE!
I have always backed up my data and kept my applications up to date and with the added benefit of having application and phone settings that can be stored in Apples iCloud, now doing such a drastic procedure is as easy as pie with only one drawback, needing about an hour or so to solely dedicate to the job in hand.
Sorted, a new feeling about my iPhone and all of my applications, folders and data in its place.

Late Latte

Thinking I would have nothing to write today, Wayne gave inspiration as today he showed an interest in my Nespresso coffee machine.
I explained to Wayne how to use the machine and suggested what coffee strength to use, he then set out in making himself a tall latte.

nespresso_latte_coffee

Up Too Early

Well, I can only think that the bad weather and the heating coming on sooner than normal that has played about with body clock.  I feel tiered and groggy at funny times throughout the day and when I should be sleeping I am wide awake.  Take this morning for example, I awoke at 4:20am only to briefly use the bathroom and then again at 6:30am and on the second wake up I felt I needed to get up but instead I forced myself back to sleep. Now it's 11:30am and I need to get up or I will not be able to sleep tonight, it is a vicious circle, here is hoping for a change in the weather soon.
Despite how the day started, today has turned out very productive as I have managed to get a lot of research material for this site and preparation for articles that will shortly be posted. My main workflow today was the uniformity of files that are used threw out this and another website that I maintain.  I can wipe my brow now and say that I have completed what I set out to do today and reward myself will a few pieces of Turkish Delight, that is the sweet not some woman belly dancing in front of me.

The White Stuff

Yesterday I managed to get out after having a few days of snow stopping me from going anywhere and though on my return journey home snow was in the air, it was not settling.
I had a feeling that this morning could be another cold day but a clear sky and a possible chance of getting some fresh air again. I had a little paperwork to do this morning and thought that I would get that out of the way then have a spot of lunch and then take a stroll in the park.
Typical just my luck, it has just started to snow again and this time it is settling. Oh well another day in and I guess a chance to catch up on the remainder of unfinished tasks on this site, well at least today has still proved to be productive.

Getting It Down

I was looking for an application today that would make recording my daily events a bit easier as I have been using the notepad on both the iPad and iPhone as they sync so well with iCloud. The downside to this is that you have to start all the time with just a blank canvas and though that is great for taking notes, to use for a diary or journal entires it is very impractical and it becomes a real bind to do on every event. That is when I stumbled on DayOne and after a few reviews on YouTube this application was the best there is so I just had to have it.

day_one_app


I purchased it across all platforms so that I would be able to track my life wherever I was.
This entry is living proof that it is working well as the inbuilt export feature allows me to send my entires as either a tweet or via email in both plain and rich text and is ideal for a quick copy and paste straight into my website building application.

Sakura

Not long in from a great meal out, it was my first visit to the Sakura Indian restaurant situated in Carshalton. The food was bursting full of flavours and spices and it was a warming atmosphere on such a cold night.
Wayne had been there on many occasions with his daughter Kelly and tonight both Wayne and Kelly were present as well as Anthony and Michèle. I would highly recommend this restaurant for a nice weekday treat, even better when you have great company to enjoy the experience with.

sacura_meal

Anthony's 16th Birthday

I remember Anthony as a young lively little chap that would always be full of giggles and everyday would be a new adventure. Like any child he would be excitable by climbing trees, running in the park and sitting in the drivers seat of a sports car.

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Boy has he grown up as Wayne and I along with Michele, Zoe, Alfie, Freddie, Spencer, Stacey, Kelly, Ethan, Jake joined Anthony to celebrate his 16th birthday at a Harvester restaurant at The Plough, Sutton.

anthony_16

But Anthony will always still be my little chap, the one with the nimble fingers and so good at getting me past levels I seem to constantly get stuck on when playing games on the PS3.

Cup Of Joe

For some it is a cup of tea in the morning that kick starts the taste buds and for others it is a coffee.
Oh how I love my coffee and last year my coffee machine broke and I never replaced it until now. I like a varied taste in coffee and also styles, sometimes I like an espresso, other times I like a tall Latte and occasionally I like a cappuccino, so when hunting for a new machine I needed to make sure that it met all my requirements but still could deliver a great tasting coffee. Two of my close friends who also love their coffee suggested I get a Nespresso machine as the pod system it uses has a great range of coffees and none of that processed rubbish you see on the supermarket shelves. I looked into the different styles of Nespresso machines and finally settled on the latest machine, the Pixie with its unique milk warming and frothing system ‘the Aerocinno’.

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The coffee is great and the range is larger than any other brand that I have seen and the best thing about the experience is the quality.

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Nespresso does not sell their coffee pods in many retail outlets they have a style of their own, they have boutiques and a privileged members club that you join. I can order my coffee in several ways; over the phone, online or use the Nespresso iPhone application, it is as easy as that and the privileged service does not stop there, all your coffee is delivered by courier.
With my first order I got a great deal on my welcome pack, it consisted of fifteen boxes (thats 150 pods) that had one of every strength minus the ‘Decaffeinato’ as I opted for the ‘Decaffeinato Inteso’ and also with that I got a free display cube for my pods and then as I proceeded to the checkout online I got £40 off my first order.

nespresso_cube

Friends Think

You know when you have a good friend as they listen to what you have to say, they instinctively know your mood and know how to deal with it, they can say what needs to be said and you view it as guided loving advise. They are right there for you when you need them and they can keep a distance when you need to be on your own with just your thoughts. A good friend also knows, without having to ask what to buy for you on your birthday and Christmas and your be guaranteed that what they get you is just so personal and right from the heart.
My good friend Colin, I can only describe you as a charming prince that can see both sides of the story and I feel so lucky to be able to have your warmth and friendship. Colin you are so thoughtful that on your trip away you thought of both me and Wayne and we just wanted to say how we love our fun and casual bead bracelets, ideal for when you want to wear a piece of simple jewellery that goes with everything.

bead_braclets

I was truly gobsmacked when you bought me my first Murano glass bead for my next Pandora bracelet and you added your own finishing touches with the personalised presentation bag, I am going to use that to store my new bracelet in.

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You surprised me once more with a gorgeously engraved glass that is just right for my evening tipple, but I am also aware of just how special that glass is and I may well have to just keep it on show in my display cabinet of treasured gifts and keepsakes.

j_glass

Thank you once more Colin for my delightful gifts and for our friendship that can only grow bigger, stronger and closer.

What Does 2012 Bring

That Champagne last night was strong stuff as we all had a few extra hours in bed.
So what does this year look like, what is in store for me? I am happy to take what this year throws my way but I would like to do it a few KG lighter.
Today I took my mum and sister back home to Harlow and installed her new PC, webcam and 22 inch monitor.
Now that we may be miles away and in separate counties at least one thing we can both do; is see and hear each other using Skype. This for my mum is a new way to communicate over the net and with only a few lessons we are already video conferencing a few times a week. It is really great to be able to see and speak to her.

Christmas 2011

For the past 10 years Christmas has been spent with Wayne’s side of the family but this year broke that mould as Wayne and I entertained my mum and sister to 11 days of rest, food, drink, fun times and a good catch up. Nothing was really planned other than the Christmas Day meal and it was nice not to have to stick to any schedule. After a few days of eating and drinking the next thing to do was treat ourselves to a bit of pampering as we all chose what face packs to apply whilst watching the telly. It was so funny because Hayley decided to have a mud pack and she looked like one of the Minstrels off of the black and white minstrel show.

new_year_facepacks

hayley_facepack

I was treated to some wonderful gifts ranging from items that were so personal to some totally upbeat tech. Kelly I love my charm and I think it may well be the last one I can add to this bracelet as it is now full. Wayne you so know how I love my tech and the sound from my Beats headphones is out of this world, crystal clear yet full of those sounds you would have otherwise missed.

Snake

monster_beats_soloHD

Other than racking up a few trophies on the PS3 playing family games in teams of two, we also had a breath of fresh air as we all headed down to Reigate on the 28th December. As usual went through the charity shops and then went for some lunch at The Bell pub in Reigate village. We all had a different burger meal with a different specialty filling, I had a bacon and brie. They also do a great range of ploughman’s lunches to suit every taste ranging from the traditional cheese ploughman’s to a Parma Ham & Salami ploughman’s, oh and don’t be fooled by the size of the outside as this pub is like a tardis. On route home we also stopped at the charity shops in Banstead.

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Seeing the new year in was great to, a nice selections of cheese, biscuits and Port then later at the stroke of midnight a few glasses of Champagne.

new_years_champange

No Agenda

With all the Christmas shopping out of the way, I now have a whole week of doing nothing, no agenda, not a jot until the arrival of my mum and sister on Friday. So it was nice to be able to head into KIngston Upon Thames and meet up with a few friends for a spot of lunch and browsing. Both Wayne and I met up with Nick, Michael, Jamie and his girlfriend Natalie. I must be getting old because whilst shopping Jamie and Natalie made a beeline for ‘Superdry’ and once in the store all of a sudden I did not feel so hip and trendy, I looked at what I was wearing and just thought that I dressed for comfortability, now that is a sign of old age for ya. Is it me or are clothes in stores like this just a label and a rather large price tag or is this the going rate now? I browsed through the racks of clothes and stumbled on a selection of knitwear that would suit me and then only to be confronted with the price, £99 for 100% acrylic top, you having a laugh or what? I know we are in a throw away society but a £99 for something that is gonna last less than a few washes before it goes from a sweat top to a jumper dress, it is nuts.
A visit to kinston would not be complete without a browse in the Apple store even if I did not buy anything. I also had to take a peek into the Pandora shop where my senses overwhelmed me and I just had to have another charm.

Angel

At least one thing that was value for money and worth every penny, lunch at Caffé Castello.

The Run Up

One thing I am proud of, is how organised I can be. Okay I might not do things on time but I will have a reminders list detailing exactly how I am going to perform a task, a day out or a shopping journey. With the run up to Christmas this way of planning is ever more important and I have done it, everything bought, wrapped or refrigerated and now I am going to rest. My mum and sister are coming to stay for the Christmas and new year duration and so as my life seems to be in list format, for their stay I am just going to take things as they happen, no plans just food, drink and fun.

GFNF

So after hitting forty I also hit probably my heaviest weight and though I can handle being forty, one thing I do not want to be is fat and forty. So I have taken a firm hold on ways to control my food intake and also ways to exercise that burn calories. I need it to be fun to do but also for me to be able to maintain, unlike my many failed attempts at the gym. I am aiming for five days a week, a little each day and steadily increase the exercise regime as I get fitter.
I have found three great applications that are helping me on my fitter journey. Calorie counter and diet tracker by ‘MyFitnessPal’ helps me record my calorie intake, iMapMyRun by ‘MapMyFitness’ helps me not only track my walks, runs, hikes or even days out shopping but also but also the calories I have burnt in doing so and finally I use weight monitor by ‘Essence Computing’ to record my weight loss or in some cases weight gain. What I love about weight monitor is that it not only shows your weight progress but also as a trend line, so even if you do put on weight half way through your diet you can see that overall you are losing it.
I aim to GFNF, get fit not fat.

Sunday Lunch

There are some traditions that happen once or twice a year but there is one British tradition that most grow up with and happens weekly, it is the good old Sunday roast.
I was lucky to have grown up with this weekly ritual and on some lucky weeks to have also had a mid week roast. More often or not it was a roast chicken with stuffing, several types of vegetables including the ever feared Brussel sprouts which I actually loved, a Yorkshire pudding accompanied the meal and then covered in lashings of hot meaty gravy made from the juices of the chicken. Wow what lucky child I was.
Remembering back to my childhood, today I am carrying on with the tradition myself still in love with a good Sunday roast but now being much older I sometimes end up being the one slaving in the kitchen doing what my mother used to do and what I took for granted, oh how I hate the preparation. You spend hours in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove and for what? Less than an hour of joy covered in gravy.
Today I still managed to have a Sunday roast but was treated to someone else doing the Sunday ritual as both Wayne and I joined Michèle and Anthony at their place for a gorgeous all the trimmings homemade roast, unfortunate because I was so looking forward to the meal my only photo of Michele and Anthony’s efforts was the empty plate, mind you that goes to show just how much I enjoyed all their efforts. Well done you two, I had a fabulous time.

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Charmed

I cannot quite believe it but my Pandora is very nearly full. Since my birthday I had four new additions.

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gold_rings

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Strawberry

I could possibly squeeze another one or two on there but I think it would look overcrowded so I am looking to start my second bracelet and this time round with bright coloured Murano glass beads.

Update

I know I still have lots to do and I have been neglecting adding what you can physically see or read on this site but I have been busy with all things technical that go on behind the scenes that make this site run smoothly.

Maggie Ward 1950 - 2011

War and Peace 2010

This photo of Maggie and Dave is called ‘War & Peace’ and so appropriately named. Maggie one of the finer ladies in life who was a trooper battling with her own fight to Cancer sadly passed away at her home peacefully at 22:44.
Maggie spent some time in hospital but was soon released and able to be comforted and cared for at home by her husband Dave, sister Irene, daughter Karen and Kate her niece.
Kate would keep us all updated daily by here wonderful and truly touching private blog that she was running on Facebook and now even in Maggie’s passing the tributes, stories and fond memories are still being posted.
I consider myself to be very lucky to have been invited in to the lives of both Dave, Maggie and the Gardeners to whom non of my fond memories of Maggie would ever of happened if it was not for their warm hearts and ever friendly approach to those who they meet.
Maggie gone but not forgotten.

Courtyard Christmas Party

For the past 12 years the Courtyard Clinic have been holding a Christmas party for its users, friends and staff and over the years it has really grown, so much that this years event was held at The Antelope in Tooting. The venue and atmosphere was full of warm happy faces and everyone getting into the festive spirit early. Food was laid on by the Antelope which consisted of a gorgeous array of spicy chicken thighs, salmon and chilli fish cakes, sausage rolls, vegetable couscous, freshly sliced turkey with a warm cranberry sauce, freshly made coleslaw, spinach fajitas and some mini fresh mince pies and an endless supply of Champagne and non alcoholic juices. If that was not enough there was also a kitty for behind the bar and each party guest was given two tickets on entrance to the party. I gave my support this year by turning up and helping with the party as I offered my services in being the door host and greeting guests and handing out the drinks tickets and attaching attendance wrist bands. I really enjoyed myself this year by being involved as I got to meet everyone that turned up, in past years of attending these parties I have just been a guest and caught up with old friends. I had the hidden extra for being on the door as I had an endlessly supply of drink brought to me.
Before the festivities got underway I managed to take a photo and if you click on the photo you may just get the surprise of seeing the venue in full 360º view.

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David Wallis 1951 - 2011

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If it was not for the internet I would have never of met David Wallis, the charming character and a gentlemen amongst gentlemen with a plethora of knowledge but still with a keenness to learn more and so a journey began both Wayne and I as we pulled him into the 21st century with iTunes and then his iPod and finally his iPad.
David was a joy to be around and often he was my guide not just in life but in leisure. David was the walking talking tour guide that everyone wished they had, I was lucky to have been known as ‘one of his boys’.
David had been battling Cancer for many years before I had met him and his fighting spirit and sheer joy of life is what got him through some hard days and nights but alas his fight to Cancer ended on the 13 November 2011.
David I was privileged when you let me lose on some photos of you from you as a baby to present day and let me create a photo of you to be used for 60th birthday invitations and so it seemed fitting to also share this photo and make it the front cover for your order of service book that was created by Wayne Alton.
David you are my farther figure, my encyclopaedia and my old friend that will be truly missed but sure as hell never forgotten.

The Big 40th Aftermarth

Todays blog is dedicated to my gorgeous party guests and the lovely gifts I received.
Like most birthdays they start off with a bit of a buildup and waiting for the post to drop through the letterbox. So here goes with the first of the big THANK YOU announcements.
Thanks to all those of you that sent me a card in the post, there is nothing quite like getting a bit of mail that does not come in a brown envelope.

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Thank you for my selection of gorgeously tasting chocolates, I am still working my way through them and on the odd occasion I am washing them down with a some of that lovely bubbly and wine.

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My Pandora collection that I started earlier this year way back in May has now grown to the point that I have managed to fill my first bracelet, so a big thank you to those that have helped me fill it.

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Skin care and a good beauty regime at our age is hard enough but a few of you bought me enough things that smell, purify, cleanse and brighten up my complexion.

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molton

lush

marks

nivea

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And then there was gifts that just let you know your finally over the hill and on a steady decline.

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And then came a gift or two that were extremely personal that did not fit into any bracket and clearly came from the heart.

1st Apple Card

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I am truly grateful for the generosity to all my friends that bought me birthday gifts and attended my 40th celebration. I will pamper myself for along as I can in the vain that some of my birthday gifts might help halt or reverse the ageing effect. I also noticed that some of the surprises were not just in the gift but also in the unwrapping.

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I am now going to chill and relax with my TeaPigs.

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The Big 40

It was only a matter of time for the inevitable to come around and though I had several reservations about having a birthday party, looking back on it now I am so glad I did celebrate it with my close and true friends.
The preparations started a few weeks before hand when I thought it would be a great idea to have my party guests at the end of the meal let off into the sky some colourful Chinese paper lanterns. So I tracked down a supplier and bought 40 of them, one for each year. It was such a nice touch and lightened up the sky, you had to be there to see just how wonderful it was.
Thinking that would not be enough I also wanted to treat my guests to something for them to take home with them and at past parties I had put together party bags a bit like what the kids have but this time round I thought it what a nice treat for everyone to have their own birthday cake rather than just a slice of one and also some gorgeous individual chocolate slabs from Thorntons.

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The individual cakes are like nothing you have seen before as I had a selection of both cock cupcakes and muff muffins that came in all shapes, sizes and colours, well the cakes were not but the cocks and muffs were. I attempted to make my gay male friends have the muff muffins, funny how I did not have to persuade the girls to help themselves to the large cocks on the cupcakes.

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These cakes were made by The Cake Store in Sydenham where I had got Wayne’s rather rude 40th cake from, both of which were a real talking point.
Oh and do not worry I did have my own slice of cake, I got my very own muff muffin complete with candle.

my_own_cake

40 With A Bang

Who can say that they also had entertainment at their party as my guests were amazed by the antics and magic of Dean. If that was not enough to top off the night, the icing on the cake came by way of a gift from Dean and Debbie Ward in the way of my birthday finally fireworks.



Thank you both for doing something so very special on my birthday, my friends are still talking about it today.

Spa

My birthday was on the horizon and it was no ordinary one, it was the big one, my 40th. I thought that I would take some time out and relax before the weekends birthday celebrations and take a nice day out and some pampering at a spa and a spot of light lunch. I thought at the time I would nice to have some spa treatments at one venue then afterwards head over the Brighton’s marina for lunch. Wayne pointed out to me that we would be feeling a little to chilled out after the treatments that we might want to find a venue that could cater for all our needs. I am glad he suggested we do just that as I then discovered the absolutely gorgeous Lansdowne Place Hotel.
I invited some very dear friends to join me for a facial, hot stone back and neck massage, head massage and then a spot of light lunch at Doyles. It was also an extra treat for two of my guests who could not make Sundays birthday party, well at least now they would not miss out on the birthday celebrations, if anything they were now having some extra special.
My friend Colin who is such a hard working butler and at best of times on days off or booked holidays finds it hard to relax, so I am glad he could make this spa day out as I knew it would be the only time he could truly relax. For the record I had to take a photo just to prove that at times Colin can relax.

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David has been one of my closes and dearly loved gentlemen in my life and with his on going battle with cancer and treatments this was an ideal opportunity that I could spend some time with him away from all things bad that were going on in his life. Unfortunately David had decided that he did not want any treatments as he felt quite fragile but little miss food connoisseur would join us for the luncheon side of things. I am glad he joined us for lunch as I knew he was not eating to well as the cancer treatments he was having were suppressing his appetite.
Thanks to Wayne this little extra treat meant that the five of us could chill out and dine with all the time in the world at something that was exclusively for us to enjoy. I say exclusively as the treatment rooms and dinning area were just for us to enjoy as throughout the whole wonderful experience it was just the five of us. Doyles food was beautifully presented as you can see from the photo below.

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For those that want a little time out and maybe only have a day or so to relax and recharge then I highly recommend a a few spa treatments and a spot of light lunch as The Lansdowne Place Hotel.


MacLife

Since owning a iMac my workflow and productivity has greatly increased and this is due to the fact that Apple once again strive forward on being king of interfaces. What they do just works, do not ask me how, it just does. Even when you take a step back and look at it from a distance some applications structures and keyboard shortcuts just do not seem logical. It is not until you start to use their products that you realise things fit together and I have noticed there is an element of wit entangled into most things. Apples little rewards disguised as easter eggs, take for example ‘Aperture3’, if you look at the menu bar and locate to view> main viewer you will see that Apple thinks you are hot for discovering a how to use the viewing system within aperture.

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It is weird how you do not really get a manual on how to use Apple products, you just instinctively know how to use them fresh from out of the box. I have learnt that over the few months in owning my array of Apple products that information, tips and tricks are very readily available and some times at a cost. Plenty of publications, be it books or monthly magazines are available but I have got to say that the best one on the market has got to be Mac|Life.

MacLife-logo_for web

If you are lucky to own an iPad and happy not to have all the bumf that you get with shop bought magazines then I would highly recommend subscribing to Mac|Life via Apples Newsstand. I do this for three reasons, 1) I am doing my bit for the environment, no trees went into making my copy of Mac|Life, 2) I do not have the clutter of read magazines laying about when I have finished reading them and if I want to re-read them I can download again from my account and finally 3) The cost. If you want a single issue it will set you back £3.99 but if you want it every month under a rolling subscription then it costs just 69p and your only other outlay would be special issues that have always been outside of any subscriptions. All in all what a deal and I am getting so much information out of them, be it fun facts or useful workflow tips and short cuts.

Steve Jobs: 1955 - 2011

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Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple. Apple offers you to share your thoughts, memories and condolences by emailing rememberingsteve@apple.com

Pandora Additions

When you start to collect anything you soon become astutely aware of what is an investment to collect and what can simply be added to your wish list. Most good collectables tend to have a regular refresh rate to their collection and with this in mind some older items are put into a back catalogue for seasonal re-release or discontinued. This is the best time to then add these items to your collection, I see it as once they are gone you then have an item in your collection that is treasured and for dedicated collectors highly sort after. So today I added a few items to my ever growing Pandora bracelet.


Ladybird

Piggy

Ribbed Clip

Côte

David was excellent for educating Wayne and I with his plethora of knowledge but also he had a taste (no pun intended) for all things culinary. David took Wayne and I for lunch to the French restaurant Côte in Brighton to excite our taste buds to somewhere and something new. Wayne and David both had the Steak Frites and I had Poached Egg and Lentils with an infusion of herbs and oils.

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Ventricolee

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Had a great night out with Wayne as he managed to get tickets for Paul Zerdin who was starting his ventriloquism show ‘Sponge fest’. Was a nice and relaxing yet entertaining evening as Paul’s show was starting off at Epsom Playhouse which is a nice sized theatre, not too big and not too small. We had tickets for a box so our seats had plenty of leg room and just added to the comfy experience of seeing the characters of Baby, Albert and the very rude Sam. Paul is a great entertainer in his own right but loves to get the audience involved and at one point Sam was talking to me, even though it is a puppet you are compelled to answer, but Sam being Sam you can expect to get a reply that makes you the joke.


Have You Tried

screme_egg



You know when Halloween or other holidays are close as retailers start to stock their seasonal aisles with things we really do not need. Confectionary companies are not new to this way of selling old sweets with a season twist to them.
I was in Surbition the other day and stumbled on Cadbury’s holiday spin egg, seasonally put for Halloween ‘Screme egg’. Same egg, just the goo that is normally yolk coloured yellow is now green coloured goo.

The Pandora Story

It all started nearly 30 years ago. Back in 1982 a jeweller’s shop that would one day become Pandora was established in modest surroundings in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Danish goldsmith Per Enevoldsen and his wife Winnie.
In 2000, Pandora’s charm bracelet concept was first launched in the Danish market. Consumers embraced the concept, and in the following years, driven by a growing and encouraging demand, the company began to expand internationally.

I have always loved silver jewellery over gold and was immediately drawn to this lovely and yet also very customisable piece of jewellery. My collection started off with a twenty one inch chain and two clips.

21 inch Silver Chain Swirl Clip Flower Clip




Shortly to be followed by a ‘Forever Together’, ‘Silver and Gold Stitch’, ‘Apple and Gold Worm’, ‘Pearly Hearts’ and ‘Twitter Bird’.

Forever Together Silver & Gold Stitch Apple & Gold Worm Mother Of Pearl Hearts Twitter Bird


And now two new additions bought for me at the weekend by my very lovely Wayne, ‘Alarm Clock’ and ‘Dice’. These will soon be no longer available as they are being deleted off of the Pandora catalogue. I consider these two charms as soon to be cherished collectables as they will no longer be found in jewellers.


alarm_clock dice

207cc

How time flies, I cannot believe it but my car is 1 year old today.

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An Apple A Day

I so love my tech! I think I am way ahead of the Smiths and Jones of this world, possibly could have been born a few hundred years too early.
I am finding that slowly but surely I am once again reverting back to my old ways of when I once used a Mac in the publishing field.
One good thing about Apple that has never changed is the ability to take massive technological leaps that leave others standing in the past.
So going back to Apple products, albeit that they are more advanced than ever before, I do not feel that I have to start over again with learning how to use them.
Apple have got it sussed how to use tech in a simple and yet intuitive manner, the iPad is living proof of this in the way children as young as a few years old can just pick up the device, touch and swipe and use applications.
You can see why so many people who have used Apple devices end up being addicted to them. They just feel so right when it comes to practicalities and are also perfectly designed.


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My obsession started with the iPod, then it only felt natural when the iPhone came out, then came the iMac (Intel) and now to add to the collection, the iPad2. This slight obsession has rubbed off on Wayne, who was always so anti-Apple and now he is also slowly but surely being converted to the way of the Apple; he cannot live without his iPhone and now his iPad.
So what is next?

Scratches And Scrapes

I am very particular with where I park my car and in some cases if I cannot park in a safe place then my plans either no plans are made or cancelled.
Today I had a photo shoot in Brighton. At the best of times parking is both hard enough and costly. Depending on where you park seems to affect the parking fees. I could not begin to imagine the dramas residents must go through in order to park near to their homes.
Because my client lives in an area where parking spaces are for residents only, I was forced to park along the sea front. However a further drama was to unfold when leaving to go home.
I was washing my car the next day and as I was leathering the car down, I thought I noticed some dirt that I had missed. However it was not… it was some scrape marks, roughly the size of my hand. As I knew they were not there the day before, I assumed I had done this when pulling away. In fact thinking back, I heard a scraping noise and got out of the car to check the alloy wheels and saw nothing. I assume that that was when I caused the damage to the front bumper.
Well, owing to the wonderful skills of Ian Johnson at Paintbox, Cheam, my car is now back in pristine condition after what I call ‘a bit of a make-up’.


No Flies On Me

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Despite the rain today, it was not going to put me off going down to Brighton to visit my good friend David. Of course, It would have been nice to have driven there with the roof down and the music playing but the rain really put a stop to that.
It would be typical of the weather clearing up when I finally got into Brighton. What this meant was that David and I could have a nice cup of tea and a chat with the balcony door open and a gentle breeze coming in. However that does not stop the pesky bugs and flies from coming in and making themselves welcome too, or as David and I would see it, not so welcome.
The only way to stop this was to erect a fly screen but with so many different types of screens out there, which one is best?
After trial and error and realising that flimsy plastic strips do not work, David found the solution. With a little bit of handy work and a few screws later, David now has a brand new chain fly screen.


Look No Wires

How times change, remember the days when you could only print in dots and only in one colour?
Now all that has changed and you can now print in all manner of colours, you even get the option to add a bit of extra oomph with a touch of photo cyan or magenta. Now that has all changed again and printing has gone full tech with the ability to print with no wires, they call it wireless printing. Hey you do not even need a computer to print from these days.
Of course you know that I would not leave it there. I would be finding the solution for the next leap in printing tech. Well, I have done it now as I am the proud owner of an ‘AirPrinter’.
I dare say you are wondering what is an ‘AirPrinter’?
Simply put, it is Apple’s next-generation Wi-Fi print architecture that dramatically simplifies printing by completely eliminating printer drivers and letting you print directly from your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and of course your Mac.
If you were thinking that because you may not own any Apple products that you would be somewhat left out, well, Apple has changed that too as they are for evermore being the company that do not leave anyone out; you too can join the party. If you are on the same network then you too can print via ‘AirPrint’ as easy as that.
Here is that very ‘proof in the pudding’.

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Sunday Verses Monday

I love a Sunday for those quiet mornings of not doing anything in particular and then looking forward to a nice Sunday roast with all the trimmings, often followed by vegging out in front of the telly, letting your dinner go down as you watch that Sunday afternoon film, more often than not falling asleep to it.
I have to say there is now strong competition between a Sunday and a Monday. I guess you are wondering why I now look forward to a Monday? Well, Sunday dinner is now a nice plump bird (sorry to all those vegetarians) that goes down a treat. The fact that it is normally only myself and partner who eats this plump bird, then there is lots of meat left over. So now I boil up the carcase in a stock and then after a few hours of it simmering, the meat just falls off the bone and nothing is put to waste as I make a homemade chicken and sweetcorn soup ready for Monday.




On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!

Okay here goes.
It has taken some time to get to this stage but I am finally here and about to start on a new journey. I am putting my fingers firmly on the keyboard and starting to type.
So if you are interested and want to know more then keep your eyes peeled and watch this space.
It has only just started.

Incy Wincy

We all have our fears, yes all of us. Most of us fear something that walks, breaths, slithers or creeps and then there are those of us that fear other entities.
Now the typical household spider creeps across your lounge floor late at night under the cover of darkness but then you have the brave ones that come out in the day hopping to be unnoticed. This one made the mistake of doing just that and fortunately here at home we have a spider catcher.

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