Thursday, 1 September 2022

1st September 2022...A change in proceedings

So today should have been Day 896 for those of you who have been watching, but I've decided to make a change.

This blog originally started back in 2012 as a way to chat about my passion and love for all things Disney, but especially the parks. Over the years it evolved to include my approach to a healthy lifestyle, the changes I made and the impacts they had, my love for tattoos and sometimes it covered just life in general.

Fast forward to March of 2020 when the whole world went crazy and we found ourselves in a situation that was unique, scary and to use the buzzword of the time, unprecedented; I am of course talking about lockdown. With time on my hands and an urge to write I decided to start a blog entry per day, a diary if you will, to record what was happening not just in my life but in the world around us; it was to be a 'lockdown diary'. After all none of us had ever experienced anything like this and I thought it would be interesting to record what happened, how long it lasted (remember at this point we were told two weeks to flatten the curve!) and how it impacted all of our lives.

My decision to write was purely a selfish one; to record what was happening in my life, how the world events were affecting me and those close to me as well as from time to time chance for me to vent and express my own opinions as to what was happening, and perhaps even share information along the way. Like I said this wasn't started for any specific reason, it wasn't started to find fame or fortune or to find recognition. It was for me, by me and if anyone else wanted to read along then that was fine and if they liked what they were reading then that was a bonus. I had no idea back then that over two years later I would still find myself compelled to 'keep a diary' and that it would have reached in excess of 890 days worth of events.

Back in October of 2020 I found myself struggling to keep the writing going and interestingly I have found those same feelings resurfacing of late. I even began a blog post back then that I never published but that I now find myself referring back to. I think the simple act of writing out my feelings was cathartic and meant I was able to re-focus on what I was doing and how I presented it to the world. I am going to use those words from October 2020 to help me with todays post as I think that what I put down in words then is still as valid today.

October 2020

'My writing has been questioned and no doubt my writing about it being questioned will also get questioned but I am not going to let any other opinions out there stop me from doing what I want and writing about what I want, that is personal to me in a forum that I have chosen to write in.

I have been told that the manor in which I write reveals more about me than I reveal in person...does it? I don't know, I can't possibly know because I am not aware that the person I appear to be in person is any different to the person that is writing this. I will admit to not being the most talkative person and that sharing some things can be a challenge for me and so perhaps writing it down, without judgement or interruption, is easier for me.

I have been told that the manor in which I write is opinionated and aggressive; two words that I would never have associated with myself. Yes, I have opinions on a variety of subjects but that is not the same as being opinionated, the definition of which is 'characterised by conceited assertiveness and dogmatism'. I like to think that I can recognise that everyone has their own views of the world and while I will always try to impart whatever knowledge I may have I know that there will always be disagreements and thought processes and that is fine. I have always said that I will not force my views on others providing they do the same with me. We have to accept that we will not all think the same and that is fine, it's what makes us all individuals, after all it would be no fun if we were all the same. I strive to accept that I will not always be right, that I am open to information that may change my understanding and therefore my opinion. We have to accept that change will happen, it may not always be what we want but it will happen and we need to find a way to embrace and accept it to be able to move on and change and adapt ourselves.

Aggressive; now I don't wish to sound conceited but I have never thought myself to be an aggressive person, in fact I have been accused in the past of being too laid back. I may be passionate about things that I hold dear and if my passion has been interpreted as being aggressive then I can only apologise. There may have been times over the last 220 plus days that I have attempted to express my frustrations or anger at situations, often situations that are too big for me to have any impact on or any control over and again being aggressive was never my intention.'

So that's where we were almost two years ago and again I have gotten to a point where I am letting the opinions of others, whether known individuals or strangers, temper what I write and how I want to write it. I find myself censoring my dialogue rather than allowing myself to write openly, freely and with passion.

Like I said above I have my own set of opinions and beliefs and these will not always sit well with some of those who happen to take the time to read. But they are just my opinions and I recognise that some may agree and some may not, but I think I have the right to be able to express those opinions without dealing with abuse from those who have their own differing opinions. I would never presume to aggressively attack someone just for not agreeing one hundred percent with my way of thinking, but it would appear others out there are happy to attack and deride without any constructive purpose at heart.

In this world we will not always agree with each other and that can be frustrating but we have to sometimes agree to disagree. We have to respect each others right to have those opinions, we should listen and be respectful, we should hear what people have to say and be open to those alternate view points but if we don't hold the same viewpoint then so be it. Respect each other, learn from each other and move along. 

Sometimes we will discover new information that will change our thoughts and minds and that's fine; that's how it should be. We should be open to learning, to expanding our knowledge, to understanding and appreciating positions that could be totally alien to us. But if we can do that then so should others with equally strong opinions.

Let me have my voice and I will let you have yours. Neither of us should stop the other from expressing their true feelings, their true worth nor made to feel belittled or an outsider because they may differ from the perceived 'norm'. No-one should be made to feel any less of a person simply because opinions don't always align.

At the end of the day there is always another channel to watch, another blog to read or simply the 'off switch' to be found. No-one is being forced to read or watch anything, if you don't like it then simply move along and find something that you do like and enjoy. Stop wasting your time and energy on fighting battles that you will never have any resolve for, find your tribe and enjoy them.

And so where does all that leave this blog? Well the blog will keep on going but it will be back to its original intent as a space for me to share my thoughts, my feelings, my tattoos, my love of Disney and my approach to life. I'm sure that there will be posts where I will use the medium to vent against issues that I have no control over, or issues that I feel passionate about but I will strive to write what I want, about what I want, when I want and in my own way because it is right for me and no-one else.

The past 890 plus days have been interesting to say the least...that two weeks to flatten the curve turned out to be much, much longer and contorted than any of us could have possibly imagined. We have had lockdowns, tiers, social distancing, masks, vaccines, mandates, eat out to help out and more. And although the world is more 'normal' than it has ever been since Day 1 it still has some way to go to get us completely back to how we used to be. Will we ever get there I wonder? I hope so, but who can tell? I know that at the moment the world does not feel completely like it did in 2019 and I guess somethings may never go back to how they were but all we can do is hang on in there and watch it all unfurl.

Things will change, some we will like and some we won't but we will persevere and do our best to move forward with positivity and make the most of whatever comes our way.

See you next time.
xx

Monday, 29 August 2022

Day 892 & Day 893

Day 892...Sunday

We had a lovely evening out at our friends anniversary party yesterday...

We don't scrub up too bad!
...and it was great to be able to catch up with people we hadn't seen for way too long!

So, after a slow start to the day we set off on a shortish early morning walk of just 1.8 miles in 36 minutes and stopping to pick blackberries along the way.

We then decided that today would be all about catching up with a few things on our joint 'to do list'. First it was a trip to Lidl simply because we were running out of too many things and I couldn't put it off any longer.

After lunch we got our tattoo ideas finalised into one document that I could then send over to my tattooist. When we see him in a couple of weeks I have two tattoos that I would like doing and Simon also has one planned, so we just needed to commit to what we both wanted. Over the course of the day we have had the 3D printer working hard printing more sections of the model that we are working on which has meant some more clean up of finished prints along with a little 3D modelling work for Simon.

Mid-afternoon we decided to escape the four walls and go out for coffee; a chance to chat and re-connect without distractions.

Back home and I was able to complete my latest jigsaw...

...and Simon was able to make a start on his next piece of digital art.

That was pretty much it for Sunday; a quiet and chilled out sort of day.

Day 893...Monday

Today was a bank holiday which meant that Ethan had the day off from work along with Simon's usual Monday off.

We decided that we would get up and head into Nottingham for a wander and a poke around the shops. So rather than our morning walk over the fields we instead had an urban stroll which ultimately led us to Caffe Nero for coffee. We did cut our walk a little short as it tried to rain at one point and we had no umbrellas or jackets with us, this just meant we got to have coffee sooner.

Around lunchtime we had our first meal of the day which was burgers from Five Guys; as I've previously talked about Five Guys is a great choice for anyone following a keto or low carb lifestyle as you are able to order the burgers without buns. Double bacon cheeseburger with green peppers and mushrooms for me!

Although we had popped into a few shops we came back empty handed as there was nothing that really caught our eyes. But it was simply just nice to be out and about and taking in the sights and sounds of the city.

The remainder of the day saw Simon add the two pieces of R2D2 that he's been working on over the last few weeks. A couple of arms that were missing from behind a couple of the panel doors. They were a little tricky to put into place so I was needed to assist and hold things! I was also able to clean up some more 3D prints...I think I'm getting quite adept at it now! And our new printer is proving to be very reliable and is generating solid prints each time, a definite worth while investment in replacement of the old printer which was slower, smaller and would often run into hiccups!

And to finish off the day we headed down the gym for our first workout of the week. I'm trying to be mindful of my left shoulder and avoid any moves which seem to aggravate it, not sure what I've done to it but I think it just needs some rest before I try and do too much with it. Time will tell!

See you all tomorrow all being well.

xx

 

Saturday, 27 August 2022

Day 890 & Day 891

Day 890...Friday

The morning was bright, sunny and a little chilly but within 36 minutes we had our usual 1.9 mile walk completed.

My morning started off with a few household chores; some laundry and some cleaning around. But once those jobs were out the way I took the time to paint my nails; not something I do that often and apart from an odd occasion where I've paid to have them done, it's something I tend to do myself. I do have a UV gel nail kit that Simon bought me a few years ago but it still takes a fair while to get them done that way so a cheap bottle of quick drying, one coat varnish is my preferred go to option!

Not a bad effort for a £1 nail varnish from Primark!
Maybe now that I am retired I could take advantage of the extra time and actually indulge in a manicure every now and then. Trouble is I know once I start it will become a habit, and not a cheap one at that! Best dig out that UV light instead.

But with freshly done nails it gave me the perfect excuse to sit outside in the sunshine (to let them dry of course), enjoy a coffee and catch up on a little reading.

After lunch it was a mixture of little tasks. I had a present to wrap ahead of going out tomorrow evening, there was another 3D print that needed cleaning up, more research on the ideas for my next tattoo, some jigsaw time and re-connecting with an old friend over social media.

An old friend of ours had posted on social media about the different medications they now find themselves on and so both Simon and I had reached out to chat about diet and lifestyle choices. With both of us living a low carb/keto life we are keen to pass on what information we have gained over the years. Often people do not want to know what we do, they are content to carry on as they are and just take a pill that will make everything alright. Our approach is to do the utmost that we can to eat right and live right to try and stack the odds in our favour so that we can avoid as much of the possible downfalls of getting older that we can. No-one can ever rule out getting something horrid but at least we can try and put ourselves in the best possible position for dealing with it or avoiding it completely. For once our old friend didn't dismiss what we had to say and so we started chatting and hopefully we have been able to point them in the right direction. 

On this blog I have a couple of pages 'Eating Well, Staying Healthy' and 'Getting Real' which document my approach to a healthy lifestyle and my progress. Both of these pages are a few years old now so I think they are due either an update or a new additional page and I'm hoping to find some time to do just that. Please check the pages out if you want to know a little more about what I do!

Friday was rounded out with a gym session although I really wasn't feeling it tonight for some reason. My left shoulder can sometimes cause me issues and I think tonight was one of those nights and I perhaps just need to give myself a little more recovery time in between those sessions where I focus on my shoulders. But I still got down the gym and did something which has to be better than nothing.

Day 891...Saturday

We had a more gentle getting up this morning and with a coffee inside us headed out for our morning walk. As we had a few things that we wanted to get done today we just stuck to our usual 1.9 mile route and in 37 minutes we were back home again.

The morning was taken up with helping Simon with an interview he'd been asked to do for a retro gaming journalist in Russia! A fair few years ago (like over 20 years ago) Simon had been the lead designer on a game called Shadowman that seems to have developed a bit of a cult following as he often gets asked about his time working on it. Often Simon will be approached with questions for magazine articles but in this case the journalist is working on a documentary and so Simon thought it would be better to video his answers to the questions. This involved a little bit of set-up to get the positioning and lighting just right. We had decided to invest in a stand that will hold either a phone or video camera that comes with its own light ring as well as a small clip on microphone which once set made the whole process so much easier. And before we knew it the morning had flown by and it was time for lunch.

After lunch I decided to get caught up with writing this blog as I'd run out of time yesterday while Simon edited the mornings video before sending them off. It was also chance to get some more tattoo research done (yes I know more...but it has to be right!) so hopefully I can now get the images sent over to my tattooist at some point this weekend.

I decided to get a little jigsaw done before taking the time to get my make-up sorted ready for going out later in the evening. We are helping some friends of ours celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary and they have hired out a room at the pub across the road from where we live, which is very convenient. So for the first time in a while we are going 'out, out' so I thought I'd better put my best face on. I don't tend to do full make-up very often as it's normally just a bit of mascara, touch of blush, some lipstick and off we go so today I got chance to play with some eye colours. I'm not one for 'natural' colours and have always preferred to go for something brighter but I always feel out of practice so I made sure I gave myself plenty of time rather than rushing at the last minute.

And that is where I'm going to leave it for today...time to go out and have some fun.

See you all tomorrow.
xx

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Day 889

Day 889...

The day started very grey, overcast and a touch cooler than of late but we still ventured out over the fields and did our usual 1.9 miles in 37 minutes once again.

I then had the Lidl shop to contend with. And despite the main road between home and Lidl being closed it wasn't as much of an inconvenience as I'd feared.

Whilst I'd been out Simon had found a couple of really interesting articles to read. So with a coffee in hand I took the time to read them; one was about the decisions taken surrounding the pandemic and the way those decisions were enacted and confirmed that they hadn't taken the full affects of lockdown into account. It also highlighted just how appalling the use of fear tactics were which are still evident to this day as witnessed by myself whilst at Lidl; an older man wearing a mask and rubber gardening gloves...if you are that concerned then why on earth are you out mingling with all of us unclean people?!! The other article was looking at the best way to exercise to make the most of the effort that you put in; basically making sure you maintain good form and work until you are exhausted.

After lunch I spent a good length of time online bringing together my ideas for my upcoming tattoo in a couple of weeks. I know what I want I just need to find the images that I'm happiest with to pass onto my tattooist. Still a little more work to be done but my eyes were beginning to cross so I decided to leave it alone and finish it probably tomorrow.

I also managed a little 3d print clean up as Simon is powering through getting more and more pieces printed.

Printed piece with our clean-up tool of choice

Removing the edge that is not needed
I then squeezed in a little jigsaw time before heading down the gym for an abs and glutes workout.

And all that is left to do today is to watch this weeks episode of She-Hulk and see how this Marvel series is going to pan out!

See you all tomorrow.
xx

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Day 887 & Day 888

Today we have two days for the price of one...

Day 887...Tuesday

As Simon was back at work we resumed our shorter early morning walk and did our usual route of 1.9 miles in 37 minutes. My legs definitely felt it for some reason this morning and I was not loving the fact that this route is a tad on the hilly side.

My morning was spent catching up on a few jobs around the house, some cleaning, ironing and bits. I even managed to squeeze in a little jigsaw time before lunch.

After lunch I headed out to meet up with a friend for coffee at a local garden centre which has a lovely cafe called PipTree. It was very busy but we were able to grab a table outside and despite the very grey clouds it was lovely and warm and stayed dry. As a treat we both indulged in a cream tea which is one of my favourite guilty pleasures...although I'm not sure my stomach agrees with me one hundred percent. The effect of adopting a low carb/keto way of eating can sometimes mean that those indulgences don't always still as well digestively speaking as they perhaps once did. A combination of sugars and especially grains can sometimes make for a bit of a grumbly stomach. But we had a lovely couple of hours catching up and putting the world to rights.

Back home and it was time to have a play with our new purchase...a soda stream! Having gotten fed up of not being able to buy sparkling water we have indulged in a soda stream, not something I ever thought we would own but now we do. We won't be adding all the various syrups that are available as we don't drink any sodas of any variety, it will simply be for sparkling water with perhaps some fresh fruit added for a little extra flavour.

Then Simon gave me a quick lesson in 3D printer clean-up! Basically this is taking the printed part and snipping off any support structure and base layers...one of those weirdly addictive jobs!

I even managed another half hour with my jigsaw before I headed down the gym. Tonight it was all about kettle bell and body weight exercises targeting glutes and abs!

Day 888...Wednesday

Up and out again for another early morning walk with very grey skies but still warm and thankfully a breeze which meant it didn't feel as muggy as yesterdays walk had. But it was 1.9 miles in 37 minutes completed before 9am.

The majority of my morning was taken up with some gardening, or as I like to call it 'cleaning the outdoors' as that's what it feels like. It was a couple of hours of sweeping up leaves, cutting back plants, cleaning out grates and weeding. Not my favourite job but one that needed doing and one that I wanted to get done in case it decided to rain later on. I need to get some weedkiller sprayed around as well but that will have to wait until we have a dry weather forecast.

On a positive this morning both my brother and I have finally received an interim payment from the solicitors in respect of my dads estate. It has taken them since the beginning of the month to get this processed, their systems are so archaic. In fact my brother challenged them on why it was taking so long as he, like me, has worked in banking and, like me, knows how smoothly transactions can and should be processed. He was told because 'that's the way it's always been done' - unbelievable! They seem to be working about three decades out of whack with the rest of the world. And whilst neither myself or my brother were in need of the payment, and it wasn't a large payment either, we just felt that it belonged to us and should be with us rather than lining the accounts of the solicitors!

After lunch my task was to sort out the butchers order which had arrived late morning. I had 4.5 kg of bacon, 100 sausages, 5kg of chicken and 5kg of steak mince to split into meal sized portions and freeze.

It was late afternoon before I finally stopped and took a few minutes out to enjoy a coffee and move some jigsaw pieces about. Before I knew it Simon had finished work for the day and it was time to head down our gym in the rain. It's on days like this that having the gym in the garage only a short distance from the house is really appreciated. Tonight it was an arms workout for me.

And there we have a couple of days, see you all tomorrow.
xx

Monday, 22 August 2022

Day 886

Day 886...

Before we headed out on our early morning walk Simon spent a little time setting up the 3D printer. He had the print from overnight to remove, which is always a bit of a tricky job, and then the next print to set going as this was going to take most of the day. 

We had a bit of a longer walk this morning managing 3.3 miles in 1 hour and 11 minutes which was a bit of a slower pace due to the picking of blackberries. I think this is the third week we have been able to pick berries when out on our walk and we filled a tub that resulted in 600g of blackberries for the freezer.

Next on the agenda was a trip out to Ikea which we did with a short stop by our local recycling centre as we had a few items that we needed to get rid of. At Ikea we purchased some new everyday cups, three new saucepans and a couple of drawer organiser inserts.

Whilst at the retail park we decided to pop into the sports store Decathlon for no other reason than to just have a look around. As it was we found a couple of 5kg bar weights that will not only work for the bar but will also work as an alternate to my dumbbells. I already use a couple of 5kg dumbbells but find them awkward to hold for a couple of exercises but these new weights are shaped like a steering wheel and will be much easier for me to move about.

New weights, working out this evening
We arrived home and it was time for our first meal of the day...our lunch/brunch or whatever we want to call it and we were both more than ready for it today. Some days the hunger just gets to you!

Then for some reason my mood was just 'off' this afternoon, I didn't know what to do with myself and so we put on some random daft TV programme. I even attempted my jigsaw but couldn't lose myself in it like I would normally. So we decided that we would head down the gym and for me it was an arm and shoulders work out tonight.

Over the course of the day Simon has had great success with not only successful 3D prints but also completing his latest piece of digital art. The only downside he discovered was that he'd painted the details on the wrong piece of his recent R2D2 prints. He'd diligently and carefully added painted detail over the course of the weekend and then this evening realised that out of the two very similar looking pieces he had printed he'd painted the wrong one. Hopefully he will be able to sand back the paint and recover both pieces; just a tad annoying as it was a very slow and precise painting process that he will now have to repeat.

And with that I will see you all tomorrow.
xx

Sunday, 21 August 2022

Day 885

Day 885...

I think this will be a relatively short post today as I am writing it fairly late on in the day.

This morning our first job was to nip out to Asda to collect our grocery shop order. Once upon a time Asda was my go to supermarket of choice but lately I have become more and more frustrated with its lack of choice, lack of availability, poor substitutions and general price increases. I think going forward I will use them for big bulky items but keep the majority of my shopping to my local Lidl instead.

There was a little more shopping to be done today but that was online as I needed to place an order with the butchers that I use. So much easier to order great quality products, in bulk and for delivery on a day of my choosing.

After our lunch/brunch Simon and I decided to take a trip into Derby for a wander around and to pick up a few things. This involved stops at Paperchase, Damaged Society, Lakeland and of course Primark; quite an eclectic mix of shops today! We then took some time to enjoy a coffee at Caffe Nero before heading home.

Today has also been all about the 3D printer. Simon has been tinkering with it to get the best possible prints out of it and he has managed to get a few more pieces printed. It is now busy printing a larger section of the model Simon is creating and will be busy printing for the next 9 hours!

Simon has also managed to get some painting completed on some extra parts for his R2D2 as well as some digital painting for his latest art creation. My creative juices were a little more simpler and directed at my current jigsaw!

And with that I will see you all tomorrow.
xx