Saturday 24 December 2022

Time for an Overdue Blog Post - Part One!

Well it's been a while since my last blog post at the end of October so figured I'd better put finger to keyboard and get writing!

Thankfully I've had the presence of mind to make a few notes over the last few weeks as I'd really like to try and keep the diary approach to writing going. So what's been happening and where to start?

Let's kick off with a bit of Disney travel news. For the first time since 2019 I can now say we have a Disney holiday booked but this time it will be a first for us as we have booked a cruise! Not only will this be our first Disney cruise but it will be our first cruise ever!

After a lot of debating and being swayed by friends who have this year experienced both Disney and non-Disney cruises we have taken the plunge and booked ourselves a place on the Disney Dream sailing out of Southampton, UK next September. Our 7 night cruise will see us venturing north as we take in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and Sandnes in Norway. This does mean lots of research ahead for me not only about the ports we will be visiting but also all about cruising Disney style.

Since the end of October we have continued with our early morning walks getting out most mornings although we have now resorted to wellies when we venture out over the fields. 

Our cold showers each morning are now embedded in our routine and I have now joined Simon with the Wim Hof breathing method. I have surprised myself by being able to let myself 'indulge' in this 10 minute practice and this in turn has resulted in me giving meditation a try. I have always been reluctant to try meditation as the thought of 'giving in' to something really didn't sit very well with me at all...the act of 'giving up control' felt very alien to me. But after getting used to the calm of the breathing I have now started with some simple 10 minute meditations and have surprised myself with how easy they have been and how I have actually been able to 'let go' and simply 'be' in the moment.

At the end of October we were able to join a Star Wars troop with our Joker Squad buddies at Leicester Comic Con. This was the first time trooping with Joker Squad in over three years! And although we were small in number we were still able to entertain and make people smile. 

Then in November we hooked up with our East Midlands Garrison crew at a local pub's Sci-Fi quiz night which helped raise money for the charity PASIC. 

Not sure how good Stormtroopers are at pulling a pint!!

We had hoped to attend PASIC's Christmas Party earlier this month but as we both had a very slight cold we decided to stay away as all the children attending would be immunocompromised and we didn't want to risk passing anything on.

At the beginning of November Simon had a week off from work and we took advantage of the time productively. We dragged Ethan out shopping with us for a day, luring him with the promise of food and coffee and while he came home empty handed Simon did pick up a couple of shirts.

Next I had a day booked with Saint Heywood at Acadia Tattoo for my latest round of Disney ink. This time it was combining my love of the attraction 'It's A Small World' with the art style of Jerrod Maruyama...

Work in progress

Line work done and colour just started

Finished result

It was then time to take a trip 'up north' for a few days. We started by having a couple of nights in York staying in an old fashioned style of hotel which kind of evoked 'Fawlty Towers' type vibes! But York was as lovely as ever; we walked for miles, drank lots of coffee, had some lovely meals out (great to find a Byron Burger restaurant and a fab tapas too!), more walking, chance to play with my new camera, shopping and more coffee! A short trip which resulted in new shoes for Simon and new jigsaws for me courtesy of the York Outlet mall.

After York we moved a little further north to visit Stockton-on-Tees for a couple more nights. The reason for visiting here was to revisit an area that is very familiar to both Simon and I. For me this is the part of the country where I was born and so consequently I still have lots of family members who live in the surrounding area and who I hadn't seen in a fair few years. For Simon he had spent around 5 years working in Stockton, and living there during the week as it was too big a distance from home to commute. We both have lots of great memories of the area, and of the people, and so it was great to get the chance to re-visit after a lot of years away.

We were able to see quite a lot of my relatives over the course of a couple of days and we have vowed to return when the weather is kinder (it was rather wet!) and the days are longer so that we can explore further.

Throughout the last couple of months I have been trying to clear stuff from my dads house and as a result have become quite skilled at using Ebay! Consequently there has been lots of cataloguing of items, photos taken, items listed, sales made, items packed and trips to the local post office. And every time we get a delivery it means that boxes and packing materials have to be saved; thank goodness we have a shed for storage!

Ready for a trip to the post office

And with it being the run up to Christmas I decided that a review of my Christmas decorations was in order, particularly my outdoor lights. I knew I had a couple of sets that were not working 100% so I decided to invest in some new sets; this resulted in three sets of string lights and a light-up tree!

Obligatory testing of lights!

This did then mean a few days tidying the garden (in the rain) to get everywhere ready as well as planning out how to get everything plugged in. Having had some new outdoor sockets installed over the summer I had the power but needed to make sure that we had sufficient weatherproof boxes for all the cables, plugs and extension leads. Plans were drawn so that when it came to putting them all up it should be a relatively straight forward process.

And we have reached mid-November so let's leave it there as I make a start on a new post.

See you soon.

Saturday 29 October 2022

Since we last spoke...

After a few weeks away from the keyboard I thought I would check back in with a bit of a look back over what I've been up to of late...and if truth be told I've attempted to start this post many times over.

It's not that I haven't had something to write but that I've simply gotten out of the habit of writing. Whilst doing my 'lockdown diary' (for want of a better description) I had a 'reason' for writing something every day. I had given myself a challenge of writing a record of what was happening to me and the world around me. But after completing 893 days worth of my diary I had begun to feel that all I was recording was the mundane, the every day happenings of my life and that if I was to write it needed to be less often and with more to write about.

I knew that recording my life as a 'diary' would have days where nothing much happened or nothing that I felt was worthy of being written down, and as the pandemic moved on and life became more 'normal' there was less for me to muse about and pass comment on. And on the odd occasion that I did venture out into the realm of opinions I was disappointed by the negativity levied my way in return. After all I was writing to document my life and my thoughts and not to please others. But I discovered that this did not sit well with my innate nature of wanting to please and not cause anyone I stopped writing. I didn't want any confrontation with anyone and I let that (and them) stop me doing what I wanted to here we are and I am going to attempt to write more often than I have of late just because I want to.

So what have I been up to over the last six, or more, weeks?

Well, our usual routine has continued and we attempt to get out first thing most mornings for our daily walk. Weekdays we tend to be out and about around 8am and stick to a shorter route of a couple of miles while at the weekends we may stretch our legs a little further or simply venture into the likes of Nottingham for more of an urban stroll. Since getting a fitness tracker back in the middle of May I have now recorded just over 300 miles walked, which I think is pretty good going. Not only is it good for us physically to be out and about by simply moving and absorbing vitamin D, but there is something about being outside in the fresh air that is good for the sole. It also gives Simon and I the time together and the time to talk without the trappings of 'life' getting in the way.

Cold showers are still apart of my daily routine although I have drawn a line in the sand and am sticking to my limit of 3 minutes and 30 seconds! I understand the beneficial effects that cold showers can produce but it doesn't mean I have to like them! Simon is now persuading me to try the Wim Hof breathing method which I think I maybe taking him up on...I will report back at some point in the future and let you know how I fair!

Over the course of the last few months we have made a few tweaks to our diet and exercise routine. We are still following a keto/low carb way of eating but have reduced the saturated fat content to see if it can make any difference to our overall good health. We have also increased our strength training sessions from twice a week to three times a week with a further two workouts that concentrate on body-weight exercises aimed at core/abs and legs. We have found a doctor to work with who understands the keto way of eating and approach to a healthy well being and we are fine tuning what we do and how we do it. As part of that we are still using an intermittent fasting approach to our meals with our first meal of the day now being around lunchtime rather than first thing in the morning. All of these approaches seem to be working for us, both physically and mentally.

The beginning of September saw us take a little day trip over to Macclesfield to visit my tattooist Saint Heywood at Acadia Tattoo. It had been about thirteen months since my last tattoo and I still had a number of ideas for what I wanted and where. By the end of the day I came away with a new piece to my left leg, a small addition to my right wrist and Simon came away with some script to his right arm.

Left leg - Three Good Fairies from Sleeping Beauty; Fauna, Flora & Merryweather
My smaller tattoo was in remembrance of my dad who passed away in March. When my mum died in 2015 I had a small gold star inked on my wrist to remember her by, as we all inevitably become stardust when we pass, and so it was only fitting to have the same again in memory of my dad.
Gold star for my dad

Script for Simon...a quote from the book Slaughterhouse 5 'So it goes'

And I already have another date booked in the diary for the beginning of November as I still have more ideas for yet more Disney themed ink.

Around the middle of September we had another road trip and this time we headed over to Birmingham as we had a concert booked. We have been long time fans of an LA based band called She Wants Revenge who over their career have had moments where the band has no longer been together and so getting an opportunity to see them live in concert has been rare. We saw them for the first time in a very small nightclub in Sheffield back in 2012 and we thought that would be the only chance we ever got to see them. Fast forward to 2019 and an announcement that they were back together and touring which led to us seeing them in Islington in London; and again we thought that would be the last time we would see them live. And then lo and behold a new tour was announced which seemed initially to concentrate on the US but before long they announced dates for the UK and Europe and with a date announced for Birmingham it meant it was a no brainer for us as it was only an hour away. So the band we thought we would be extremely lucky to see once we have now seen three times, and each time we have seen them they have played small venues and each time they have been phenomenal.

A little later in September we were able to join our fellow Star Wars cosplayers at Huddersfield Comic Con as part of the East Midlands Garrison and spend a day making people smile, posing for photos and raising money for the charity PASIC. We opted for Stormtrooper for Simon and Governor Pryce for myself.

This was our first time out trooping since Simon had broken his wrist back in May and happily we have another date coming up towards the end of October with our good friends from Joker Squad.

And in other 'geek' news Simon was approached by the soon to be opening 'Derby Computer Museum' about his time working for Derby based computer games companies Gremlin Graphics and Core Design. Inside the museum there is a room dedicated to British computer games from their beginning up until around 1999 and Simon has been able to provide them with some artwork as well as a video interview. Core Design produced the game Rick Dangerous which Simon developed way back in 1988/89 and still to this day is the game he will get asked about more than any of the others he has worked on.

Simon was only too happy to get involved and donated a signed poster, scans of his original drawings and notes, as well as spending a couple of hours recording the interview. Although we did have a slight recording issue when memory cards became corrupted so he did have to sit for a second recording! But this did mean that on our second visit I was able to donate a working Nintendo Gameboy and games to add to their collection. The museum will be opening on Saturdays from the 3rd December and we have been invited to their launch party towards the end of November!

At the end of September we had a few days booked away to go and see Molly and Dan down in Bournemouth. The last time we'd seen them was in July when they had travelled to see us for a weekend so it was great to be able to take a few days off and spend a little longer with them. 

The visit also involved a trip to Ninja Warrior in Southampton! Molly and Dan had been there earlier in the year and were very keen to get Simon to have a go (they knew better than to ask me!!). Thankfully Simon had recovered from his broken wrist (with no help from the promised physiotherapy that never materialised!) and was more than happy to join in the fun. I took on the role of videographer and photographer for the day while they all threw themselves around from one obstacle to another. And whilst it was not something that I would do it was a great couple of hours of fun and sweat and was very well organised. There were two courses to complete as well as a very large inflatable course all of which you could complete as many times as you wanted within your booked session time. I think Simon was pretty pleased with his efforts and managed to 'keep up' with the 'young 'uns'!

Posing after two hours of warrior stuff!

Over the course of our time in Bournemouth we had some lovely meals out, walked lots of miles and encountered an arts festival that had taken over the whole of the town centre. There was even a 'Drum and Base on a Bike' event happening which took us slightly by surprise as we wandered through the town. It was a completely separate event to the arts festival and involved around 200 or more people cycling while drum and base music blasted out; it was a most peculiar, yet invigorating site to see.

On our way home from seeing Molly and Dan we took an extra night to stop over in Surrey so that we could catch up with Simon's work colleagues who are all based in that area. Simon had not seen his colleagues in person since February of 2020!!

Just before we embarked on our time away down South I decided to buy myself a camera; a proper DSLR camera! Photography is something I've fancied having a go at and have never really had the time or the inclination. With Molly having studied photography and subsequently set up her own business (Shutter Studios) I've always hand someone on hand should I need something 'proper'! My photography is normally limited to my phone...which to be fair does a really decent job but I wanted the challenge of learning a set of new skills, and proving to myself that I can rise to the challenge.

So over the course of our time away and the last few weeks I have started to use the camera and begun to figure out what all the buttons mean and even dip my toes into the proper lingo. Although I do feel the need to carve out sometime to watch videos and read up on the subject so that I can get the best out of it. The organised side of my personality wants to learn how to do this all 'properly' and in a logical orderly fashion and the challenge for me will be to 'just have a go' and figure it all out on the fly. So this will be a challenge not only from a technical stand point but also allowing myself the time and the creativity to simply try and not worry about conforming to any 'rules'!!

And before I waffle on anymore I think I will bring this post to an end and make a start on the next one!

See you soon.

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.

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.



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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

Saturday 20 August 2022

Day 884

Day 884...

We had a gentle start to the day and with a coffee inside us we headed out on our early(ish) morning walk but today we had a destination ahead of us. We walked the 2.2 miles over to 'The Cowshed', a local cafe, in 43 minutes to meet up with my brother and his wife for breakfast.

We had a lovely cooked breakfast, a couple of coffees and a couple of hours of catching up and a good old chat. Amazingly the return walk (the exact same route as we'd taken to get there) was also completed in 43 minutes and according to my activity tracker I achieved 70 minutes of 'fat burning' exercise - get in!

On our return home it was time for another coffee and an afternoon of getting a few odd jobs done. While I jumped online and did a little shopping Simon spent the time getting productive with his 3D printer.

I've ordered a soda stream because we are fed up of not being able to buy sparkling water and figured a small investment now would save us in the long run plus we'll be using less plastic. We also ordered a couple of wooden shelves for our study/craft room so that I can display my recently bought Disney Funko Pop figures. And I updated our grocery shopping order for collection tomorrow, although I am getting more and more unhappy with the service as more and more items seem to be unavailable. I just don't understand why staples like eggs and mushrooms are not available; shopping is an annoyingly necessary activity and this just makes it even more so.

We have also signed ourselves up to one of our Star Wars troops for a few weeks time. It has been awhile since our last troop as we couldn't get back out there until Simon's broken wrist was out of its cast; no way his stormtrooper armour would have fitted over that! So it's great to know that we have a date on the calendar and can look forward to getting back out there with our fellow cosplayers.

Simon's afternoon has been spent recalibrating his 3D printer after he'd had a failed print earlier in the week. He'd been attempting to print a large model in one very long print (about 3 days long) but had suffered a blockage in the extruder! Sounds painful I know, but basically the filament that feeds through to create the print had just jammed. So once it had been cleared Simon decided to recalibrate the printer and with the help of a YouTube video was able to get everything dialled in and working as best as it could. He has also decided to not risk a long print and so instead has 'sliced' the model into much smaller pieces, although once all the pieces have been printed they will require some assembly!

While Simon got all technical with the printer I kept things a lot simpler and moved some jigsaw pieces around.

And that was Saturday. See you all tomorrow.

Friday 19 August 2022

Day 882 & Day 883

Day 882...Thursday

Well the day started very grey again and just before we stepped out the door it started to rain. But it didn't stop us and thankfully it didn't last too long but we still stuck to our new route following the pavements and managed another 2.2 miles in 39 minutes. We even bumped into a couple of old friends who were out walking their dog and had got caught in the rain. 

My morning job was to nip down to Lidl to stock up on a few bits and bobs, and in hindsight I was glad I decided to go down today as there was a water leak along the main road which now means the road is closed until early next week! 

The remainder of my Thursday was split between grabbing a coffee outside when the sunshine came out, starting my next jigsaw (sorting the edge pieces) and a lot of online stuff.

I managed to 'chat' online with a local jewellers to make an appointment with them to look at some of the jewellery we'd found at my dads house. I tried to book my car in for a service but couldn't quite manage it so have requested a call back (which I am still waiting for) and then it was time to book a hotel.

We are going to see Molly and Dan at the end of September and so needed to get a hotel booked for a few nights. I'd looked around to see if I could find somewhere different to our usual hotel but after much searching I realised that there are many good reasons why we go back to the same place each time; great location, breakfast included, always clean and tidy, lovely staff and free electric car charging! Having looked at various dates we'd settled on a longer stay than normal so that it would tie in with Molly's non-working days, plus we will get a longer break away from home too.

I also spent a considerable amount of time online acting as admin and technical support for my podcast co-host, and very good friend Michelle, who is out in Walt Disney World at the moment. Facebook had decided to lock her out of her account which meant she was unable to post to our podcast page and message friends who she was due to be meeting. Thankfully I was able to get in touch with her friends and provide them with alternate ways to get in touch and between us we managed to get her back online, although not as fully online as she could have been. Technology is great when it works but when it doesn't it is a pain in the bum!

After a forty five minute session down the gym where I focused on abs and legs it was time for a spot of dinner before settling down to watch the latest Marvel series; She Hulk! And I really enjoyed it, it was well acted, a little bit goofy and simply fun to watch. Fingers crossed the series carries on in that way.

Day 883...Friday

So having run out of time yesterday to write my blog we now have two days for the price of one.

This morning we were back to blue skies and sunshine, although it was not as warm as it has been of late. This meant we could get back to our usual walk over the fields and our hilly 1.9 mile walk completed in 35 minutes.

I was then off out to the jewellers to see what we could do with the jewellery we had found. As most of it didn't hold any sentimental value we have simply been able to cash it in along with confirming that some of the items we have are just costume pieces that I think we will ultimately sell via Ebay. I do have a couple of pieces of jewellery that belonged to my mum that are in need of repair and I was in two minds as to what to do with them. I don't want to part with them but they are not really my style but then Simon came up with a great suggestion; could they be made into a bespoke piece that could incorporate my love of Disney? Chatting to the jewellers and the answer is yes. I now need to think about what that would look like before making another appointment to sort a design. They were also able to confirm that one of my dads gold chains could be made into bracelets relatively easily and I simply need to work out the sizing.

When my dad had passed Molly had asked if she could have two gold bracelets that he used to wear as keepsakes but having looked far and wide we have not been able to find them. So instead Molly is going to have the gold chain that he always wore instead. She has measured up and we are going to have it made into a bracelet and an anklet for her instead.

The remainder of the day saw me catching up with a few jobs around the house; a little cleaning and even some gardening...well okay weeding! And in doing some cleaning around I found the missing piece from my last jigsaw it had somehow worked its way under the stairs!

I did also make a start on my latest jigsaw by getting the outside edge completed.

It was then time for the final workout of the week by paying a visit to our gym and 'throwing' some weights around.

And that was Friday, I need to stop typing now as we have Drag Race Canada to watch.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

Day 881

Day 881...

Wednesday has rolled around and finally the forecasted rain was with us. But we didn't let a little drizzle stop us from taking our early morning walk we just stuck to the pavements rather than get wet feet going over the fields. We managed a pretty quick 2.2 miles in 38 minutes.

This morning I headed out to a local garden centre for coffee and a catch-up with a couple of old friends back from my banking days. I left the bank over 20 years ago but a small group of us still keep in touch and ordinarily we meet up for a coffee every few months or so but today was the first time in over three years! But it was like we'd only seen each other a few months ago and a couple of hours over a coffee soon whizzed by.

On my way home I'd timed it right to be able to stop by a local retail branch of Next to collect an online order that I'd placed yesterday afternoon. How great is it that I was able to place an order and in less than 24 hours I was picking it up.

After a spot of lunch I had a letter from the solicitors to deal with. I'd been waiting for the letter to arrive for over two weeks and it was only because my brother had chased them on Monday that a letter had miraculously appeared today - strange that! The whole process following my Dad's passing in March has been so slow, with the solicitors seemingly stuck in a rut of routines that is now about thirty years out of date. Everything has to be sent by post, payments made by cheque and documents hand delivered. All very frustrating as in this day and age with technology where it is everything should be so much more simpler and much, much quicker. But anyway I finally had the letter and it contained some details that I had to approve, sign to say I agreed and then pop back in the post. 

Unfortunately, it took me way longer than it should have done but I blame how the paperwork was worded, how it was presented and then my haste to get it dealt with and in the post today. I had a deadline of 4pm as that was the time of the last collection at the post box closest to me, but in my rush to get it done I think I caused myself more problems than I should have done. So although I did manage to sort everything I needed I missed the 4pm cut-off, this means that tomorrow I will be going out of my way to hand deliver it to the solicitors instead! 

Before I knew it the afternoon had disappeared and it was time to go down the gym. It was so nice to be working out in a much, much cooler environment than of late and tonight I was focused on my arms and shoulders.

Right I need a cup of tea so I will see you all tomorrow.

Tuesday 16 August 2022

Day 880

Day 880...

Well the weather forecast had led me to believe that we would be waking up to rain this morning but the weather had other ideas and we started bright, sunny and dry. Perfect for our early morning walk of 1.9 miles in 36 minutes; back to our usual weekday route as Simon was back at work proper today.

Although there was a little hiccup this morning when Simon went to check on his current 3D print and found that although the printer was still attempting to print there was no filament being extruded. This means that Simon now has two things to figure out; first why did the filament stop extruding and once we know why it can then be fixed and second how to break the print into smaller sections. He was hoping that it was going to be one, very big, single print that should have taken about three days but now he is going to look at breaking the model into smaller pieces that can then be assembled once they have all been printed. 

My day was a mixture of odd jobs around the house like the ironing and some cleaning interspersed with a couple of coffee breaks taken outside making the most of the sunshine as the forecast was predicting rain this afternoon.

Simon nipped out to the barbers just before lunch and as the grey clouds gathered I got caught up with some online bits and pieces. The rain finally arrived mid-afternoon although it was not quite the downpour that had been predicted and it still feels rather close, as if we need a good thunderstorm to clear the air. Well, the forecast is for rain and lots of it overnight and into the morning so we shall see what actually happens.

This evening while Simon jumped on the exercise bike I took myself down the gym with a focus today on legs and abs!

And with that I will see you tomorrow.

Monday 15 August 2022

Day 879

Day 879...

Our early morning walk this morning whilst still early, we set off about 8.20am, was a little slower than normal. We completed a circuit of 3.4 miles in one hour and 27 minutes due to frequent stops to pick blackberries!

We brought home another tubful and now have three more bags of berries in the freezer.

We then popped out for a quick shop at Lidl not only to pick up some fresh salad but to see if we could track down some sparkling water as it is proving rather elusive at the moment. We did manage to get some but only in the small bottles and we were only allowed to buy one pack of 12...well as there was two of us that meant we came out with two packs as we bought each one separately!

Back home and in a change to a normal Monday Simon logged into work. As the game he is currently working on was just announced last Friday (Wreckreation), and will be on the show floor at Gamescom in Germany in just over a weeks time, the team are working extra hours to ensure that everything is ready and working as best as it can.

My time was split between a few odd jobs around the house, a little reading time, some online bits and pieces and plenty of cups of coffee - decaf of course!

And despite the forecast of rain we have had hardly any today which left the air feeling rather rather close and 'muggy', but it didn't stop us getting down the gym. Another arms and shoulder workout for me tonight.

See you all tomorrow.

Sunday 14 August 2022

Day 878

Day 878...

Today has been all about droids!

We took a drive over to Harper Adams University in Shropshire where the Droid Builders UK were holding a weekend of droid building fun. When we arrived we realised that we had been to this university once before when we cosplayed as our Mandalorians at a small comic con aimed at families with children with special educational needs. But today the focus was on droids, and as it was rather warm again today cosplaying in Mandalorian armour would not have been very pleasant.

Now Simon has built a full size R2D2 which lives in our living room, his head spins around, he lights up and makes all the appropriate beeps and boops but he does not move around by remote control. He is also rather large and will not fit in our car so he had to stay at home but we were able to take Simon's MSE (mouse) droid with us instead.

When we arrived and got checked in we were given special event lanyards and welcomed into the fold. Everyone was so lovely and welcoming and happy to chat all things droids.
For Simon he was actually able to meet people in person who up to this point he had only ever spoken with over forums. It was a great atmosphere of sharing stories, tips, build journeys and asking questions...oh and of course there were droids!

After a lovely few hours it was time to head home. This was the first time in a while that we'd attempted a longer car journey and weren't sure whether we would need to re-charge on the way home. But thankfully, and probably due to the warm weather and using 'eco' mode, we managed both journeys and still had 55 miles left in the 'tank'! We are still getting used to the electric car and these longer journeys but this does bode well for when I get tattooed next month as I will need to travel a similar sort of distance!

And I think that is where I will leave it for today, see you tomorrow.