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A Happy Life Of Contrast

The sounds around me as I rolled around my Living Room Floor doing my daily Warm Up exercises.

Guinness Official Merchandise Harp Embroidered Flat Cap

I’m at an age where it helps to do Warm Up Exercises just to get through the day. As I rolled around my Living Room floor doing them today, the sounds around me contrasted with my vain attempt at fitness and suggested why I may be as unfit as I am. First there was the clunk of the weekends empty beer tins discarded beside where I lay. Next the clink of the glasses stacked in my Living Room Bar. It is a happy life of contrast for sure πŸ™‚

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Worth Your Weight In Gold

Learning to carry your excess weight can be just as amazing as managing to lose it.

I looked across at the summit of Everest glowing in the newly risen sun and caught my breath. From my vantage point, just over 6,000m above sea level, high on the Mera Glacier, I was seeing the world as only Gods and Elite Mountaineers tend to see it. I am neither God nor Elite Mountaineer. In fact I am quite overweight. But I have long since learnt that the realms of adventure and incredible achievement are there for anyone regardless of your weight. You just have to know how to carry yourself into them.

Everest in the sunrise from the Mera Glacier, Mera Peak, Oct 2017

Body Mass Index (BMI)

My Body Mass Index (BMI) has been in the obese category for the past 20 years. I’ve tried every weigh loss plan on the planet, resolved to change my life every January 1st and obsessed over everything I’ve put in my mouth for years. The only lasting loss seemed to be my happiness.

Click on the image below to learn more about Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of your body weight in relation to your height. The above image is from the NHS Website where you can find out more about BMI

Amazing At Any Weight

I’d often thought about the person I’d become once that excess weight was gone. Confident, sexy, fit, healthy and jogging through life. Yet it seemed like an impossible dream because I kept trying to lose the weight but never managed. Somehow I realized that I can run that Marathon, swim across the sea or climb in the mountains. I don’t have to lose weight to be that person. I’d been that person all along and just didn’t realize it.

The power of that realization was incredible and lead me into adventures and achievements I had never thought possible. I’ve listed some of the high points in that journey below. Everything on that list was achieved whilst my BMI has been between 37 and 40 (Well within the obese range for an adult male).

Click on the links in the list to find out more about the events listed.

  • Summited 54 Munros (Scottish mountains over 3,000ft)
  • Completed 3 trips to the Himalayas reaching Everest Base Camp and a height of 6,140m on Mera Peak
  • Reached Stella Point (5,685m) on Kilimanjaro
Stella Point, Kilimanjaro Sep 2018
  • Reached the highest point in North Africa. Summit of Mt Toubkal (4,167m) in the Atlas Mountains
  • Completed the Trossachs Plod, 31 miles across country in Scotland in 14 hours.
  • Completed the Great Glencoe Challenge (26.2 miles across rough terrain from Glencoe to Fort William in Scotland) twice in under 12 hours (11:22 and 11:52)
Top of the Devil’s Staircase in Glencoe, Great Glencoe Challenge, Jul 2017
  • Completed a cumulative Channel Swim over 12 weeks in a swimming pool three times (max distance swum 1.75 miles in one swim)
  • Swum a mile in the open water in the Mersey in Liverpool, UK
Open Water Swimathon. Mersey, Liverpool UK, Sep 2017
  • Jog Scotland Jog Leader for 2 years, completed the Great Scottish Run Half Marathon twice and the Men’s Health 10k four times.
Great Scottish Run, Glasgow, Sep 2007

You don’t have to put the achievement of your dreams off until the weight comes off. My story is evidence of that and, by telling it over a series of blog posts, I am going to use it as a framework of practical tips to help anyone who wants to follow a similar path.

Breaking Down The Barriers

  • The next post How The Tortoise Won That Race discusses humility, knowing your limits and setting achievable goals. There’s no point in watching an 8 stone athlete on Youtube telling you how to run a sub 3:30:00 Marathon. You’re just watching someone you’ll never be telling you how to do something you know is impossible. It’s the guy in the mirror, not the guy on the telly who’s going to do this stuff and I assure you, you can do a Marathon!
  • Over the next three posts; Putting Your Heart Into Your Dreams, It’s A Stretch But You Can Do It and 9 Ways To Get Moving Again After A Muscle Strain, we will look at the physical aspects of carrying your weight. I suffer from High Blood Pressure, have pulled many muscles and often have lower back pain. I’ve taken it all onto the roads, into the water and the mountains. We will look at stretches, warm ups and easy physical steps to deal with these problems. It will be fun!
  • The final post in this part of the series, The Dream Of Everest Base Camp returns to the subjects of mindset and inspiration. It can be difficult turning up at the start of a run or meeting the team for a trek for the first time when you know you don’t ‘look the part’ and you think everyone is looking at you. This post will talk about finding the magic inside of you and believing in it despite the looks, comments and events going on around you.

Starting Your Adventure

Start of The Great Glencoe Challenge, Glencoe Jul 2016

After reading the preceding articles you may have discovered your inner warrior and have limbered up, stretched off and be rearing to go and do something amazing. This being the case, there are three articles you can choose from to get you started. Read them all, find the one that fires you up the most and let’s go!

  • How to get started towards your first Marathon, Half, 10K or 5K. It’s not so much as going for a run where every walk’s a fail. In the early days it’s about going for a walk where every jog’s a bonus.
  • Getting into the water. Whether completing one of the distances in Swimathon, completing a cumulative Channel Swim over a period of time or heading into the open water, there’s organizations, events and holidays which you can enjoy.
  • The call to the mountains. Many of the mountains in Scotland have terrain or stretches which compares closely to the treks and climbs on some of the highest mountains in the world. Then there’s The Lakes in England, and Snowdonia in Wales. The initial call for me was the call to Everest but there’s many Treks in Nepal, Kilimanjaro and Toubkal in Africa and many more around the world. This post will cover the main practical aspects to get you started. I have also written a series of Mountaineering articles which you can start to follow here.

It’s Still Good To Lose Weight

I will always continue to try and lose weight. Even a 5% loss of bodyweight can have tremendous benefits to health.

Click on the image below to see 15 benefits of losing 5% of your bodyweight.

15 things that losing 5% of your body weight can do for you. Taken from WebMD

The fact remains however that many of the health issues and mental challenges associated with being overweight can be managed or overcome.

Learn some of the mental hacks that can inspire you to follow your dreams. Read next post in here.

Great Glencoe Challenge 2017
Guides and Porters (and Will and Clair) dinging the Kilimanjaro Song, Kilimanjaro 2018

If you would like to discuss writing or music for any project or event, please feel free to contact me with the details here.

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What’s The Last Thing You’ll Ever Think?

A Morbid idea I came across in Youtube that I ended up having fun with

Surfing the internet with my morning coffee and a donut. I headed to Youtube to see if my latest video; viewed by me, a spammer, a strange stalker and a relative, had suddenly trended across the world. It hadn’t. But there in my feed was a video entitled, ‘The Last Thought You’ll Ever Have.’

“That’s a bit morbid,” I thought. Good thing is I then thought a few things after that. One thing was not to check out the video. I don’t really fancy Youtube telling me the last thought I’m ever going to have. Just imagine thinking anything Social Media suggests!

There’s also the fear that, once you know what the thought is, you’d spend the rest of your life desperately trying not to think it. You’d end up in a meltdown, a sobbing heap screaming, “Lalalalalalala” and your bewildered friend saying, “I only said biscuit?!”

Anyway, then I started thinking, I wonder what the last thought I could conceivably have could be. I wrote a list…

  • Should I tell her I preferred her hair longer?
  • Does that thing bite?
  • Do they drive on the right in this country?
  • Aw crap! I keep forgetting that facemask!
  • I guess I’ll just push the button and see what happens.
  • I’ll cut the blue wire.
  • They look like a nice crowd. I’ll ask them.
  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • I’ll just have the one.
  • Would you look at the size of that!
  • Nice dog.

Go on… you know you’ve thought something I didn’t. Drop it in the comments and, while you’re at it, share and subscribe to this page.

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Which One Of These Stories Is True?

Below are 2 crazy stories which apparently happened to me. One of them is true. Guess which one in the comments.

Galloping Pee

I was soon running full pelt down the hill, out of control and screaming with my willie in my hand still peeing.

A few years ago in the dead of winter on a freezing night I had been drinking down town and was walking home steaming drunk. As it was dark I decided to face into a hedge to have a quick pee. Hearing a car heading along the road but, having already started, I shuffled forward a bit to get deeper into the hedge and hide. As I found out to my horror, the hedge was quite thin and on the top of a hill.

I was soon running full pelt down the hill, out of control and screaming with my willie in my hand still peeing. There was a pond which had frozen over at the bottom and a couple sitting at the edge of it on a bench. Unable to do anything else, I sprinted past them headlong straight into the pond.

Not sure when the pee stopped but I found myself sitting freezing up to my waist in the shallow, frozen water. The guy from the couple asked if I was alright. “Yep.” I replied trying to look as sober and casual as I could. They headed off into the darkness and I picked myself up and tucked myself in. Probably wetting myself would have been warmer and more comfortable.

Hide and Seek

I stood looking on with the waves breaking round me. Wide eyed and panting.

As I’m sure everyone did, there was a whole crowd of us used to play hide and seek on a caravan site on holiday. I had found the ultimate hiding spot, behind a small tree, beside one of the caravans from which no one could see me but I could see the den. I was soon on a winning run. I was gleefully hiding there watching the den fill up with people getting caught and a small crowd trying to figure out where I was. I heard a low growl at my shoulder and looked behind me. Turns out that my tree had been discovered by a dog the size of a horse and, judging by his reaction, it was a part of his territory.

They say you shouldn’t run from a dog. But I was up and off like a gazelle screaming like a banshee and sprinting for the den with the horse-dog in hot pursuit. I don’t know what protection I thought the small rock which identified the den would offer. Maybe if I got there before the dog it would understand and give up the chase.

Whatever protection I thought that den might provide was not shared by our gang of kids waiting at it. There had been a brief moment of elation when everyone realized where I had been hiding followed by sheer terror when they saw the monster dog, hot on my tail.

Screaming kids scattered in every direction to hide from the beast and I sprinted past the den onto the beach and into the sea. The dog paused seemingly confused when it saw small people running in every direction. In a bizarre twist no one could have predicted our game had changed dramatically. We were now all hiding for our lives from a horse sized dog who seemed to be ‘het’.

The dog slunk slowly back to the caravan past my ‘hiding tree’ and little heads began to peer round corners followed by kids nervously heading back to the den. I stood looking on with the waves breaking round me. Wide eyed and panting.

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Holy Shit Sheriff, The Horses Have Gone Plum Loco!

Why was I thinking about horses during the morning commute to the office? Where was the Sheriff and would he be able to help? Why was I thinking in cowboy language? I decided to search Google for the answers. Here’s what I found…

Morning Commute, Paris 2017
It was another dull morning commute to the office. Cars were backed up for miles as usual as we slowly rolled towards the busy interchange. Slowly but surely I arrived at the give way line and waited for the traffic lights to signal me on. That was when the thought erupted into my head. “Holy shit sheriff, the horses have gone plum loco!” I sat shocked and wide eyed to have just thought something like that. It was as if I’d been momentarily possessed by the loud American Chicken in Tom & Jerry. I drove on to the office with a new found sense of purpose. I needed some answers.

I decided to apply a model called the 5 Whys that I had learnt during some Lean Six Sigma Training. The principle of the model is that you ask the question ‘why?’ related to your problem until you have drilled down into 5 layers of detail. Had I been possessed or simply gone mad? Maybe there was a mad horse galloping around at the interchange and I’d caught it on my periphery vision. Whatever the answer, this detailed mode of thinking was sure to dig it out. I fired up Google and typed in the question. Here’s how the conversation went…

Why did I think, “Holy Shit Sheriff, the horses have gone plum loco?”

Initially Google just returned a lot of forum entries by kids who started their statements with the term, “Holy Shit!” None of those foul mouthed kids really said anything that I found to be of any consequence. Scrolling on, Google listed information about horses. There was even an entry from someone who worked with horses saying how the horse icons in some Nintendo game were extremely life like. None of this was really helping.

Considering my thought itself to be somewhat random, I decided to ask Google about random thoughts.

Q: Why did I have such a random thought?

A: People have random thoughts when they are trying to solve a problem.

At last we seemed to be getting somewhere. I tried to consider the problem I might be trying to solve. Again, I was drawing a blank. I hadn’t read or watched any Westerns lately. I had no issue with any Sheriff or even Law Enforcement in general. I was really pretty law abiding and mostly bored. As to horses, or mad horses, I’m neither interested in, or concerned about horses in general. Where you always see the odd bit of madness among the drivers in the morning commute, there’s nothing particularly horse like about it. Time for more questioning to go a level deeper into the detail.

Q: Why not just think about the problem directly and then consider solutions?

A: ‘Solution Only’ thinking creates a Culture of Advocacy rather than a Culture of Enquiry.

So I shouldn’t just say the answer is 4. Somehow I should wonder why it’s 4 or maybe even if it’s 4? I should explore everything about 4 what it is and what it means. Seemed a bit long winded and clouded with doubt.

Q: Why is a Culture of Enquiry better?

A: A culture of enquiry motivates a climate of trust and validation where we understand the value of questions.

Starting to feel like I’m not getting anywhere again. A climate of trust and validation sounds very comfortable. Kind of like going back to bed. I’ve never really found any answers in bed. Not any that I would care to discuss in public anyway. Maybe I need to turn the mattress. Maybe I need a new mattress. I started to stress about the idea that something was not right with my bed and yet here I was in the office unable to do anything much about it. Deep down I knew there was more to this than the bed. Just so many questions.

Q: Why consider the value of questions when, what I’m trying to find is an answer?

A: Questions support the exchange of ideas. They fuel learning and performance improvement.

So now I’m in the deepest depths of Google and it seems I’m getting ever further from any answers. Instead such guru’s as Wikapedia or even the business genius of the Havard Business Review are extolling the value of asking lots of questions. Promoting the ‘adventure’ of finding answers but NOT in fact OFFERING ANY BLOODY ANSWERS!

Q: Why does none of the above provide any answers?

A: What is the question that doesn’t have an answer?

I screamed and swore at Google. The voice App on my mobile picked the profanity up and initiated it’s own search. In the end my mobile swore back at me 10,000s of times in about 6 different languages. As my monitor lay on the floor and flustered staff tried to restrain me from kicking my laptop, I screamed at them that the horses had gone plum loco and no one seemed to know why!

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The Problems With Working From Home

And other tales from my time in the Pandemic

Working from home comes with it’s problems. Whilst sitting at my desk I looked down, saw movement and took action. Screaming, I kicked my swivel chair back to get away from whatever the beastie was. It looked huge! I knocked over a clothes horse, fell off the seat and quickly crawled to safety. Turns out the source of the movement was actually the draw string on my pyjama trousers.

If I seem a little awkward today its because I’m not sure if my underpants are inside out or not πŸ€”

Been working on my music into the night. Think I’ve got crooner virus

Just learnt from Netflix that if the molecules in your hand were the size of marbles then your fist would be the size of the earth. No more info needed. That fact alone has made the subscription worth while.

My Living Room is also an Office, Recording Studio and a Bar. Latest problem I have is that the Beer Machine keeps farting loudly as it keeps the beer carbonated. This means when recording a song I need to wait for the Beer Machine to fart and then start to sing frantically to get the recording completed before the Beer Machine farts again. I’m currently trying to record a very sensitive love song about depression, redemption and people being there for you. Last recording sounded like an Irish Horse Racing Commentary over a Silent Movie Piano Track interrupted by a loud fart and then me swearing a lot. The Beer Machine Stays. My Music Career will just have to deal with it!

Bearing in mind we’re in lockdown so I do tend to get up late. I opened my eyes and looked at the clock this morning to see if I could go back to sleep. It read 77:37. I closed my eyes to do the calculation and the figures registered. What the…?! It was actually 11:31. Geez! I got up.

Grrr 😑🀬 Just spent a good part of the evening trying to remove a large stubborn iceberg from the back of my Beer Fridge.

Think I’ve found a new hobby. Drinking Tenesee Whisky and listening to the Blues

I’ve just wasted a dream trying to figure out how use a mobile phone that doesn’t exist 😷

During a night of sobriety to prove to myself that I don’t need to drink to isolate, I’ve just opened my freezer door which is flush with my floor and jammed it onto my toes. I would say a tiny layer of skin only a few mm in diameter was removed from one toe. The screams and swearing were somewhat disproportionate. If you’d have heard me you’d have sworn both my legs had fallen off and I’d landed on my balls. All good now. Sipping a cup of mint tea and reading Ant Middleton’s book about the mindset of those in the Special Forces.

Following tonight’s lock down announcement, me and my good friend Jack Daniel’s would just like to say, “Yerfralaganhalagancaneaforfoo! Hic!” πŸ˜›πŸ˜œπŸ€ͺπŸ˜πŸ˜·πŸ˜›πŸ˜œπŸ€ͺ😝😴😴😴😴

It occurred to me this morning that I’d have to train like an Olympian for a month just to get out of bed the way I used to. Back in the day, as the Alarm ripped into the silence like an Air Raid Siren, I’d sweep the quilt from the bed, leap onto my feet and bound across the room to hit the Snooze Button. These days I wake up to Alexa reminding me to take my pills. I generally hang onto furniture and the walls groaning like a casualty as I shuffle round my flat for the first half hour until my legs get properly under me.

I have literally just woken up from this dream πŸ€” … My eldest daughter Kat was a toddler again and I’d bought her a skirt. Quite by accident the pattern and material of the skirt exactly matched our Living Room curtains. Next thing Kat was stood right in front of those curtains with her new skirt on shouting, “Mum! I can’t feel my legs!”

Latest from the supermarket shelves… Toilet Roll out of stock, Hand Sanitiser, out of stock, Sex and Pleasure Aids, full range, fully stocked. The vibe seemed to be, you may die but you could die happy.

ClickΒ hereΒ to see other posts and videos about my time in the army and my ridiculous lockdown hair and even more ridiculous lockdown haircut.

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I’ve Rolled The Rover Over… Over…

On the weekend where we celebrate 100 years of the Royal Corps Of Signals, I reflect on the 10% of that time I served among her ranks.

Remembrance Day 2019

We crouched in silence in the shadows, in the darkness on the remote ridge above a small country village. Soon the sound we were hoping for started to grow louder as a helicopter approached. This was our lift home and a rare commodity in these parts. As the helicopter made it’s final descent towards us we were blasted in the powerful downdraft from the rotars. I lost my balance and fell over. Then my backpack blew away down the hill. I got up and chased down the hill after it. Suddenly everyone was scattering in all directions and the helicopter promptly lifted off and disappeared. The area my backpack and I were heading towards was mined. The irony is that the mines were there to protect us. This was one of my final actions in the Signals. I think they were glad to be rid of me.

I’m at the back in the centre. Back when I had black hair and weighed a lot less. Trade Training Catterick Garrison 1985

I didn’t join the Signals. I joined the Royal Corps of Transport but after just 5 hours behind the wheel of a vehicle I was banned from ever driving anything and shipped out to the Signals in Catterick Garrison. There was a recommendation to issue me a truck as a weapon of mass destruction.

There were only a few times I found myself facing disciplinary action and they were all for losing things. My ID Card and my Arms Card and then there was the time on exercise when, in the space of 5 minutes, I lost everything except the clothes I stood up in.

I’d been lying in a shell scrape in the woods in the dark. A truck pulled up and we were all told to take our backpacks and load them into it. I decided to leave what’s called my fighting order, or webbing, in the shell scrape. This was against the rules but I figured no one would notice in the dark. On my way towards the truck I heard someone else being screamed at for doing the same so I put my backpack down and headed back to my shell scrape to get my webbing. I couldn’t find my shell scrape. I went back for my backpack but couldn’t find it either. In the end up the entire Platoon had to search the woods for my gear.

I’m front row far right. On exercise in Catterick 1986

As to driving, although I was banned, it didn’t stop me. In Northern Ireland we had been working all night and the guy I was working with was driving tired so he asked if I was able to drive. I said yes though still a learner. We swapped seats and he went to sleep. A short time later he was awoken by me screaming, “How do I f’ng slow down?!” as we screamed towards an Army Checkpoint. I don’t think he was able to sleep for about a month after that.

Then there was the time I did the shower run on Exercise in Norway. This time I did manage to stop but the Rover skidded and nudged the corner of the shower tent. As terrified people ran for their lives I had created the worst possible scenario. Wet naked soldiers running about in the snow in the Arctic.

I also crashed a 2 Man Sailing Boat on Lake Chimsee in Germany (West Germany at that time). Due to my inexperience at sailing I’d been told to drop my sails and row into the harbour. Instead I went in under full sail at very high speed from the centre of the lake. The last thing I saw before impact with the harbour wall was a wee guy screaming, “Achtung!” at me and waving frantically. The impact launched several of his paddle boats right out of the water.

I’ll just finish with a story I’m often reminded of when I meet the guys I served with at 7 Sigs in West Germany. I had been training for a Boxing Competition at the time which involved about 6 weeks of constant training and significant dieting. The OC Squadron decided to give the team a pep talk in the last few hours before the competition but I was absent. As soon as I had got off the scales from the final weigh in I made a B-Line for downtown and was in a local Schnel Imbis cramming in some Gyros and Chips before the fight.

Gyros and Chips gave me a mean left hook. 7 Sigs Boxing Competition, Herford, West Germany, 1988

I wish all the best to everyone who’s served past and present. The very nature of the job meant there were dark times and scary times but there were so many good times. I count my decade in the Signals as one of the best of my life and those who served with me as family. I’m proud to have served even if it was possibly a safer place after I left.

Sergeant’s Mess RAF Brize Norton 1992

Click here to see other posts and videos about my imaginary girlfriend, how I managed to fall out of the window whilst Self Isolating and the giant vagina I thought I’d found in The Louvre.

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I Tried To Self Isolate But Fell Out Of The Window

The calamitous tale of my Self Isolation during Covid-19 … and other things…

Before Lockdown
This morning

This is the story about how I tried to Self Isolate but fell out of the window. I was trying to copy the Italians and sing on my balcony but I don’t have a balcony. My story contains the only fart protected by Copyright that I am aware of. There’s also the time I allegedly downloaded porn onto my work PC and it escaped onto the Network. For one incredible day, naked girls were dancing on PC Screens all over the factory. There’s also the love poem to my imaginary girlfriend. She has false teeth, snores like a bison and has a bosom that would break your fall from 50 feet. I could go on but really you should just click the playlist and watch through through. You’ll love it! If you do, remember to like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

Back when I had short hair…