Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Seasons Greetings!

Quick note to say hi and bye ;-)

Me and the boys are off to sunny (ahem) Wales with some friends for the New Year. There'll be 8 of us in total in a lovely cottage together, should be awesome fun, just hope we don't get snowed in!!

Although hugely looking forward to this break I'm apprehensive about the damage that'll be done to my already suffering diet over the next few days! My clothes are already feeling tighter and I'm registering additional poundage on the old scales already so it looks as if January will be a veeeeery sensible and quiet month for me ;-)

I'm not sure this cottage will even have mobile phone reception, let alone wi-fi... in fact I'm positive it won't have the latter so updating y'all is unlikely to happen until next week so please be patient!

I have lots to tell and photos to share, I've had a wonderful Christmas at Joe's parents though thought this year that it might have been a bit too much of a strain for his Mum as there were a lot of us to cope with and she is not a young lady anymore (despite not looking anywhere near her true age!).

Next Christmas however should be a different matter, we've put in an offer on a four bedroom house which is just a couple of mile down the road from our current one but is in *such* a nicer and safer area.

My son got mugged by a fully grown man at knifepoint in November and that was pretty much the straw that broke the camel's back. Living close to Brixton (aka Scuzzville) is bad enough but I can cope with the scummy people as long as they don't trouble me or my family. However, at quarter to five in the afternoon on a week day some lowlife piece of shit decided to put a knife up to my son's throat and tell him that if he didn't hand over his phone he'd cut it.


Fortunately my son's not an idiot and gave it over straight away, he knows that a) his phone cost £30 (last year his phone was nicked again, but this time by an opportunist older boy who snatched it from his grasp) and b) no material possession is worth taking a kicking, or worse, for.

He was pretty shaken up though to say the least and was hysterical for a while from the shock and fear, as I said, what kind of scum puts a knife up to a kid??

Anyway, as I said, that was the final straw so we started looking around at different areas and we've found one a little further away that we know and love and also have friends in and around (very important as we're not quite ready to move out to the sticks yet!).

House prices in that area are sky-high though, because it's such a nice place to be for families, so we're having to purchase somewhere that needs a bit of work, but it'll be a fun challenge and will be so worth it to be able to put our individual stamp on it instead of paying developer's premiums for someone else's idea of 'the finished article', but it'll be a good couple of years before we reap the benefits!

Saying that though, having an extra two bedrooms and not having to look over our shoulders quite so much will be worth more than anything, it'll just be a bit of a pain in the arse to get to work now, no more 20 minute journeys, dammit!!

Anyway, that's my recent news, I still have to update with pictures from Christmas parties and a wedding to boot!

Hope you're all well and had a truly fabulous Christmas, I look forward to updating you all in the new year.

If I get the chance I'll try and send some phone blog updates, either on here or twitter but I can't promise anything as I may just find myself in two states over the next week...

1) Drunk
2) Hungover

Actully, there's also a strong possibility I will be:
3) a combination of the two! ;-)

Lots more festive love and best wishes for a Happy New Year!


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Just popping on to first say


I'm still alive, nothing's wrong, in fact everything's going really well, I'm just stupid busy at the mo both in my work and personal life!

Probably not going to improve either situations, especially the personal life as we're in the process of buying a new house! wooot!

Yup, we're buying a four bedroom pad in a very nice area and I'm super excited about it, but more about that at another date.

In the meantime, everything's cool, I haven't been able to exercise nearly as much as I'd like to as I've been so busy and I've probably drunk more alcohol than I needed (tis the season to be *hic* jolly!) but my food has been pretty good (if a little high on the carb front)

I'm off now but we'll have our laptop with us over the festive break so if I get a chance I'll get on and post a few words but in the meantime, I hope you and the people dear to you are well and that you have a fabulous Christmas and an equally marvellous New Year.

Here are some gratuitously cute festive kitty pics from the home of lolcats:

Lots of festive love


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Would you like to see some pictures?

Silly question really... of course you would!

Well I don't have time to write much as I've got to finish off an assignment before tomorrow night but will share these with you.

These are the group pics that the nice people at Maximuscle have sent me from the Body of 2009 photoshoot.

After seeing these pics it will become obvious to you why I felt like a bit of a lardy giant!

In case you were wondering, the girl on the opposite side to me is the one who actually won the 'Inspire' category (next year she says, next year...!).

You'll be able to read all about her and the others once the new website is up and running... but more about that at another date ;-)

So, first here we are in our sports outfits:
(yes, I know I shouldn't have worn those tatty old Tchibo pants and should have worn shorts to show off my quads! Also can't believe how pale I look despite having a 'dark' coloured spray tan!!)

Next we had to wear white shirts and black trousers:
(yes, high waisted trousers are always a no-no if you have a large behind but they were the only ones I could get in a 10 at short notice - I don't wear trousers at work, only jeans!

And finally here we are looking rather more glamorous :-)
(I love that dress, bright colours are a must... who wants to be a wallflower! Hilarious that I was still gigantic despite wearing the lowest height heels!)

Anyway, that's your lot, I'm off now to write about Pain and Water-Borne Infections... jealous?! ;-)

Hope you're all keeping well

Lots of love


Monday, 7 December 2009

Catch up - Part 1 - gigs, performances and concerts!

Hello there!

Big huuuuuge apologies for my absence but I haven't had time to breathe lately let alone blog!!

Sometimes life gets in the way of even my blogging! Capturing and keeping a moment spare to myself is becoming increasingly more difficult as the year wears on!

I imagine things will settle down in January and I'll be all partied out, but until that point my online appearance might be even more sporadic than at present!!

There's so much to squeeze in before crimbo and work is just nuts at the moment, I'm writing code using syntax/methods I never have before... what I'd give for a bit of training in this, it's so frustrating at times!!

Of course, the eureka moments are worth it and by the time I left on Thursday I was able to output some pretty plausible looking results into one of our database tables :-D

It's all pretty boring geeky stuff mind, reporting on whether we're in breech of service level agreements and the like - rock and roll!

By contrast my studies are super interesting, though not as immediately rewarding as my day job ;-) learning facts like that 15,000 litres of water are used during the production of just 1kg of beef - I feel sooo bad about my love of sirloin!!

Anyway, "I'm off track, got to stop that"

... which leads me seamlessly (ahem) onto my first gig report

Just Jack - Shepherds Bush Empire - 9th November 2009

(it was a lyric from 'Glory Days' in case anyone was concerned I'd actually finally totally lost it)

Was super excited about seeing Just Jack, been a fan since he brought out the awesome humorous and observational diatribe that is 'Starz in their eyes' - a scarily accurate analysis of the whole zero to hero popstar process which is unforgiving of the ones who fall from grace along the way - does anyone remember those Pop Idol/X Factor contestants 6 months further down the line once they've faded into obscurity - only to emerge every now and again to turn on the christmas lights somewhere remote, or cut the ribbon on some discount designer store in a far out shopping outlet centre ??

You can check out the lyrics here, though I swear they've got a line wrong...

"Welcome to the kingdom of the blagger
Uncutting you nose clean, coating you bladder"

Pretty sure he says "uncut in your nose, Clicquot in your bladder"

would certainly make more sense, damn these lyrics sites!!

Anyway, the perpetual happy chappy gave a rousing performance, I think it was his only London show, and received plenty of well-deserved adoration from the crowd (us included!) :-D

It was sooo lovely to see him at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, it's such a great venue, it's much smaller than our local place and the acoustics are magnificently better in comparison!

It feels so much more intimate there, when I went to see Starsailor there earlier this year I felt like they were singing to me in my living room - the place is so small that even stood at the back of the floor area you're still pretty close to the action!

Still too far to take a decent picture on my rubbish phone camera:

boo hiss.

Anyway, if you wanted to see one of my favourite songs, here's Snowflakes... this is lovely, much slower, really gorgeous:

But of course, if you really want to listen to/see the real crowd pleaser you have to check out this video clip of 'The Day I Died'. I can't embed it for some reason, blergh!

It stars the oh-so-lovely James Nesbitt, who I was thrilled to see again in our gym last Saturday - I was worried that thought he'd moved out of the area, hadn't seen him for months!! *gasp*

Oh and if I have indeed whet your appetite for a bit of Jack action, here's some music from the actual show :-)

Jump! - 20th November 2009

By contrast to my adulation-filled report on Just Jack's gig, this performance won't receive such an emphatic review!

The storyline goes:

Set in an average Korean home, the family members are all surprisingly agile. They include a grandfather, a drunken uncle and a karate-chopping mother. Each is a specialist in a martial art and they enjoy challenging each other. Comedy and combat is very Tom and Jerry and the characterisations and plot have the simplicity of cartoons.

I can't say it 'captured my imagination' and was far too obvious at times - like the 'love interest' - a studious type who suddenly is possessed by superhuman strength and agility (not to mention fighting prowess and some testosterone fuelled aggression!) once his Harry Potter-esque glasses are 'r

Here's another rubbish picture, of the stage

Actually that's absolutely dreadful! Here's a promo one:

In fairness, it does what it says on the tin - it's a light-hearted tale comprised entirely of slapstick and martial art displays in pretty equal measures.

However, I'd have probably been happier if they'd cut out the entire 'storyline' and just had a bunch of dudes running round kicking ten shades of shit out of each-other... but in a fabulously agile and elegant fashion ;-)

Snow Patrol - Royal Albert Hall - 24th November 2009


I could really stop writing now and that would be sufficient in describing how the night was for me, but then it wouldn't do it any sort of justice now would it! (would also be a pretty boring review too… ;-) )

Unfortunately the gigs sold out pretty quickly and I wasn't able to get any really decent seats. However, being the Royal Albert Hall, which has the most amazing acoustics *wherever* you're sat - that didn't deter from our enjoyment of the night in the slightest! :-)

Here's a general pic, we were at the front of our block, but as you can see, pretty high up!!

Aside from a somewhat embarrassing uncomfortable moment when some random punter in the crowd managed to attract Gary Lightbody's attention sufficiently that he actually left the stage, mic in hand, and walked over to him in the crowd.... cue everyone holding their breaths thinking "oooh what'll happen, something deep and meaningful?" (or secretly hoping for a punch-up - cameras at the ready?! haha nahhh) - personally I just thought he wanted to give the guy a hug... anyway, the guy says he wants to propose to his woman, through Gary!! Gary somehow agrees to this, and utters the words, only to find that his 'woman' is nowhere to be seen!

whether this was just a casual acquaintance who scarpered at the thought of it getting that serious... or the woman was actually just a figment of the fella’s alcohol-addled mind, I'll never know!

Anyway, he pressed on with the show... it was amazing!

Visually the performance was pretty basic, but then it didn't need to be anything flashy with a voice like Gary's!

There were a few pretty flashing laser/spotlights at time though.... ooooooh aaahhhhh ;-)

Have you eaten chocolate eclairs? Not the actual donut-styles treats with the chocolate on top and the cream in the middle, I'm talking the actual mini chocolate versions (these things).

I remember the first time I had one, I put it in my mouth and sucked away (matron!) until nearly all the caramel had gone... but then I bit into it and there was this lovely rush of smooth cool chocolate - quite unexpected!!

Gary Lightbody's voice is like that, it's all I could think when I was listening to him since, just how smooth and luscious he sounded!!

I really like Snow Patrol but I wouldn't count myself as their biggest fan. However, after that show I feel a lot more love for them.

The highlight of the show for me was when Gary started introducing the next song, it was a duet he said he'd written to sing with Martha Wainwright. He then went onto say that he had a very special person present to perform it with him, and I thought "RESULT!! I get to see Martha Wainwright live - woot!"

Nothing could have prepared me for hilariously wonderful surprise that was James Cordon!!! I didn't know how or why it could work... but it did!!

All in all it was a fantastic night and we left the place with a warm glow feeling very special indeed to have been part of such a lovely intimate-feeling concert. I felt like he'd been sitting in our living room singing just for us, it was lovely :-)

Classical Christmas Concert - Sunday 29th November 2009

A good friend of mine plays violin rather well. So much so that she plays in an orchestra which gives performances at various point during the year.

I was really looking forward to this performance, not least because of the great programme of music:

- Bach, Sinfonia from the Christmas Oratorio
- Dvorak, Cello Concerto (Soloist Kwesi Edman)
- Brahms, 2nd Symphony

But also because my friend had told me that the cello soloist was something rather special.

Sure enough, Kwêsi Edman did not disappoint.

I played the cello at school for quite a few years. I was never amazingly good (probably due to my lack of practice and discipline!), but I did enjoy playing and took several exams.

However, I have *never* heard a cello sound like it did when Kwêsi played. It sounded like he was playing a violin at times, so expertly he was able to reach the highest of notes. It sounded magical, and I was captivated - not least because the man is absolutely beautiful!

I forgot my camera and my phone's camera doesn't have a zoom. I tried to take a pic just after he was finishing his bows but you can't really make him out too well:

Click here for some better pictures.

Eddie Izzard - The O2 - Thursday 3rd December 2009

Ahh, my final gig/concert/show report - you still with me?! ;-)

This was my final (I think) surprise from Joe for the year. You might remember that a little while back he organised a special wine tasting evening for me, well he'd said that something was happening last Thursday but wouldn't divulge any info so was very intrigued indeed!

However, best laid plans and all that... I got an email from one of our friends the week before to a bunch of us saying "don't forget Eddie Izzard next Thursday!!!"

oops, I guess he forgot it was meant to be a secret! :-D

Anyway, I was very excited about seeing the glamorous Mr Izzard, having seen him on TV a few times and, most recently, reading about his running an amazing 43 marathons in 51 days for charity!! What an awesome achievement from one we'd deem to be somewhat 'less-than-sporty'!!

The last (and only!) two times I've been to the O2 I've been in charge of snapping up tickets so we've always gotten good seats - usually at the front of the second block in the stalls.

This time we were about as far back from the stage as before.... but miles above it!!

Okay, I might be exaggerating a teensy bit there but it certainly felt that way... especially walking up the stairs to the seat!!

Here's the view:

You wouldn't want to lean too far forward huh??!

Anyway, once I'd gotten over my terror of being up so high I realised that it doesn't really matter how far up the seats are if you can still see the screen... if we were sat at the back of the hall then it would have been a different story - might as well just watch the DVD, you'd see more!!

I enjoyed the show, but not as much as Michael McIntyre... but I'm not going to draw comparisons as they both have very different techniques and modes of delivery... Eddie is less routine and more ramble.

The benefit of that is you're unlikely to see him do exactly the same gag more than once... unlike MM whose routine I've now seen 3 times in the last few weeks!! (I must say however that I've found his jokes just as hilarious every time round, he's quite the master of observational comedy!).

Eddie spent most of the performance attempting to disprove the existence of God - quite humorously I must add (I did like his take on the whole Noah's Ark tale!), but it did also feel to me like perhaps the wrong forum to be doing so and that maybe he's actually at the point where he'd really like to believe but is desperately after some proof/evidence!

God doesn't work like that unfortunately!!

All in all an enjoyable night, but lacking in the whole belly-laughing "OMG I've got tears in my eyes and my cheeks hurt so much from the smiling" aspect... perhaps a little more rehearsal might have paid off... or is that just me subscribing to the more formulaic comedy that's around now? I don't know... I love Jimmy Carr as a presenter and comedy-show panellist, but hate his stand-up act.

It's a good job everyone finds different things amusing though or the world would be a very boring place!

Right, better get off now, I have lots of training news as I have managed to get to the gym when I've not been out partying/eating/drinking or at gigs!

Oh and I've discovered a love of netball... but more about that soon!

Hope everyone's well and you haven't missed me too much - I know some of you have more than others of course ;-)


Monday, 30 November 2009

Still here!


I'm sorry I've been so rubbish over the last couple of weeks but I've got shedloads on at work and have been out every night so haven't had any time to just chiiiiil (and blog!)

I have a quiet night in (for a change!) this evening so will do my best to update you later (expect post of mammoth proportions!)

in brief though:

cardio - bit crap, only some elliptical trainer work (due to not having any time because of work and social committments - yes I know that sounds lame but seriously I've not been able to sqeeze it all in!!)
food - not bad actually
drinking - waaaay too much, can't see it getting any better either due to the nature of this festive season!
weight training - pretty good in terms of upper half! managed to get out with Joe last week and did 3 sessions... very pleased, it helps to split things out a bit, did chest & arms, back and then shoulders yesterday :-) need to do more lower half stuff though :-S

right, that's your lot, need to get on and get back to project work but hopefully catch up later.

hope you've all been well, have been reading blogs when I can but not able to do much in the way of commenting due to time restrictions!


Sunday, 22 November 2009

Charity week cycle challenge

Please don't be fooled though dear reader, this is not a training update (that will come at a later point when my arms have recovered sufficiently!)... there is some cycling involved, but a) it doesn't involve me and b) it's only minimal and on a stationary bike positioned in my work's bar - high octane!!

It took place the week before this one passed and was all in aid of raising money for the Alzheimer's Society.

I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned this before, but I put forward the idea of a cycle challenge, which I thought would be pretty simple and accessible to most (as opposed to say a walking/running one as they wouldn't have to leave the comfort of the building) and somehow this meant that I was left lumbered with the thing for the entire week!

Fortunately I have a lovely understanding boss who didn't give me a hard time despite taking 2 hour lunches (I hasten to add that the additional hour was made up from my own time though!) every day for the entire week!

So, 12pm til 2pm Tara was stationed in the bar smiling inanely at passers by trying to entice them to participate in what must be the easiest challenge in the entire world.

There were 3 challenges in total

#1 'Turn up and cycle' - Everyone who enters and jumps on a bike and pedals, no matter how long for, gets entered into our prize draw for a pair of tickets to Paris on the Eurostar (pretty damn sweet prize for doing very little)

#2 'Fastest to Five' - whoever cycles the fastest somethings (we thought it was Miles but it was actually KMs (there was no way of telling at first, these LifeFitness bikes aren't the most user-friendly!) gets a £50 gift voucher.

#3 'Furthest Distance' - whomsoever clocks up the most mileage over the week gets three bottles of rather nice wine.

So, Monday I turn up at 12pm to the bar and am greeted by 2 shiny new bikes (LifeFitness have won a contract at our work gym - I'm gutted, I wanted TechnoGym (sorry LF!)) - and very kindly supplied us with 2 bikes for the purpose of the challenge.

These bikes, although gratefully received, were a bit of a pain in the arse to use, especially as the minute you stop pedaling the screen clears! Nobody could work out how to program the damn things (pretty rubbish as that's my job and most the competitors work in the IT and systems dept!) so the whole week we used the 'quick start' feature to its fullest extent!

One more problem nobody had factored in was the fact that as this was a 'corporate' instead of 'victoria' challenge (waring factions, positioned next door to each other, one company, two divisions, bizarre!!) so I wasn't 'meant' to advertise too heavily in the victoria building (despite this being where the challenge was being held!!)

Added to this my placement - by the door to the SMOKING AREA! Can you imagine the responses I received "hi there, would you like to take part in our corporate charity cycle challenge and be in with a chance of winning some fabulous prizes just for getting on?"

cue wheezing, gripping chests, looks of incredulity that I'd even consider *insulting* them with the very notion of physical exertion!!

All in all the usual response I elicited from my most bizarre of notions (if indeed I was even acknowledged) constituted a mixture of horror, disbelief and amusement that I'd even think to suggest they hop on an exercise bike, be it only for a couple of seconds!!

Be under no illusion, this was a tough crowd!

In spite of this there were a few gems who came along and took this event seriously... just ONE woman did the 'fastest to five' challenge, completing it in 21 mins... she was a star, she just got on and pedaled for ages, bless!

Most of the 'competitors' turned out to be people literally getting on, pedalling for a minute tops and then getting off - fair enough, it all went to charity.

But there was one fella who came along and tried out the 'fastest to five' challenge 3 times!! The first time he came he was in his work clothes and just basically went as fast as possible on the lightest resistance going... lots of work, super high cadence but not really going anywhere!

Then a colleague of mine who cycles every day (from north right through central london, nutter!) came along and halved the first fella's time... but he did have the resistance up so was clocking up more mileage (more power = more distance).

So our fella came back and had another go! This time in gym kit - took it down to just over 5 mins.

...was a bit knackered afterwards as you can see!!

The next day a fellow cyclist and climber (who cycles at least 24 miles a day just getting to work) came along and completed the 5km challenge in a blistering 03:46

As you can see, resistance was *right* up!


We'd been told of this mystery man who cycled over 90 miles a day on his normal home-work commute (and contributed over 1400 miles to our TfL workplace challenge, legend.

So, with rumour of S firmly intact, a crowd gathered to see the 'clash of the titans' play out

It wasn't to be though, by 4km this self-confessed 'grinder' realised he wasn't going to beat A's NEW time of 03:35 and gave up - bah!

He could have at least gone the full 5km, some men are soooo competitive ;-)

So A won the 'fastest to five' which is fab as he and his partner have just bought a new house so the £50 voucher will come in very handy indeed!

My colleague came back and cycled for almost an hour to add to his KM tally over the week - clocking up 72km in total :-)

Here's me presenting him with his three bottles of wine :-)

*** One Last Thing ***

If (for some reason!!) you found this post interesting, and want to read about a true cycling legend - you might like to read fellow Serpie, Daniel Bent's blog as he cycles a monumental distance across Europe to India for the charity Action Aid.

"Danny Bent left his home, family and job as a junior school teacher in July 2009 to pursue a 20 year dream. A dream to cycle round the world raising as much money for charity as possible. He is travelling 15,000km by bicycle to southern india where he will work in a slum in Bangalore and a village school in Chembakolli as a teacher."

Here is his website: http://www.dannybent.com/

Here's his blog: http://mrbent.blogspot.com/.

And here's his fundraising page: http://www.justgiving.com/dannybent

If you scroll down his latest post to the very end where he details the decor of his less-than-plus hotel room, it might make you think twice before moaning about poor room service and/or an absence of clean towels in your next hotel stay!! ;-)

Oh and if, after reading all this, you're not convinced of Danny's legend status, also worthy of note is the fact that he is the current Bog Snorkelling Triathlon World Record holder!! (eagle-eyed readers of 220 Triathlon magazine might have spotted this featured a couple of issues back)



Thursday, 19 November 2009

Training labels

I don't use labels well enough.

I tend to just arbitrarily paste some random bollocks into the box below this one and then re-use what I'd typed before without giving it enough thought.

This will change - well, when it comes to training that is.

I need to get more disciplined and perhaps start posting entries *specifically* about my training rather than:

"a bit of waffle

ooh I did some exercise

more waffle

ooh look what I ate too

more waffle still"

maybe I should have pure-waffle and waffle-free posts? :-D

plus I want a label cloud, where can I get one of those?!

Ahh... genius, here it is thanks to Phydeaux3!

God I've got waaaaaaay too many labels!!!!!!

Right, have configured it so that the minimum number of labels 'mentions' must be 2... the list was ridiculously long - that's better :-)

anyway, as I trained today on way to work (at the gym that is, I wasn't lifting dumbbells on the tube!) today's post has the appropriate labels applied :-)

Here's what I did...

Please bear/bare(?! what is it, I can't spell today!!) in mind that

a) I am muchos weakos having not done any sort of consistent upper body work for a while due to being a combination of ill/busy/injured (though not always all at once)

I know it's a poor excuse but I'm doing something about it okay?!

Important thing is that my eating has been very good so I've not piled on any weight - I just need to train better, get stronger and feel good about my body!

b) I've actually decided to lower the weights anyway. Just because I can lift heavier than quite a few men in my gym, it doesn't mean I *should*. And, being constantly witness to poor technique and clueless people at the gym it's made me quite aware of my own failings!

So I'm going to work with lighter weights and take my time and perfect my form :-)

This morning was a shoulder session, I did

Seated Shoulder Press - dumbbells (2 x 8kg) - 3 x 10 reps
Upright rows - dumbbells (2 x 8kg) - 3 x 10 reps
Front raises - dumbbells (2 x 4kg) - 3 x 10 reps
Exterior shoulder rotation - cable - (2.5kg) - 3 x 10 reps
Interior shoulder rotation - cable - (3.75kg) - 3 x 10 reps

actually wanted to do more but I ran out of time so had to leg it to the office!

So there you go, two posts in one day, aren't you a lucky bunch!!


Mmm new protein bar

I recently restocked my supplement supply from my #1 favourite online bargain vitamin store ZipVit.co.uk.

They've got some great deals on at the moment, including a year's supply of Omega 3, 6 & 9 for just £8.99!!

Plus, if you spend over £25 you qualify for one or more of their fab free gifts. One which is a Yoghurt Covered Banana & Blueberry flavour protein bar from their great new sports range.

I'm always a bit reluctant to try new protein bars, mostly because I get on so well with the Maximuscle Promax Diet bar range and I don't feel that I need anything else, but also because my experience with 'fruit' protein bars hasn't exactly been a favourable one... quite a few are revolting - like the gross Boots chocolate and strawberry protein bar that I was unlucky enough to purchase recently and be unable to finish!

This is why I only ordered one of these bars instead of a whole box!

I needn't have worried though. After all, I really enjoyed their chocolate and orange protein bar which I got free earlier this year when ZipVit were giving away their 'Formulated For Success' free sample boxes packed full of superb energy and recovery products to celebrate their affiliation with the Cevelo cycle team (in fact I think you can *still* get these boxes for free if you visit the success site: http://www.zipvit.com/success/!!).

This bar is really nice and I had nearly wolfed down the lot before I thought I remembered that I should probably a) tell you all about it and b) take a picture before I forget!!:


Very tasty and as you can see it has real blueberries in it! :-)

Be warned though, if you *don't* have a sweet tooth you won't like this very much but I'm quite impressed, especially as it reminds me of my favourite sweet low cal (although low protein too!) snack which is a Boots Shapers Blueberry and Yoghurt Nougat Bar. It's just under 90 cals so a great sweet-tooth-placater. This bar however is banana flavour (perhaps not to everyone's liking but I've grown to love it thanks to Maximuscle Promax Diet in Banana flavour!!), has more cals (246) but also has 20.2g of protein! Obviously there's more in the way of carbohydrates for any of you low-carbers out there but then it's a bar, so it has to have bulk! But great in the way of PWO protein if you don't have a shaker or RTD like Maxi-milk handy!!


Monday, 16 November 2009


what an exciting night I've had!!

I do hope you can detect the sarcasm emanating from my every keystroke...

Instead of going to my usual ever-other-monday haunt, The Castle Climbing Centre, I suffered a severe case of buddy-bail-out and was left having to come home - which meant supervising the extreme online shop I purchased last night from Tesco.

oh joy of joys, I could hardly contain my excitement as I made my way home via the stinking victoria line and nearly chocked on the sickly incense-fumes wafting down the stairs into the station from the irritating man positioned directly outside... still, makes a nice change from the offers of "skunk....SKUNK... weed... SKUNK WEED" you usually are met with when stepping out into sarf laaandan town.

owing to a particularly complicated day of coding, which didn't end until after 7pm, my brain had well and truly turned to mush and it was probably a good idea I wasn't faced with the challenge of working out climbing routes... I'd have never gotten past a 4A!!

So anyway, get home and thank goodness my adorable other half has purchased a takeaway because cooking would have been faaaar beyond my capabilities.

I had half a tandoori chicken, some spinach and chickpeas and a little rice. I *did* try to eat some garlic naan but it just tasted like I was eating a bath sponge so I abandoned that and munched down on my chicken - delish! I would have taken a picture but I was too hungry to even think of that!

After that the boys played on the new PS3 for a bit, marvelling at the cinema sound created by the brand spanking new amp and metre high speakers... extravagant? yup, but I didn't pay for them so I couldn't care less!

arghh, just noticed the dryyyyyyyyyyy skin on the back of my knuckles, I really hate what this season does to my skin, does anyone else suffer seasonal dermatitis? It sucks, big time :-(

So yeah, the shopping was delivered by a lovely fella from Tesco - SHIT did I order that much?! I know I should really shop at Waitrose for obvious reasons but I haven't worked out how to get my staff discount online, or from the delivery partner, I just don't think it's possible (shame as I get 15%!!) and we don't have a car either so cheapo Tesco shop it is!

Joe's working on a promotion panel at work so was able to cry the shopping unpacking (probably just as well as he'd have not been too impressed at all the food I bought and the questionable tactics employed to squeeze it all into fridge/freezer/cupboards etc!!

Then as I'm sorting out the zillion shopping bags, Bella (girl moggie) decides to come in deposit a nice juicy turd in the cat litter tray - it's in the breakfast room, there's no escape!

Then I manage to pour flour all over my top while hopping around with my hands full of shopping trying to scratch my left shin with my right ankle as it's bloody itchy owing to the flea bites from our adorable felines (we do de-flea them on a regular basis but some had taken up lodgings in my wooly slipper socks. bastards, gonna boil the feckers)

So yes dear reader, not only do I have all the dexterity of a drunken giraffe, I also have fleas and my kitchen smells like shit!

My, what a charmed existence I lead!

All this takes place while the mad moggie prances round the kitchen (having happily emptied her bowels and clearly feeling rather more sprightly as a result) vying for my attention:

No... she's not gone insane and lost it at me... this is one of the top methods employed to attract my attention... it's called "Stand on hind legs and waggle paws wildly around until owner notices my frenetic waving and constant chirruping and strokes my head"

Bless, she's so cute, could almost forgive the smell (why can't she poo in our neighbour's garden like her brother does!!)

This is the other moggy, giving Joe a cuddle, he's a lot more laid back than she is, although just as demanding for tummy tickles and bloody annoying when prowling round the house at 3am howling for attention before he realises that you're upstairs in bed AS YOU USUALLY ARE AT 3AM - every single bloody day!!

Wish I wasn't such a light sleeper.

Anyway, I digress, can you tell I'm killing time and I've calmed my post-programming stress with a nice glass of vin rouge?

Well, the cupboards are stacked, kitty poo cleaned and all's well as I sit typing on Joe's laptop as he's commandeered the PC for his promotion stuff

A few highs of my shopping 'trip' include:

stocking up on the BEST peanut butter in the world:

This stuff is what dreams are made of.

I know it's not as healthy as the Merdian one, there's more fat and salt, but a) it doesn't go dry when the oil runs out... as it doesn't (maybe something to do with its short lifespan in this household?) and b) it's the best tasting crunchy wholenut on the market, it's all natural baby and I LOVE it!

believe me, I have tried a LOT of peanut butters... I should probably hold a poll to see how long people reckon these 3 pots will last me us! :-D

Also bought some seed mixes to put into my bread.

Into each loaf goes:

* 550g wholemeal seeded flour (currently using Allinson's country grain but just bought some mixed seed to try out)
* 2 x tbsp golden linseeds
* 2 x tbsp hemp seeds
* 2 x tbsp sunflower seeeds
* 2 x tbsp mixed nuts
* 2 x tbsp extra virgin olive oil (though not sure if it's worth using the expensive kind... you know if you heat extra virgin olive oil too much it loses all it's extra health giving properties!)
* 2 x tbsp honey
* 2 x tbsp pumpkin seeds
* 1 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 1/4 tsp yeast

quite a loaf huh?


I should really take a picture of a cross section (i.e. slice!) of my loaf! Have taken plenty of pics of the finished article:

But none of what each slice looks like - it doesn't last long enough in this house!

So I'd ordered these new seeds:

basically just so I didn't have to separate them all out (getting lazier in my old age) - plus some 3 seed mix... which was unavailable so my 'Tesco Shopper' in their wisdom decided to substitute ONE bag of '3 seed mix' with THREE bags of mixed fruit and nut... whole cashews, sultanas, cranberries etc... very nice... but no good in a fucking loaf of bread!!

Why oh why didn't I tick the box that said "don't substitute any items" or "if you will substitute items at least use your "£$%^*(& head and subtsitute like for like!

However, am a bit torn between the girlie feeling of "oooh, a bargain" as they 'price matched' my original choice with their three extra bags and I got refunded a whopping £6.27 - BARGAIN!

hang on, still can't make bread with it... ahh well, Joe and my son can have it on their morning muesli, all's not lost, I'm really just whinging for nothing because it's late, it's Monday, and I really have nothing better to do with my time!

Oh yeah, in my never-ending quest for alcohol-free utopia (why can't they make alcohol free wine that actually *tastes* like wine, they can do it with beer!!) I purchased some of my favourite lager (Bavaria - alcohol free lager that actually tastes of lager and comes in at under 80 cals - I'm addicted to the stuff!)'s new apple-based cousin:

Hmm, I can taste the malty goodness from Bavaria's signature 0% alcohol lager but this fruity contender to the throne doesn't really float my boat. I could have just bought a can of apple tango, there's no real novelty factor, I don't feel like I'm cheating the old booze wagon!!

Think I will stick to the *ahem* real(ish) stuff, my son will gladly take these sickly sweet tinnies off my hand no doubt!

Other news... I located the source of the fishy smell that has penetrated into every fibre in this bloody house and resulted in me wondering what the hell that smell was when I put my scarf on before leaving work... oh yes, that's my house smell - eww!

You see, I cooked fresh cod in the steamer the other day for us all and served it with wild rice and mixed veg (from freezer individual microwave steam bags - LOVE those things!) - very tasty it was too

but I forgot to clean the bloody steamer, as did our cleaner... hence the pong. Lesson learnt, if you've got an electric steamer, CLEAN THE WHOLE BLOODY LOT AFTER COOKING!!

God I'm rubbish at this domestic stuff. It's a good job we DO have a cleaner, not least because she's fantastic, but also because she irons too! I don't think I've ironed a shirt since I was a teenager (bad huh?!).

I feel bad that she cleans the house but then we both work full time, Joe had a cleaner before we met and I have a teenager - getting him to clean his body and teeth, let alone his bedroom, is difficult enough!! He would gladly fester in his own filth, sitting around in his boxer shorts playing computer games, if I let him - men are a different species!!

Oh and I bought these to try out too:

I reckon we'll have some tomorrow night with our dinner, which will mostly involve cold stuff like salad and cottage cheese - I over-ordered, thought I'd bought 2 small pots of the stuff and had in fact bought two mahoosive 650g tubs. If anyone has any cottage cheese recipes feel free to send them my way, I haven't a bloody clue!

Right, off to bed, I am now well into Tuesday and have to go sleep as that thinking thing needs to take place tomorrow, ughh

hopefully I'll have my PC back tomorrow so I can post pics of last week's workplace cycle challenge... oh and I'll hopefully update you on an adventure race I'm thinking of taking part in at the end of January next year - VERY excited at the thought of that!

More soon, later taters


Sunday, 15 November 2009

want want want!

I saw this article of hotness the other day. No... not the lady, though she wasn't too bad ;-)

This bag rocks, rocks my socks off, I want it!


If anyone knows where I can get it, please let me know. I PROMISE that I will use it probably once or twice tops as I'm more of a rucksack kinda gal... but that doesn't mean I won't treasure and worship said lovely item for forever more....

...or at least until another sparkly spangly object of desire catches my magpie like gaze... ;-)


roundup roundup part 1...

Right, I have the PC to myself, hurrah! The boys are out a) getting some more school stuff and b) picking another game for my son

I became the No.1 bad guy, public enemy No.1, wicked witch of the east/west/etc when I threw a fit last night when they got back with a PS3... and Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 2.

Now, Joe said that he didn't realise it was rated 18 when he bought it... only realised when they were on the train home. But my son knew full well, and he also knew how I'd react... I'm pretty consistent in my opinions on games and films designed with adults in mind... not younger teenage boys!

If it was rated 15 I might have felt differently. I'd have reviewed it with Joe and seen if it was just because the language was a bit coarser than in younger rated games etc... he hears a lot worse in the playground at school and I don't fool myself by thinking that he doesn't use bad language when he's not in my company!

BUT if a game is rated 18 it means the content is only suitable for adults and WILL contain images that aren't appropriate for younger viewing.

My son tried to argue that it wasn't like Grand Theft Auto where you can go around raping women and the like - nice game! But I don't give a damn! It's a WAR game and the player is in control of the action and the killing.

Joe loaded it up for a quick look. The graphics are absolutely amazing, really stunning. But within a minute into 'recruit' mode or whatever it was... the screen was splatterd with blood!

There is also a disclaimer that there are scenes which might be disturbing to the player - the fact that it's got that caveat on an 18 rated game is pretty indicative of the content of this game.

In fact, here's an excerpt from the review on IGN, my son's favourite game cheat site - I'm not sure if he's read this or is just feeding back reviews from all the kids in his school whose parents are letting them play this massively brutal, violent game (bearing in mind my son's school doesn't even have a sixth form - the oldest they cam be is 16 years old):

And make no mistake, this is an adult game. The already famously controversial scene in the Moscow airport, where you can pull the trigger on countless innocent civilians trying to flee in utter panic is probably the most uncomfortable five minutes of gaming we've ever experienced. You can choose to not pull the trigger if you want, but doesn't that rather defeat the object? Even more disturbing is a stealth kill later in the game where the developers' view has you staring intently and unflinchingly into the eyes of a slowly dying henchmen from the combat knife you've just slammed into his chest. Infinity Ward is unflinchingly staring down the barrel of a media shit-storm it knows is inevitable, but will certainly make this a game to remember. Could both of these incidents be played out as non-interactive cut-scenes without compromising artistic integrity? The easy answer here is absolutely yes, but this one's isn't going to go away any time soon. And will be discussed at length by people much more clever – and much, much dumber – than us.

So there you go. He's not playing it, end of story.

I realise that I can't stop him playing it at friend's houses, it's up to their parents to behave responsibly when purchasing video games for their children, but at home I will not have him filling his head with images like that. It's too realistic and disturbing, I'd like him to preserve a little bit of innocence... I know it's difficult as they all grow up so quickly!!

Anyway, enough of that, hopefully they'll come home with a more suitable game and I'll have my wicked witch status revoked!

So, well, what have I not updated you with over the last couple of sporadic-post-filled weeks?!

First week of November 2009

Gosh, this is ages ago!!

Well, I can't actually remember much about the Monday (can't have been too thrilling huh?) but on Tuesday 2nd I went to the O2 to see Michael McIntyre. As I reported on my last big roundup on 31st oct (scroll down to Thurs 29th Oct), I had very mixed emotions towards this event as I was convinced that I'd seen most, if not all, of his act the Thursday before!

I was correct... but it was still bloody hilarious, all my friends were wetting themselves laughing away and it was great to find that I still found the same material funny.

Plus we had great seats, a super night all in all :-)

Wednesday I started to feel a bit odd during the day and by the afternoon my head was spinning... not good :-(

I missed my work Dramatic Society's 80th birthday celebrations that night, I was most upset, but I wouldn't have been able to enjoy myself and would have ended up sat in a corner feeling sorry for myself and resembling a wet blanket.

Thursday I was off work, with my son who was also ill and is now on antibiotics as his residual cough just isn't clearing!

Thursday night was bonfire night and, although all I wanted to do was continue to be sat on the sofa watching rather rubbish re-runs of Dr Who with my son, our local park has an amazing FREE display every Guy Fawkes night so it would have been unheard of to miss it - plus it's only a couple of minutes' walk so not exactly a taxing effort.

So, wrapped up in a zillion layers of clothes, the biggest scarf I could find, gloves, hat etc, we ventured out...

here are some pics, yes they look like fireworks and all fireworks pretty much look the same but humour me as I haven't really ever grown up!

Please feel free to scroll past these self-indulgent "woooahhh" "woooow" "ahhhhh" pics :-D


Unfortunately due to some work being done on the park's entrance it took us an eternity to get out and home and my son and I felt thoroughly miserable by the time we got home and were both bed-bound after warming up with a hot drink!

Friday was pretty much the same as Thursday in terms of lounging around on the sofa watching TV. We watched various programmes recorded on the Sky+ box including a few movies like Hancock which I'd not seen before. It was a great 'leave your brain in a box by the door and come right in' movie, Charlize Theron looked HOT! That woman seems to get better with age - not fair!

I had intended to do all sorts of blogging but I felt so rough that I couldn't venture from the sofa to the PC and concentrating on the smaller laptop screen also didn't appeal so I just slobbed around in my jim jams, drinking hot drinks and feeling generally pooh.

I was resolved to rest, recover and NOT to go to work and spread my germs around and I'm glad I didn't as I felt much better by Saturday :-)

Saturday night was a friend's birthday. We went to a lovely restaurant called Souk Bazaar, which served delicious mezze, I *love* small sharey-style dishes (although with that comes the danger of overeating as you load up your small plate for the hundredth time!!). The food was ace and the little room we had was lovely, the atmosphere was great and the decor was lovely... really nice place. Best of all, with the set menus we all went for there were free refills!

After that we went for some musical fun in Karaoke Box. It was fabulous, I had a sing/rap-off with another party-goer with Vanilla Ice's 'Ice Ice Baby' - baaaad idea, I know that song back to front, I used to adore the guy *hangs head in shame*!

After that we went to a bar and it all went downhill from there.

I've been wondering why my hangovers seem to get worse as I get older and I thought it was just because of my age but actually I've found that the older I get, the more I can drink! When I was younger I'd drink until I'd had enough, or my body had decided I'd had enough... many a night in my teens spent embracing the base of a toilet or lying flat out holding onto the floor while the room spun round my head....

I don't get that anymore, I can just keep drinking until the point that I call it a night.

This results in my feeling like total death the next day and spending most of it in bed/on sofa/just generally feeling useless, horrible and sorry for myself - but annoyed at myself for wasting the day!

I wish I hadn't lost that ability to recognise when my body's reached alcoholic capacity! I guess I just need to take responsibility for my alcoholic intake but it's difficult when everyone else around you is happily swilling away... ahh well.

So yes, Sunday I felt absolutely bloody dreadful and Joe decided that only thing for it was for us to go to the gym!!

Nightmare man!!

I was ultra reluctant, he almost had to force me out - which is bad as we generally as a rule always make a point of going to the gym Sunday afternoon/evening, it's probably the only regular session I make a point of sticking to... the rest of my routine is so erratic and based on social events!!

Anyway, in the end I thanked him for it. We went and did a delt-busting session with free weights, then some core work and finally he went in the sauna to sweat out his sins while I hopped on the elliptical trainer for half an hour.

Felt very virtuous and definitely like some guilt had been assuaged by the time I got home and chucked down a Maxi-milk. PERFECT post-workout drink if you like to go to the gym in the evening. If I was to drink a Promax Diet shake that late I'd be up buzzing on all the fat-busting caffeine!

Right, I need to get off and start cooking so we can just eat and go straight out to the gym when the boys get back.

For my post-workout shake I've already got it half-prepared in the fridge as I had half this morning.

1 x strawberry Maximuslce Maxi-milk
small tub of 0% fat greek yogurt
1 x tbsp almond nut butter
2 x apples (was using up old fruit - smoothies are great for this!)
2 x scoops banana Maximuscle Promax Diet

I've got half the above left (minus 1 scoop of Promax Diet as powder goes funny if you make it up and leave it for any length of time!!)

can't wait to have it, I'm gutted I've run out of Promax Diet in vanilla flavour because that and strawberry maximilk make the best shakes. I had some yesterday with blueberries and peanut butter too, very tasty :-)

Still, have some coming this week as I ordered another big tub and 3 months' supply of Thermobol to tide me over the Christmas and New Year season!

Will post later if I get the chance and tell you about this week's great gig and my workplace charity cycle challenge that I was in charge of all week... lots of pictures to follow...



Saturday, 14 November 2009

Friday's photo foolery

Sorry that I haven't updated on the last couple of weeks yet - inexcusable but I've been so busy lately! I'm going to hopefully get round to it tomorrow... don't think it's going to happen tonight as I'm sitting here with damp hair about to start on dinner before we go out to a friend's b-day drinks.

I'd *like* to blog more but the boys are on their way back having just picked up a new PS3, amp and gigantic (apparently) speakers so attempting to drag them away from that tonight would be a futile endeavour!

Buuut anyway, I thought I'd share a few pics from yesterday's silly posing with my rubbish camera phone - more to prove that I *do* actually have muscles... you may be wondering if I did, and if you were going to go by my pics from the Maximuscle Body of 2009 competition!!

I really don't like how my arms look in those pics (in terms of definition, I'm happy that they don't look lardy like they used to!!) but that's not surprising as I'd not been able to work my upper body for about 2 weeks before the shoot as I'd hurt my shoulder following a rather stupid speed session on a rowing machine after an upper body weights session!!!

So anyway, it all started with a sneaky shot of my left arm..

...causing my son to ask what I was doing and then saying "oh yeah, your great arms" - the other day he told me my arms were AMAZING, well his exact words were "wow, you're amazing!" imagine how I felt?! Every Mum wants their kid to think they rock, luckily mine does!

I asked him to take a pic of my right arm (what a poser I am...)

I'm liking the definition, and how my forearms look too, I think I've lost a bit of fat on my arms and my shoulder work is paying dividends (I reckon!) although I need to change that a bit (more on that later).

Later on that night after a nice meal out and quite a bit of wine and Hoegarden beer (naughty!) I got Joe to take a picture of my back... probably being a bit drunk wasn't the best preparation as my muscles were all relaxed but then if I hadn't had a couple of bevvies I doubt I'd have asked him to take it... so swings and roundabouts eh? ;-)

So, here's my back, sorry for the poor picture quality

What do you think?

I'm quite chuffed, I didn't realise this is how I look like from behind (possibly because I've not yet perfected the art of 360 degree neck rotation!!), Joe says it's quite impressive which I'm really pleased about :-)

I don't think I'd be able to pull that pose tonight though as I've got serious DOMS from Thursday night's new arms and chest workout which I'll go into more detail when I post my new schedule...

I also can't sit down without grimacing as I put a bit too much weight on the bar when doing squats. I'd done 35kg (bar + 2 10kg rings) which felt ridiculously easy so I thought I'd add another 5kg to that. So I loaded up the bar with an extra two 2.5kg weights... however, instead of the 10s I'd picked up 15s so when I squatted and then tried to stand up again I got a bit of a shock to say the least!!

I carried on though (stubborn) and did 10 reps with that weight but for my last set I took it down to 45kg which was a lot more doable!

I felt fine yesterday morning but my hamstrings and glutes have progressively got more painful... arghh!

Anyway, gonna get off but I promise a proper update soon (if I can remember what I've actually been doing!!)

Hope you're all well and having great weekends :-)