So this year is coming to a close a lot faster than I hoped. Christmas is now a distant memory, with what I remember of it being a blur of driving and tiredness. Having come back to work just before the start of the New Year, I’ve found myself re-invigorated, for what reason I do not know, but I want to use it in the best way possible.
To pass the time on my lunch I was looking at clothes online, thinking about how they would fit me/suit me, remembering when I used to work in the shop that I was browsing when I was younger. This led me to looking at old photos on Facebook and I was surprised to see how much I have changed. I never realised how good shape I was in when I was 16/17 and it is something that I miss.
Fitness seemed to come easy to me back then, playing Rugby 3 times a week and going to the gym with my school friend, where as now a days it is more of a chore than it should be. So – motivated, I now must push on. If I want to be able to get back to the size, that level of fitness then the work starts now. Really – it has already started just before Christmas as I began to watch what I eat again (tough over the holidays I know). I don’t need a New Years Resolution that will make me feel like I have failed if I don’t commit, instead I need a change of attitude. Something that will stick with me for life. I’ve done it once before when I was training for the races towards the end of this year, so I know I can do it again.
To egg me on a little, here is a list of the events that I want to feel comfortable with myself at.
MY WEDDING (SOMEONE AGREED TO MARRY ME, WHATISTHATALLABOUT)
I find it difficult in this massively connected world not to feel involved in these events that have occurred. There are (sometimes live) pictures of everything, videos, people who are actually there telling you what is happening as it happens – so it is expected that people feel involved when things like this happen.
The lesson that I am starting to learn, especially with the perpetual driving of life pushing us along, is to protect an area of your life where these things can’t effect you. For me it’s my home. We have just decorated for Christmas and it easy to think – as you’re putting up baubles, “what does this matter when bombs are being dropped? Or people are fleeing for their lives?” but this is a situation that you can’t allow yourself to be drawn into. All the problems of the world are too big for a single person to worry about and when it comes down to it, sometimes the small problems in your life mean more than the worries of the world.
With this in mind, I am really looking forward to our first Christmas together. The house has new floor down and the Christmas shopping is done! We have our plan of attack set out for Christmas day too – so this will be my first time going to Laura’s family meal on Christmas day! We also have the Christmas meal with our friends coming up, so there will undoubtedly be many picture of that with last years being an absolute storm.
I’m back on decorating duties again this year. Which, as you can see were top notch when we were at Carl’s.
I have a great load of time off over Christmas too, so I am looking forward to spending it at our home and with family over the Christmas weeks, especially after such a busy year. Then, once New Year comes the real count down to the wedding will begin, plans for the stag do and a trip to Newcastle with work for filming.
I have been struggling to find time lately to write anything on this. In fact, I have a whole pile of pictures to share with you from my trip to Wales which I haven’t even edited yet! But I thought I’d drop by and let you know how things are going.
Recently I have been scouting out small production companies around the UK and watching their short films. There sure are some talented people out there! And, I have been reading the tweets of people who work for themselves – filmmakers, authors etc.
In doing so I have given life to the embers of wanting to create.
It is my dream to work as an editor on feature films or television dramas. That is where my passion lies. But – as all industry individuals will know, you can’t get there by sitting on your hands and whistling Dixie. My new years resolution, which I aim to prepare well for, is to take that small tentative step forward into inspiration. I’d like to write a script for a short film and then actually produce it.
Just something simple.
Something to help stoke the flames and breathe life into my ambitions. I’ll update you along the way with the process of this endeavor, starting with getting over the fear of actually making anything in the first place.
On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month 1918. A call went out to lay down arms and ceasefire because the war was over and a peace had been agreed upon. It marked the end of the conflict of the second world war and is a day that is continued to be marked as a day of remembrance for all of those who lost their lives during the first world war.
Sunday just gone was Remembrance Sunday, a pointed reminder that remembering Armistice day did not work.
The other day I saw a poem that I had never seen before. We had studied Siegfried Sassoon in school, but had never come across this one in our studies. Interestingly enough – it could have been because of the message that it portrayed.
I saw the Prince of Darkness, with his Staff, Standing bare-headed by the Cenotaph:
Unostentatious and respectful, there He stood, and offered up the following prayer. ‘Make them forget, O Lord, what this Memorial Means; their discredited ideas revive; Breed new belief that War is purgatorial Proof of the pride and power of being alive; Men’s biologic urge to readjust The Map of Europe, Lord of Hosts, increase; Lift up their hearts in large destructive lust; And crown their heads with blind vindictive Peace.’ The Prince of Darkness to the Cenotaph Bowed. As he walked away I heard him laugh.
This poem reflects all that has been obscured when it comes to Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day. The day was to be stapled onto our historical banner as a grim and deathly reminder of what war does to nations. The systematic deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, driven by the politics of another and the loss and pain and grief that their deaths left behind.
I like to remember the soldiers who have lost their lives in wars since the original armistice in 1918. I think about who they have left behind and I thank them for their service. But I also grieve them, I pity them for having to fight a war that is the result of a lesson not learned. There is no more obvious a reminder than the cenotaph in London, yet the politicians still lay their wreaths knowing of the pain they have caused so many families. Remembrance day should not just be about remembering British lives lost in conflict – but all lives. All of the innocent children and men and women caught as collateral damage in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. All of the Iraqi forces who are still being slaughtered by ISIS. Everyone, we should remember everyone.
It sickens me to know that certain political groups like to use Remembrance Day as a day to justify war. To say “our ancestors fought for our freedom and so should we!” They are wrong. Our ancestors fought for our freedom so that we shouldn’t have to. They gave their lives so that we could see the depravity of war and could turn away, find alternate solutions. Become peaceful.
But still the cogs of war turn and we learn nothing.
So we smashed the Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest 10k on Saturday! A team of 13 took part from work, tackling 10km and 50 obstacles to cross the finishing line on around two hours. I learned some very important lessons on the way around though, 90% of running is completely mental! I have never ran that sort of distance before, but the thought of getting over the finish line spurred me on no bounds. I also learned that upper body strength is a massive factor in running and so I’m going to have to take a dive into strength and resistance training to improve my speed and to get over those obstacles quicker!
So, I’ve spent the last four days home alone as the other half is away on an all action trip with her school. Whilst she is flying through trees and paddle boarding on vast lakes, I am left to fend for myself in the wilderness of our own house. Initially, the naive freedom of having our abode all to myself was almost unfathomable. The possibility of doing house chores, or not doing house chores, eating properly, or not eating properly. Wearing clothes, or basking in natures glorious liberty! However, reality is a harsh foe to contend with and although admitting this may get me beaten up and locked in my locker by the school bully, I do kind of miss her.
It’s a strange sort of missing though. Unlike the old type where I would write long forlorn letters to my love who is away traveling, hoping that my letter would reach her and I would receive a reply in the following weeks, we are now comforted by the warm arms of social media and instant messaging apps which can put us in touch with anyone we want within a coupe of seconds, so I was never more than a few button clicks away. But, the whole routine that we had built up over the last few months in our house was completely demolished.
No longer would I try to avoid watching soaps (which I secretly enjoy) and go and do house chores like laundry or cooking dinner. Instead I came home and suddenly had an extra 2 hours to do what I like! Blissful free time. So blissful that is compounded a new problem in that I didn’t know what to do to fill it. I had no motivation to do the house work as I knew, in reality, there was now only one of me and I could breeze through the mess I made within half an hour. I would usually complain, internally, about not having enough hours after work to get everything done and to relax, but in reality I need to be doing something to keep my mind working. Something to keep me from sitting on the sofa in my pants staring blankly at an off television wondering what has happened to my life.
Just to push the point.
The only thing I have eaten this week is chunky chips and turkey dinosaurs.
Why? Because there was no one there to tell me otherwise and I figured that I didn’t need to go food shopping as I am by myself.
I guess this has culminated in me writing this post, reaching out the tendrils of my mind to try to find something to do and make sense of what I have felt this week. But look on the bright side, she’s back tomorrow and I can go back to being happy doing the dishes and complaining about having no free time.
The train rattled through Carlisle station, stopping briefly for a few passengers to alight with their luggage, chatting on mobile phones, then carried on North. North past the wall.
Although Hadrian’s Wall no longer stands (in full) there is definitely a sense of entering another world once you get towards the north of the Lake District. We traveled from Liverpool, so watched as cities turned into suburbs, then into technology parks and industrial estates before decivilising into lumbering green hills dotted sparsely with empty eyed sheep chewing the cud.
It wasn’t the first time I had been to Scotland, in fact, I spent a lot of time when I was younger there, even traveling up to the northern island of Mull about ten years ago, but I had never visited the Scottish Capitol. Although my description of its location North of the Wall is a bit Game Of Thrones, you can certainly feel (it’s freezing) and see the change in the land as your train rocks and clatters North of the English border. England is a fantastically beautiful place once you get past the mundane grey city walls (though even some of those look great).
The journey was the start of our annual pilgrimage to cities far and wide as a group of friends. 10 of us in total, heading to a far-flung state to experience a new part of the world for ourselves. I love it, as a hobby, it’s not a bad one to have and we have previously been to places such as Amsterdam (loved it) and Brussels (though I wasn’t there). I hope it’s something that we continue as I see it as a way to see the world with a fantastic bunch of people by my side.
And, that’s exactly what they are. I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends. Everyone adds their own skills, personalities and opinions to make a solid core of friends that have stuck together since (someone of us) school.
Edinburgh is a fantastic city, historical, beautiful and expansive. We probably only visited about 50% of it over the two days we were there, but had to steer clear of the extortionate tourist sites. I mean, twenty quid to go into the castle is far too much in my opinion. But it was still great to clamber the Royal Mile and see the walls of the castle and it’s view across Scotland. We walked and ate, walked and drank, then ate some more. The perfect concoction of greedy indulgence and calorie burning hill climbs to make sure we didn’t all feel guilty about what we were eating.
Little can be said, however, for the activities of the evening as we ventured to our rented apartment only to find it was basically a mansion crammed in the middle of Edinburgh! To get the most use out of it we undertook a game of beer pong and for the first time in my brief history of beer pong tournaments I managed to get the ball in the cup. (Cue much raucous celebration and stripping off of clothes). Victory for the boys, Huzzah! Though at one point I went to the bathroom and upon my return found the hallway rammed with embattled seats from the kitchen due to a heated game of musical chairs. ]
Which, you might think is a kids game, but it can get very brutal.
We made it to at least one of Edinburgh’s bars that night, but the early morning, the amount of penalties from beer pong and the physical excursions from musical chairs and spoons, meant that it was a short trip before we headed back to the house with chips slathered in gravy and Jonny with his battered mars bar (link for none UK residents).
The second day of trip started late, as you could probably guess, due to recovering from the previous nights endeavors. But we closed the book on our suffering by scoffing down a disappointing breakfast from a local Frankie & Benny’s. Following up from a conversation the day before and indulging in our insatiable lust for escape rooms, we found that afternoons activity in the middle of Edinburgh Old Town and fairly close to our next destination for food.
Dr. Knox’s Enigma was the game we tried and by gum was it a good one! We have done a few across the North West, some of group have even done International games, but this was by far the best quality game I have been to. It told the story of Burke & Hare, two men who found a profitable business in Edinburgh by murdering the tenants of their Doss House and selling their bodies to the medical school to be dissected. It’s rumoured they murdered up to 30 people before they were caught. The game takes place after the execution of William Burke (after being ratted out by his accomplice) and you have to try to link the murders to Dr. Knox, the surgeon who used the bodies in his experiments and lectures. After all, he must have known where they were coming from right?
The story of Burke and Hare is a great one, so you should check it out here.
Having such a set story gave the game real feeling and the quality of the set that we were in added two-fold to the drama. If you want to find out more about Dr. Knox, you’ll have to go yourself and complete the game!
We enjoyed a tired, but quiet journey home to Liverpool until Amy left her bag on a train, starting a surreal conversation over Twitter with Virgin Trains customer services who we couldn’t even get hold of on the phone! But all in all it was a great, great trip and I am sincerely looking forward to our next one.
If you read my last post then you will know that myself and my friends went up to Edinburgh for a short weekend trip. There will be a post coming about it with photographs, but for now I will leave you with this to give you an idea of what went on…
Funnily enough, my fiancée was talking about this just last night.
Unplugging from everything is something that I hope to teach my children in the future. I’m not a doom and gloom person, I don’t believe that technology is going to ruin our children’s lives and make them useless as human beings. None of that. I believe technology is what it is – a tool to aid us and better our lives. There is no doubting that life has improved vastly for the majority over the last 30 years because of the huge leaps that technology has taken.
I believe there is always a time to put it all down. Switch off those screens and un-crane those necks and look about yourself. The world is definitely a beautiful place full of interesting people and fascination, if all it takes it for you to leave your phone at home for a day – then you should absolutely switch off. I watched a short film the other day (link below) where a guy is hitchhiking to the sea. It’s not so much the story that hit me but the example of pure human interaction that is put on display. This guy – this hitchhiker – has no idea who these people are, he has no idea what their likes or dislikes are, whether they are in a relationship, what they had for breakfast or what their new favourite song is. All information which is readily available to us through various forms of social media.
This guy has to actually talk to these people, find out the natural way through conversation. I know it can be hard to cast aside prejudgment or even personal traits like shyness. But, watching that film, I felt envious. Envious of his confidence and his skill for small talk (Yes, I know it’s a scripted film, but still). It almost made me want to go and sit at a bus stop and just talk to the next person I see. But ,no doubt, that person would have their head bent over a phone screen and would not be interested in what I had for dinner.
This weekend myself and my friends are heading to Edinburgh for a short break away. I am taking my camera with me, will shoot some pictures and film some footage – but I want to stay away from the internet. I don’t want to broadcast every second of my trip with my mates to the whole world. I am going to switch off and all of you can hear about it when I get back. I don’t want to miss the real beauty of the city, or of the journey or even the company of my friends because I am updating a status or uploading a picture to Instagram.
I hope this way, I will be able to enjoy it more. I will be able to talk and fully throw myself into the Edinburgh life as so many who travel do.
I am super excited and I am even looking forward to the train journey at a ridiculous hour tomorrow morning.
I’m super excited to see something new.
Super excited to see my friends and super excited to open my eyes and enjoy some real life moments.
When trying to explain some of life’s weird situations I like to refer them to well-known stories or characters. With this in mind, let’s tackle fitness fear.
A LONG TIME AGO,
IN A GALAXY FAR,
Fear, I believe, is the greatest enemy of anyone who is trying to get fit. Now, I’m not talking about these people who are looking to get ripped or bulk up (although it could quite easily affect everyone). No – I’m talking about the people who are looking to improve their health and well-being, improve their lifestyle and maybe lose a bit of weight. In other words, people like me.
I started running as I felt sluggish, tired and washed out. Not a healthy thing for a 24 year old! So I decided to do something about it. If you have been following some of my other points, you may see that I dived in and signed up for a few races to give myself a deadline to work towards. This is a good tactic, and one of many that you can find to motivate yourself into exercise. A quick search on the internet will also throw up a number of ideas, so it is ideal that you find the one that works for you! The will to actually do something pushed me through my first couple of months of running. I felt great, the endorphins really do flow after a run and I had a bounce in my step for a few days after too.
Pushing my runs to the 5k provided me with my biggest hurdle.
The initial spark was now a sizzle and my will to run was pushed to the back of mind whilst thoughts of I only ran yesterday turned into I already ran once this week. Not good enough. I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, that my progress was going to plateau if I didn’t up my game. I was pulling quicker times on my 5k with the aid of running with a running partner. A great one too! As he is quicker and fitter than me – it really pushes you to keep up (within a limit!). But without that extra push, I was never going to reach my 10k in time.
I started feeling a bit crumby again. Doubt started to creep back in and a new feeling finally reared its ugly head. I don’t think I wasn’t running out of laziness or lack of will – I think I was holding back out of fear.
Fear is a mans worst enemy.
Fear is Darth Vader.
Right? Stick with me.
Darth Vader is a classic bad guy. Powerful, endearing and has a great time smashing people into non-existence. Fear is my Darth Vader, my sworn enemy and the beast I have to defeat to continue. Now – those who have seen Star Wars will know that in the end Vader isn’t all we presumed and this is where I make my point. Although initially, you may be worried – scared that you goals are out of reach, you need to harness your fears. Don’t think, “I don’t think I will be able to finish my 10k, so I won’t run this week as it’s pointless.” No, you have to take the fear, you have to beat Darth Vader and stand up and say “I am afraid I won’t be able to finish my 10k, so I need to up my game!” Only then will Darth Vader toss the Emperor into the depths of the Death Star. Only then, will you be able to use your fear as fuel and no longer be weighed down by your doubts.
A little green Jedi once described it as this.
Fear is the path to the Darkside.
Fear leads to Anger.
Anger leads to Hate.
Hate leads to suffering.
And he was right. If you allow yourself to fear failing then you will become more annoyed at your lack of action to the point where you will hate you’re in action. And that, friends, is a dangerous and harmful path to get on. You need to drag yourself up and get back to pounding pavements, treadmills, anything. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be tough, there will be times when you might want to quit, but if you do it then your body will thank you, your mind will thank you and when the zombie apocalypse finally does come you’ll have Rule One of the Zom-Apocalypse down already. But you have to do it. Only then will you succeed.