Posts

Tackling Increased Living Costs (UK)

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Hello Mr Postman. Plonk, what's that? The sound of another utility bill rising. Life is getting expensive. Energy up, petrol up, and tax rises coming. Stop stealing my money you gits! We are all struggling with the increased living costs. Things will be tough in 2022.  It's a perfect storm. It should never have come to this, but it has. It's a worrying time. Particularly for those with young families and vulnerable relatives etc. I'll struggle through, I always have. I feel for those who have it tougher. People choosing heating over eating.  Here's my take on it, for what it's worth. I'm going full "Martin Lewis" today. Income Tax Rises I don't mean to scare, but people are not prepared for an income drop.  April marks a new tax year. Traditionally we see favourable tax-code changes, and feel theoretically richer. Not this year. In the UK, there's an April national insurance rise of 1.25 percent. Households will lose around £500 a year (on

Why I Prefer E-books, To Physical Books

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Physical vs digital. Where do you stand on e-books vs traditional books? The digital vs physical? I'm now on my second e-reader. It's one of my favourite gadgets.  I'm no stranger to nostalgia. I love vinyl, retro movies and gaming. Technology should be embraced, when it enhances or compliments the experience. E-readers improved my experience. I read more prolifically and take chances on books, like never before. I made the change in 2014, when I was studying. Business journals were heavy, and it was like carrying dumbbells to work. It became problematic.  Business journals were heavy, and it was like carrying dumbbells to work.  When the university trialled e-books, I jumped on board. It made studying convenient and enjoyable, and less of a workout! Over time, I have found e-books enormously convenient. All my books, on one device, instantly accessible, at any point. The Case For Physical Books People are tinged with book nostalgia. The smell of a new book or the sound of

Moving Home: My Recent Experience

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Sold! Two months ago, we moved.  I've moved a few times, but with a family, it's different. There's lots to navigate and consider, when moving the troop. But you'll know when it's time. The house and location, stop serving their purpose. Perhaps they never did, but you put up with it? Nobody moves, unless they need to. But it was for the greater good. I was resisting change, but it was the right decision. So much can go wrong (and it did). The house-moving process, throws many curve-balls. Our adventure took six months, but finally we moved into the new place. We didn't move far, we just went bigger. I suspect many families will move this year.  Best of luck, because rarely is it straight forward, or cheap. I hope this post helps you.  Why We Moved Back in March 2020 (like many), I was forced into a period of home-working (I still am). Thank you Coronavirus.  A storage room became my home office.  I started to see the deficiencies of our three-bed semi. All the

Gift Ideas: For 'Difficult' Dads

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Smile! Christmas; it came, it went, we conquered. Get anything nice? I thought I'd blog, before it transcends into a distant memory. In fifty weeks, we do it again! 😕 I'm a simple man, I don't ask for much. That said, Santa (my wife) obliged with some decent gifts. My Christmas priority, is my children. Their festive joy and smiles, are all I need.  It's a cliché, but you enjoy Christmas through the kids. And that's enough for me. My birthday is late-November, which is problematic. By Christmas, I'm stuck for ideas. I'm difficult to buy for.  Kids are easy, that want everything! And my wife always needs handbags! I favour "experiences" over "stuff". Which is sensible, until you need "tangible" gift ideas. We end each year the same, the wife says:  "What do you want for Christmas darling?!?"  and I say:  "I don't  know........ surprise me?".  Anyway, she did well again. This is (some of) what Dad got for

How To Attack 2022 With Purpose

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Happy New Year! A new year, full of opportunity. As 2021 ended, I compiled a (casual) list of 2022 resolutions. I don't like burdening myself, but it feels necessary this year. We moved home, so there's plenty of DIY on the agenda. It's a list of tangible and personal goals. It's good to write stuff down, and flush-out some aspirations for the year. It's also a wise move, if you have a family. Your goals can inspire, feed into and motivate those around you. My son is six, and can't ride a bike. This will change! My youngest son is three, and I want him to learn several languages. English would be a start! Sadly the Omicron variant has confined dad to more 'home-working'. I'm well versed in 'home-working' arts. I know the dangers, but see the opportunity for personal growth. The list gives me clarity, purpose and something to work towards.  My 2021 wasn't too bad. I built this blog, played more guitar, I cycled from London to Essex, made d

Heading Out Of 2021, Feeling Burned-Out

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New home office, same old sh*t! My first blog post since October. Sorry about that. No excuses. Well, perhaps some. We moved house a month ago, and life got crazy. Moving house, is a tiresome and stressful affair, especially with kids.  Now we've settled in, its been endless direct debits and address changes. And for the time-being, endless unpacking of boxes and lots of adhoc DIY. I'll get there.   Moving house is stressful, but it was a move we needed to make. I'll probably write about this, in future posts. It isn't a decision you take lightly. In late-November I also celebrated my 41st year (look young don't I?). Soon after that, the dreaded Omicron variant appeared. So it's more "working from home" for me and a temporary end to "office life". I'm really bummed about that. Limping Over The Line The closing part of 2021, has turned into a blur. When so much happens (personally and globally), you struggle to process. So right now, I'

Halloween: To Celebrate, Or Not?

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Pick a perfect pumpkin. Happy Halloween! I don't hate Halloween, I just don't do Halloween. Does anyone feel like me?  I'm a Halloween sceptic, as I'll go into it later. Perhaps it's my Christian values? Halloween is a celebration of death, not costumes and candy. It also has these weird Celtic and Pagan origins, making it more absurd. Centuries ago, immigrants took it to America. It was a non-event in the UK, until fairly recently. Western culture soon commercialised it. And "trick-or-treat", still lives strong. Many kids in Halloween attire, will keep up the tradition tonight, by hassling adults for sweets. You can't draw a "carol singing" comparison. Carol singing is festive charity work, and they don't egg your porch; unless you piss them off! So today, I blog about general Halloween stuff. The Pumpkin Picking Parents This may surprise you. The fields are alive, with the sound of pumpkins. On Wednesday, we went pumpkin picking. We to

Returning To The Office: A Parent Perspective

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"Lord Sugar will see me now." Exciting news, I went back to the office! It's one day. But technically, I'm back, and it feels great. The day arrived, where Dad would battle henceforth and mingle in the city. It took my youngest son by surprise. Why was dad leaving the house? Are we going to war? Has mum kicked him out? No dear boy, this is how the world works! He was just eighteen-months, in March 2020, when we entered lockdown. There's a "lost" generation who don't understand pre-pandemic protocols, or ever seeing their fathers in suits. But  "the times they are a-changin'" (Dylan, 1964) . Some parents are tormented by the "return to office" dilemma. Routines and childcare arrangements may change. But frankly, I'm happy and this is why. The Commuting Experience Thumbs-up to commuting! Strangely, I enjoy my commute. To some, commuting feels unnecessary or unproductive. Or time that could be used better. But would you ever

Why I'm Ditching Amazon Prime

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Alexa, can I cancel Amazon? Recently I cancelled my Amazon subscriptions.  Amazon Prime went first, which was costing me £79.99 a year ($110). It's a premium service, offering next-day delivery and some streamed services. I also cancelled Amazon Music, their Spotify equivalent. This was £9.99 a month ($13). I guess I had an epiphany. I was struggling to find value, and without value, what is the point? Cancelling them saves me £200 a year ($270). It's your call, but consider your relationship with Amazon. What value are you getting? Is it laziness? Are you consuming too much? Would you miss it, if it went? Read on and I'll provide a bit more insight. Amazon Prime = Too Much Consumption Consumption is fine, in areas of necessity. But too often, we overconsume. Amazon make it too convenient and easy. Goods are cheap, particularly on sale days and "Black Friday" events. But Amazon aren't always cheapest. I prefer to support local business, in these post-pandemic

DIY: Building A Mud Kitchen

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Get out my (mud) kitchen! Last Friday, my son turned 3. To compliment his presents, the wife asked me to build a mud kitchen. " Absolutely darling, of course, easy...........no problem ". I always live on the edge, agreeing to things, then figuring it out later. In business, they tell you to " fake it, until you make it ". I'm sure it applies to mud kitchens? Yes, no? In fairness, I welcomed the challenge. After a brief look on  Pinterest , I felt confident. I'd give it a go, and see what transpired. This is a good project, for the aspiring DIY enthusiast. Fathers should embrace these creative opportunities. Flex your DIY muscles, and test your limits. You aren't a man, until you've attempted the mud kitchen! 😆 What Is A Mud Kitchen? In a nutshell, mud kitchens are outdoor workstations. They mimic a real kitchen, and are usually built from wood materials.   Mud kitchens help to stimulate your child's creativity and imagination. Children can spen

Cycling 52 Miles: London To Southend

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We are the champions, my friend. Recently I had the pleasure of cycling 52 miles, from  London to Southend. I say "pleasure" in the loosest sense. My ass felt so sore, I walked like John Wayne for two days. The whole event was a random occurrence. A  friend was planning to complete the circuit with his wife.  Unfortunately she pulled-out with injury, so he asked me if I fancied it (the bike ride, not his wife).  Without thinking, I agreed. I'm moderately fit, how tough could it be? I guess with hindsight, I jumped into it too eagerly. I didn't want to bottle it, and let down a friend. I resumed cycling, just last year.  Back then, my focus was to remain fit and fend-off the "dadbod".  If you've read my ' Cycling: Embracing The Bike, Tour de Dad ' post, you'll know my story.   My longest cycle was  20 miles; well short of 52 miles! It probably  screamed "mid-life" crisis. My wife certainly thought so. The good news is, I survived and

Showing Compassion, In A Scary World

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September 11th, 2001. A serious post today. Yesterday marked twenty-years since the 9/11 attacks. Thousands of innocents died that day. Imagine the family impact? Many mothers and fathers, did not return to their loved-ones. The world suddenly seemed cruel and brutal. Back then I was much younger. It was shocking and still I can't process it. It didn't make sense. For my generation, it felt like a significant period in time. Much like the JFK assignation or the moon landing, you remember where you were. Years on, as a parent and family man, I view it with further sadness. A generation of children were left without a parent, and are now adults themselves. For twenty-years, they have functioned through grief. Time doesn't heal everything. Their loss must feel as real today, as it did back then. Showing Compassion Sadly terrorist attacks still occur, all over the world.   And the world feels divisive, and in conflict. Terror attacks, wars, pandemics and climate change, only ra

5 Tips To Work From Home, And Parent

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Home-working, what a thrill, what a Buzz! The children returned to school this week, but there were no changes for dad. It's now eighteen-months, since I joined the 'working from home' gang. School closures, lockdowns, and Joe Wicks workouts, seem a distant memory. The world is (supposedly) returning to normal, but not for me. Imagine working from home for so long, ABBA have reformed, and put out new songs! In some respects I'm lucky. Being at home affords me time with the kids, and that's a blessing. For now, there's no alternative option. But I'm not fully onboard. I miss the office life, personal space and even the commute. Because, by default, I'm an introverted lone soul. Imagine working from home for so long, ABBA have reformed, and put out new songs! That said, I'm making the best of this situation. With planning, structure and boundaries; you can operate as worker and parent. So this is how I do it, for what it's worth. 1. Create A Dedica

Stay Young, And Invincible

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"Stop it dad! You're 40!" Don't get old, never get old! Always, maintain a youthful approach to life. Impart your wisdom, but stay young. Be mature, be adult, but never lose a sense of fun or adventure. It's a common trap, as we become adults (or parents). The aging body, transcends into an aging mind.  That's what I admire about kids. They attack life with youthful exuberance.  Life is there to be attacked with fun and purpose. Live by this philosophy. Be the cool mum, dad, uncle, aunt, etc. Don't get old, never get old! Don't Become Boring Life places expectations on us. Society has a template for adults, and we foolishly play along.  Society has a template for adults and we foolishly play along.  Too many people, approach adult life in 'mundane mode'. Sadly, for many, our best personal qualities disappear. I say screw the rules. Stay young of heart, and stick two fingers up to convention.  Maintaining A Youthful Mindset I read a book recentl

National Lampoons, Cornish Staycation

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Cornwall rocks! A little review, from our Cornish "staycation". Everyone is doing the "staycation" thing in 2021. In troubled times, I was happy to support British tourism.  Cornwall seemed the obvious and predictable choice. The fall-back option for disappointed "package holiday" lovers. Spare a thought for the Cornish locals, stuck serving pasties to twats, who'd rather be in the Mediterranean. Seriously, who'd go abroad? It sounds like hellish effort. This is the year for domestic pleasures. British holidays don't come cheap. But for this year, I took the hit. The Eden Project Inside the Eden Project. So the first trip, was the  Eden Project . Basically, it's 'Gardener's World' meets the 'Crystal Maze'. Two large domes filled with various plant species.  I saw a banana plant, which you won't see often. It's a surreal experience, as you wander around the place. The domes are kept warm to preserve the plants, it

PlayStation Parents, Move Over Kids

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PlayStation incoming, special delivery! Gaming is for kids right? Nonsense! Big news, we own a PlayStation 5. A couple of hipster parents, down with the youngsters.  It's becoming the evening ritual. When the kids go to bed, the gaming starts. It's glorious escapism. We also have online personas. 'Mayhem Mum' and 'Cyber Dad' are quite badass.  Our Gaming Past We last owned a console, about eight years ago, but we sold it. It wasn't getting used, I was studying and life was busy. Years later we talked about buying a new console. Then the kids came along and it didn't happen (again). I dabbled with emulators and retro gaming, but that was it. During my youth, I was over every gaming platform. At various points I gamed on a ZX Spectrum (Google it), Atari, Amiga 500+, Mega Drive, Game Gear, Game Boy, PlayStation 1, Xbox, PSP and Xbox 360. The launch of the PlayStation 5 (PS5), was a route back. As you can imagine, these things are popular. Fortunately we got

Schools Out, Surviving Summer

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More coffee please. To quote Alice Cooper , "schools out, for summer".  Imagine not knowing school without a pandemic? My son just finished reception class. These are unprecedented times.  Top marks to the parents, for navigating the farce. You earned the parent stripes, and some.  School closures, remote learning, facemasks, isolation, rapid testing, and more school closures. We'll look back and laugh some day. Challenge number two; the summer break. We've just done a staycation in  Cornwall, so five weeks left. That said, September seems a long way off. I warn you, this may be ranty. Summer Break, Six Weeks, Help! Who decided summer breaks were needed? Probably teachers! Fortunately I work from home, but it isn't without challenges. It presents many childcare issues. How do you juggle work and life demands, with kids? Netflix? Disney+?  The problem is, everybody is busy.  Even most nans and grandads still work. So this further limits childcare options. With reti

Parent Fitness, 7 Principles of Healthy Living

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You've got this dad! I just read a book called ' Total Fitness After 40 ' by Nick Swettenham. It blew my mind. It covers the seven principles of health. I was prime clickbait. A forty-year old dad, overcoming injury. My injury occurred in May, after I cracked a rib. During the recovery, I pondered my mortality. Where can I improve? What can I do better? Parent life is exhausting. Who doesn't what more energy?  I realised there were was room for improvement. Health extends beyond nutrition and exercise. As you age, you must cover all aspects of body health. Sadly, too many don't! Forty seems to be that age, where the excuses creep in. Parent life is busy, but find time to maintain yourself. Don't fall apart, sort it out! This is serious business, so I won't be cracking many jokes or ribs! Staying Healthy, As We Age I believe the impacts of aging are overstated. For men, our testosterone depletes a little, but we can still gain strength and muscle. It may be h