Posts

Cycling: Embracing The Bike, Tour de Dad

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I like to ride my bicycle. Cycling has enjoyed a surge in popularity of late. According to sources, the pandemic generated an additional £1bn of UK bike sale s  (Forbes, 2021). What the Wiggins is going on? Bike rides were a large part of my youth. Back then, I had the freedom to roam and explore. I feel for kids, who've lost this freeness and adventure. Social media connected us, then convinced parents that the world was unsafe. You can't fart without it hitting Twitter. Plenty of my friendships were cemented over bike rides. Think of the movie 'Stand By Me', on bikes, with less Corey Feldman and corpses. Until last year, I hadn't rode for twenty years. Now I'm back in the saddle, making up for lost time. This post is about my journey back into cycling.  Getting Into Bikes Again   So since shifting lockdown pounds, I have been maintaining my fitness. As it happened, my 40th year came at the right time. The good wife treated me to a hybrid bike, which was not ch

Studying For A Degree, With A Family

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University challenge! Unlike many, I didn't go to university after school. Armed with average grades, I concluded that I lacked brains. Plenty of intelligent people drop-out of university, what chance would I have? Why demonstrate my stupidity on a grandiose scale? So I dismissed the pipe-dream and moved on.  As it turned out, this was rubbish. I was stupid, but only for doubting myself. Learning is a long-game and nobody is defined by poor grades, or achievements in school.  I recall one teacher describing me as a "constant daydreamer". That part was correct, I dreamt of not being in his class. Naturally I felt pigeon holed as a "non-academic". As I progressed through my twenties and early thirties, I could not shake the feeling. I had "unfinished business" in academia and something to prove. So in 2014, I had a mad moment and enrolled for a degree programme. Five years later, aged 38, I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Business & Management, at the

DIY Projects: Getting Creative and Making Stuff

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This is not a drill. Time for a bit of "show and tell". In this post I share some of my DIY projects and creative moments.  I love to create, repurpose and upcycle things. My wife is cut from similar cloth, and together we embrace it. Our house is full of creative pieces and practical DIY projects. I suppose we are habitually built this way! The purpose of this post is to throw out some ideas and get you thinking. The Internet is a fine place for creative inspiration, such as sites like Pinterest and Etsy. Creativity exists in us all, it just needs coercing out. How To Get Creative Many people claim they lack creativity, but I don't buy it. Dismissing your creativity, is falsely declaring you don't possess ideas. We all have ideas and we all see opportunity. Us creative types just act on it and follow it through.  Dismissing your creativity, is falsely declaring you don't possess ideas.  Ideas should not remain ideas, get them out and share with the world. I love

Learning Guitar: How And Why You Should

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We rock tonight! I have played guitar for years and once again, my six-stringed friend is keeping me sane. Studies have shown that playing instruments can prevent diseases like Alzheimer's, by boosting cognitive abilities. Guitar is effectively brain training, and a way to sharpen your reflexes. Progressing through the early phases of learning is hugely enjoyable. Nobody turns into Jimi Hendrix over night (or ever), but with consistency, a decent standard is possible in six months. As hobbies go, it doesn't have to be pricey. I own a few expensive guitars, but there are brilliant guitars under £200 ($275). If that's too much, explore the second-hand market where bargains are plentiful. Mental Health Benefits My early twenties were perhaps the more challenging moments of my life. My family had moved back to Essex and I felt a little lost in the world. I was stumbling through temporary jobs, not knowing what I wanted from life and lacking motivation. This period lasted a coup

Why We Should Embrace The 'Staycation'

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I won't be needing this! I didn't get a summer break last year. The Algarve in Portugal was booked, but plans were soon obliterated by Coronavirus. I felt cheated, because I was deserving of a break and it was cruelly snatched. In the UK, foreign trips are illegal (at present). That's correct, you can be jailed for taking a package holiday. Imagine it,  "Sir, I am arresting you on suspicion of sunning yourself in Spain, you do not have to say anything but,..........nice tan".  I get it, I understand it, I just don't like it! Realistically, foreign travel won't return for a while. Summer breaks are important, because people need something to look forward to. It has been a tedious year of lockdowns and chaos. If you stayed sane and didn't lose your mind, you did well. Faced with fewer options, what is the answer? Staycation obviously! Deciding Where To Go My wife is meticulous when it comes to researching summer breaks. She'll scour the review sites

Vinyl Records: A Hipster Dad's Tale

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Glorious 12" vinyl! Vinyl records continue to surge in popularity; as eager buffoons embrace the musical frisbee, and nostalgic traditions. Sales are up a staggering 30 percent across the UK, to the delight of audiophiles and hipster twats everywhere. Experts predict that vinyl will outsell CDs this year, for the first time since the eighties.  Have we all gone bonkers? Perhaps we should start wearing shell-suits and listening to Phil Collins? What time is the 'A-Team' on? So, what is behind the trend? Well, basically, nostalgic old vinyl lovers like me. But younger people are buying into the trend too, because vinyl is a "new" experience. For the young, it's their chance to own physical music, instead of renting it from streaming services who (allegedly) "rip-off" artists. The appeal stretches beyond the music, because vinyl is collectable too. I own 109 records (according to Discogs ), including rare ones, signed ones, coloured ones and some limit

Fashion Advice, For The Maturing Gent

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The mature gentlemen! Many men lose their fashion mojo in middle-age, or after becoming fathers. Just like the 'dadbod', it can slowly sneak-up on us. This is a tragedy, because men often look at their best, during their 'James Bond' years.  In truth, anyone can dress badly, at any age. At forty, I have entered the classic 'danger period' of middle-age. Women are not free from risk, but Gok Wan solved a lot of their problems. We don't have a 'Gok Wan'........we have no-Wan! I have always recognised the need to mature my look over time. It can be difficult adapting, adjusting and upgrading the wardrobe accordingly. Some men lose the plot with clothes and never recover, it should not be like this. Men can age like a fine wine, if they want to. It is great for our mental health, because evidence shows dressing well boosts confidence. However, it can be confusing to understand boundaries and the 'cans and cants'. I find it tough, because I still

Mother's Day and Lady Stuff

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Mum's had worse days! Monday was 'International Women's Day' and today is 'Mother's Day' (in the UK). Our moment comes later in the year, with 'Father's Day' and 'International Men's Day' respectively. "Every day is friggin' men's day!"  my wife would say. Mother's Day gets tricky with small kids, as effectively your are stung twice! I can hardly make my 2 and 5 year old, visit the card shop and florist alone. So the burden falls on me, along with gifts for my own mum. They should rename it 'Wife Day' or 'Valentines 2', because if you have small children, that's your reality. This morning we enjoyed a McDonald's takeaway breakfast, something different. It goes against my healthy living, but hey, it's a special day.  Today's gifts include flowers (standard), Charlotte Tilbury make-up (pillow talk?), chocolate truffles (yum) and a small bottle of Sauvignon blanc (pisshead). I'll

Seven Lessons Learned In Lockdown

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At peace with life, and pink! I've done a lot of growing over the past twelve-months, and not just the period where I got fat! ( read here ) By growth, I mean the personal and self-development variety. The kind where you experience epiphanies, clarity and new perspectives on life. So much has happened, yet so much didn't happen!  German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" (or was that Kelly Clarkson?). In short, setbacks help us to grow and improve. Forgive me, I am about to go all Zen. I present to you, my seven lessons learned in lockdown. 1. Avoid The 'Comparison' Trap Social media has revolutionised the way we connect, I love it. The problem is, we often consciously and subconsciously compare ourselves to others. Too easily we become envious when the grass appears greener. Don't get caught in that trap, focus on your own purpose! People rarely have perfect lives, and believe me, many battle their own dem

Being A 'Working From Home' Dad

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Another day, another dollar! I look back with fondness, on my former office life. The office was my solace, the quiet place and the break I needed. Then Coronavirus came along and ruined it for me. Two enjoyable parts of my life were suddenly merged. Now I'm stuck working from home, whilst simultaneously parenting our two boys. What a long and arduous journey it has been. All things considered; I've done well, but bloody hell, it's been tough! In the news recently,  Goldman Sachs boss David Soloman branded working from home as an "aberration".  I think I'm with Dave on this one! Give me a 'kid-free' day in the office any time!  No generation of 'working parents' were ever tested like this. Pat yourselves on the back mums and dads, you've earned the stripes. The 'Working From Home' Myth Right, lets set the record straight! All employees expect a certain degree of productivity, so when you work from home, you don't "get away&