Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chill-out with a Chillow

I've just seen something that might be wonderful on Amazon. It's called a chillow. Nothing beats waking up on new clean sheets and moving your head to rest against a cold, fresh part of the pillow that has been cooled by a gentle breeze coming in through a window. Obviously, I am talking about the kind of coolness you only get on summer mornings. In the winter I hate cold.


It feels like a longer gap than it actually has been. I've had some great thoughts for blog posts but again when I am here I can't remember them. My potato and onion curry is cooking, it smells lovely and I'm starving! The diet is still going well, my tea and coffee consumption is down to just a cup of coffee per day now. I'm drinking more water and eating bananas. I'm resisting the temptation to eat crisps and biscuits. My one luxury is a bar of plain (dark) chocolate per week - this is over 70 per cent cocoa so is quite strong and bitter for chocolate - I would usually buy milk chocolate, which has more fat and sugar in it. I'm trying to lose a couple of stones and I'm 7 pounds lighter after three weeks. My wife has more to lose, traditionally she looses it slower than I do - she's probably a bit miffed by that. But she is also losing it gradually, which is probably the thing to aim for instead of sudden and dramatic weight loss.
My brother and sister inlaw were over in this country at the weekend, visiting parents. I took the kids up and saw them. It's been eight years since I last saw them both and it was a little odd at first but was good. It's too long to leave it really. I hope next year we can fly over to Boston and go visit them.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Finish the sentence meme

I've been tagged by L.B. to do this meme, its a day late but here goes:

Finish The Sentence Survey Meme

Maybe I should....: buy an Xbox360?

I love...: my new car (picked it up last weekend)

People would say that I'm...: not a risk-taker

I don't understand...: womankind

When I wake up in the morning...: wondering how long I can pretend to be asleep for

I lost...: All of my school friends

Life is full of...: people doing grown-up stuff I don't relate to

My past is...: sometimes embarassing

I get annoyed when...: I see people drop litter on the street

Parties are...: uncomfortable

I wish...: I was doing more to move house

Dogs...: are great friends but high maintenance

Cats...: like me better when I'm not moving

Tomorrow...: is a Friday Yay!

I have low tolerance...: for any sort of bullying or spiteful behaviour

If I had a million dollars...: I'd buy a big house

I'm totally terrified...: of dangerous drivers

Thanks L.B., I'm not going to tag anyone but if you want to do this one feel free.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


For the past week and a bit, my wife and I have been following an online GI diet. I have also reduced my tea and coffee intake to just one or two cups per day compared to the eight or ten cups I was drinking. In place of tea and coffee I'm drinking water, semi-skimmed milk or orange juice. What effects is this having? I'm losing weight gradually, it's coming off me - my waist belt feels a little slacker. I'm a bit more relaxed in general, not as much as I'd like though. I know now that I can live without drinking copious amounts of tea and coffee. In terms of my sugar and salt intake, it's definitely gone down - I haven't drunk any fizzy drinks, or eaten any ready-prepared meals and because I'm drinking fewer beverages I'm not consuming the sugar that would have been in those. So, in general I feel a little healthier. The diet has also got me and my wife cooking again, our cupboard has now got some spice jars in it. I'm preparing meals I've never tried before - favourite meal last week was fried green lentils and onion topped with toasted ciabatta slices with goats cheese topping, I added a few salad leaves on the side just to fill the meal out a little (we had a guest staying with us). This week a block of plain (dark) chocolate is on the menu, so I've had a chunk of that each day while preparing the kids dinner. Doing the online diet gives us some variety each day and my wife sets the menu at the weekend for the week ahead. We are spending more on food but there is definitely an improvement in our diet - we're eating a healthy amount of fresh fruit and vegetables. This time of year, there are so many delicious fruits out there too. I bought limes for the first time yesterday for our dinner tonight, chicken and bean salad with avocado. I haven't really missed anything yet to be honest, I think I'll be able to keep this up. I just need to start doing some exercise next...

Friday, June 15, 2007

In quiet moments...

There are times during the normal week when I get a chance to have a sit and think about stuff other than work or the family. My times for doing this aren't usually planned or anything, they are spontaneous and are probably the kind of thing one does more of as one gets older. Over the past month or so one news story haunts me more than others - probably because it involves a child and I can empathise with the parents by imagining what it must be like for them, I can't of course imagine the full horror but its bad enough. I am referring to the case of the missing Madeleine McCann, the four year old who was snatched from a holiday apartment while her brother and sister slept nearby. Her parents where eating at a local restaurant only yards from the apartment and were checking on the sleeping tots every half hour. This happened while they were on a family holiday in Portugal, a time when they should be relaxing and having fun family time.
It is a heartbreaking story and the parents must be torturing themselves. The crime is so horrid I don't even want to consider the possibilities of what has happened to the little girl. To be so young and be snatched from your mum or dad is just so terrible and terrifying. In my few moments of reflection I do find myself thinking of the family and I pray that Madeleine is returned to them safe and unharmed. I also pray that whoever did this vile act is caught and severely punished.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Festival fever

It's that time of the year. I get envious of the young people who can disappear for a few days into the adventure of a music festival. I love music and watching bands perform live. I've enjoyed a few festivals in the past but there has never been a "gang" I could go with, I think festivals are better experiences if you go with your mates. I've never been to Glastonbury but I think it's probably the best UK festival, given the historic landscape and the calibre of the acts it attracts and its broad appeal. Last weekend the Download festival catered for the hard rock community, I like the music but I probably don't have anything in common with the rest of the audience and would stand out like a sore thumb. This weekend it's the Wireless Festival in London and Leeds. There are a few acts on the bill I like, especially the White Stripes and the Kaiser Chiefs. There are aspects of festivals I don't like: toilets being one, although they are probably better than ever. They stink in the hot weather, I hate queueing and would be completely embarassed if I had to stand there in a queue clenching my buttocks with fifty other bearded blokes holding a toilet roll while happy people walked past. I also don't like the cost of the food and drink inside the festival. You'd think that law of economics would allow prices to be lowered within the boundaries of the arena but no, the reverse is true. You end up feeling really hungry because of the nice smells and you wander from stall to stall not knowing which takeaway food looks nicest and which one you know will cause you severe bottom trouble. I've also wandered around festivals feeling really alone because I didn't have weird clothes, long hair, tattoos and body piercings - surely the uniform of festival goers. No, on the whole I enjoy festivals from a distance - either the TV or radio. In a way I'm quite sad about that.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Ever rented a movie that you didn't get around to watching? Its so annoying isn't it? I had to take a movie back on saturday, it was called Pan's Labyrinth and it looked really intriguing. I'm gutted I didn't get to watch it. Anyone seen it?


The last couple of weeks have been so busy. At the weekend I put a deposit down on a car. I pick it up next weekend. My wife activated an online diet for herself but I'm going to be doing it with her to share the responsibility and hopefully save some money. It's nice food but takes more preparation and thinking ahead than our usual diet. It's a GI diet (whatever that means) and it includes chicken and salad and fish and yoghurt. My wife doesn't like yoghurt or cottage cheese, so I think she'll find it hard. I am not sure about brown rice and fish, I don't enjoy eating it although I know its good for me. The low fat cheese I bought is very rubbery - think of the texture of Swiss cheese - and I'm not sure about the taste. I'm trying to drink eight glasses of water a day and cut down on tea and coffee.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What is your seduction style?

Your Seduction Style: The Natural

You don't really try to seduce people... it just seems to happen.

Fun loving and free spirited, you bring out the inner child in people.

You are spontaneous, sincere, and unpretentious - a hard combo to find!

People drop their guard around you, and find themselves falling fast.

Big Brother

Big Brother is on again. It's been a very uneventful start except that there was a first today - a housemate was removed for using racist language. I haven't seen the footage because Channel 4 has not shown it but it sounds like it was more on the stupid and innapropriate side, rather than their being any race hate behind it. It does demonstrate that the Shilpa Shetty racism in Celebrity Big Brother and the resultant telling off Channel 4 received from the regulator has had a big impact. There are several housemates I'd like to remove, Emily wouldn't have been top of the list but then again I am not sorry she's gone.

What planet should you rule?

I did this thinking it would be fun, but actually I found it to be quite accurate.

You Should Rule Saturn

Saturn is a mysterious planet that can rarely be seen with the naked eye.

You are perfect to rule Saturn because like its rings, you don't always follow the rules of nature.
And like Saturn, to really be able to understand you, someone delve beyond your appearance.

You are not an easy person to befriend. However, once you enter a friendship, you'll be a friend for life.
You think slowly but deeply. You only gain great understanding after a situation has past.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Chip off the old block?

Having young children is great fun most of the time and sometimes the enormity of being a parent who your children love and "look up to" just hits you in a wave that almost knocks you off your feet. I love my kids dearly. My son might be showing some symptoms that are known as Asperger's Syndrome. It's hard to tell and at his age its even harder, since he hasn't started school yet. I was talking to a person recently who I mentioned this to and she told me about a relation of hers with the syndrome and it hit me for six, to think about my son being a young man and how it might affect his life. Part of me thinks that my son's behaviour might not be this syndrome and that it's related to diet or his age and just being a boy. How much do I know about myself at his age? Maybe I was like that?
There is some evidence to suggest this is true. I remember prior to joining school not wanting to sit down and do writing. I wanted to play all the time, I had no interest in doing writing exercises. My older brother was lauded as being more intelligent than I was at school. My mum told me recently she had asked my teachers when I was started school to stop showing me work done by my brother a few years earlier - I had no idea about this until she told me. I also heard that my mum didn't really know how to handle the fact that I was so not like my brother, who was always very studious. There were times at school when I was just not interested at all and played around and got into trouble. It was probably very embarassing for my parents now I think about it. Even now I am drawn so much more to things that interest me than other things I should probably be doing. My teenage school days weren't great for me. I didn't like the authoritarian ethos and I feared the teachers, I withdrew into my shell a bit and I think it made me distrustful of others. I was also a very self-conscious teenager and had poor self esteem. So if my son does have something, perhaps he has just inherited this from me. Even so, I don't think I've done too bad in life - I have a beautiful wife, two adorable kids and a good job. So I can't say it has been a severe setback in my life.
We're hoping to have my son assessed by a professional, who can help us to take the right approach to schoolwork and life in general to help him as best we are able to. It's the not knowing that I find troubling.

Beth Ditto's NME Cover

I see quite a few photos of Beth Ditto while reading newspapers and magazines and I get to read some of her opinions on the music and fashion industries. Most of what I read is reported rather than Ditto actually doing the writing, so it's not very easy to tell the truth from the journalistic speak. I listen to her wonderful voice and am transported to a wonderful place by the music. You can read some comments on this cover article here. Here's the cover:

I think it's a great NME cover. It's so refreshing to see a strong woman voicing her opinions and not being afraid to challenge an industry that makes a virtue of Bulimic teen models. Beth's nude cover challenges the conventional idea of High Street magazine covers (predominantly read by men) and demonstrates perfecty that a woman can be big and beautiful. I'm delighted that she came from the punk underground because I feel alternative, independent music made by bands today is some of the best music I've ever heard. It's great for young people to have inspirational role models who make us all think and a great time for music - The Gossip are an awesome band and Beth an awesome talent.