Let there be cake

It wasn’t a landmark birthday but a birthday none the less. It’s a shame I only got one slice of my own cake but that’s the problem when you’ve got two teenagers in the house I suppose. We’ve actually started writing things on stuff in the fridge, “DO NOT EAT!”, “FOR DINNER ON TUESDAY”, “FOR PACKED LUNCHES, NOT SNACKING”, and so on because it appears that everything else is fair game. Of course writing “KEEP YOUR SODDING HANDS OFF MY CAKE”  in icing would have lessened the aesthetic of the cake.

I was a little disappointed none of the kids asked me why my IQ was on the cake, which I feel is very much the sort of comment I would have made at their age.

Oh well, there’s always next year!

5 Ways Dads Can Speed Up Their Grooming Routine

There are plenty of articles written about busy mums and how they can speed up their beauty and skincare routines, but for dads, there isn’t as much consideration; why is that?

Traditionally men have been seen as less interested in their looks. That “bed hair” look has always got you through before, right?


The Importance Of Being Well Groomed

Being well-groomed is today the key to success, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a sharp suit, short hair, and no beard. No, being well-groomed today means having your personal look and style and ensuring you’re looking good, and that can be a tough thing for busy dads to do when there isn’t a lot of time in the morning!

Here are five ways you can implement a good grooming routine that will leave you looking, smelling, and, most importantly, feeling good every morning whilst still being able to make sure the kids are fed, watered, and off to school on time.

The Dry Shampoo Secret

There will be some days where you just don’t have time for that lengthy shower in the morning.

This is where dry shampoo comes in. It’s been a secret of women for many decades, but there’s no reason why you can’t get involved too! Pick a dry shampoo that has either no smell or a faint masculine scent, and a dry shampoo with a hint of colour. Give your hair a quick spray and a tussle before brushing it through in the morning, and you’ll cover up that day-old look in no time.

Get the right products

Make sure to get the right products, too, to help speed up the process. It is always recommended to go with high-quality grooming products, like those sold by the London Grooming Company. Better products will go on better, whether in your hair or your skin, and leave long-lasting effects. For example, if you use great quality shampoo, you might need to wash your hair less often.

Make Time For Grooming

Ok, this tip seems impossible, right? Well, it’s not entirely as straightforward as it seems. You’re a busy dad, and time is precious, so it can seem like a bit of a waste of time to worry too much about grooming habits as long as you’re clean and fairly well kept.

Why not combine your habits? If you’re watching TV, sort out your clothes for the morning, check your nails, consider a skincare routine. If women can multitask, so can men!

Hand Cream Is King

You’re wondering why on earth you’d want hand cream? Well, because actually softer hands are nicer for everyone, you, your kids, and your partner. There are plenty of great hand cream products for men that will leave your hands feeling softer and also protect against dry and cracked skin.

As a bonus tip, hand cream can be used in a pinch to tame frizzy hair, which makes this option a fantastic go-to for busy men on the go!

The Wet Wipe Secret

This is one of the best secrets on the list: keeping wet wipes handy. By wet wipes, we don’t mean baby wipes (although unscented baby wipes would do); there are plenty of smaller travel-sized packs of moist tissue wipes that are perfect for keeping in your jacket pocket or the car and great for wiping away first, giving your face a quick freshen up and generally helping you to feel clean and fresh throughout the day.

Wet wipes are great for you and your skin, but please, don’t flush them down the toilet.


The 5 Benefits of More Natural Light at Home

Most people would agree that natural light makes all the difference to a space. Whether it’s your own home space, a home space you’re looking to sell, or even an office space, natural light can be the difference between good health or negative health.

Here are explored 5 key benefits of natural light at home that you should know about.

1. Improved Mental Health

Sunlight makes you happy, and a light and bright home is always going to improve your mood compared to a dark one. If you spend a lot of time at home, especially when you have a family, then the more natural light you can introduce, the happier a space you will create for everyone. This is particularly important for those long summer nights when you can make the most out of longer hours of sunlight at home to have you feeling positive.

2. Save Money on Electricity Bills

The more natural light you can introduce, the less need you’ll have for artificial light. If you can light up a room using only the windows throughout the day, then you’ll save money on your electricity bills as well as helping the environment by avoiding turning on too many lights.

3. Creates a More Productive Working Environment

If you have a home office or if you work on crafts or pastimes at home, then natural light is fundamental for a productive and healthy working environment. You shouldn’t be shut away in a dark room for hours on end if you’re looking to stay healthy and happy while working.

If you have need of a home office but only have a dark or cramped spare room to work in, you may want to consider setting up a working space elsewhere in the house near to sources of natural light, such as a conservatory or simply being close to a window.

You also have the option of adding new windows to your property for where you would like to work, which is always possible no matter whether you have a modern or period property; experts like Parsons Joinery know how to create windows that fit with your home’s aesthetic.

4. A Healthy Dose of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is the crucial vitamin you can get from sunlight, which is why it’s so important to expose yourself to the sun’s rays as much as possible. Vitamin D is an important nutrient that helps to promote better health in the body, so the more you can fill your home with natural light, the better your access to this vitamin will be.

5. Helps to Regulate Sleep-Wake Patterns

A good night’s sleep is essential for good health and a happy household. If you can introduce more natural light into your home, it can help your mind and body process night and day in a better way. Exposing yourself to healthy natural light throughout the day and then retiring to a dark room at night will help you to feel more tired and drift off easily, as opposed to spending all your time in darkened rooms.


One of my big successes of the last 7 months has been my running. It only happened by accident too; the swimming pools closed down in late October due to Covid, so I decided to go out for a jog, and the rest they say, is history.

Or it was until I pulled a hamstring rather badly in mid April. I’ve only ever had two bad injuries before- a chip fracture on my ankle playing football when I was 20, and another ankle injury when I fell up the stairs and landed on my foot. This was worse than both of those injuries for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’d really got into running and it was helping me out physically and mentally, so have it taken away from me for an indeterminate period of time was rather upsetting. Secondly, it really did turn out to be an indeterminate period of time, as of writing, on 26 May, I’ve only managed three runs, all of them this week, the longest of which was a 5K that was 7 minutes slower than my personal best.

My big sin was I hadn’t been warming up (or down) properly. 6 months of running increasingly quicker and longer (5K: 26 minutes, 10K: 55 minutes & half marathon 118 minutes) and I hadn’t warmed up once. I thought this was okay because I tend to start fairly slowly and that’s a good stretch/warm up in itself but it turns out this was rather presumptuous and would cost me dearly.

I know exactly what caused me to break down too. On the Friday afternoon, I did my first ever afternoon run while my daughter was at basketball. I was determined to do a short but fast run, and ended up doing 3K in under 15 minutes. I’ve done the odd sub 4 minute kilometre before but never 3 on the bounce. It was very hard work and my legs felt very tight at the end of it. My running is normally done first thing, straight from bed, where I’ve been warm, relaxed and snuggled, not at the end of the day when I’ve been sitting around more. I think I pulled something there and then but didn’t realise, or at the very least set myself up for the big twang the next morning.

On Saturday I felt great, really energised, and I set off to do one of my Saturday 10Ks. I was 8.90KM in and on pace to knock an almost unprecedented 3 minutes off my PB when I got a dull hot pain in my thigh and I pulled up. I tried stretching and carrying on but even a couple of steps showed me I wasn’t going anywhere. I had no warning at all this was about to happen, it didn’t build gradually, I genuinely felt great until I suddenly didn’t.

I rested for a week, and then made it worse by trying a slow 2K run, which again felt good until it didn’t. I then admitted defeat and booked a sports physio appointment.

It turns out I’ve got a far from unusual issue- I’ve got one leg longer than the other. Specifically, my left shin bone is significantly longer than my right one. The physio visually proved it, and said it’s not uncommon, but it has lead to several issues. My pelvis tilts to compensate, and my right leg moves in a peculiar rotation with an unusual strike position to compensate. All of this is done subconsciously, and I’m not aware of any of the adaptations I make. It also makes the muscles in my right leg much tenser and more prone to injury.

So far the physio has concentrated on healing my banjoed hamstring. It maybe that I’ll need an insert for my running shoes if the leg differential has made me more susceptible to injury, but I’m hoping it’s more to do with my hopeless warm up routine.

It is a rotten way to learn an important lesson, especially as I’ve got my first ever “race” coming up in 3 weeks in the St Albans half marathon. I was hoping that racing in a field rather than on my own would see me beat my personal best as it would be easier to keep a set pace but now I’m just hoping I’ll be able to recover sufficiently to take part without doing myself further injury.

Why you should consider moving to vaping

The last 30 or so years have witnessed a considerable shift-change in people’s attitudes to cigarettes and smoking in general. As the world has slowly begun to wake up to the dangers of smoking (and inhaling second-hand cigarette smoke), there has been a considerable backlash to the habit. 

With governments the world over now taking an active stance against smoking by trying to discourage cigarette use and limiting the places where people can smoke, it seems there’s a slow but growing revolution taking place. Where once cigarette smoking was considered ‘cool’ (look back at old movies for evidence), there now seems to be a real counterattack underway. Smoking is now, in most circles, considered anti-social. You’ll barely see anyone in movies smoking anymore, and in many places, smokers are now pushed to outdoor areas in pubs, restaurants, hotels, and other public areas. 

Reasons to move to vaping

With such a widespread movement against smoking taking place, isn’t it perhaps time you considered moving to the more widely-accepted practice of vaping? Aside from the generally recognized health benefits of vaping over smoking, there are countless reasons why, if you smoke, vaping might prove the better option. Below are just a few.

Vaping is cheaper than smoking

The apparent cost of vaping puts off many smokers; however, just like starting anything else, there are some unavoidable costs when you first begin that you’ll soon recoup when compared to the cost of smoking. Sure, the outlay of buying a kit at the start can seem quite high, the average cost of vape kits runs between around £20 up to £50 or over, but that’s a one-off payment that you’ll not likely to have repeat until your battery eventually dies or you break something. With the cheapest cigarettes in the UK now costing around £9 a pack – and going up to almost £13 – it’s easy to see how you can quickly earn back this money. 

From there, you’ll need to buy liquids (sometimes extra nicotine if required) and other vape accessories like coils, but the figures involved in vaping are considerably lower than smoking. In terms of cost, it depends on how often you vape – and how strong you prefer to operate your battery. 

Making the shift to vaping from smoking

It is undoubtedly true that vaping is more involved than smoking. With a cigarette, you simply pull it out of the pack, put it to your lips, and light it. It’s a little more complex with vaping as you need to change coils, buy (and top-up) liquids, and choose the right strength and flavour that works for you best. 

The biggest thing you’ll probably notice is there’s a slightly different technique to inhaling – plus the fact an e-cigarette doesn’t have a soft filter tip which can feel a little odd to start with. Also, you’ll need to get used to pressing a button when you inhale, which, at first anyway, can feel a little strange. Nonetheless, most people make the switch quickly and easily. 

The dangers of vaping versus smoking

There has been an incredible amount of negative press about the apparent ‘dangers of vaping’; however, the vast majority of medical practitioners are in unanimous agreement – vaping is considerably safer than smoking. Sure, most also say that we simply don’t have the data available on vaping’s long-term effects; it is still widely agreed that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking cigarettes. 

It doesn’t take a genius to work these stats out. Cigarettes contain around 600 different ingredients, which, when burned, make around 7,000 chemicals – many of them toxic and known to cause cancer. By comparison, vape ‘smoke’ contains mostly water with a combination of flavourings, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and some other chemicals. 

Are there any side effects of vaping?

As noted above, we simply don’t have enough medical evidence to know for sure what dangers might be associated with vaping. In truth, if you wanted to be completely safe, you likely wouldn’t smoke or vape – but if you’re looking for an alternative to wean you off smoking cigarettes, vaping has been proven to be a very good, very effective alternative.

You might notice a couple of things when making the change include having a slightly dryer mouth, and it’s quite normal to find the vapour produced to be slightly thicker in consistency when compared to cigarette smoke. Other than these two small issues, most people make the transition to vaping very quickly and very easily. 

How to Bring Nature into the Family Home

With so much technology at our fingertips, finding the time to enjoy the natural world with our families can be difficult, especially if we are living in the middle of a city. However, spending time in nature is definitely something we should be trying to do more of for ourselves and for our children. From fresh air and sunlight to trees, plants, and flowers, nature can have a calming effect on us and even boost our mental health. If you want to make the natural world a bigger part of your day-to-day life, here are some ideas to help you bring nature into the family home. 

Bring in lots of plants

The simplest way to bring nature inside is to buy and care for plants that do well indoors. Plants not only bring a splash of colour to the room, but they also emit oxygen which reduces stress and absorbs toxins. This improves the quality of the air in your home. Plants can be displayed in pots or hung from the ceiling just about anywhere in the home.

Grow your own herbs, vegetables, and fruit

If you are bringing plants into the home, why not double up on the benefits and choose edible plants? Herbs and even some fruits and vegetables can be grown indoors, e.g., on a kitchen windowsill. These plants can also emit a lovely scent and give a splash of colour. Visit House Beautiful for herbs, vegetables, and fruit that can be grown indoors. 

Create a feature wall celebrating nature

A great way to pay tribute to nature in your home without getting green or muddy fingers is to create a feature wall or mural. There are lots of stunning wallpaper designs, photographs, and vinyl stickers that depict incredible scenes from nature. 

Maximise natural light

Bringing natural light into the home is important for several reasons, and the most compelling is that it can improve our mental health and physical health. Our bodies operate to a circadian rhythm that regulates when we sleep, when we wake, and when we are at our most alert. You can maximise the amount of light that comes into your home by keeping the windows clean or strategically placing mirrors. An increasing number of people are also investing in orangeries Birmingham companies like Mainstream have to offer. These are extensions with almost entirely glazed roofs, which ensures the light can flood the room through the roof but in a stylish way.  

Install a living wall

A living wall is one of the boldest statements you can make, which also brings the beauty and health benefits of nature into your home. The wall includes lots of mounted planters that are close together so that the plants like succulents and moss appear to grow together as one, with an irrigation system with drainage.

Display fresh fragrant flowers

Fresh flowers are an inexpensive way to bring colour and beautiful aromas into your home. You will be able to find different flowers in every season that will look great in all rooms of your home. You do not even need to invest in vases, as flowers displayed in jam jars, empty milk bottles, or wine bottles have become very trendy.

Run Alex Run!

It’s been ten weeks since I started running, pulling on that old pair of trainers and going out in the dark before dawn with the lady wife. If I’d been doing the Couch 2 5K programme I’d now have run my first 5K. Instead, I’ve done the following:-

  • 34 5K runs
  • 7 10K runs
  • 2 half marathons

I’ve managed to knock 12 minutes off my best 5K time and 13 off my 10K. My two half marathons were within 40 seconds of each other, despite being entirely different routes, so I’m nothing if not consistent now.

I’m fairly pleased with that, although I’ve plateaued in terms of distance. Need to build up my stamina to get past the half marathon distance if I’m going to manage a full marathon before it gets too hot in the summer for distance running.

I’m not really looking for a pat on the back or anything, just wanting to point out to many of you who haven’t seen me for year or so (or certainly since the original covid-19 lockdown last March), that anything is possible. Around the time my mum passed away in late 2019 I was 21 stone, had bought a pair of slip-on shoes because bending over to do my laces up literally took my breath away, and had trouble walking down the street.

Now I’m over seven stone lighter and a complete and utter bore when it comes to talking about running and stuff like that.

There were definitely big challenges along the way, the biggest four were probably:-

  1. I love crisps, sweets, junk food, beer, wine, cider and basically everything that is fully of calories but won’t fill you up. Lunch used to be a multipack of Wheat Crunchies and a Dairy Milk. And yes, I’d kid myself that a litre of diet cherry Pepsi made it okay.
  2. My starting weight itself. When you’re a unit, you can’t suddenly start being dead sporty, your joints, back, and muscles won’t like it and you’ll do yourself a mischief.
  3. A complete and utter lack of willpower. I sometimes managed to diet for most of a day in the office before breaking out the chocolate digestives. And it was never one, two to eat on the way back to my desk and three or four to have when I got there.
  4. Feeling hungry all the time. When you eat a lot, you get used to being full and you also get a larger stomach as a result. It’s very hard to break the cycle of wanting/needing to be full all the time.

How did I do it I hear you ask? What’s the secret? Well it’s obvious and a bit depressing in some senses. There is no magic wand to wave to make it easy, no special diet or one simple trick to lose lbs of belly fat as the spam adverts would like you to believe.

The first nine months I did two things basically. I walked. A lot. Over 10km a day in fact. Every single day. On top of that I started using Under Armours’ MyFitnessPal app to track what I was eating. I plugged in my weight, age and height, and what I wanted to weigh, and it did the rest, giving me a calorie target for each day and telling me when I’d had too much from one food group. Logging absolutely everything you eat is incredibly tedious, as someone who has done it for 385 consecutive days can testify to.

I’d set myself targets along the way, 10% of my body weight (13kg), then trying to get to 110kg, then 100kg, then 92kg, which was the target that meant I was no longer overweight. I’m now fluctuating between 86kg and 89kg, which seems to be where my body is happiest. I got down to 85kg at one point but felt tired and couldn’t hold it there. So I’m at the top end of the acceptable range for my height and age but I’m also wearing the same sized trousers I was when I was 18, which if nothing else will teach me to throw old stuff out as I’m sure I had at least a pair of jeans that size that still had plenty of wear in them.

Once I hit 90kg in August I was able to start swimming as well but, along with some early morning biking, that was it. I tried running with the soothing voice of Joe Whiley encouraging me on via Couch 2 5K but couldn’t do it. I gave up on about day 3 twice and it was very demoralising.

Fortunately, my wife is a super runner and gave me genuinely that “one simple trick” to running. Which was to go slowly. More slowly than you thought possible. And so I did, and at first I think I could have probably walked faster than I was “running” but I managed a couple of kilometres, and that soon became 3, 4, then 4 and a half, and finally a full 5K.


After that it was simply a case a running a bit faster and a bit further. It becomes addictive after a while, especially if you shove an audiobook on or listen to podcasts while you’re doing it, you hardly notice things like aches and pains, or the fact you’re running along at 6:45am with a headtorch on in the rain.

So there we are then, 10 weeks on from not starting Couch to 5K for the third time. I’m not entirely sure what the moral of the story is, whether it’s be more ambitious or scale your ambitions back until they’re achievable. It puts me in mind of the following quote from Terry Prachett’s Mort:

“After a while he got into the rhythm of it, and started playing the privet little quantity-surveying game that everyone plays in these circumstances. Let’s see, he thought, I’ve done nearly a quarter, let’s call it a third, so when I’ve done that corner by the hayrack it’ll be more than half, call it five-eights, which means three more wheelbarrow loads …. It doesn’t prove anything very much except that the awesome splendour of the universe is much easier to deal with if you think of it as a series of small chunks.”

If you’d like to keep up with what I’m running, you can follow me on Strava. It’s not very exciting but you do get to see the odd photo of me grimacing.

Creating a Kid-Friendly Garden

If you’re lucky enough to have a good-sized garden, it’s important to make sure it’s safe and spacious for your children to enjoy during the summer months. If you are thinking about doing some work in your garden, here are some suggestions on how you can make it great for your kids as well as yourself:

Clear Some Space

It’s no secret that kids like to run around, whether they’re chasing each other or playing football. This is why it’s important to clear some space in your garden where they can do this safely without the risk of knocking over your plant pots or damaging the flowerbeds. Preferably, a lawn area would work best for this kind of play, and it would reduce the chances of scrapes and cuts in case of falls. If you don’t have a lawn area, consider putting down some artificial grass as a substitute. 

Get a Playhouse/Cabin

Another great addition to your garden for your kids would be a playhouse or cabin they could spend time in with their friends. It’s great for them to use all year round, and can provide them with a shelter on rainy days. Another great perk of these cabins is that if you get one large enough, it can later be transformed into a more mature space for them to use in their teen years or even for a place for you to use if they no longer want to. You can purchase long lasting garden cabins from any good home and garden store.

Climbing Frame/Swing Set

Climbing frames and swing sets are brilliant for kids to play on and can help to keep them fit and healthy as they use up some extra energy during outside play. You can get different sets in various sizes, so finding one that fits your garden shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. You can always sell them to a second-hand store once your kids are too old for them, or keep it in the garden for future grandchildren. 

Secure Ponds and Other Hazardous Areas

Having a pond or water feature in your garden is always a nice touch, but with small children, this can also be dangerous. If you do have these features and want to keep them, make sure they are secured by erecting a fence or border around them that will keep your kids away and reduce the chance of them falling in. In addition to ponds, make sure your shed with your gardening tools or other areas of the garden that could be hazardous are secured or sealed off in the same way. 

Give Them a Flowerbed

Teaching your kids how to grow flowers and vegetables is a great life skill to pass on. To help keep them enthusiastic about gardening and develop these skills, allocate a flowerbed that they can tend to themselves, and let them choose which flowers or vegetables they want to grow there. 

Having a great garden is always a nice addition to the home, but if you have kids you need to make sure it’s suitable for them, too. Consider the suggestions above and see how they can make your garden kid-friendly as well as a nice outdoor space for you to enjoy, too.

How to childproof your garden

Gardens can be magical places for children, providing a space in nature that they can play and stretch their imaginations, all while getting some fresh air and exercise. Your lawn, hedges and garden shed might look basic to you, but to a child your garden can easily become a vast jungle, spaceship or assault course. However, your garden could hold some hazards for children that will soon spoil their fun should they get hurt. To ensure that your child’s playtime remains magical and free of tears, here is how you can child-proof your garden.

Remove poisonous plants and fungi

Children are notorious for putting things in their mouth, and the garden is full of plants, berries and fungi that could look appetising for child. Berries and mushrooms, in particular, look tasty and children might recognise them from their own fridge and think that they are universally edible; however, poisonous plant life, such as deadly nightshade and foxgloves, can cause a stomach upset at the very least, and in some cases even prove fatal. Remove all poisonous plants and fungi as soon as they appear in your garden, and instruct children that some berries are for the birds rather than humans, and as such should not be eaten.

Remove a tree

Trees can provide a garden with many benefits; for instance, providing a home for birds and wildlife, creating a natural barrier for more privacy, and adding some design interest. However, they can also prove to be a huge hazard for young children. Large, overhanging branches can be too much of a temptation for adventurous children who want to climb the tree and might get stuck up there through fear or fall from unstable branches. Additionally, a tree might be rotten and disintegrate easily, causing abrasions and falls. Hire a tree surgeon Halesowen who will be able to either trim back a tree or remove it completely depending on what is most suitable for your family.

Watch out for uneven surfaces 

Many gardens include some form of uneven surfacing, whether those are the steps leading from your patio to your lawn or a gravel path. However, these can soon become hazards to excited running children who trip up on uneven patio flagging, causing grazed knees and tears. Make sure that any loose or uneven surfaces are secured as soon as you notice them, and regularly check your garden for any developing hazards.

Secure gates and fences

Unlocked gates and fences with holes in them could encourage your child to leave the safety of your garden and go on an ‘adventure’ – and be an invitation to disreputable visitors. Additionally, broken fences and rusty gates could cause splinters and cuts requiring a tetanus shot. Make sure that all fences and gates are well maintained, ensuring that there are no exposed nails, and make any repairs as soon as they are required. Check your gates are securely locked when your children are playing outside, and always keep a watchful eye on them. 

Nothing to see here

Lockdown has sort of officially ended but as a country, we’re not really returning to the office yet in massive numbers, as working from home has proved successful for many and let’s face it, encouraging people to return to the office AT THE START OF THE SCHOOL SUMMER HOLIDAYS was never going to be the greatest piece of joined up thinking from our illustrious leaders.

We’ve continued plugging away at work and household life, which has settled into a bit of a monotonous drudge. The monotony has been alleviated by the lack of rushing around, chasing our own tails, with extra curricula lessons and activities for the kids, and the commute to work more or less done away with. I read a great quote from a senior partner at PwC, a firm that is infamous for it’s long hours, where he said presenteeism is dead. Great soundbite but I suspect the reality will be different!

A lot of people seem to have been putting weight on during the pandemic, gym going exercise curtailed and food and beer offering a happy distraction from sitting around at home all day. Happily I’ve managed to keep up the momentum that the Shape Up! course I did, started back in January. I started the year at 21 stone/130KG and by the start of lockdown was down to 17 stone/110KG. A few months further down I’ve now dropped below 90KG, and *just* under 14 stone. I might have been around that when I got married in 2004, I definitely wasn’t by the time we had kids. I feel a lot better for it and have to say it’s not been anywhere as hard as I thought it would; the cravings for beer, chocolate and crisps subsided very quickly and controlling portion size wasn’t much of a struggle.  Most of the exercise I’ve taken has been walking, around 10KM a day on average, with some cycling thrown in back in June. I definitely feel better for it.

In some ways without a pretty disastrous 2019 (I lost my mum after a long and painful illness), which saw me pile on the weight (well, at least 3 stone of it), I might not have reached the tipping point where I had to make a significant change. It’s difficult to not be a bore about it all to be honest; there are precious few other hobbies it’s still possible to undertake during Covid-Times after all.

We had the dreaded “staycation” last week. Dreaded in the sense that we did have 4 weeks away booked for this year, none of which has actually happened. The first two, April and May, were slap bang at the worst part of lockdown and given how stupidly a of people have been behaving since, we didn’t feel safe for the July and August holidays we had booked as they were a camping holiday with communal facilities and to a very popular tourist area respectively. Instead we racked up a few hundred miles doing day trips to places we’ve not been to before.

I tried to film a few 360 degree videos while we were out so that we’ve got a taste of the outdoors when we’re stuck back at home. They work with or without a VR headset and you’re welcome to spend 15 minutes on a coastal salt marsh if you like!

The kids are now all gearing up to a return to what will be a very different school experience for them and this is causing differing levels of anxiety for all of us. Wish us luck!