Category: Gym

Seemingly Non Stop January

The first month of any year does seem to last forever. Never been able to find the root cause, probably because we all try to start the new calendar year with a multitude of plans. Many people set themselves up for failure by trying to achieve too much, too soon and with little planning.

Trying to keep my goals attainable I want to focus on fitness and career as two distinct areas of my life. I had signed up for the Cancer Research UK Winter Run 10k with my colleague Rob to give me a target to focus for the near future. The race is tomorrow and I am disappointed to report that I have withdrawn forfeiting my entrance fee. Being hit by a chest infection which has kept me out of the gym for over two weeks, I was just not ready. Colleagues had made the case for just walking the course but that is not me! I wanted to run the full distance and give a good account of myself even smashing my 10k record from almost six years ago. My withdrawal while unfortunate has come after a great deal of reflection. Generally I always try to see my commitments through and I see this as a postponement rather a complete cancellation of my participation in runs in the future. Reviewing my gym workout card; I only made two sessions in January. The start to 2015 has not gone to plan at all but let us not lose sight of the bigger picture. Eleven months remain and while getting back on the wagon is difficult, the ultimate goal is consistency!
I must be one of those special human beings whom actually lost weight during the Christmas period. The main factor in this was just like the year before (2013) I had only the statutory days off. As my cousin Susan said so well many many years ago. Being in the office meant sticking to my healthy pack lunch rather stuffing my face with chocolates, sweets and snacks as would have been the case had I been home. Being a creature of habit does help! Last year I made the biggest change to my gym routine since I started taking training seriously (2008). I joined the Friday evening spin class and in doing brought my independent gym session count down from three to two. I had hit the 12 stone barrier and was finding it extremely hard to get below this mythical wall on my weighing scales. In January 2014 I had started to watch all my food intake with the assistance of MyFitnessPal with a weekly weigh-in on Friday mornings. While progress had been steady to begin with I had hit this plato point and needed to kick start the burn. While there are many lunchtime classes offered at my office gym, they do not suit my working schedule. Classes last forty five minutes and when you factor in the time in the changing room before and after, an hour plus. I opted for the Friday evening graveyard session starting at 5:45pm. While ever so tempting to leave the office with the majority my colleagues at 5pm, having to work a full sixty minute class at full pelt does make you feel you have truly “earnt” your weekend!

Keeping track of progress is much easier in our app centric world but not having access to the latest smartphone meant I just updated my stats over on DailyBurn (formerly Gyminee). However this can because quite the administraitve burden and towards the middle of last year I just stopped. I saw little point, particulary as the few friends using the service had also stopped, so the element of comradery and competition just stopped. Being a data person I am keen to get my hands on a fitness tracker to track as many dimensions to my workouts as possible. However the market is a moving target, with new devices released almost on a weekly basis. I have changed my mind on which device to purchase for the past year. Originally I had my heart set on the FitBit Force but it was withdrawn from the market place due to the strap causing skin rashes for some customers. The waiting game started for FitBit to release their next range of devices. My heart was set on the FitBit Surge which was only just announced for sale in UK in the past week or so. I have vouchers from my birthday for John Lewis to use up but the UK retailer has no information on when they expect to stock the device. I enquired in all available options – in person at both Reading and Oxford Street branches and via an e-mail to the Head of Customer Service. No wonder the High Street goliath is losing its way in the digital age. However after reading several in depth reviews I have opted to not make a purchase, even though the software and community were a big part of the decision making process. The product just will not fit in with my lifestyle. Plus I require the option to extend the capability of my device over time. Rather than having to wait to purchase the latest device eighteen month or twenty four months later. The final decision has been made. I am going to purchase the Garmin Vivoactive (plus the heart monitor) when it is released on 30th March. The device is a smartwatch with all the standard trackers but the real appeal is the Connect IQ API which will enable third party developers to write applications for the device. This will really open up the possibilities. All I have to do now, is wait. As you probably already know, with me, patience is never a problem.

Lifestyle Changes

Many months since a blog post, making me wonder who still actually reads this blog and is it worth still investing the expense to keep it running (along with all my other websites). While I can continue to have a relative limit web presence for free by using Twitter and Facebook. (Although Facebook I tend to use less to publish and more to discover what is happening in my circle of friends and ex work colleagues.)

Time is flying and we are almost at the mid point of 2014. A World Cup Year. Perhaps for the first time for many years, I have little care for the fortunates (or lack thereof) of the England team. I have been tasked to set up the World Cup Sweep Stakes in our office and had the bad luck to pick Belgium. I need to spend some time this weekend, collating all the prize money and putting together a wall chart to display on the wall behind my desk.

On Friday 15th March, I made the decision to change my gym days and start to attend a weekly spin class at 5:45pm each Friday evening after work. My last spin class had been in September 2009. I returned as I wanted to have a single hour session to focus on cardio and spend my other two gym sessions on weight training / toning. While having to spend time at the office later than expected on a Friday, I felt the class was a good way of earning my weekend and potentially also come into the gym on a Sunday morning. The class is taken by Amber and there are usually a group of six guys whom regularly attend. I have to admit it was a struggle to start with, making sure the bike was set-up correctly. Three weeks were probably my bed in period but considering a few weeks when I have not been able to make the class, due to work commitments or having to be somewhere outside of work at a certain time. I do try and get to the class early and position my bike as close as possible to the single fan which is the only form of air conditioning in the studio. I finish the class with tired legs, a sore backside and dripping with sweat but perhaps not as much sweat as my colleagues. I know I need to push myself a little more and that came apparently on my most recent class last night. A late arrival meant the instructor came off her bike and walked around the room, increasing the resistance on my bike several times during the class, as I was making it look far too easy. The benefits are there for all to see, I have lost several pounds since starting the class in mid March. I am now close to 12 stone, and would like to get to 11.5 stone as my ideal weight. Remember at the start of the year I weighed in closer to 13 stone. I still need to invest in a fitness tracker but have yet to decide on what product to buy, with the FitBit Force still not available in the UK (having been withdrawn from sale from other markets). I am still using My Fitness Pal to track my calorie intake and Daily Burn to record my fitness progress each week.

Life Before Shazam

How did we identify songs before the mobile app Shazam? Well you would have to remember a key lyric in the song, ideally the chorus. In most cases you would just have to record those words to memory, rather than write them down as a note in your smartphone. We are talking about the pre-smartphone era, so before the middle part of this decade. I can recall many a time searching for lyrics in Google, hoping the correct song with artist name and song title would appear in the results. Ideally the official music video, which you can then watch on YouTube. In modern times, there is no need to go to such great lengths.

While in H&M in Westfield yesterday afternoon, I heard a song come on the in-store radio system. Instantly I thought the artist was Rihanna, the song had her signature vocal all over the thumping beat. I could even make out what I thought was the title, War Child. I was actually wrong on both counts. I opened up Shazam on my smartphone and identified the song within seconds. It was actually called Wild Child by Australian prodigy Elen Levon. On tagging the song and artist, I quickly share this information with Wunderlist, my To Do List application which records the details under a section called music. Wunderlist has been a revelation for me as a “list” person. Available as an Android app, Windows app and online via the web, I can see my to do list wherever I am. I have a long list of songs I have heard on television, radio or just out and about and need to download.

Over three years ago, in the same store but in a different city, I heard a song but had to wait until I got home to work out who it was by and what is was actually called. Life is so different in this world of instant gratification. I am in my office gym this morning and have listened to the song six times back to back. To be honest, I am glad to finally give my music collection a refresh. My gym playlist has been very stale of late and at time become very repetitive. My podcast diet has been reduced down to mere two weekly podcasts, both from the Beeb. I no longer have the luxury of a two hour commute each day to fill with radio goodness. Listening to Martin Lewis of on BBC Radio Five Live, while on the treadmill and I try to listen to the Let’s Talk About Tech (the Joy Of Tech was considered too risqué a name for the BBC and although the file name is still referred to by the old moniker) every Monday as that is recorded on a Saturday evening. I tried one of the American gym workout podcasts, GetFitPod last week but just could not get offer some cheesy American DJ, Skip Orem trying sooth me from his warm studio and I’m sweating it out on the rowing machine. I gave up (on the podcast not my workout) after about ten minutes. I did not like his choice of music in any case. Never trust a man with the name Skip.

Shazam can even save the tag, if no internet access is available at that moment in time and identify the song once you are back on the grid. As was the case in point for a song I had tried to identify in HMV a little later on this Saturday afternoon. It was not until later I could identify the song (while identify another song) that the artist was The 1973 – Settle Down.

Vital Statistics

My trials and tribulations in the gym have been well documented. What many people do not know is my first attempt at gaining some fitness actually started over a decade ago. Under peer pressure from my new group of Uni friends, I joined the local gym on campus. I recall a rather funny induction with my friend and flatmate Sippy. The DMU Leisure Centre was a short walk away from our halls and membership was a mere thirty pounds for the academic year. However, the induction was the one and only time I actually went through the doors. A moderate fail but finding the time and discipline to go to the gym was not compatible with my lacklustre life as a student. Particularly as I worked weekends in my first year at a petrol station the other side of city.

In January 2002 just before the second semester of my second year, I joined Fitness First on a pay as you go contract. Based a good fifteen minute drive away from my student digs, around the corner from the soon to be opened Walkers Stadium. I did slightly better than the DMU Leisure Centre. I think I managed three visits before the end of the academic year. In July I started my sandwich placement based in Bedford. The closest Fitness First I could find was in Berkhamstead on the route home. I managed one session here, before realising it was too far out of my way to be worth considering as a viable option. Instead I opted to go to the Fitness First in Uxbridge at weekends, predominately Sunday mornings. I believe I managed around six to eight (I very much doubt I broke into double digits) visits before finally terminating my membership. The irony is that a Fitness First finally opened in High Wycombe, at the Wycombe Retail Park in December 2005. A little too late for me.

There was only one conclusion. I was not a gym person. I would not be breaking out into a sweat at the gym like many other people and I would have to find other activities to keep an active lifestyle. The reality was I was not unhealthy and perhaps a little underweight rather than overweight. All that changed almost exactly four years ago.

Since starting an active gym programme (that is signing up to a gym and actually attending on a regular basis) I have been a member of four gyms and switched over to my fifth, EasyGym this Thursday evening. The concept is similar to any other EasyGroup business. Strip down a business to the bare essentials and charge for all the extras. Rather than a flat membership which encompasses classes, sauna, spa and swimming, have just a two tier pricing model. Basic gym membership or classes and give the member the option to pay as you go for the classes and upgrade their membership should they wish to. The best part, no long term contracts, no excess joining/admin fees. A low cost charge every month I have to admit was the main draw for me, even though this gym is based in the town centre and a further walk away than Montem. I have never used a spa, sauna or swimming pool (I cannot swim) at previous gyms, so these extra are just wasted on me. I created my profile online on Wednesday evening and on Thursday had to have my index fingerprint scanned for the entry turnstiles. This was 2012! :)

I met up with my personal trainer Kas and went down to the office for a twenty minute interview on my goals and aspirations. I then booked in my fitness test for Saturday 11am. I knew the results were not going to be easy to stomach but I had to start over again and even though you have probably heard it many times before I am dedicated to actually getting myself fit this time around. Too often in my gym programmes I have got complacent and just coasted along on the same regime for months (even a year) on end!

Sometimes the only way to face the reality of your situation is to get some hard facts. Weighing myself and having my BMI (body mass index) on paper. I am technically obese believe it or not (even by .6 points)

EasyGym - Body Statistics

Back in the Gym

I have a confession to make. A subject I have been avoiding for some time. The sharp tools in the toolkit out there nay have noted my lack of discussion on this topic , on Facebook but also predominately Twitter! My last session at the gym was way back in mid December.

How do I explain the three month break? Particularly when I was making good progress and feeling very active? It was my proposed move to Swindon towards the end of last year. Rather than sign up for another 12 month contract, or be tied to any long term commitment, I cancelled after the first year, so I could join a new gym once I had moved home. When this purchase fell through, I came up with an alternative plan.

Inspired by the new year, I downloaded RunKeeper Pro (free for the whole month of January) on my HTC Desire to log my runs. I would start running several evenings a week. On top of this, I also had a exercise bike at home and use of a VFit Pro Ab Crunch device. The ethusiasm was there to back up these rather ambitious ideas and on Monday 3rd January (a Bank Holiday, but I had to work due to lack of cover at the office) I came home and quickly changed into my running gear and headed out the door. I lasted a mere five minutes and twenty four seconds. The stats and map from that particularly disasterous run have been private until now. You can see the results for yourself, but to defend myself I was just not in the position to start running, particularly as I have tended to avoid the treadmill during CV sessions at the gym. My breathing became difficult and I felt a slight stitch in my chest, so stopped after less than half a mile, turned around and headed home. My family were surprised I had come back so quickly. I did not think my new fitness regime was going to last at all.

I had been right, even with the exercise kit staring me in the face throughout the days, I have failed to really take any of them up. Sure there was a few weeks when I carried out hundreds of abdominal crunches, but these alone were not enough. I left myself drift and it was not a good looking sight. While, I admit overall I am a skinny person, I have developed or rather put on a pot belly (which I will refer to going forward as my spare tyre) over the past six months. I believe the slippery slope started as soon as I got back from India. I have identified a few of the root courses, but not all. My colleague Fred had moved from his rather blush surroundings downstairs, into my cublicle area and offered up beverages every afternoon around 2pm. I would always have a hot chocolate and this sugary intake did not help. My Mum’s home made food is perhaps the worst offender of my weight gain (in the wrong places). However, I did little to try and combat this weight gain, even the signs became even obvious with jeans/trousers that were much more harder to get into.

Homer Simpson

On Saturday 26th March, after a shopping trip to Southall and Ealing, the decision was made. It took a long and emotional heart to heart but with an AR. I would join the gym with Michelle and become her new gym buddy. This was it, with just over four months to go before the wedding we had a target and it was steadily creeping upon us. The following day, I arranged to get to the gym, the Montem Leisure Centre in the greatest town in Berkshire (across from the Slough Ice Arena where the stars train for Dancing On Ice). I got there around midday and waited for Michelle to arrive (to allow her to upgrade to joint membership). While I waited, I was shown around by Rosa, but there was no membership manager on duty (they only worked Sunday mornings) so I had to re-arrange to come in to do that at a later date. I was keen to ensure that the momentum was not lost, so we booked in for Tuesday evening.

The return to the gym on Tuesday evening was eventful to say the least. Michelle was still unwell (backache) but had come along just to confirm the upgrade from single to joint membership. I had got changed, gone through the usual healthchecks (blood pressure test) to ensure I had no underlying health problems that could affect me working out in the gym. I was then off to my own devices, even though I had booked a Kick Start programme session for Friday afternoon at 5pm. My last recorded gym session based on my DailyBurn calendar was Wednesday 15th December. It had therefore been 104 – yes 104 days or three months and fourteen days since I was last active in the gym. I felt it – believe me! I thought it best to just have a quick warm up on the bike and follow up with a session on the rowing machine. The bike was good enough and it was great that each of the CV machines has a TV screen (I started to watch the opening discussions of Adrian Chiles just before the England Ghana friendly – although the reception quality of the TV was close to unwatchable!). The bike I completed easy enough, but it was a good workout for my knees and legs who had not seen this much action in a while. Moving onto the rowing machine was not good, it took me three tries to find a machine with a working computer counter. As I started rowing, I felt the fat layers onto of my stomach moving around. (As Rich at work would point out at work the following morning – very much like Homer Simpson). The last three months “off” had taken their toll but I am determined to not just regain the lost ground but also push up to the next level in the next few months. Or as FlexSingh would say – get out of reverse gear. Time will tell. The gym was busy, and as expected (this is Slough afterall) there were a few rudeboys around – constantly checking themselves out in the mirror. However, I knew I could work out here and get back on the horse so to speak.

I watched some movie trailers with my parents on Monday evening (thanks to the wonderful Apple Trailers Lite plugin on XBMC via my original XBox (ten year old plus) console. We watched the full trailer for Captain America. I, too long for a special chamber, I can jump into and turn me buff like Chris Evans. Check out the trailer to see how he transforms from weedy skinny guy (yes I know it is all CGI) failing admission into the US Army into a superhero with a unbelievable body! I suppose I will just have to stick to Rainier Wolfcastle shouting slogans at me when on the Adominator!

Back In The Saddle

Back in the gym this evening after a ten day break. The reason for this long absence, is two fold. Firstly I was quite ill last week Monday to Wednesday and then by the time I had recovered, I was off for my weekend away in North Wales. There was little chance of me going to the gym on Sunday afternoon, but considering the result, perhaps a good sweaty workout would have been the better option.

It was a great feeling to be back this evening around 5:50pm, by the time I had driven over from Swindon and got changed. It was relatively busy but not too bad for a Wednesday night. The most difficult moment, was bumping into an old school friend at the entrance and starting to have a conversation and leaving it mid-flow. (I will apologise to them later on Facebook.) People say it is a very slippery slope once you miss your first session, you usually add pressure on yourself to make the next session. It can easily become a week missed and before you know, a month has passed. I was keen not to fall into this trap. There was nothing that was going to stop me making it to the Wycombe Sports Centre tonight.

How do I feel? Great! I feel fully motivated to get the ball moving again. I thought it would be difficult to get back into the groove, but it was much easier than expected. Ten days afterall, is not actually that long and my general fitness is not that bad (even though I have been putting on a bit of a pot belly in recent months). I find recording my progress is both a good motivator and way of recording both my achievements and progress. I use Daily Burn. The iPhone interface (the iPhone App is only available to Pro subscribers) is rather fiddly to use on my Desire, so I always opt to update my stats on a good old fashioned desktop.

I am looking forward to a great full session on Sunday morning. I know most of my peers will be tucked up in their warm beds, but I try to get to the gym early on a Sunday morning to make the most of the equipment. (8:30am is too early for most) Plus, it is good to the be able to concentrate on anything else I need to do for what remains of the weekend, rather than have the task of the “gym session” hang over me like a bad smell.

However, I do have a regret to share with you all. Back in May I had the bright spark idea of entering the Swindon Half Marathon with some of my colleagues. While this was initially received with a round of positive responses on e-mail, it did not last. No one, apart from our resident “Iron Man” (regular runner with a local team) was actually bothered. Our super hero had competed in the event previously and only question regarding a relay event earlier in the year had been, “Just tell me how far you want me to run?”. The race was a month ago today and I regret now not taking part – the fact I would not have been ready is not really the point. I feel it would have been the ideal to event to push myself after the challenge of the Bayer 10k. Well hopefully once I am a Swindon resident (sooner than you might think) I can enter some local races and perhaps even join up as the side kick in the running club of my colleague – then again maybe not!

The Gym Xchange: Part Uno

It is 12:21pm on Friday 1st May, as I start this blog post, I am back from what I can only call a legendary session at Pav’s gym. (We were there from 9.30am until nearly midday and I was pushed to the limits of my capabilities.) Not only that but we saw a famous look alike and when I got back and switched on my mobile phone, I had a text from Nuffield. My own gym was closed due to an ‘overnight incident’ in the spa! You could not make this up if you tried.

I heard Em leave the house around 7am and I got up and switched on my phone, it was 7:58am precisely, we were on schedule, plus the sun was shining brightly through the window. Time to get up and get ready. I went next door to wake up Pav, giving him a time check. He commented too on how wonderful the weather was and it was time to get up.

I went downstairs, jumped on the laptop and put on the television. Meanwhile Pav was busy preparing breakfast. This was going to be very different from my usual bowl of Kellogg’s Start. We had a PHd Whey Chocolate Shake, followed by Jordan’s Porridge Oats with honey and brown sugar. It was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. The shake was very sweet and not that thick and went down the hatch pretty well. The porridge was quite thick but still very sweet and edible. I was buzzing a little and ready to hit the gym. Pav meanwhile had to go the extra mile with his BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids) tablets, mixed into a Lucozade Hydro Active drink.

I of course had to get online and update the status on both Facebook and Twitter, before visiting my regular blog haunts (for a double hit, as I had not read any from Thursday either!). It felt strange being on MSN on a week day and not being at work. However, eventually I dragged myself away from the screen, got my stuff together and we were off to Caversham. I was really buzzing (even before having a single drop of any of the shakes!). Originally the idea of a gym exchange had been a bit of a chore but now I was looking forward to it so much that it was going to become the highlight of the weekend. I was raring to go, punching the air in front of me and making manly grunting noises as you do (in the company of other men). I had played “Gonna Fly Now” several times from my blog to set the mood. I was all set.

TerryPav serves up!

The gym is in Caversham, a mile or so down the road. We parked in the blazing sunshine of the Waitrose car park and then took the stairs to the gym. (Why do all gyms have stairs somewhere in the equation?). Pav asked about the guest past and we went through to do the bureaucracy There is always form filling but not too much beyond the standard health questionnaire and address identification. Then I was issued with a seven day pass and we were off. Pav gave me a quick preview of the free weights room (we just walked passed it on the way to the changing room). I already had on my gear, so just dumped my holdall into a locker, grabbed my gloves, towel and programme card and we were off. First thing is first, the warm up.

We headed into the cardio room, which was quite small. Time for the weigh in. Ladies and gentlemen, the challenger, Terry “The Feather” Tegala weighs in at 64.5 kilograms. Meanwhile the current champion, undisputed lighter weight champion of the world, Pav, “The Beast” Khural weights in at 75.6kg (A 10.1kg difference) Then we headed up the tight steel grey spiral staircase up to the bikes and cross trainers. There were only two spin bikes free but as Pav walked around the corner, he noticed a cross trainer free with the bike next door free also. I jumped on the cross trainer and Pav jumped on the bike, however, I did a full ten minute work out while Pav did just five minutes but then he was going to be pumping some proper iron in a few minutes times. While Pav did some stretches, I finished off and then the real work could begin.

We headed through the door, down the stairs in the main corridor to the free weights room. It was completely dead. Even though it was legs, shoulders and abdominals day for me, I had to go on the bench press and show my true ten pound credentials. Rather than go into the details of the actual exercises and weights covered, I will just get those that are really interested to head over to Gyminee. Both of our respective locker rooms will have the details of the work outs completed on that day.

As we moved onto our second exercise (squats using the barbell) a big guy walked in. I noticed him and then Pav commented to me quietly, “Terry, Rocky is here”. Sure enough, he did look Rocky Balboa (although perhaps a little younger than the man himself from this most recent movie (Rocky VI). It made my day and all I had in my head was the Rocky theme and Eye Of The Tiger. A little while later Pav needed to use the bar and asked, “Have you finished with the bar mate?” His reply was, “No mate, but I think it’s finished with me!” We both broke out into fits of laughter. He had killed me officially and it was the highlight of the weekend so far.

A little Google search and I found a picture which perhaps closely resembles the Rocky look-alike we met in the gym. Although he was wider than he was tall and was loaded with some big guns (well cannons really).

Rocky Balboa

That got me thinking, what did Stallone look like in his heyday. Could there have been a better action hero in the late 1970s to mid 1980s?

Rocky III

We completely lost track of time, it was 11:45am by the time we left the gym, we were well over schedule. Way over two hours in the gym when we had just scheduled an hour into the original master plan. We got back to the flat, showered and then I jumped online while Pav got the healthy lunch meal prepared. While Pav had been putting his new residents parking permit in the Rover, I received a text message. It was from my gym. It was closed due to an ‘overnight incident’. It was once again that time to update status on both Facebook and Twitter. Reena was online on MSN and surprised to see me appear online on the IM client (now that I am no longer able to access it during the working day). It was good to speak to her and confirm that she would be over late on Saturday evening to collect her laptops. However, the chat was brief, we were behind schedule, I had to have pasta and then hit the road. There was not much time left. So the gym exchange was over and I enjoyed every millisecond. Probably the best gym session I have undertaken in the eighteen month period I have been attending a fitness centre (of some description).

Gym Closed

It was around 2pm by the time we left the house and walked into town. Clear blue skies and golden sunshine, this is the way that days off work should be and the perfect way to start the extended Bank Holiday Weekend. Pav called Em and she was on the train and would be arriving in around 2.35pm, so we decided to go The Three Guineas. (Although Pav had originally suggested The Oakford (our regular haunt) but it was a longer work (now we were in the station) and there were better seating options outside the Guineas. Eventually Em arrived and then we headed down to River’s Meadow.

Rather than go into the details of events at the Beer Festival. I will firstly take you back to my blog post from last year, I eventually got around to writing about the day albeit very briefly on Sunday 4th May. Or for a rather better photographic reminder you can check out the set over on FlickR. (Believe it or not I have uploaded some twenty albums since last May!). This year I left my camera at home, but Pav had his camera and took some great photographs and a very surprising video (taken at 8.30pm). To enjoy those delights you need to be either my friend or Pav’s on Facebook.

We got there around 3pm and with no queue walked straight in, the place was mobbed. Obviously with the weather so good, many people may have thrown a sickie, although that would have been a bit suspect so close to a long weekend and of course I could not condone such behaviour. We eventually bumped into Ben and Charlie, then saw the rest of the group and met up with them. It was good to see Foxy and as usual he was on form again.

We got back to the house sometime after midnight, and I remember finally going to bed around 1:44am, switching off the laptop and content in the thought that the weekend still had three full days to provide. However, as I left the house, looking forward to being back in Wycombe within the hour, my morning was literally smashed to little pieces. I opened the boot to put in my bag and then heard the sound of glass fragments hitting the pavement. Yes, my car had been broken into but nothing stolen, there was nothing worth stealing. The glove box was open but apart from that no real damage. I went back to the house and reluctantly knocked on the door to Pav and Em’s. I would have to disturb their Saturday morning lie in.

Obviously I did not exactly look streetwise cool driving back to Wycombe with a cardboard box taped to where my glass window should be, but I got back in one piece. I had to stop by at the BP Connect up the road, as I was driving on fumes as I usually do. It was around 3pm by the time the glass guy arrived and it was only with the help of a colleague and me providing a drill they got the job done. Then I spent the next two hours (from 4pm) washing the car and getting it clean. It was the first time she was being wash properly for a while. At 6pm, I came in exhausted and it was thirty minutes until the football. My weekend was about to get better, I just did not know what a football feast I was about to witness.

Thursday 30th April 2009

My weekend started early, so while most other people have just a three day weekend, I have given myself an extra day off to make it a super four days off. I left work around 4.30pm and headed back to the flat. I had everything ready packed, so it was just a case of getting changed, doing the dishes and then finally packing the car. It was 16:59 as I got into the car ready to drive to Reading. However, I had to stop by to the BP garage to check my tyre pressures. Then I was on the road, but I was running out of fuel. The computer gave me a range of twenty five miles. The TomTom gave me twenty three miles to Pav’s house. I would make it only just. I was waiting outside the house at 17:52, eight minutes ahead of schedule. Pav was not in and had had to make an unscheduled stop to Tesco to pick up some supplies. He arrived and the weekend could begin.

Pav cooked dinner as we caught up on the week, protein shakes, the plan for the gym in the morning and the rest of the activities for Friday. That is the key comment there, it did feel like a Friday today and maybe not just for me. Em arrived at 7pm and it was good to catch up and find out how her new job was going. We settled down in the lounge for Eastenders and ate our food before heading out as agreed at 19:40 for the cinema. Would we make it in time for Pearl & Dean.

X-Men have never been one of my favourite comic book hero franchises, however, I was forever a fan of the television cartoon series in my younger day and have seen all the movies. Only the third, X-Men: The Last Stand, did I catch on the big screen. I was therefore looking forward to the latest installment, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While in the hotel in Brighton a few weekends ago, the trailer had come on and Siy had commented that they were truly “milking the franchise”. The only other pre-viewing comment I had received was from Pav’s work colleague, Barry Tuck. “If you wanna see a hairy ripped man running around, it might just be right up your alley”. The film in a nutshell there but after watching the trailer in full at the gym this morning, I was looking forward to the full cinematic experience and not the leaked workprint version. If you ask any X-Men fan, I am sure Wolverine would come out on top as the favourite character. Jackman played the role well in the original trilogy but is given the time to excel here on screen. However, I feel that he could have given more depth to the character, aside from the muscle and anger. Do not get me wrong the movie is very good and Jackman fills the lead role well but I wanted that little bit extra, to find out more about the character. A true test if you will. For a lead role, he does not have a great amoung of dialogue, so there is not the chance to explore the character in the way I would have hoped that the whole notion behind the origins concept. Nevertheless, great fun, loads of explosions, gunfights, chases and escapes. We guys just love that stuff but the story is very good as well, there is a start middle and end and the established link to the first movie. Although there are special effects they are used only when neccessary, the film at the end of the day is about Logan not the blue screen. Sure they has to be a love story and we understand that and many of the questions from the original movies are answered here but then there are many more questions that come to mind. Personally I would have prefered a little more to the backstory of how Wolverine grew up learning to live with his ability, his ‘gift’ and still follow the courageous path. The relationship with Victor is crucial and I would have wanted a better ending, rather than an open ending with no questions answered. If there is no reconcillation, is there truly no place for forgiveness?

Audi R8

Taking a step back in time to Wednesday lunchtime, as the weather was once again so good, I headed to the small garden by the canal. While walking down, I noticed a beautiful car in the car park. Newbury being such an affluent part of the country, I tend to see some glamorous cars about town but this was perhaps the best yet. I had to grab a photograph in the spring sunshine but my E65 does it little justice. I am surprised I have not mentioned this before but in the ABC series GREEK which I watch, the car (purchased by Evan with his inheritance) is refered to as the Iron Man car and not the Audi R8. I never thought it would be so difficult for the American public to refer to a European vehicle by it’s model number and not the movie that it featured in. Although I suppose Paramount do not mind at all and neither will Audi.

After we got back from the cinema, we watched a few episodes of Family Guy (after Em had finished watching Brothers and Sisters). While Pav made the tea, I settled down onto the laptop and started writing up notes and part posts for the blog. I was really looking forward to the gym exchange. I cannot remember the exact time I actually went off to bed but Em had gone up ages and go and Pav wanted to watch the latest episode of LOST, so while he did that I got as much written up for the blog as humanly possible before I could no longer stare at the laptop screen and headed for bed. Tomorrow was going to be a great day. Oh before I forget, I should mention that there was no P&D music at the cinema screening. They went straight into the trailers, the latest Orange Ad starring a very old looking Emilio Estevez. Then it was straight into the movie! Perhaps because it was a Thursday night and the screen was half full.

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