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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

1609.27 THE VOID

Since 2012 I've lived with the darkness. It's always there like an unwanted stalker forever traveling with me. Back in 2012 I had a breakdown, since then I've had this companion who occasionally pushes me into a dark place, a void, a dark corridor full of locked doors. I have to traverse the whole thing to get back out into the light. But what if this time there is no light this time? It's this making sense?

Yesterday I almost deactivated my blog. I thought about deleting my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I came really close. It could still happen. The only reason I think I haven't was the words of my previous therapist who advised me to share my thoughts and that blogging was beneficial to my mental well-being. That's why I'm rambling on like this.

Hopefully I'll see you all on the other side. 

Sunday, 25 September 2016

1609.25 HEADSPACE

I get 1 weekend off in every 3 with my current shift pattern. This makes every weekend quite special. This weekend I planned to sort out a friend's wedding photos (a bit of photoshop tidying) and of course go cycling. Apart from that we were just going to relax as a family and spend time together.

My head had other ideas.

Yesterday my head felt like it was in a vice whilst being repeated hit on the forehead with a lump hammer. It was like a hangover without the pleasure of a night out. The unmistakable dark mist had descended over me. I couldn't explain the cause of was just there. I couldn't concentrate on the photos I was supposed to be working on. This morning I planned to go cycling with the club but after a night of nightmares and waking up feeling so much dread I didn't feel like going, so I didn't. Probably the worst decision I could have made, I spent the morning feeling guilt on top of everything else.
A photo posted by CaptainKirt™ (@captainkirt) on

Maybe it's because it's the end of summer? Maybe it's that my life feels like I'm just treading water? I don't always know why the darkness descends over me, I wish I did. This afternoon as I sat looking out of the window and 2 rainbows appeared. I took it as a sign that things are going to get better. It's the first positive thought I've had all weekend.

I know this post doesn't make much sense, I apologise for that but writing it down makes it easier for me to process it all. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

1609.21 PLUMGATE

Don't worry, whist this is a blog post about plums, it's not the plums you might be thinking of. These plums are mine but they are ones I purchased in our local Tesco store. 

I bought them the other day whilst shopping because they were £1. When I got home I noticed a discrepancy with the receipt. 


I'd been charged £1.50! Whist I was a little peeved about this it wasn't a massive deal, after all it was only 50p (I know that's a 50% overcharge but it's not a huge amount). I was still annoyed enough to fire off a tweet in Tescos direction. Along with the photo as evidence. 

They were very quick to respond and without quibble or question offered me double the difference (via a money card).


Tescos online customer service team, I have to say, have got it nailed. Fast, polite and not afraid to add a little personality either. Well done them! 

All I was really after was an apology and perhaps fixing the pricing issue so it didn't happen to anyone else. This morning I received my refund+ through the post.


Now what to spend my windfall on? A packet of ham? More plums? 

Monday, 19 September 2016

1609.19 HOLME MOSS CYCLING

Last year I did the 65 Roses Holme Moss Classic Sportive because I needed a challenge to help me come back from an injury. This year I just wanted to experience what I did last year.

There were no closed roads at the start for this year's ride so a mass start was out of the question for safety reasons. This meant that the start was a lot more subdued than last year.


My preparation for this ride has been poor and coming up to it I was a little apprehensive. Would I get round the course? Would I get up to the summit?

It seemed like forever riding out to get to to the exposed moors. It's then I first see the transmitter perched on top of Holme Moss. It doesn't look all that bad from here, I knew looks could be deceiving. My legs are already aching from the ride so far. When I arrive in Holmfirth, which some will remember as the location setting for the geriatric TV comedy "Last of the Summer Wine", I know the start of the main attraction isn't far. The hard climb through Holmbridge fools many into thinking that the main climb has started but this is just a prelude to the main event. It's here you first see your adversary in all it's glory. There's a slight rest bite before the main climb kicks in. It's time to give my all. The trick is to just slug away at it gently, keep it moving even when it feels like it's never going to end. There's a car park at the top. Many see it (as did I last year) and think it's the summit. It's not. There's still a bit left although the gradient eases off. I did it. I made it to the top of Holme Moss.
At the summit 
I treated myself to a small cake which I'd picked up at the feed station earlier. My legs were like jelly but I was only just over half way. Next was a massive decent followed by a long slog along Woodhead Pass. The road back wasn't smooth, there were still some climbs left. I picked up the pace on the last leg and it wasn't long before I was in Sheffield. As I hit the last 5k I started to cramp up in my legs, I though I was going to have problems but I managed to ride through.

I arrived back and caught up with my club mates to compare notes.

It was an amazing day, hard work but worth every minute.

Friday, 16 September 2016

1609.16 OVER 40s CHECKUP

I was rudely awoken this morning at 5:20 by a violent thunderstorm. I had to come downstairs to let Angel the cat in, she was grateful and I headed back to bed. The weird thing was that as well as the thunder, lightning and heavy rain there was also traffic outside which was unusually heavy for the time of day. Had the storm awoken these people so they'd decided to go to work early? The storm dissipated and so did the traffic but with an alarm set for 6:10 not much more sleep was available.

So today was the day I went for my "over 40s check up". I've been a little apprehensive about it mainly because of my family history. The males in my paternal line all have cardiovascular health issues. My uncle was only a couple of years older than I am now when he died suddenly of a heart attack.

The check-up was pretty basic, performed by a Healthcare Assistant called Joanne. Height, weight, blood pressure and blood tests. Add the lifestyle questions to which I pretty much passed and it was over pretty quickly. I fell below the threshold to be tested for diabetes but since I have a family history she's going to test for it anyway.
So now I wait to see if the bloods reveal any problems, apparently no news is good news so if I hear nothing I'm clear.

Morticia had the same check up directly after me but hers isn't as straightforward as her chronic illness causes other lifestyle issues.

The weather looks like it's going to dry up before I cycle to work. However with all the surface water it looks like I'm still going to get a bit wet!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

1609.13 EAR SPA

I've never had my ears syringed before so at my appointment yesterday I was a little nervous. I was also excited at the prospect of having my hearing restored (you might remember my hearing loss on my holiday).

My nurse was Jodie who put me at ease and explained the whole process. The loss of hearing was like having a speaker on full blast with nothing connected - I could hear the sound of the air rushing through (all the time).

I have to say it was having a jacuzzi in my ear!

The warm water flushed out a candle sized lump out and suddenly my hearing returned, it was like having the sound un-muted. It was a little inflamed in there so Jodie put a bit of cream. I have a repeat appointment to check on it in a few weeks.

When I stepped outside it was like hearing full on THX stereo sound, I was in awe! I then felt for all those poor people who suffer with hearing loss.

I'm left with a little bit of earache but I can hear the world properly again.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

1609.11 THE PHONE BOOK

Does anyone remember life before mobile phones, Google and social media? A time when if you needed to contact someone you picked up the corded phone and dialed, but not for too long because it was expensive.

If you need to look someone up back then you used the phone book. It was the Facebook of the day. If you needed to find a business or particular service you used the Yellow Pages™ instead of Google.

The reason I mention it was this...
20th century Facebook 
What the hell happened? Firstly I didn't know they still printed these. Secondly have you noticed how small it is? It's a pamphlet. These books used to be MASSIVE! This was posted through my letter box, there's no way the old ones would go through the door.

Is there still a Yellow Pages™? Is it similar sized (I know they have an app these days)?I know the takeaway section has declared independence and each ad comes through the door separately on an almost hourly basis.

Younger people are quite shocked when they realise how the 20th century person communicated and had to look up facts in books (sometimes meaning a trip to the library). It's always good to stop and look at how things have changed. 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

1609.08 HAPPY 50th ANNIVERSARY STAR TREK


If you didn't know already I'm a big Star Trek fan (even my blog posts are proceeded with a stardate). On this day fifty years ago the Original Series episode "Man Trap" was first broadcast in America, the first episode ever broadcast.


Star Trek is one of those shows that has always been in my life. The show was not shown in the UK until 1969 and ran through my birth to the end of 1971. It was subsequently rerun throughout the 70s and 80s. Throughout all of my life there has never been a time that Star Trek hasn't been on.

As a child I played with a toy Starship Enterprise and dreamed that I was Captain Kirk. I read the books and comics, magazines and fan fiction. My nickname at school was Captain Kirt - something I would keep for my online presence.

Then when I was 16 The Next Generation came on and new episodes just kept on coming. Deep Space 9, Voyager, Enterprise plus the movies. When I was 21 my parents had a Star Trek ring custom made. I still wear it today, it's commented on by strangers regularly. When I got to 30 I had my 'moment of madness'  and had the symbol of the Klingon Empire tattooed to my arm (I'm immensely proud if it).
How I wear my fan devotion 
I've been privileged to meet many of the cast over the years (and collect their autographs) including William Shatner and the late Leonard Nimoy.
My encounters with some of the actors of Star Trek 
Today there is barely a week that passes where I don't watch some iteration. My ringtone is the theme to 'The Motion Picture' and my dressing gown is a Captain Kirk one.

What I'm trying to say is that Star Trek has always been part of my life and whilst it doesn't define me, it's very important to me. Since its Star Trek's 50th birthday I'd like to say a massive thank you to all those who fed a little boy's imagination and continued to entertain him into middle age. 

Live long and prosper.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

1609.05 A GOOD DAY

I can safely say that Sunday was a good day.

I've been disappointed by my cycling this year so I was kind of apprehensive about going on a hilly club ride. I almost went on the novice ride because of my lack of confidence in my ability. I might have done that if I didn't have a particularly hilly sportif coming up in a couple of weeks and I needed the training. I'm glad I went along, I was a bit slow on the climbs but there wasn't anything I couldn't manage. In fact I loved it, I've missed this type of ride.
Me with the lads up on Green Moor
I got back home just after lunch time and suggested that we go out for food. Morticia and Rags were up for the idea so we drove out (after I'd showered and changed) to Bakewell and enjoyed a pub meal in the Red Lion. Afterwards we were treated to an aerobatic display by the Red Arrows (who were actually performing for the nearby Chatsworth Country Fair).
Red Arrows in formation 
After feeding the ducks and the fish in the river we left Bakewell. On the way home we dropped into the Strines Inn, a 16th century establishment (the building actually dates back to the 13th century) where Morticia used to work many years ago. It's also haunted.
Image: http://thestrinesinn.webs.com
Morticia got chatting to the barman and mentioned the ghostly goings on when she used to work there. He was very interested in her take on the building and they shared stories as I just listened in. Rags was taking in all the curios and pictures on the walls. By this time (it wasn't particularly late but it had gone dark) the pub was empty except for us and the barman offered a tour of the upstairs rooms (it is after all an inn in every sense). I declined and let them go off. It was then I realised I was alone in the bar of a haunted building!
Inside the Strines Inn
We came away having had a great afternoon out, for me the whole day was great.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

1609.03 NOT MY CUP OF TEA

I've had this post on a back burner since March, it was initially about my dislike of coffee but then I read a post from Mili Wifey about all the things she hates that everyone else seems to love (see the original post here) and it got me thinking...

Here goes...

Since the post was originally about coffee then let's start there.

Coffee
I HATE coffee. The smell, the taste and the rise of the 'coffee shop'. I'm a tea person, I like nothing better than a cuppa. I blame the rise of the coffee shop for the drop in tea quality and rise in price of the humble brew. All of which links into my next item...

Posh/Flavoured Tea
I love a cuppa. No fuss, no frills, a mug of tea with milk and a sweetener (instead of sugar) - not too weak, in fact a cup of builders is perfect. I don't like green, camomile, peppermint or any other version of the popular infusion.

Lager
 There are a couple of the continental beers I can put up with but I just can't fathom the obsession with flavourless brews (Budweiser and Carling I'm looking at you).

Shots
What is it with these mini drinks that generally make the drinker recoil and shudder after drinking. No thanks.

Harry Potter
I've never read the books or seen any of the movies (although I have been on the studio tour). Not really interested if I'm honest. Same goes with...

Lord of the Rings / Hobbit
Everyone says that since I like science fiction I must therefore like these. Really? This isn't the same at all.

Game of Thrones
Just never have...

Football
For the international reader of course I mean Association Football. I just don't like it. It's a general assumption that all males know about football and can converse about it. I can't. I don't know anything about it, it's just not my thing.

And here's the big revelation. The one that gets me more funny looks and odd comments than any other...

Cheese
Ok, ok, I just don't like it. Please don't hate me it's just not something I've ever liked. Of course this means I don't like pizza either. It means I usually have to ask for a special order for a burger.

So there you have it. Of course this list isn't exhaustive and I may follow up one day with more stuff that's not my cup of tea.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

1609.01 DOCTOR WHAT?

As I mentioned in my holiday post I managed to get myself an ear infection whilst swimming in the sea during my stay in Wales this year. The discomfort soon went away after a few days but I'd been left with a reduction in my hearing in my right ear.

It was starting to clear up but it got to a point it just wasn't getting any better. I thought I'd better go and see my doctor. Getting an appointment can be difficult, you have to ring at 8:30am and try and get through to the receptionist before she hands out all the appointments to the local hypochondriacs. I managed to get through and got an appointment that was before I had to go to work.

I don't visit the doctor often, something Dr Patel mentioned as he scanned my notes on his computer. He had a look in my ears with the thingy for looking down people's ear holes. Nothing to worry about, the infection had cleared up and left a load of wax behind so I'd need to get an appointment with the ear clinic to get them syringed.

While I was seeing the doctor he noted that because I was over 40 I should had had an 'over 40s check up'. I reluctantly agreed to this.

So I get my ears syringed in 12 days (earliest appointment they had) and I get my full health check just 2 days before I'm supposed to be cycling up Holme Moss. Until then I'll just have to put up with not being able to hear properly, at least it's only temporary. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

1608.29 THE LAST DAY

Today is Summer Bank Holiday and is also my last day off after my 2 weeks off. Tomorrow afternoon I go back to work.

It's been a great couple of weeks with the first one spent in my favourite place on the planet and the second one spent relaxing with my family at home. I've pretty much eaten and drank what I wanted but all that ends today.

Yesterday I got back on the bike (at least I got on the turbo trainer) and began my lifestyle of watching my food intake and exercise stats. Still found time for a beer or two in the evening though.

I've started hearing the rumblings of Christmas spoken on social media already. I'll save my thoughts on that for another day.

Friday, 26 August 2016

1608.26 ARE WE GOING TO SCARBOROUGH FAIR...?

We did, yesterday...

Scarborough is approximately 2 hours drive away so an early start was called for. Having a teenage daughter means that early starts aren't always achieved. Not a problem getting her out of bed (like her older sister), it was a getting the right outfit and makeup right. We were 45 minutes late setting off.

Before we set off we checked the weather with this guy... 
He said it was going to be overcast and warm in the afternoon (with some showers in the morning). This is Owain Wyn Evans, the camp Welshman who presents Yorkshire weather on the BBC.


The drive northeast was uneventful and we arrived at Scarborough Fair without incident. 


Scarborough Fair is a collection of vintage (mostly steam driven) fairground rides and Victorian attractions and well as a number of vintage vehicles. They are all housed in 2 large hanger style buildings located between Scarborough and Filey.
The price is a little expensive but we had a discount coupon (£3 off) and the proceeds go towards preserving the collection, the staff there are all volunteers. The great thing about the collection is that a number of the rides are available to ride on (for the price of a £1 token). We rode the Merry-go-round, Caterpillar, a Ghost Train and I had 2 goes on the Dodgems (they let you bump unlike the 'health and safety' obsessed Dodgems I've experienced recently).

We were there a few hours before heading into Scarborough. We walked along the front when the heavens opened. Hoping for a passing shower we ducked into an amusement arcade to wait it out.

It didn't stop. Well done Mr Evans, you were way off on this one. 

We decided to get some tea at one of the fish and chip restaurants that we (Morticia and me) visited last year.


The rain continued and as the visitors started to leave the shops began to close early. We waited for the traffic to subside before heading home ourselves.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

1608.24 A VOICE FROM THE FUTURE

Last post about my holiday I promise (maybe not but I'll try).

We've been visiting New Quay (Cei Newydd) in Wales now for 12 years. This year we reminisced about something that happened on our first visit. We were only staying for a long weekend (it was some sort of special offer from a newspaper) and I remember how excited Morticia was at the prospect of seeing dolphins in the wild, it's something Cardigan Bay is famous for. We had a great weekend but by the last day (and after a boat trip) we still hadn't seen any dolphins.

Morticia still tells the story of how she was alone on the pier (I think I was in the cafe with the kids) looking whilst forlorn looking out to sea. At that point she was approached by an elderly couple who consoled her saying that they had been coming to New Quay every year for over 40 years and had never failed to see dolphins.

Sure enough just a short time later the dolphins appeared just off the pier. I've surmised that this elderly couple could very well have been us travelled back in time to advise the young Morticia.

So I might be needing a time machine in about 20-30 years. Any ideas where I might get one?

An impression of what might have actually happened

Monday, 22 August 2016

1608.22 GOLDRUSH - THE OLYMPICS

I'm not really a massive sports fan, especially if the sport involves a ball. I love the cycling (as most know) but that's about it. So what is it about the Olympics that gets me watching sports I wouldn't entertain normally?

Back in 2012 when London hosted I was lucky enough to be working when the Olympic torch came through Sheffield. I managed the crowds at 2 separate hand overs (over 2 days). For my trouble I was awarded this medal (as we're many thousands of others that worked over those games). I'm immensely proud of this medal and it counts as one of my more prized possessions.
My Olympic Medal
I've watched the Rio coverage every chance I've gotten. Even whilst being on holiday I've caught up with the action. I've been amazed at how well Team GB have done.

Highlights? Hard to say since there were so many. The cycling was amazing and we were world beating. The Mens Kerin final with 2 false starts before Jason Kenny took the gold was nail biting stuff. Laura Trott became the most successful UK female Olympian. Mo Farah's double gold in the 10000 & 5000 metres was great to watch as was Usain Bolt's triple success. Really there was so many highlights, the hockey, the tennis, the cartwheels on a mat. There were few sports I didn't watch (I didn't bother with the football or the horsey stuff).
Images copyright © Getty, Sky, BBC, Mirror, CNN, ABC
Then there's Team GB's success. 2nd on the medal table is insane! Look at us, we're a few rocks off mainland Europe with a population of approx 64 million. Compare that to the 319 million in the USA and 1357 million in China. I'm so proud of our athletes.
©BBC
In the cycling we beat the world.
©BBC 
I'm going to miss not having the Olympics to watch now, I have to say that the BBC coverage was amazing with 8 extra pop up channels dedicated to the summer of sport. And of course, being our public service broadcaster we got uninterrupted coverage without commercials. Thank you to them for bringing the whole event to my home.
©BBC
This was our most successful games and hopefully is inspiring the next generation. Reports of sports clubs filing with new members, children inspired to achieve are being reported across the country. 

Can't wait now for Tokyo 2020!