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Glasgow

Posted by Chalky on Feb 22, 2013 in Random

As part of my efforts to try and catch up, here’s what I got up to in Glasgow last month!

Hilton LogoI have been collecting Tesco Clubcard points for some time now, spending £250 a month on Petrol helps a little, so that I could afford a little break away in Scotland. I’ve never been to Scotland before so I thought I’d give it a whirl. By the time I had saved up enough Clubcard points to do anything useful, all of the hotels in Edinburgh (where I originally wanted to go, had already been booked up. So I ended up with Glasgow’s second Hilton, the Glasgow Grosvenor.

Unfortunately, best laid plans and everything, not everything went to plan so I ended up going with my Mum to Glasgow as she had never been either. What I thought would turn out to be a pretty crappy weekend turned out to be very enjoyable in the end and it was good to spend some quality time with my Mum, something I haven’t really done before.

On arrival at the hotel, we found that there was absolutely nowhere to park; The Grosvenor didn’t have a proper Car Park and had Guests literally dumping their cars in the Loading Bar around the side of the hotel, which was heaving, or you could put your car very insecurely at the top of the local supermarket Car Park. I was a bit disappointed to say the least especially when I get CCTV covered secure parking when I visited a Premier Inn for less than half the price! I decided to dump mine outside the front entrance, Clarence the C3 sticking out like a sore thumb along the Aston Martin’s!

After checking in, we headed up to the room which was on the second floor. The corridors were nicely decorated as we walked down towards our room. They clearly keep their best rooms for the people who are paying with Tesco Clubcard vouchers, check out our wonderful view:

The Hotel View!

The room itself was OK, but I was really expecting a lot more for £120 per night. The bathroom was better than the rest of the room put together which left me disappointed; I get more from a £50 a night Premier Inn. In the hotel room, we noticed a Price List for the hotel’s affiliate bar, the Bobar. I’m sure it is supposed to be pronounced bo-bar but we found quite amusing to pronounce it the bob-ar, Yorkshire citizens will probably appreciate that more than others! We managed to fit a quick visit in for a drink before we headed back to Sheffield.

On the Friday evening, we just pottered around the Hotel, making plans for what we were going to do on the Saturday.

Overall, I really enjoyed the weekend break even if I was a little bit disappointed with what the Hilton had to offer as I don’t really think they are worth the extra money. Maybe I just had a bad experience but I think I’ll be sticking to the trusty Premier Inn in the meantime!

 
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New Year, New Start?

Posted by Chalky on Jan 4, 2012 in Random

Well, after over a year of silence, I felt a little compelled to finally write something here! I’m not going to bother making excuses as to why there’s been no updates here! I’m not going to try and condense everything that’s happened over the past year into a massive catch-up post like I have in the past. I might do some posts looking back at certain things if and when I get the time/can be bothered!

Today starts a new journey and I’m going to try my damnedest to make it count this year. I’ve been going to the Gym for well over a year now and whilst that has done wonders for my confidence when it comes to actually going and feeling better about myself, I’m still to see some real results when it comes to losing weight, t-shirt size or anything like that. This is partly down to the fact that, after my initial surge of interest, I have only been going to the Gym once a week when I have a Personal Training Session. However, the main reason is because I eat too much crap in-between! I snack late in the evenings and I also comfort eat when I’m feeling down, both are not good at all!

So to start off on this new adventure I went to the gym and ‘started again’ with the initial Body Test and Measurements and going again as if from scratch but with the extra confidence I’ve gained over the last year. After all the initial measurements and stuff I did a 1.5 mile ‘run’ to see how long it would take me. The ‘run’ included a 5 minute walking workout and sort of Interval Training with some running, jogging and walking (mainly because I can’t sustain a run for a full 1.5 miles!) I managed to complete it in just over 20 mins, not great I know but it’s a start. I guess if you take the 5 minute warm-up out as well it’s not too bad for someone who’s as big as I am. I’ll be repeating the Body Test and Measurements periodically and we’ll see if there’s an improvement.

So, what am I doing to help me sort this out. Well, I’m enlisting my old friend myFitnessPal to keep me on the straight and narrow when it comes to my calorie intake. I’ve also got a FitBit, which I’ve been wanting to get hold of one since Veronica Belmont mentioned it on an episode of Tekzilla. A lot of people might see the FitBit as a waste of money but I like, no, need things like this to keep me interested along the way. I can’t (never have, never will) exercise for the sake of exercising. I need it to be for a reason. That’s why things like Wii Fit are good for me and if I had a bigger room, I’d get a Kinect for my XBOX. Adding a little bit of a competition to see if I can beat the number of steps I did yesterday, or burn more calories is going to help me on the way. I just need to stay more focused this time! Hey, I’m a bit of a geek, so shoot me.

Luckily for me, the release of the FitBit in the UK tied in nicely with my New Year’s Resolution of taking a step back and starting again. I pre-ordered mine on Amazon as soon as the pre-orders were available on Christmas Day (originally scheduled for Boxing Day). The FitBit was officially released on 3rd January and mine arrive today but I couldn’t do anything with it until I rolled in from the Gym at 7:30 this evening. I haven’t had much chance to use the actual FitBit itself, only racking up a measly 93 steps whilst pottering around the house, but I’ve been using the website for several days now in preparation for the actual device arriving.

I’m currently in the Beta Testing Group for myFitnessPal and their integration with FitBit. This is excellent because as the FitBit has only just been released in the UK, the Food Database is non-existent. I have been in a dialogue with FitBit over Facebook and they say they are working very hard on getting their database up to scratch. However, myFitnessPal already has an excellent user-driven database that has every food that I’ve thrown at it so far. It also has an amazing Barcode scanning feature so you can just scan the barcode with your Smartphone camera (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android and even Windows Phone 7) and it will do all of the hard work for you. Most items are now tagged with their Barcode which is excellent. The integration with FitBit allows you to enter all of your calorie intake into myFitnessPal and it will show up in the meal slots on FitBit, also your steps and exercises on FitBit are sync’d back to myFitnessPal. There are a few little kinks still to work out and the integration is not flawless yet but it’s certainly getting there. Some things that don’t work are manual activities logged in to FitBit and water consumption does not sync from myFitnessPal to FitBit. Some of these I’m sure they’ll iron out but some, such as FitBit -> myFitnessPal exercise syncing, I imagine are being left out on purpose because really myFitnessPal obviously want you to use that as the main app rather than the other way round!

I think I will mainly be using FitBit as both the website and Smartphone apps are nicer aesthetically and they have lots of interesting graphs and the data is much better presented. Basically I’ll be using myFitnessPal for the food intake only until FitBit sort out their own Food Database. I’ve been doing this for a day and a half and it seems to be working OK except some of the meals seem to get allocated to the wrong area. This can be rectified easily at the FitBit end as the Web 2.0 interface lets you drag and drop the meals around. This is mainly due to the fact that the meals in myFitnessPal have to exactly match those of FitBit, something I only did this morning.  I do love myFitnessPal still as it is more configurable.

An example of some of the FitBit Dashboard Graphs. I only got the FitBit this evening, I'm not always this lazy honest!

You can keep an eye on my progress, or lack thereof, at http://www.fitbit.com/user/22NZYQ !

Update

I just read back through this and a quick post about me updating people on what I was doing turned into an essay as usual! Also, although it may seem like it, I’m not on any kind of commission from FitBit or myFitnessPal. I probably should be. I get rather passionate about things I like. You should have seen the essay I wrote about CBC Computers and their excellent Customer Service when I first started my new job! Ooops, there I go again!

 
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Toy Story 3

Posted by Chalky on Aug 6, 2010 in Film, Review

Last night, myself, Mum, Anthony and Jill went to see Toy Story 3 at the Taunton ODEON cinema.

I was a little apprehensive as to how good this installment was going to be as I was disappointed with the latest Shrek film. However, I was certainly pleasantly surprised as  to how good it actually was. I also thought that it was good that you couldn’t really predict the film based on the trailers which, annoyingly, seems to be becoming an increasingly the case. I found that for Daybreakers, the trailer was actually better than the film!

It was definitely worth going to see and, of course, it was particularly good in 3D! In fact, I found that Toy Story 3 was done so well as it wasn’t exaggerated, like Avatar, and therefore did not make me feel dizzy or nauseous.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, make sure you stay at the end for at least halfway through the Credit Roll for an extra treat!

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

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Somerset

Posted by Chalky on Aug 2, 2010 in Holiday

Yesterday, we made our, now annual, trip down to Somerset to see our friends Faith and Anthony. It was slightly different to the usual trip because, now Jill is insured to drive my car, she drove most of the way which was a nice change! It was also different because Faith and Anthony have moved house since last year, luckily only a few miles down the road so we didn’t get too lost!

After the conducted tour of the new house, we sat down to a lovely Roast Beef tea! Luckily, I’d saved enough calories by being good throughout the day to be able to treat myself to a sizeable portion and some Bakewell Tart afterwards. Unfortunately, I then didn’t have enough left to treat myself to a beverage but there we go.

Afterwards, we saw some pictures of the house when they’d just moved in. It was interesting to see how far the house had come on in such a short period of time.

Today, we’re off to Weston-super-Mare. Apparently, the Pier is still not quite finished which is a shame but I’m sure we’ll find plenty to amuse ourselves with!

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Gym… Who’s he?

Posted by Chalky on Jul 19, 2010 in Life Stuff

As most of you will know, I have finally decided to join the Gym to see if I can’t shift some of my excess baggage. I also want to try and build up my confidence and generally feel better about myself. I’ve been going for a couple of weeks now and I’m already feeling better in myself, I don’t think I’ve actually lost any weight yet but all in good time I guess. I’ve joined along with Jill and my Mum, the idea being that we’ll pester each other into going and also inspire a bit of friendly competition to see who is getting on the best.

We all started with the BodyFirst package which includes a pack with useful information in it and also, more importantly, 3 Personal Training sessions. I found these to be very valuable and gave me a very good head start. As a result of them, I am continuing to have regular Personal Training sessions with Liam who is particularly good as he already understands the problems faced by people with Asthma and is soon to learn all about Dyspraxia.

I was always apprehensive about the prospect of going to the Gym, indeed, it was my New Year’s Resolution last year to start at the Gym and it never really happened. This year however I hope the combination of the:

  • expense
  • fact that my family are also going
  • the fact I can watch TV whilst working out
  • I can use technology to help me

will all go towards making everything go smoothly!

I will be keeping you updated on my progress, my Personal Trainer has got me using the free MyFitnessPal website to keep an eye on my Calorie intake as well as my weight, exercise etc. The site also provides a widget that I will be adding to the sidebar of my Blog.

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Why you shouldn’t have your boss as a Facebook friend!

Posted by Chalky on Nov 5, 2009 in Funny

I don’t normally circulate things like this on here but this one really made me chuckle! It was sent to me by my boss at work, whom I do actually have as a friend on my Facebook, maybe it was sent as a warning! Time to check my Facebook comments!

Facebook Message

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You know it’s a Chalky trip when…

Posted by Chalky on Oct 13, 2009 in Bad Luck

There’s lots of Bad Luck! I really should have probably guessed that my trip to Sri Lanka wouldn’t quite go according to plan. I didn’t, however, expect it to start going wrong before I’d even left the country!

A couple of days before my departure, I received an e-mail with my Schedule for the week. The original plan was to leave on Saturday afternoon, arrive Sunday, work for 4 days, enjoy a day off in Colombo and then return Saturday afternoon. As it turned out, I was now working 5 days with no time to do much sightseeing. It was a bit of a blow but I thought I’d at least have the Sunday afternoon to play with… How very wrong I was!

On Saturday afternoon, I embarked on the trip down to London. We set off at about 12:45 and popped to Meadowhead Post Office before heading towards the M1. We were not due to Check In at Heathrow Terminal 4 until 6pm but I set off really early because I was expecting there to be a lot of problems with Road Works and general weekend traffic. I was pleasantly surprised that despite there being 4 lots of 50 MPH SPECS controlled Road Works that we managed to get to the Purple Parking (just a few miles away from the airport) in very good time. We arrived at Terminal 4 just gone 4 o’clock and was immediately greeted with the Departures board informing us that our flight had been delayed until 01:00,the original flight time being 21:35.

After the bitter disappointment and as the Check-In Desk wasn’t yet open, we decided to get some dinner before embarking on our imense amount of sitting around. We headed over to Cafe Rouge, which I’m pleased to say, went without a hitch. I know there is a Cafe Rouge in Sheffield but I have not been for many years, and even then, it was only for a Coke. I treated myself to a Leffe Blonde which I’ve not had since I was in France last Christmas. We also ate there, I had a rare Bavette steak which was lovely. I’m used to expecting sub-standard food from Airport eateries, but this was as I’d expect if I’d bought it elsewhere and reasonably priced!

After the meal, we headed over to the Check-In Desk which we were still expecting to be closed but we though we’d start queueing up so that we could get a decent seat. To our horror, the Check-In Desk had opened early and there was already a huge queue for the flight. By the time we had got to the front, all the window seats had been taken so we ended up being stuck in the middle of the aircraft. This certainly didn’t help matters as I often get Travel Sick unless I am next to a window and I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to see the Maldives as we came in to land as I’ve been told the view is beautiful. But, never mind, I would much rather have had the meal in Cafe Rouge than have been stood queueing any longer that we had already.

After clearning security, we had a wonder up and down the Duty Free area to get our bearings and see what was about. It was disappointing to see that a large number of the shops were actually closed for refuribishment, typically the ones I would have actually like to have gone in too! I’m unsure how we managed to pass most of the time but eventually, we decided that we should probably go for a beverage. The terminal only has one Public Bar which, as you’d expect, was absolutely rammed! So we wondered around some more. Eventually, we were the only people left in the Terminal and I managed to sneak a quick pint of Gaymers in before Last Orders and the bar closing. But, it was still only 10pm so we had another few hours to kill. By this time, everything was shut so we had even less to keep us entertained.

The Depature Screen was updated to show that we were now expecting to leave at 24:00 so we were hoping that would lead to one less hour of sheer bordem. This was not to be the case because as we arrived at the Boarding Gate at 23:00 as advised, it was clear we were in for another wait. We didn’t actually start boarding until about midnight.

After boarding the plane, I’m happy to say that the flight went without a hitch and I managed to have a nice long sleep through most of it and then watched The Proposal when I woke.

When we touched down in Colombo, I was expecting to be bombarded with people wanting to carry my bags for me. I was pleased that this was not the case. It took a little while for my bags to come round on the conveyor belt but eventually I was wondering towards the exit looking for my chauffer over to the Cinnamon Grand. Unfortunately, with a mix up with the dates and the added delay of the flight, there wasn’t actaully anyone to pick us up. Luckily, there was a representative of the hotel at the airport who quickly called for someone to come and pick us up.

After returning from my evening meal, I found that my door kept ‘beeping’ at me. I couldn’t get to sleep because the door was ‘beeping’ so loudly. I went up to the door to see what was up with it; I opened the door to see if the light on the front was flashing. As the door closed behind me, I found out what the ‘beeping’ was, the battery had died in the Card Key lock! So I couldn’t get back into my own room! I went down to the Reception desk, but I don’t think they quite understood my explaination of what was wrong with the door. They issued me with another Card Key which after waddling 7 floors back up to my room, I found didn’t work. So I waddled back down and this time the Receptionist followed me up to the room with a key. He then sent for some Hotel Engineers to come and attend the door. Three sets of batteries later, I then had a working door once again!

Obviously, I have and will have a lot more to talk about, but with the amount of bad luck I had at the beginning, I thought it deserved its own post!

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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Posted by Chalky on Aug 3, 2009 in Holiday, Life Stuff

On Friday, I finally got round to having my hair cut. It was long overdue and was quickly coming out of control.

I normally get my hair cut at Scissors on Woodseats but, with me going away on Saturday morning and not having time, I decided to visit a hairdressers in Scunthorpe on Friday afternoon after work. I went to one that James recommended as I had never actually visited one in Scunny.

I normally have Number 3 on the back and sides and then just cut short with scissors on the top of my head. But today, for a number of reasons:

  1. I can wait longer before I have another hair cut, and carry on my lazy trend
  2. I was tired and couldn’t really be bothered to explain how I normally have my hair
  3. I have had pretty much the same haircut for the last 23 years!

 I decided to have Number 3 all over.

Taken on the Open Top Bus on the Isle of Wight

Taken on the Open Top Bus on the Isle of Wight

I’m getting a mixed reaction to the new hair. My White Publishing UK Business Partner really likes it, The Cheif Executive of the Victoria College of Music commented on it too. My Mum however hates the new do and says it makes me look even more like my Dad than usual. I didn’t realise I had a big bald patch… Sorry Dad!

Anyway, answers on a postcard please!

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All Wight, Mr White!

Posted by Chalky on Aug 2, 2009 in Holiday

So today was my first day of my holiday. I’ve embarked on a journey down to Selsey near Portsmouth with the Pashley family. Apparently my treat for putting up with them over the past 12 months is to spend 7 whole days with them with no means of escape!

The journey down was quite pleasant, we stopped off at the Chief Executive of the Victoria College of Music’s house in order to drop off some Examination Sheets that I have been working on over the past couple of weeks. We then headed down to St. Anne’s Cottage.

The cottage is inside a Bunn’s Holiday camp, which is, as you’d expect, rammed full of delightful Chavs and Chavette’s contemplated by a sea of prams. The cottage itself however is cosy and welcoming in its own little grounds. There’s a little cottage with its own Boat House which has been converted into further living quarters. So far, I’ve mainly explored the main cottage:

 Living RoomLiving RoomKitchenKitchen

After taking these photographs, I noticed that I experienced a bout of bad timing, see if you can notice it. The interior of the cottage is okay, but the best bit is the view from the living room window:

 View from the Window

I think I’m going to head over to the Boat House tomorrow and take a look around.

Flowers at SouthseaToday, we drove over to Southsea and hopped over to the Isle of Wight on the Hovercraft. We had to park over a mile away from the Hover Terminal because it was so busy but the walk certainly did me good. I’m going to try and keep up with my walking whilst I’m away this week, I guess we’ll see what happens!

It’s been a long time since I have been on a Hovercraft, I can only really remember going on one with my Dad when I was very young.

The SeaWe decided to go for the Hover Rover offer which covers the Return cost of the Hovercraft and using Buses over in the Isle of Wight including the Open Top Tour Buses.

The crossing only takes just over 10 minutes and was pleasant enough if not a little choppier that I thought that it would be.

Once had arrived in the Isle of Wight, we jumped straight onto an Open Top Bus hoping that we would get a tour of the entire Island, unfortunately though, this is not the case.

The Adventurer's CafeThere are 4 tour buses that cover different parts of the Island. However, I enjoyed the journey around the countryside part. It was nice to see some of the places that I had seen when I drove round the Island on some examining duties last year and it was a nice change not to be driving this time around.

We stopped off at Amazon World and visited The Adventurer’s Cafe for some dinner but decided not to walk around the rest of the place. We waited for the next Open Top Bus and finished off the rest of the tour.

When we returned to Ryde we then decided to hop on a train and take a quick visit to Sandown. The trains used on the Isle of Wight are hand-me-down London Underground trains and were very old and rickety. We didn’t have much time to wonder around Sandown before having to head back in time for the Hovercraft. We did however have time for a sneaky ice cream before jumping back on the train.

The journey back was pretty uneventful, we went back the more scenic route which was rather nice. We’ll see what tomorrow brings us.

 
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There comes a stage in width and thickness and girth…

Posted by Chalky on Jun 30, 2009 in Funny

This has long since been one of my favourite Billy Connolly quotes. However, tonight I re-found the clip of the quote and it attracted my attention even more than normal.

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been trying to lose a bit of weight, about time I hear you cry. I managed to lose 5 pounds in the first 5 days by doing nothing more than a big of light walking and not snacking quite as much. I was first spurred on by Jill buying the new Walk with Me! Do you know your walking routine? for the Nintendo DS:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

I think it works well because it makes walking slightly more interesting in several ways. First of all, it turns the exercise into a competition between others in your household. Myself, Jill and now my Mum all have the Activity Meters to keep track of our walking and each day is a race to see who can reach their target the quickest. It also makes exercise a bit more interesting because there are games that can be played where how well you do is based on how many steps you have completed in one day.

When you couple this with the weighting and fitness aspects of Wii Fit, it does really help make trying to lose weight a bit more interesting and for people like me, who have to trick themselves into being healthy, has helped no end. I’m not saying I’m going to turn into a stick insect overnight, but it seems to work for me; I’m now I’m always going to be a bit bigger than everyone else but every little helps!

So, if any of that wasn’t a good enough of an excuse to get you going and needed more reasons to lose a bit of weight, here it is:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.