Thursday, 2 February 2017


Today I will eat meat for the first time in a month. At least... that was the plan!

"Veganuary aims to reduce the suffering of animals by inspiring and supporting people across the globe to go vegan for the month of January."

The thing is, I have decided to go on a bit of a health kick in 2017. 2016 wasn't a very good year for plenty of reasons. HERE is a blog I wrote about protesting Trump. Also a little closer to home, I haven't been looking after myself as well as I should! My neck and back have been worse than ever, my skin is bad, I've had problems with my ears and I have put on some weight (I am the heaviest I have ever been!).

Therefore, in 2017 I am going to start looking after myself better. I am going back to the climbing wall. I have spent a lot of money to fixed my bike:

and so I will be cycling to work a lot more (but probably when its less cold, wet and windy). I have already started to get my lazy ass back into the pool, not just for work but for exercise but not often enough, there is still a lot of room for improvement. I will also be hitting the gym a little too (even though I really don't want to). I have bought trainers and everything:

and so I really do need to start working out. I have been going to regular massages to sort the knots in my back and on top of everything else, I will of course be looking very closely at what I eat too. 

Now the thing is that although I am going to start eating significantly healthier, as well as not eating meat, I also attempting not to eat any chocolate, sweets, biscuits etc, which you can read about HERE, I couldn't go full vegan for a whole month. Or maybe that should be: I don't want to go full vegan for a whole month. 

It has been obvious for a long time that I needed to change my diet. Especially now that I'm in my thirties, it's sad but true when I say, I simply can't get away with eating the way I did in my twenties. However, going straight from my 2016 diet of eating meat everyday, plus lots of cakes and sweets etc, to being a vegan for a month, would be both a huge, huge challenge and also something I believe to be a bad idea. Therefore, I decided on a compromise, and I don't have a problem with compromises, sometimes it is best to be realistic. 

With that in mind, I decided to do a "mostly vegetuary" which is to say that I decided to eat vegetarian with some fish/seafood. Something I decided because I knew that cutting out meat was going to be huge for me. I love meat. There was a time not too long ago when meat would form part of most/all three main meals, day in, day out. Therefore, to try to cut out meat and fish and dairy and eggs etc all in one go would be several steps too far. 

I will take it one step at a time. I will start with meat, while also cutting down on the chocolate, sweets, cakes, biscuits and pastries that I love so much, so maybe not one step at a time. I will see how that goes and then I will determine where I go from there. 

I think for me, the perfect balance would be to do mostly vegetarian with fish or meat 2-3 days a week. After all, I believe that everything should be done in moderation, balance is the key to life. 

So it's now been a month since I stopped eating meat and at the beginning it was very difficult. It wasn't so much that I missed eating meat - although there was an element of this - but the main problem was that I had become so over reliant on meat. Often the problem was simply that I was stuck for what to eat. I ate a lot of soup and I lot of fish in the first few days! 

But then things started to improve and I started to find some wonderful alternatives. It was still difficult while I was out of the house, especially as I don't eat cheese. Grabbing a quick bite from a supermarket for example was a little tricky but eating out at a restaurant for Chinese New Year was better than I expected. When there is lobster on the menu, why would you need meat:

Also at home I started to find and cook more vegetarian dishes like my "famous" veggie bean chilli. I still continued to eat a lot of fish and seafood but the more the month wore on, the more options I found and the less I missed meat. To a point where I find myself in a bit of a predicament where, I'm going to start eating meat again, in moderation, but I almost feel sad about the fact. 

So I'm not sure where I'm going from here! Am I going to choose to be a vegetarian full time? Or maybe a pescatarian? As long as I can continue to eat fish and seafood, I'm fairly sure I could do it. Or am I going to become an occasional meat eater? I think that's probably what's going to happen. I mean, I have to admit that I am more than a little excited about going out for a burger one day soon:

Also, I'm sorry but going the rest of my life without a bacon butty, a gammon steak or me mum's lamb casserole just doesn't sound like the most inviting option. So, I'm not completely sure what I'm going to do but what I do know for sure is, I'm definitely never going back to eating meat everyday, the way I was before. 

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Protest (an update)

I'd like to start this post by saying that there are lots of lovely, kind and caring people in this world that are concerned about the happiness of others, not just themselves and their families, and for this I will be eternally grateful.

Last night there was, as I'm sure you are already aware, a demonstration outside 10 Downing Street (and all around the UK) where people expressed their dismay at the cretinous oaf newly in charge of one of the most powerful countries in the world and the kiss ass approach that our Prime Minister* Theresa May seems to have adopted while others including (Canada, Germany, Scotland) have publicly condemned Trumps "Muslim ban" (he said he wanted to ban muslims during his campaign trail and basically that's what he's trying to do).

A couple of years ago I went to my first ever protest which you can read about HERE. The older I get the more I feel let down by the people in power and the more important I feel it is for people to make their voices heard in the best way that they possibly can, whether that be through peaceful protest or art.

I think one of two people may have misread the tone of the previous blog I wrote on protesting. I am a pacifist - at least I try my best, often in face of great provocation, to be a pacifist. Therefore, I don't really want to join in a riot but I have been looking to join a large scale demonstration, on a subject I felt to be crucial to the way we live (and at the moment in time I hadn't found it).

In the years between then and now, there have been many good reasons for me to draw up a placard and hits the streets in protest: the inexplicable decision to vote the Tories into a majority government in 2015 or the senseless debacle that was last year's Brexit. However, these demonstrations always seem to take place on a Saturday afternoon and as passionate as I might be, I get paid for the hours I work and Saturday is my busiest day and unfortunately I am not rich enough to miss a days work and lose a significant chunk of my wages.

That's why I was very pleased to see that this demo would be taking place on a Monday evening because although I work Monday evenings as well but if there is one thing that I hate more than anything else it might just be a seeming unwillingness to help those who are less fortunate than ones self. Plus I guessed I could still make it down after I finished work. Sadly I had no time (or brain power) to think up and draw up a witty sign but after work I took myself and my camera down to 10 Downing Street to see and enjoy what turned out to be a lovely and quite emotional experience.

Here are some pictures from last night of the lovely people and their wonderful and often hilarious placards:

Now I could sit here and write about Trump all day but I would just like to say this. There are many people out there that believe that Trumps ban on refugees and migrants from certain countries is justified.

But as far as I can see, the only argument is that he has signed this executive order so that he can keep  the American people safe? Which would be fine - and of course I deplore any acts of terrorism - however, how many people have been killed in America by "Muslim" terrorist in the last ten years and how many have been killed by angry young white male "Christians"? (I have placed Muslim and Christians in inverted commas because although I am not religious myself, I can see that the people committing these hideous acts are not real Muslims or Christians).

So yes, stay vigilant. I understand that you don't want to let terrorists or dangerous criminals into your country. So yes, some vetting is probably a good idea. However, a blanket ban on refugees - people escaping war and persecution - and people travelling from certain Muslim countries, is only going to create more hatred and fear. Also check out this image here that I pinched from Facebook. I'm not sure how accurate the statistics are but it paints a pretty picture don't you think:

If Trump is truly concerned with the safety of the people of the United States of America, the first thing he should be banning is guns not people from certain countries from entering the US. Looking at the list above, he should maybe also think about banning lawn mowers and buses and only allowing people to buy beds that they can't fall out of?

I would also like to say that we should send a strong message to Trump that we will not accept his hypocritical and bigoted polices. I know that America is one of our biggest allies but during this difficult time, maybe they shouldn't be? I do not believe that Trump should be allowed on a state visit or on any visit to the UK, just as I do not believe that anyone Christian, Muslim, atheist or otherwise who spreads fear and hate should be welcomed into our country. I am not concerned as to whether it causes "embarrassment to the Queen" but I do feel that the fact that he is the POTUS or the fact that the Queen has entertained Robert Mugabe in the past, should not have any influence on Trump being allowed to enter the UK on a state visit. The Queen should never have met with Mugabe and she shouldn't meet with Trump either!  

*Theresa the appeaser is not my Prime Minister.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

London Eye

To paraphrase somebody who recently summed up my feelings perfectly: going on the London Eye is something I could happily die without ever doing.

Having lived in London for several years, the thought of riding the giant bicycle wheel in the sky is one that had never occurred to me. Well... several times I have looked at the people queuing thinking, why on earth would anyone want to pay good money to go on that death trap! Never however, had I contemplated ever going on it myself, not until the Year31Project was born that is. (Stupidly) travel on the London Eye somehow made it onto the list.

Of course, I do know why it made it onto the list. I was determined to do things that were outside of my comfort zone, things that scared me, thinks that would hopefully make me feel alive. However, I also know all too well why it has just sat on the list (seemingly) never to be ticked off (rusting away like Southbank's big, rickety, old fairground ride). Going on the London Eye is something that is way, way outside of my comfort zone. So far from my comfort zone that it is somewhere out in space. In fact, I would relish the chance to travel into space, whereas the chance to go on the London Eye is something I would always actively avoid.

That has never actually been the case however. I have never needed to resist travelling on the London Eye before. At least not until recently and as you will soon be able to see, my avoidance tactics were as sharp as England at Euro 2016. In fact, instead of sidestepping the opportunity I had been given, I realised that, although I really didn't want to, it was finally time that I took a whirl on the giant ferris wheel I had so often passed and never been even slightly intrigued to ride.

A couple of weeks ago, my boss at the swimming pool, informed me that he had put me forward for a swim team incentive. That because our club had performed well and hit all of our targets, he had been invited to go onto the London Eye with several other swim managers from around the country. However, because he could not - or maybe that should read, did not want to - go, he had recommended that I take his place instead.

I remember him telling me poolside and the fear instantly sweeping over me. My first thought was: how do I get out of this? My second thought was: how do I get out of this without telling him that I am terrible when it comes to heights? I couldn't think of anything. So I said nothing. I said thank you maybe and tried to let the thought sink in. No, I tried to forget about it altogether. There was no way I could do it, just simply no way. So best just not to think about it.

However, with a little time to think about it, I made the decision to go. I say decided! What I really mean is, once my lessons had been covered/rearranged there was actually little that I could do, other than accept my fate and accept the invitation. I was going to go on the London Eye and there seemed to be very little I could do about it.

I tried to see the positive in the situation. I was going to do something from my list, the original list. Something that would take me out of my comfort zone and make me feel alive. But it was pretty hard to ignore the negative feelings. The thought that I was pretty sure it was going to make me feel as though I wish I wasn't alive. That I was going to feel the need to curl up in a ball in the middle of the glass pod, close my eyes and try not to cry, as I waited for it to be all over. Because you can't get off! That's the worst thing! No matter what happens, how bad you feel, how much you panic; you can't get off until you get to the bottom. So the worst thing you can do is panic as soon as you get on because if you do, you have another 30-40mins, until you can step back onto the safety of solid ground.

Maybe I could say that I was ill? I was certainly starting to feel ill! The apprehension was all too much. I didn't want to do this. How was I going to get out of this? Maybe there had been a family emergency or a personal problem that I didn't want to discuss?

But then it happened, Tuesday 21st June 2016 arrived - this time almost exactly a week ago - the day I was to fly the London Eye. The day I was pretty sure I was going to die from a fairly irrational fear.

I left the pool and made my way to Waterloo, where I met a bunch (of nice) strangers who I would be spending the next couple of hours, trying not to vomit or cry in front of. We met at a near by bar, where I drank and attempted to keep down a glass of coke. Well... that's a slight exaggeration! I was nervous. Of course I was. I'm not good with heights. I never have been! They make me feel unbalanced and even nauseous, as though I need to lie down or on occasions, jump off (the quickest way to the ground I guess?). So at the bar, I visited the toilet on more occasions than I probably needed to but mostly I was ok.

Until I saw it's huge, imposing structure that was:

It's just so big! All I could think was: I know it's never happened before but it would be just my luck wouldn't it, if the pod I was travelling in just fell out of the sky. But that's not going it happen right? It could though couldn't it? It could happen? It won't... but it could. etc etc.

But I knew that was just the fear talking. The fear of something is always greater than the thing itself. So I joined the rest of the group in our private pod with free drinks, snacks and amazing views of London:

and you know what? Although there were a couple of shaky moments when it momentarily stopped (which happens regularly and is no big deal... apparently) or when we were right at the top and I realised just how far up we were! Over all it was ok. I didn't feel the need to curl up a ball or attempt to jump off. It really wasn't too bad. In fact, it was almost fun!