Welcome to Ian`s journey

What is this blog about? I hear you ask. In a nutshell, my name is Ian and I created this blog to scribble down my thoughts, have a place to look back on memories and generally log my life. It gives me a space on the world wide web where I can be me and put down my ideas and thoughts. It really is as simple as that. I have been blogging for a number of years now and you may have read my previous blogs, Northern Natter, Lancashire Lad and Bob`s dairies. However, those are no more and all my posts are scribbled down here. The picture above is of one of my dogs, Trudy, as she surveys the West Pennine Moors that separate Bolton and Blackburn. 

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Catching up

It seems like an age since I last wrote but it was actually 24 hours ago. After working all weekend I have had three days off which have been bliss. With warm sunny autumnal days walking the dogs, plenty of time to myself to chill out and we finally have a brand new boiler installed with piping hot water.

I had planned to go into Manchester on Monday morning for a catch up breakfast with a mate of mine but he cried off late on Sunday evening leaving me to my own devices Monday. However all I did was catch up on the house chores as well as giving my car a good clean inside and out.

Another mate of mine bailed out of meeting up for a catch up too. Do I smell?? Actually it has annoyed me that I have done lots of chasing of people who are quick to tell you they cannot wait to meet up and how it’s been ages since we did that, blah, blah, blah. When it actually comes down to it they disappear like a snowflake in summer. All those times they say we must meet up, it’s been ages, etc then when you try to get them to commit they go missing. Ah well, I did enjoy having time with the dogs so all wasn’t lost. My wife travelled up to Glasgow on Monday evening for a work conference so I really did have some “me” time.

Today we had a new boiler fitted which has set us back almost £2000. The old one which in fact was only 7 years old had me tearing my hair out as the way it was behaving. Whilst it was working to a fashion it would never have made it through the winter. I am so glad to see the back of the old boiler with the new one heating up the water in record time. I even have a new toy to play with. It comes with a wireless digital control to set the timer, etc so I’ll be having a faff with that later.

Tomorrow sees me return to training just for one day which means I won’t be in the office dealing with all the usual rubbish we deal with. Then it’s Friday and the weekend so I’ve had an easy week this week.

Being off has allowed me to go running every day which surprised me. My recovery is better now with no aches and pains and the runs are feeling slightly easier the more I do. It will be weekend before I get out on a run again but hopefully the two days rest will do me good. Soon I hope to up my runs beyond the two miles I have currently been doing.

Enjoy your day.

Getting there slowly

My journey back to fitness is looking far away at the minute. Having started running again, I think I can run the four miles that I was doing 12 months ago, yet by the time I hit the two mile mark my lungs are screaming at me. Suddenly I feel mortal, 44 years of age and overweight by a good stone.

On the upside, my legs recover much better now I have been out running more often usually three times per week. Thankfully no struggling to get up off the sofa or walking around like an old man with creaking limbs now my body seems to be getting used to the punishment I am putting it through.

Today I ran only 24 hours after my last run and I posted the fastest segment for 2 years, albeit by one second. Don`t get me wrong, I am far from setting targets or beating personal records. I just want to feel fitter and gain some stamina first. However, I will take all these small positives even if the endorphins are yet to kick in. In previous years, I have buzzed off running four to six miles each time and feeling light as a feather as I run. Yet at the minute, I feel like a baby hippo struggling to get around the block.

The plan is to keep running three times per week and to join the gym at work, something I have been meaning to do for sometime. Work allow us to finish an hour early if we go into the gym so some if us will hit the treadmill, bikes or rowing machines to bust out the days stress before leaving for home. If I can do the running at home, gym work then start back cycling I should be in a much better place physically.

If we have a severe winter again like last year then the gym will come in handy so that I do not fall behind in my training. Where is all this going to take me? Hopefully I can lose a stone in weight, meaning less XL size tops and more like large size. Those hills I cycle up should be easier to tackle if I am fitter and lighter and generally feel better emotionally with all the endorphins flying around the body.

Planning and talking about exercise is the easy bit, going out doing it is not. Yesterday, I really had to drag myself out whereas this morning it felt natural to put my running gear on and pound those pavements.

So I will take it a week at a time, small steps first Rome wasn’t built in a day so the saying goes.

If you are a runner, cyclist or just getting fit let me know your story and how you keep motivated. A bit of encouragement never did anyone any harm.

Busy day off

My wife text me this morning “Wow, you have been busy this morning” and I certainly had. By midday I had dropped off my sons packed lunch at school after he forgot it, probably far too busy watching YouTube on his phone when he left the house. Then I had visited the local post office to post my wife`s eBay parcel, popped to the supermarket to get a few things to take to work at the weekend. Then it was off to the dentist and another two mile jog after that. Not to forget put the dinner in the slow cooker. Phew, what to do this afternoon?

My dentist appointment wasn’t until 10:50 and initially I planned to relax around the house until then but had a sudden change of heart and got up, showered and got on with my day. I have been paying a monthly fee for the dentist and with that I get a couple of free check ups and visits to the hygienist thrown in, yet in the last couple of years I have not bothered to visit the dentist. Until I realised I had a small cavity that is. Since I last visited, Ben who was my dentist has left replaced by Kate whom I met for the first time today.

Apart from the small cavity that will require filling, thankfully there is no need for anymore work. After a pleasant chat with Kate who explained things through fully, I made myself a couple of appointments to sort the cavity and see the hygienist. In a few weeks all should be back to normal but I must keep up with my check ups, after all I am paying for them.

After such a sunny day yesterday, the cloud returned today with rain forecast by late afternoon. I juggled around my head what chores I had to do including a quick run around the block so went about visiting the supermarket, post office and school.

My last run only a couple of days ago was hard work to say the least. This time I felt much better prepared. Hardly any muscle soreness from the last run, I had let my breakfast settle prior to this run and I decided to set a better rhythm this time rather than going off too quick too soon. The first mile I ever so slightly slowed the pace down and managed my breathing better which instantly felt better. I also recall a massive amount of negativity in my head last time out so today I decided to break the run down by telling myself it was just like doing 20 minutes on the treadmill. It will be over in no time.

Throughout the run I kept reminding myself of this and before I knew it I was back home and feeling much better. Not as out of breath as a couple of days ago. After a few stretches I was having lunch and wondering what else to do by 1.30pm. Come tomorrow I will be back in work for all weekend so I may as well relax and enjoy the peace and quiet whilst it lasts and my son returns home from school and then I start the cooking and washing up.

One thing I notice is that when I am off work I seem to have plenty of time to write blog posts, yet when at work juggling 10 hours work and the house, blogging seems to take a back seat. I haven’t really liked stockpiling articles to post when I am struggling to write as I like to write “in the moment”. So if you don`t hear from me until after the weekend you know I am, stuck in work.

Have a great weekend whatever you are doing.

Sunshine, walking and homemade food

Despite Autumn being upon us, today we re-wound the clock back to summer with temperatures in the low 70`s thanks to the southerly jet stream from Africa. Back to t-shirts and shorts with clear blue skies and warm temperatures. I was off again today and had a few things to do including visiting a local farm shop and cafe that I had been meaning to visit for months.

A short ten minute drive away and I was at Ryders farm where there is a large equestrian centre, farm shop selling homegrown meats and pies as well as an onsite cafe. I wandered through the farm, locating the cafe and sat down to order a full english breakfast washed down with a cup of tea. Whilst waiting for my food to cook, I found myself marvelling at the scones, cakes and biscuits on offer thinking that the rest of the family would love to come here and sample the fayre.

Breakfast at Ryders Farm

Once the breakfast had been gobbled up, I went and found the farm shop. I do like a traditional butchers shop, somewhere that makes their own pies and sells great quality meats. Again I was marvelling at what they had on offer in the pie area. There were small, medium and large pies of every filling you come to expect. You really can tell homegrown and home baked food compared to supermarket food. After purchasing a large cheese and onion pie for dinner, I drove onto to see my dad.

Our boiler at home has been problematic for the seven years we have lived in the house despite the builder who renovated the property before us putting in a new boiler. Sadly, he clearly wanted to save money and fitted a cheap and nasty boiler that has had something wrong with it almost every year we have lived here. After throwing far too much money at it trying to fix it, we decided to bite the bullet and order a new boiler. After receiving a good quote for a top of the range model last week, in the afternoon I set about completing the deal and arranging a date for it to be fitted. Thankfully it will be fitted next Wednesday. So only another week of suffering showers that run hot then cold, then hot and cold again. That will be one less stress to deal with I can tell you and fitted before the winter.

I was contemplating another run today but the day seems to have passed me by whilst busily doing chores, so the run will have to be put off until Thursday after I have visited the dentist.

We have just returned from walking Lola this evening, her second big walk of the day. The warm air was still in evidence yet Autumn was in full bloom with trees displaying all sorts of browns, golden yellows and greens. Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year not only because of the colours but I enjoy colder mornings and clear blue skies. I do like wrapping up and getting out in the cold and frosty mornings (although we have yet to have a frost so far).

Summer returned today during Lola`s walk

So we will settle down now and see what rubbish is on the television before I wake tomorrow for my last day off. Oh by the way, the cheese and onion pie I served with mashed potato and beans was a triumph, absolutely delicious. The family agreed that they will have to pay the farm a visit and soon.

Long road back to fitness

Oh boy that was tough!! Today I went out for a 2 mile run and throughout it I was fighting heavy legs, burning lungs and a negative mindset. Where has my fitness gone?

Admittedly I am a good stone over weight, but I have been doing plenty of cycling throughout the summer. When it comes to running, it is a different ball game. I have no issue with cycling thirty plus miles yet I cannot seem to run for two miles without stopping.

Twelve months ago, I was running regularly four miles at a time, two to three times per week through the winter when the bike went away until the new year. Since I have dug out the running trainers again, I have felt like I am running through quick sand.

Today I decided enough was enough and out came the trainers. Once the legs had been stretched off, the earphones went in, spotify running playlist went on, strava was set and out I went.

It was a windy morning but a beautiful autumnal start with bright sunshine and blue skies, perfect weather. Within a few hundred metres I felt my breathing was too heavy and not controlled. The legs felt heavy but jelly at the same time and my mind was telling me this wasn’t going to be easy. Once over halfway round, I stopped for a minute more to control my breathing then rest the legs then I was off again. I didn’t expect to stop again but with a few hundred yards from the end my brain suddenly told me to stop which annoyed me. After a couple of leg stretches I finished at a pace of 9.30 minutes per mile.

As it now turns into the evening and two long dog walks done, my legs are weary. One thing I hate about exercising is starting all over again. Once you get a couple of weeks into your training it becomes so much easier both physically and mentally. It is just about getting through the next few runs and dust off the cobwebs and hopefully I will be heading towards four mile runs and without stopping too.

My plan is to run through the winter and around Christmas time, weather permitting start on the bike again getting valuable miles in the legs for the year ahead. With the running should come the weight loss, a stone has to come off at least. Cycling up the hills near where I live is so much more difficult when your dragging a load of weight up them. My lightweight carbon fibre bike does make it easier but a bit less weight on my behalf and I should be flying up those hills.

Fingers crossed I stick out the running.

Weekend catch up

We last left off on Saturday Morning when I was looking forward to an afternoon out eating and drinking with family. I think I have finally recovered from that night out now after drinking enough Spanish lager to sink the Armada. In fact it wasn’t a big boozy night out, we were very civilised and had a great meal out first but we finally fell into bed around 01:30 am. Coupled with a poor nights sleep, I was rather tired on Sunday and wanting to eat lots of stodgy food to keep away the hangover.

We visited Monton Village for the evening, firstly having a great meal in Zous bar and grill where the steak was superb not to mention the children’s milkshakes which were the best I have ever tasted, I am not exaggerating! Then we went over the road for a few cocktails in Vintage Ambience where the staff had our kids enthralled with their juggling skills akin to Cocktail the movie. Children are allowed in the bars until 9pm so we ventured back to my brother in laws house for the rest of the evening for more drinks and pizzas. My wife was mixing her drinks with red wine with her meal, rose wine afterwards and some cocktails too. It was no surprise she could not recall the taxi journey home a few hours later.

Sleepy Sunday

Sunday was a relaxing affair after the boozy night previously with me picking my dad up for him to come round and have his Sunday dinner with us. It was an afternoon sat on the sofa after cooking the dinner watching football. Thankfully we had done most of the house chores the day before, so Sunday really was a feet up day. A good job considering how lethargic we felt. On my way back home after returning my dad home, I felt those hunger pangs you get after a night on the beer and headed to McDonalds for more junk food. It is fair to say, I slept like a baby that evening, catching up on some much needed sleep.

Back to Work

Monday saw me return to the office for the first time in seven weeks with holiday and a course keeping me away. Thankfully it was an easy introduction back, catching up and getting myself straight with all those emails, etc. It was good to see all my work buddies and we had a laugh catching up on what I had missed over the last two months. A nice sedate re-introduction to work before I get fully back in the swing of things on Friday when I am in work all weekend.

So that is what I have been up to over the last few days. Have you done anything exciting or notable, maybe you have just chilled out too? Whatever it was feel free to share it with me.

Saturday morning

It’s 9am on Saturday morning and I am currently sat on the sofa with Trudy my dog lay across me whilst I’m sipping my second cup of tea.

The house has only partially stirred from their slumber which really means I am the only human up and out of bed. The pets are up, fed and alert wanting a piece of my attention.

After having a few cold beers last night watching television, I have woke to find I placed a small bag of Cadbury chocolate in the fridge last night. Even before breakfast, I am nibbling on cold chocolate washing it down with a hot cuppa. I prefer to eat chocolate when it’s been in the fridge, cold and harder to break. This is a perfect way to wake up.

Looking outside it appears cloudy and threatening to rain. The street is so quite with not so much as a dog walker stepping out into the cold morning. I’ll eat a little more chocolate and sip a bit more tea before I drag myself off the sofa and venture out with the dogs.

Later in the afternoon we plan to go out with my brother & sister in law for some food and drink. Sunday is looking like another peaceful and relaxing offering too. With me returning to work on Monday, it seems ideal to have an easy weekend first.

Whatever your doing this weekend, I hope you enjoy it.