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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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Neglect

Posted by Chalky on Jun 21, 2009 in Random

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been exactly 2 months since I’ve actually posted something here. I make no excuses other than pure laziness. I’ll try and do a run down of things that have happened recently, but there probably isn’t going to be much to say because not a great deal has happened. I’ll try and get some sort of chronological-ness to the posts but it’ll probably just be in the order that I remember things!

I guess it’s time to eat some humble pie as I’m always going on to other people about not updates and/or listing everything they’ve done in on go!

 
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What's on the cards?…

Posted by Chalky on Jan 23, 2009 in Random

A friend offered to do me a Tarot Reading. I have always been very skeptical of this but with recent events, thought I might as well give it a shot. I mean, what have I got to lose? I can’t kill me, can it?

Recently, I’ve been having a few second thoughts about work so I asked it a couple of questions. The first being:

Should I apply for another job?

This first time, I drew one card:

Ten of Pentacles

Ten of Pentacles

If we could wish for any of the Pentacle cards this would be the one! The 10 of Pentacles represents all the wonderful conditions and material things we can accomplish in this lifetime.

This card shows a stable family with the riches we all dream of. This family has worked hard for long periods of time, maybe even generations, to accomplish this type of security: The grandparents, parents, and children represent several generations of acquiring this financial stability.

This card comes up often when the purchase of a large item, such as a house or car, is in your future. You have the money or the financing to be able to attain your dream with the 10 of Pentacles. If it seems out of your reach, your family may be able to help or a bank loan is on the horizon.

everything is simply wonderful in the world now. Not only do you have money, you have security as well. Your wise investments will last a long time, providing a strong stable foundation for future generations as well as for yourself. Great wealth or great security! We’ll take both!

 

So, it was looking pretty good for getting a new job perhaps. So I asked another question:

If I stick with Leggott, will I receive a suitable pay rise?

This time, I drew 3 cards to represent the Past, Present and Future:

Tarot_Cards

Past

The Hermit (Reversed)

The Hermit (Reversed)

 

When The Hermit is reversed, the Lantern of Truth is about to go out. As the light fades, The Hermit feels the cold in the air, and the snow comes down upon him. Then the light goes out, and when this happens you may need to review a few lessons you might have missed. Upside down, no one is listening to The Hermit and he truly feels alone in the darkness; even his walking stick can’t balance him anymore.

In his reversed position, The Hermit suggests that wisdom is disregarded. Perhaps you’re not listening to your own advice, or paying attention to others who have been there before. History can repeat itself, remember, and your refusal to learn from your past can lead to foolish decisions. There’s also a tendency to daydream or wish for something to happen without taking any action when this card appears. The Hermit reversed can mean your head’s in the clouds. so you’re unaware of how dark it really is outside.

Present

4 of Wands (Reversed)

Four of Wands (Reversed)

 

This is a good card either way! The 4 of Wands reversed represents that, while the celebration isn’t as big or spectacular, nonetheless, congratulations are due. When the 4 of Wands is reversed, you’re learning to appreciate the little joys of life, such as the first flower to blossom in sprint, the first step a baby makes, a breath of fresh air, the final payment on the mortgage!

These are the blessings in the life you often see but sometimes don’t notice. The 4 of Wands reversed is thankful for the people and conditions around you and happy that the basics are secured. It’s time to give a little thanks for that you do have, not batter how big or small.

Future

Nine of Swords (Reversed)

Nine of Swords (Reversed)

 

In it’s reversed meaning, the 9 of Swords shows the woman getting through the traumatic event or conditions in her life. Time will bring healing as all things heal with time. Tomorrow is a new day.

Patience and prayer can help you pass through the long journey. This card can indicate that the goodness of a loved one is coming, or that the life-threatening surgery was a success. The dark cloud of trauma will pass and you’ll have developed strength of character because of it, along with the awareness that you can surmount a major tragedy.

So, on the face of it, it would seem I should be pretty safe if I stick with JLC. Interesting!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn into a crazy person living my life by Tarot Cards, Fate and Fortune Telling, but I just thought that it was interesting. I suppose there’s only one way to find out if the Cards were right, but I’m still no closer to deciding what I should do!

 
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Eugh!

Posted by Chalky on Jan 21, 2009 in Random

Well, I finally got round to trying Pepsi Raw:

Pepsi Raw

I didn’t choose it out becuase I really fancied it but the delightful Norton didn’t have any Pepsi in the pump so only had a glass bottle of Diet Coke or a 2 Litre Bottle of Diet Pepsi as alternatives as well as the Raw. I thought I might as well give it a whirl. I wish I hadn’t!

I have to say it’s not as bad a Red Bull Cola, but it isn’t much better. To sum up, Asda’s Own Brand Cola tastes better than both Pepsi Raw and Red Bull Cola!

 
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Obamania

Posted by Chalky on Jan 21, 2009 in Random

I didn’t see any of the Inauguration Ceremony of Barack Obama yesterday.

I really don’t understand the hype. To me, it’s a complete opposite to what’s it’s supposed to represent. People all over the world are hyping it up because having a Black President is a step towards Racial Equality.

But, to me, the fact that they are making a big song and dance about this means exactly the opposite. It there was complete Equality, it wouldn’t matter it Obama was Black, White, Green or Blue. The fact that it does, means that there isn’t.

I don’t want to start any arguments, but let me put it this way. Does anyone actually know what any of Obama’s policies actually are. I imagine that 90% of people don’t. Says it all really.

 
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At the Beeb

Posted by Chalky on Dec 29, 2008 in Random

BBC LogoAfter spending too much time in the new Westfield Shopping Centre in London’s White City area and finding absolutely nowhere to have something to eat, we decided to pop across to Val’s Office at Television Centre to nosh our recently acquired sandwiches from Eat. 

Prank Patrol VanOn the way into Television Centre I spotted the Prank Patrol Van hidden in a corner of the complex. For those who don’t know this is CBBC’s latest hidden camera show where children play tricks on their friends and relatives and is shown on BBC Two and the CBBC Channel.

BBC Visitor's BadgeAfter signing in, we wondered through several buildings to reach Val’s Office Block. We went past the area where Studio Audiences wait before going in to the Studio, which features a BBC Shop. We also went through one of the BBC Prop Stores on the way through. Here, we saw some of the drapes and curtains used for Strictly Come Dancing and the Blue Peter set.

Val's OfficeWhen we reached Val’s Office, we tucked into our late lunch. I had a spicy seafood pasta salad which was rather nice and a Lemon Cheesecake which was equally as nice. We slouched about for a bit and watched a few classic epiosodes of Top Gear, what more could you want! Well, there was Table Football but no-one wanted to have a game with me :( .

Ice Skating After returning from London, we went Ice Skating at Hampton Court Palace. It wasn’t as busy as it has been in past years which made it all the more enjoyable even though my ankles were killing by the end of it! I’m also pleased to say that I didn’t fall over which is always a bonus. At the end of the Skating Session, I was treated to a Galaxy Hot Chocolate with a generous shot of Baileys and Squirty Cream on top!

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Britain's Got Class(!)

Posted by Chalky on Dec 21, 2008 in Random

I saw this in Nottingham East Midlands Airport just before I flew out to Belfast City Airport. I think it pretty much sums up everything that has become wrong in British Culture these days:

Answers on a postcard please…

 
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Chavin’ It Up for Christmas

Posted by Chalky on Dec 19, 2008 in Random

I saw this on, whatever the Saturday Morning show is called nowadays, and couldn’t resist saying something about it. It doesn’t really need much introduction other than is there any wonder that the World is the way it is nowadays? Next Bob the Builder will be teaching children how to smoke weed!

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

 
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Happy 50th Birthday Mum!

Posted by Chalky on Dec 18, 2008 in Random

On Friday, it was my Mum’s 50th Birthday. We woke up extra early to see her opening her presents before me and Jill had to toddle off to work. She did pretty well on the present front scoring, amongst other things, an iPod Nano and speakers, a Love Links chain and £100 in cash.

On Saturday, the real celebrations began. First we went out for a meal with close family and friends at The Moorlands. It was a great atmosphere and everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves which was great. In the evening, we had a ‘do’ down at Woodseats Methodist where family and friends were invited to celebrate Mum’s birthday. We had a buffet from Think Sandwich on Abbey Lane which was both tasty and expansive. In the end, we had to give over half of it away to the Salvation Army, I think it will have kept them going for a few days!

My hat goes off to my sister Jill who put so much time and effort into the weekend. I felt bad that I wasn’t more involved but at the same time it was good because I knew that if it had been left up to me, I would have made a complete pig’s ear hole of the whole thing. I’m better sticking to what I know. Speaking of which, as part of the celebrations, I made my now seemingly obligatory slideshow depicting my Mother throughout the centuries:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Other photos from the celebrations can be found here.