I Am Feeling Very Olympic Today!

In the words of Sanka (though without the Jamaican accent!) I am feeling very Olympic today!

I am feeling very olympic today

Hasn’t the Olympics in Rio been fabulous? Team GB have smashed it and done us all proud currently 2nd only being USA and beating the Chinese and their population of a gazillion!

It has really inspired me to get back into a decent fitness routine.  I have always been active, and compared to most I already am, but I have realised I need to do more. Drag myself out of that comfortable warm bed in the morning, or delay the ice cold beer in an evening, more often than I do and get sweaty!

At the grand old age of 34 my Olympic dreams will never become a reality, but that doesn’t mean I can’t delay the onset of middle aged spread by a few more years and keep myself healthy too. Lets get physical!

F All Matters

I’ve come back to a realisation recently that F All Matters….. And by that I mean, all the F’s matter. Family and Friends.

We get so called up in our day to day lives, false priority after false priority take up our time and we can often get lost in what really matters. What we often need to do is gain a perspective on life and where we should be focusing our attentions.

I have a couple of techniques I use to try and maintain perspective that you may find useful:

  1. Slightly morbid, but think about who you want at your funeral and what you want them to say about you. Is that your arsehole boss saying how obedient you were? I doubt it. Is it the random lady at the supermarket who gave you a dirty look for accidentally bumping into her? Of course not. It is your closest friends and family and you probably want them to be saying you were there for them when they needed them. Simple when you think about it.
  2. In each instance, ask yourself will this matter in a years time? In the majority of cases, 12 months from now whatever you are going through is likely to be a distant memory.

In most of these situations, what you will find is the only things that matter boil down to family and friends, and they are the people you need to worry about in life.  Everything else is just a distraction and doesn’t really matter when you consider things in this context.

Family have known you since you were born. Have seen you grow, mature, and been there for you in your darkest moments. Your parents supported you financially (something I know as a father is not a small undertaking!) in many cases making sacrifices you weren’t aware of at the time. And in current economic times today’s children will rely on their parents for financial support more than ever. They will listen to you, care for you, love you, hell they can even act as a loan guarantor should you need them.

Friends have been with you in a different way. Through the fun times, through the mischief, when you had that psycho girlfriend….. They know more of your darkest secrets and will keep them for you, even if they make fun of you for them at every opportunity. Friends are family without the bloodline.

Maybe these two tips will help you gain perspective too, but if not, focus on the 2 F’s and you won’t go far wrong.

My approach to budgeting and money management

I consider myself quite a prudent man.  I budget, I save, and I consider each purchase I make above a reasonable threshold.

But as with everything real life sometimes takes hold and with young children to cloth (and re-cloth more than I would like), entertain, feed (continuously) and just generally provide for things can sometimes get out of hand.

Recently I had some emergency plumbing work needed and a washing machine break down all in the same month. Things like that become impossible to budget for.  And whilst I try to have enough put away for such occasions it difficult when you are at arguably the most expensive stage in your life.

Its times like these I can see why people turn to the short term loan providers such as Vivus.  It’s the short term need that can be greatest and in business terms, cash flow that is the issue, not long term profitability.

My approach to budgeting

If you’re interested, here is my personal approach to budgeting.

  • I have a budget spreadsheet: this lists my expected monthly outgoings including all known direct debits and an expected amount for things like food and entertainment. It also includes my incomings so I can balance them off.
  • I use a credit card for cash flow. I have a credit card for paying for things during the month. This allows me to both manage cash flow but also earn points on my spending in the form of cashback, airmiles or other forms of point generation. It also helps your credit rating.
  • I review my spending against my budget quarterly. Did I spend what I thought? Where was a over and under? Review the budget and repeat.

It’s quite basic but I find it helps me control things.  It’s still difficult but at least this way I know where my money is going.

Hats off to all those people out there working hard to make ends meet and provide for their families. We are living in turbulent times and have been shat on from a great height by certain people, keep up the good work.

RIP Youth

I must be getting old. I’ve changed as a human being and there is nothing to do but embrace it. Gone are the days of dreaming of sports and night out with the lads.  I live my life longing for a good nights sleep and a quiet cup of coffee in the morning.

The final nail in the coffin of my youth has come in a new hobby. Something I would never have seen myself doing before. Something which was unthinkable just 5 years ago. A symbol of old age and a topic of conversation in community groups up and down the country.

Here goes…..I like gardening.

I feel like I should be ashamed, but honestly I’m not. Proof if it was needed of my departure from anything even remotely resembling youth.

I’ll freely admit, I’m rubbish at it. But I still get some satisfaction from pruning and preening and from keeping my garden neat and tidy. And god forbid should I catch one of the children pulling leaves off a bush!

I find myself in the morning (over my quiet cup of coffee) gazing out of the window thinking of improvements I could make. The weather has been rubbish recently so I long for a dry spell to get out there and make some changes. A new plant here, a border there, some lawn edging to keep things nice and tidy.

Its a little contradictory. I pride myself on fashion and an appreciation of the finer things. But then I’m out there in my ‘scruffs’ digging beds and weeding, caked in dirt and mud.

So this is my confession. I’m a closet gardener. And I’m officially old.

RIP Youth, it was fun.

What Lies Beneath

Despite the post title, this isn’t a horror story. More an affectionate love story of the unseen.

There’s something about underwear. Whether you are a man or a woman, the satisfaction of a well fitting, comfortable, flattering piece of underwear is something we can all associate with.

It’s strange when you think about it. As very few, if any people will actually get to see it. Yet underwear has the potential to make us feel sexy & confident.  It is also an essential companion to a good outfit, even though it is never visible.

Imagine dressing for an occasion.  A wedding, party, big night out, or just an important business meeting.  Your shirt is crisply ironed, suit dry cleaned, shoes gleaming. There is no way you are pairing this killer outfit with anything but the best from your underwear drawer.

As with all fashion comfort and style have to go together. There is little point looking good if you spend all your time readjusting and redressing, its not a good look where underwear is concerned!

The guys over at Jacksy have come up with a range of men’s underwear which is both bold in colour (something I am a big fan of!) and more comfortable than nearly any other brand I have worn before. And even more importantly, they have done so at a price which doesn’t leave you wincing.

It’s fabulous to see companies like this challenging the big boys of the clothing world and providing style, substance and comfort is accessible to all.

This is a genuine review of a product I rate highly.  So if you are a fan of their bold style and are looking for something that balances comfort, style, and affordability, then I would suggest you check them out!

IMG_0056[1] IMG_0057[1]

Create Memories not Social Fodder

I’ve just returned from holiday. A wonderful week spent in a beautiful location with fabulous food, glorious weather and the company of my favourite people.

My phone wasn’t invited.

For 7 whole days I didn’t once check in, check up, post, tweet or snap and it was bliss.  Not once did I thumb flick my way through my twitter or Facebook feed.  And my inbox was left to fill up harmlessly while I sipped on an ice cold beer blissfully unaware of its growing mass.

In the process I created some memories I will keep with me for a long time.  Of precious moments with my children and loved ones. Of laughs shared, games played, calories consumed and moments of closeness.

And all around me I couldn’t help but notice people missing their own moments in the name of social media. Staring at a smartphone and smirking at statuses, whilst their children played and they could have been joining in. Posing for the perfect selfie when they could have been deep in meaningful conversation. Photographing food rather than enjoying it.

I love social media, but this was a sad sight.  People more concerned with likes, shares, social approval, or the latest funny gif than enjoying the experience life affords them.  In years to come you will remember these moments but only if you stop to enjoy them wholeheartedly. I promise you wont remember that gif or the joke that was just shared.

Create memories, not social fodder.

Eyewear Choices 2016

A period of warm, sunny weather always brings with it some decisions about the Summer wardrobe as we begin to believe we might actually get a Summer in the UK this year.

This week it was the turn of sunglasses and some decisions to be made about eyewear for the coming months. I’ve decided to square up this year and go for a couple of more traditional styles. A plan black classic and one with a twist just to mix things up.

Partnered with tailored shorts and either a plan tshirt or short sleeve shirt to finish the look.

sunglasses1

sunglasses 2

 

 

The Changing Face of Schools

My daughter starts school this September. How scary is that! My little girl is growing up and about to properly enter a world where she isn’t reliant on Mummy or Daddy to look after her all day long.

We spent a long time agonising over the right school to send her to. Its an important decision as we are entrusting a huge chunk of her formative years in a group of people we don’t really know. We did the open evenings, agonised over our choices, made our application, and thankfully got our first choice. Not that any of our choices are ‘bad’ schools, but of course we want to give her the best possible start in life.

Whilst I know I am in danger of sounding all ‘back in my day’ when I say this but one of the things that struck me when we visited the schools was the amount of technology they are using to teach children these days.
classroom technology
I remember blackboards (which became whiteboards) and text books. Calculators were as advanced as it got outside of dedicated computer rooms, which were hardly advanced themselves by today’s standards.

As I walked around I was introduced to tablet computers in each classroom. Speakers systems and large 60″ interactive touch screen white boards for leading lessons. Advanced computers where pupils could learn basic programming and music mixing amongst other things. I was a bit taken a back.

Of course its great for the kids. They get to learn and technology is a great enabler and also a way of keeping them engaged. Its just. Well. It wasn’t like this when I was a lad!

Accessorise your look this summer

Its approached that time of the year when we Brits start to believe we might actually get some nice weather in the coming months. Of course, the reality is this ‘summer’ we talk of will be a few select days of warmth surrounded by disappointing mild cloudy spells and showers.

But we can dream! And in those dreams we should be thinking about the accessories we are going to done alongside our short sleeves and shorts. Summer is a great time to accessorise as we have so much more skin on show and an excuse to wear sunglasses and hats without looking like a hipster. Here are five of my top accessories to enhance your summer look on those days we finally get some sunshine!

Leather Wrap Bracelet
A great way to add something different to your casual summer outfits. A lot of accessories can be a bit too formal for shorts and t shirt weather but a goo quality leather wrap bracelet can be both a cool and fitting addition to your outfit.
ted baker bracelet

Ray Ban Sunglasses
Its not often I will go for an expensive clothing item as I have previously explained, but sunglasses are one exception. A good quality pair of sunglasses that is adaptable for any outfit is one of my summer must haves. And with black framed Ray-Bans you simply cannot go wrong. Equally at home with shorts and a summer shirt for a more casual look or formal wear for the office they are one of the few timeless classics in fashion.
raybans

Trilby
The trilby has had a resurgence on recent years and is no longer the reserve of the festival goer. It presents a relaxed casual head wear option for long summer days and nights in the beer garden.
trilby

Summer watch
Short sleeves expose your arms and wrists and so a nice watch will get noticed. Choose something with a fabric or resin strap with breathable holes to avoid getting a sweaty wrist!
emporio armani watch

Umbrella!
Before you get carried away remember you are still in Britain and rain is only around the corner. A compact umbrella which slots easily into your bag will save you from getting wet when the clouds inevitably arrive unannounced.
umbrella

Stay accessorised this summer and complete your look with these items, did I miss anything?

All of the above items are available from House of Fraser Accessories and they currently have some great deals on so if you like them, then look them up!

5 Signs You Work With a Festival Goer

If you work in a large enough office with a good mix of the younger generation there will always be one, if not more. Of course, I am talking about the festival goer.

Every year they make their pilgrimage to live in a tent without adequate sanitation alongside thousands of other human beings for 3-4 days of “fun”. For 11 moths of the year they go unnoticed, but they will be there. So how do you spot the festival goer amongst your work colleagues? Here are a few top tips.

1. They took a random Thursday off in October

You probably all thought they were going for a job interview. But you were wrong.  This was the day Glastonbury tickets went on sale and it required them to take a whole day off work just to try and secure them.  They probably failed.

2. They always know a better/newer/more alternative band

All it takes is a comment about music, or about how you like the band that is playing on the radio and they pounce. Telling you that if you like Band X you should really check out some random band named Headless Chickens on Crack or something equally as bizarre, just to prove their superior music knowledge.

3. They turn up for work a different colour

Suddenly, one Tuesday in the summer, they will appear in the office a different colour than when you last saw them. Either brunt to a crisp if its warm, or a darker shade of mud if its been raining. Dont be alarmed, their skin will return to normal within a week or so.

4. They wear dirty wristbands like a badge of honour

Where most people where watches or bracelets they will be sporting ragged, stained, frayed, cotton festival wristbands. I know, I know it looks weird, but they don’t see it that way.

And finally……..

5. They never stop going on about it!

The first four points are really pretty redundant in most cases. As if you have been within 20 yards of said festival goer in the last six months they will have brought it up. More than once. you will know when they go, who they are going to see, how many times they have been before, and what makes it the best thing ever.  And you won’t even have had to ask them a question.