Quick trip to the Costa del Sol

Halfway through the year and time to catch a breath! A trip to Spain was the perfect opportunity to get some sunshine and relaxation time. We'd both been to the Costa del Sol before, Victoria many times more than I and can't fault it, beautiful weather, delicious Spanish food and great places to visit. We couldn't wait to get on that plane!

 Estepona costline, Malaga, Spain

Estepona costline, Malaga, Spain

 Turia Tostada Beer

Turia Tostada Beer

We were staying with family just outside of Estepona right on the coast in a beautiful private villa complex. It was a very peaceful area and the surrounding gardens were immaculately kept. On the first day we followed tradition and visited the local Carrefour for supplies, I absolutely love this shop, it is stacked full of amazing food and drink. We walked out with more beer than it is possible to drink in a week, all of which I had never had before. The beer was mostly macro-brewery specials but I managed to find some locally brewed craft beer from La Catarina which was the star of the show.

On the second day, I had arranged to go diving with Gibraltar Dive Charters. After having visited Gibraltar before I was desperate to get out in the bay and see some of the wrecks. Lugging all of my dive equipment from home to here was a bit of a pain, especially carrying it on the DLR(!) but I was confident it would be worth it. After turning up I discovered that my 3mm wetsuit wasn't going to cut the mustard and my lovely warm dry suit was, unfortunately, sitting in its bag at home. Luckily the dive shop offered up a thicker wetsuit and all was fine, lesson learnt! With a group of about 14 divers, we visited the SS Rosslyn and the Seven Sisters dives sites, both were interesting and worth checking out.

 Northern end of the Gibraltar Rock, Gibraltar

Northern end of the Gibraltar Rock, Gibraltar

Another highlight of the trip was watching England's world cup battle against Columbia in the quarterfinals. We timed dinner perfectly to be able to watch in front of a huge screen in Jack's along the Peurto Banus marina. The game went to extra time and then penalties which thankfully we won! Peurto Banus is a place that shoudn't be missed on a trip to Marbella, it is a smaller but has a Monaco-esque vibe and plenty of super yachts and cars to match.

 Puerto Banús Marina, Málaga, Spain

Puerto Banús Marina, Málaga, Spain

May 2017 - The Missing Blogs

May started with a challenge which I had not been looking forward to; mine and @geekyjames’ first Tough Mudder. For those that don’t know, Tough Mudder is an outdoor obstacle and endurance course, the ethos is to build camaraderie among participants in order to complete the obstacles, many of which are not possible without teamwork. We decided the previous year that we would book on to one and give it a try, as a kind of goal in which to train for. There are many ‘Mudders’ up and down the UK and indeed abroad too, but we chose Nottingham - I don’t exactly know why, probably because 1. Neither of us had been to Nottingham before, and 2. There is a BrewDog in Nottingham.

We decided the best approach would be to head up to Nottingham, stay overnight in a PremierInn, scout out the BrewDog and have one, maybe two beers. Most of this plan was perfect, except we had more than one or two beers. We ended up opting to get some wings in the UK’s only Hooters restaurant (it’s not the same as the US) and then crawled around the town as you do on a Friday night. BrewDog was fantastic, and we sampled the new LIVE East Coast Crush beer, which was absolutely amazing.

 Brew Dog East Coast Crush, Nottingham

Brew Dog East Coast Crush, Nottingham

The following morning I was the opposite of being ready to run around a cold, muddy field, but we both got on with it! The course itself was good fun; we were in one of the first waves of people to use the newly built obstacles, which made it quite fun. I think I enjoyed the Block Ness Monster the most, a big pool of water with two spinning rectangular cylinders suspended above, the only way to get to the other side is to spin the cylinders by pulling and pushing from either side, a complete team effort. After completing the Mudder, we went and have a Burger King to reward ourselves and drove home.

 Me, getting muddy during Tough Mudder Nottingham

Me, getting muddy during Tough Mudder Nottingham

Over the past four years, my car had developed a bit of a problem. It seemed to enjoy the oil being anywhere other than inside of the engine; this was very frustrating as it would cause leaks all over the driveway and needed regular top-ups. Lomas, my sister’s partner, very kindly offered to fix it and after an entire day of ripping it apart replaced the head gasket seal which was causing all the problems. Very grateful for his help, my crappy Peugeot continues to run like a dream, and now I can park it without having to put a baking tray under the engine! Thank you, Lomas!

 My Peugeot's Messy Engine

My Peugeot's Messy Engine

May was clearly the month for fixing problems as no sooner was the car mended; I was the one being worked on. My wisdom teeth as with many young adults were causing all kinds of problems, becoming infected, sore, and pushing on my other teeth. I decided that it was time for them to go and so after some dentist visits and consultations a date was set for my first ever surgical procedure. Victoria and I headed up to London for what turned out to be a very, very long night, I think we got home at 4 am or something silly. The procedure itself went perfectly well, but dealing with the after effects was much less fun, I was on baby food for just under a week and had a chubby chipmunk face for just as long! Victoria was fantastic and looked after me very well indeed; as I write this, it is her turn to have them removed in just under a week’s time (Eeek!).

 Me, waiting patiently at The Harley Street Clinic, London

Me, waiting patiently at The Harley Street Clinic, London

Fast forward a week or so and we treated ourselves to a less horrific trip to London, we stayed in the St Pancras Renaissance and saw Set it Off who were touring in the UK. The hotel is a staple favourite, can’t go wrong, not cheap but worth every penny. We had some delicious drinks in the Booking Hall bar and then had my first taste of solid food in a week at Five Guys. Set it Off were really good, very heavy, loud and we were certainly the eldest people there (kidding), they were not as good as that on time they were supporting Yellowcard, but what can I say!

 Victoria at The Booking Hall, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London

Victoria at The Booking Hall, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London

The Year of Smart

By this time in the year I have usually defined my list of annual goals, the things that I want to achieve over the next 12 months. Last year was reasonably successful for goals, I achieved over half and they were all good and helpful, you can read about them here 2017 & The Missing Blogs, but I felt like I was constantly looking over my left shoulder (they’re written on the whiteboard behind my desk) in shame because I knew some were unachievable. This year needed to be different, something less regimented, something that is achievable and that can encourage me to push forward in a positive way.

@geekyjames suggested that I take a listen to a podcast called Cortex, specifically this episode: Cortex #62: 2018 Yearly Themes as the hosts, CGP Grey and Make Hurley talk about productivity and annual objectives. If you haven’t listened to this before I certainly recommend it, don’t let the 97 minute run time put you off, every minute is gold. During the episode the hosts discuss Annual Themes, the concept is that instead of setting a list of specific goals (i.e. a regimented list) a theme is used as a framework to encourage direction and positive productivity. Certainly, a todo list or goal list can still exist but the theme is used to make sure that everything aligns to the ultimate objective. The yearly theme concept also allows for flexibility, I knew in August of last year that some of my goals were realistically unachievable ,and I wrote them off instead of continuing to push forward. There’s an interesting Forbes article here about themes being used in a similar way.

With some thought and reflection, I decided that 2018 would be The Year of Smart. There are a number of reasons why but the most significant are listed below:

  1. Working in the wrong way. Towards the end of 2017, I was burning myself out with work, doing too many hours, working hard but not working smart. This was a really big problem that caused a great deal of stress and affected more than just my professional life, it was (and is) at the front of my mind to resolve in 2018.
  2. Doing things that don’t need to be done. This one is difficult to quantify, but I felt that I spent a lot of time completing tasks that had little benefit, both professionally and privately. This could be as simple as going to the office when I don’t need to go to the office or going diving just to increase my dive count.
  3. Goals with no direction. Another thing I want to fix is moving in too many directions at the same time. I’m very guilty of swapping from one trend to another often without reason, for example, some months I will write lots of posts on the blog, other months I have no interest in the blog at all. Trying to funnel focus into specific areas will hopefully help with that.

It’ll be interesting to see how this makes for a different year, I’m confident and hopeful for change and am looking forward to welcoming 2018. There are some fantastic occasions that lye within, as @tigziefc and I plan our wedding, as the dog grows up and as our careers move forward - I can’t wait.

 @tigziefc and Dexter at Heligan

@tigziefc and Dexter at Heligan

April 2017 - The Missing Blogs

April was a reasonably quiet month, Victoria and I began to welcome the warmer weather in our still relatively new home, and we managed to continue the trend of visiting Cornwall as often as possible!

After moving into our home, it was quite apparent that the decking in the back garden needed to be sorted quite early on. The deck had somehow developed an uneven shape that led to it being bouncy in places while also being incredibly slippery when wet. With a little planning, we agreed to buy the necessary materials and re-install it. Doing so, was no small feat and it needed several family members assistance to rip out the old and lay the new. Blood, sweat and tears went into building the new decking, but as I write this ten months later, I'm pleased to say it still stands strong.

decking

Topes has become a bit of a birthday tradition for us and well, who's surprised...? The food is as good as it gets. Always a complete treat we had a fantastic birthday meal and enjoyed dressing up for the occasion.

No longer was our birthday over before we were back on the road to Cornwall, the weather by this time had certainly improved, and Kelly and I agreed it was about time to pull the boat out and get it wet. We spent the day messing around Fowey and took the dinghy all the way up to Golant, further up river than we'd taken the boat before.

Fowey.JPG

Getting up close and personal to the Lifeboat is, of course, something that can't be avoided... Fowey has a beautiful Trent class lifeboat.

Fowey_rnlb.JPG

As most will know, I am not a football fan, but an upcoming game with local Devon team Plymouth Argyle was not one to miss. They ended the match with a promotion to League 1 for 2017-18 and a 6-1 win over Newport. Oh, and there was a pitch invasion! Here's the BBC report.

Plymouth.JPG

To close out the month and in preparation for Egypt later in the year, I took my PADI Nitrox course with Southern Scuba. A surprisingly easy certification I would recommend to anyone.