Running away from stress

This week has been a tough one especially at work. Everything I touched went to ratshit, nothing was straightforward and that was just at home. Work was non stop with people getting on my nerves and as the week went on I became more irritable and stressed. By the time I left work on Thursday evening I could have cried, I really needed a release.

The one thing that has kept me from going into despair has been exercise. I have gone for three runs in the last week totalling thirteen miles. Each time the running has taken my mind off whatever was irritating me and focused me.

Playing some of my favourite early 90s rave tunes which were uplifting as I sweated out all the stress really did the trick. The sore neck that troubled me earlier in the week (brought on by stress) has finally gone.

Some days we deal with things much better, other days things get right under our skin and this week has been one of those weeks. This morning I felt myself getting angry just thinking about work on Monday morning, what is that all about?

So the run did the trick. It took my mind off what was troubling me and got me to burn off the frustrations. With the endorphins flowing I felt great. All I want is a relaxing weekend and forget all about work.

Tuesday Thoughts

After another great nights sleep on the new mattress I was woken at 0730 by the alarm as our youngest had a blood test at the doctors before school and I was taking him.

He returned back to school yesterday and apparently fell asleep in maths, his last lesson of the day. He was snoring and the teacher walked over to him and nudged him awake much to the classes delight. He has really struggled to get into a sleeping pattern recently and he was up yesterday at 0615 hence why he was then so tired later in the day. He had returned back to bed by 1930 and slept right through until this morning so hopefully no repeat today of sleeping in class. To be fair to him he will go to bed when he is tired like last night and leaves his phone alone when its time for lights out.

For his blood test he chose to lie down rather than sit up fearing he may pass out. Thankfully the nurse managed to get the requisite amount of blood at the first attempt and before we knew it we were walking out of the doctors and toward school.

These last couple of days have been very productive with me ticking off several chores from my list in my phone. Having eaten my breakfast long before 9am I was setting about sorting a few little jobs before driving to see my dad. Although we speak probably around four times a week on the telephone it is always worth remembering that although I am busy running around everywhere he is retired and has no one at home to talk to. If fact it was surprising that we hadn’t seen each other since Boxing Day so I made sure I spent some time with him chatting over a couple of cups of tea. If you saw him you would never believe he was 82 next month. If fact he is so energetic and youthful looking you would think he was twenty years younger, he tells me he has never felt so fit and healthy long may that continue.

By mid afternoon the postman delivered my new toy, the Amazon Echo Dot. In a word WOW. The sound quality for something so small is very impressive. Obviously Alexa is neat and can do everything from sort my calendar to play my Spotify it’s fair to say we have already had some fun with her and her really bad jokes. I wanted something to play the radio or my tunes in the kitchen whilst cooking as well as being able to replace my old radio alarm clock. Of course Alexa can do so much more than that but this little device suits me right down to the ground. I can see me playing with this for many hours to come, money well spent indeed.

30 years since the start of the 1990`s

Having just read a headline that on New Years Day it will have been 30 years since the start of the 1990`s, wow what a decade for me starting out as a 16 year old into the big wide world I just had to write about my time in that era.

For me the 90s will always be a special era. One where I had some of the best and most carefree times of my life. From finishing my exams at school, heading out into full time work, going out enjoying life every weekend with my friends, travelling around the world, meeting then marrying my wife this decade had it all.

In the summer of 1990 I turned 16. My music choices were changing from listening to the likes of Guns N Roses to The Stone Roses. From “Madchester” to dance music that came out of the “summer of love” in 1988. Living in Manchester at that time you were at the centre of the universe for music, culture and sport with the city leading the way in bands and fashion. From flares, baggy clothing, bucket hats, hairstyles to all night raves whatever Manchester did, the world tried to copy. As one Mancunian band, The Inspiral Carpets had displayed on t-shirts “Cool as fuck” that time really was just that. Little did we know but at that time the Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel were immersed in this era too working for these bands on tour and would in a few years themselves take the world by storm as Oasis further putting Manchester on the world map.

In 1990 there had been the World Cup in Italy where England heroically made it to the semi final stage losing to West Germany on penalties. Forever remembered for Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne`s tears and New Orders World In Motion song they recorded with the England team for the tournament, those four weeks in the summer of 90 are still fondly remembered by many football fans.

I was travelling around England watching my team, Manchester United in what would become a golden decade. From my first visit to Wembley in the 1990 FA Cup Final to my second visit to Camp Nou in Barcelona in 1999 to see United complete a historic treble by winning the Champions League in extraordinary circumstances in the last three minutes of the game. In between I went all over the country and Europe watching football. For me it was football (playing and watching), music, friendship, alcohol all mixed in a heady time of freedom and adventure.

When you leave school and head out into the “real world” you think at 16 you are worldly wise. I was fortunate to travel alone over to California to visit my older brother and his wife in Sacramento. To travel so far so young and see such amazing places I was blessed to be able to do so. Things could have been very different. I had the opportunity to move over to the States for a year but decided I was too young for that sort of commitment so opted for a three week holiday instead. Fresh out of school and wet behind the ears I was never ready for that sort of commitment, I wanted to enjoy myself first before putting any roots down.

At that early age you just want to have money in your pocket to be able to go out and enjoy yourself. Mortgages, bills, debt, marriage, etc can all wait it is about living in the moment with your friends. I was fortunate to find a job upon returning from America which was around the corner to where I lived with my parents. My journey to become an electrical engineer stated in a small firm that employed around 6-7 people. Here I would meet some great people who had similar passions for sport, music and nightlife. Living at home with no bills meant despite only earning £400 per month all that money was at my disposal to go out every weekend and enjoy myself. To be in regular work that you enjoyed, had money in your pocket and had nothing to tie you down meant that the next few years were an absolute blast.

From going on holidays with my parents I was suddenly going abroad with my friends. At 17 hitting Ibiza then 18 hitting Tenerife. I always remember returning from two drunken weeks in Tenerife sat in the bath at home just thinking to myself I am ruined! Burnt out from two weeks of partying, sun, sand and sex. We were alive but dead from enjoying it all in huge portions.

Suddenly you found yourself out most evenings. You had the energy to be playing football after work a couple of times a week then the weekend began on a Thursday evening out drinking in the pubs and clubs before getting up for work on the Friday. A quick visit home after work to eat and get changed and you were out Friday and all weekend until you finally paused to sleep to be in work on Monday morning where you all shared your stories of the weekend with your work mates. Nowadays I only have the energy for one big night out, never mind four in a row.

By 1993 I had met my future wife although neither of us knew this at this point. Having met in one of the local pubs, we chatted and laughed in our groups for months. It wasn’t until I came home from one of my lads holidays to Tenerife that we started to become more than friends. It was just a natural progression where if we met up then great, if not we would see each other out the next week. All out friends got on and we used to have a good time in the pubs socialising until I plucked up the courage to take things further and thankfully we started “dating”.

As time went on and with her moving down to Nottingham with work, I slowly and unconsciously distanced myself from my friends and I used to travel down to see her every weekend. By this time I had leant to drive and bought my first car, another major achievement at this age and so liberating as you can go anywhere now. I would drive down on Friday evening and set off as late as possible on the Sunday night making sure I spent as long as possible with her, young love!

We eventually married in 1997 and moved into our first home which was a new build back in Manchester only a couple of miles from family but far enough away for peace, quiet and freedom. The next few years were a blast having your own place and all the neighbours were young couples so we all got on really well and socialised together.

So I started the decade as a wet behind the ears 15 year old who was taking exams at school and finished it a married man with a house and responsibilities but still young and daft enough to enjoy life. I would say to my sons to enjoy those years from 16 to mid 20`s before you settle down. Those were some of my best times, care free and liberating. I have loved all of my life and the stages I have gone through without doubt but I will always look back fondly at those times when you step out into the big wide world independently.

Fair to say I love the 90`s.

Back to reality

The rest of the world returned to normality after the Christmas period today. Schools reopened, the building industry started up again and so began all the usual rush hour madness, but not for me. Being a shift worker I had already returned to work on Friday working throughout the weekend so today is a rest day for me as is tomorrow.

The old routine was back up and running with our youngest dressed and off to school by 8am leaving me home with the pets as my wife had left for work at some unearthly hour. Peace and quiet at breakfast and a chance to look at my chore list that had tripled in size recently.

We had amassed a huge refuse collection partly due to Christmas, clearing out some rooms and the bin collection failing to materialise. I wonder if I will get a refund on my council tax for that? No thought not. So I filled the car twice and went off to the local tip along with half the town by the looks of the cues snaking around to the tip.

Recently I have got back into Spotify paying for premium for the next few months. My playlists are growing and music is on constantly at the minute. I use a great soundbar in the living room but when I am cooking in the kitchen I cannot hear it due to its location. I had considered a bluetooth speaker but decided against it after speaking to colleagues at work who advised to get an Amazon Echo Dot. So after some research whether to get the dot or the bigger echo I decided to go for the dot which is handy as it is currently reduced in price by almost 50%.

The plan is to use it to replace my old alarm clock and maybe have it downstairs during the day as a radio. After visiting several stores and finding they had sold all their stock I ended up ordering one direct from Amazon and it will arrive tomorrow. Can’t wait to have a play with it. I love faffing with new technology!

When my wife came home I told her I was replacing her with another woman, one who does exactly what I ask and she replied “Don’t tell me Alexa”. I was rather surprised with her answer as she isn’t very technological. At least she didn’t moan at me buying another gadget. Looking forward to tomorrow already.

Off to the theatre

One of the Christmas presents I bought my wife were tickets to watch The Bodyguard the musical at the Palace Theatre, Manchester starring Alexandra Burke as Rachel Marron (played by Whitney Houston in the film version).

On Thursday I was still struggling to get back into a sleeping regime. We were up early around 07:30 as our son had an early doctors appointment but by 10am I was returning to bed to finish off my sleep and grab a couple of hours power nap. As with all power naps you end up paying for it at bedtime and sure enough I struggled to sleep once we returned home after watching the musical. The thought of a 5am alarm call was flying through my head as the clock ticked on and no amount of counting sheep could send me off to sleep. I reckon today I survived on 4 hours sleep. Funnily enough I feel fine so maybe I had caught up over the last couple of days and really wasn’t that tired after all.

We stepped out into a rainy Mancunian evening on Thursday to watch the musical. Normally we wouldn’t be out so soon after New Year either due to being skint or recovering from the festivities but it was actually good to get out and blow off the cobwebs.

The show was wall to wall Whitney Houston classics, I had forgotten how many she recorded. Alexandra Burke was superb as was Emmy Willow who played Nikki Marron (sister to the main act). In fact Emmy had an even more impressive voice than Burke but the pair did complement each other superbly. There were laughs, dancing, singing throughout and we went back into the night thoroughly entertained. We have seen Burke previously in Sister Act and she really is a great singer and entertainer on the stage.

Back to the issue of sleep, we have just had a new mattress delivered which is long overdue. Having had a quick test of it I can safely say the hope is for a good nights sleep.

New Year shenanigans

Our New Years Eve consisted of visiting friends for a great meal, many drinks and laughter with board games and music. We started at 6pm and finally went to bed at 5am which ultimately altered our usual New Years Day plans as by 7pm we were in bed worn out from the festivities.

We did take it easy with the alcohol and I wasn’t drunk when I finally went to bed. Thankfully no stupid drinking games or shots just a steady flow of beers. Each couple brought a food course so we had pate to start, beef bourguignon for main and our own Baileys cheesecake for dessert. Then came the battle of the sexes with the board game before we listened to music, chatted, laughed and saw the new year in.

We came home around 3am and one couple were staying over at our house so we carried on chatting and sipping Jack Daniels until 5am. Everytime we have guests I find I don’t really sleep well always hoping to wake before our guests rather than the other way around and they are waiting for us to get up. So we were all up by 11am chatting about the night over a cup of tea.

Once our friends had left we set about taking all the Christmas decorations down which is customary in our house. We packed it all away and gave the whole of the downstairs are deep clean, bleaching the skirting boards and generally giving the place a “spring” clean, in January.

It is always nice to have the house de-cluttered and tidy again so we set about tackling upstairs giving those rooms a good tidy up.

I return to work on Friday but not before we go to the theatre tonight to watch The Bodyguard musical which was a present from me to my wife. I will be driving so no alcohol tonight, we have even considered doing dry january this month but nothing set in stone!

So it all over for another year. It was an enjoyable Christmas, peaceful with plenty of family time. Apart from us all having stinking colds we had a good time. Now roll on the nights getting lighter and out of winter.

My New Years Resolutions

I recall reading an article ages ago that most New Year’s Resolutions fail due to the time of year and the dark days so that isn’t quite the best start to this post.

As the New Year appears we always find our thoughts turn to reflection, what we did well or didn’t and where we can start a fresh for 2020. For me personally my overriding wish is for K.I.S.S (Keep it simple stupid).

I had never heard the phrase until two years ago when a line manager at work quoted it when dealing with a particularly big job. “Keep it simple stupid” he said implying do not worry about the job as a whole, just keep it simple for today and sort the rest out in slow time later. It worked for me then and has worked for me ever since, I just need to use it more on a daily basis and not just in my work life either. I want it to be a consistent theme running through my day to day life including my blogging life.

Far too often I over think things and over complicate matters. Maybe because I am a Gemini and always in two minds but I want to simplify things in my head and therefore stress myself out a little less in the process.

When debating what to write, I consider options but then talk myself out of writing because I over complicate matters. If I kept things simple and just wrote then maybe I would enjoy it more and that would encourage me to write more often. As the Nike adverts profess “Just do it”.

It doesn’t help when you are a huge procrastinator either. Putting things off, cherry picking the easier jobs and postponing the boring jobs to do. Whether it is writing or just everyday decision making I want to keep it simple. Not to overthink things, over debate them just keep it simple and hopefully things should fall into place with the minimum of fuss.

So in the future the plan is to pause, take a breath and think K.I.S.S before making any decision. Here’s hoping I can put this plan into place regularly. Happy New Year to you all and let me know what your New Year resolutions are.