…And breathe…

I never fail to marvel at the complexities of the human body; especially my own.

Over the past two or three months, I have been suffering. A nagging tightness in the chest that began to radiate. This eventually caused headaches and dizziness, but it was not too long before pain and discomfort spread to my left arm.

I have rudimentary medical training. It comes with what I do. I suspected cardiovascular issues, but in a ridiculous act of fear induced denial, I did no more than wait, for far too long. Eventually just before Christmas I finally sought medical help.

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The NHS wasted no time. I was plugged in, X-rayed, stethoscoped and generally very closely inspected by anyone who had served time at medical school. My GP even went to the extent of phoning me twice, in the evening.

I quickly received a letter from the Rapid Access Acute Chest Pain Clinic in my local hospital. They wanted to see me on the 21st. The letter stressed the importance of attending the clinic, but also attempted to reassure that an appointment was in no way indicative of a heart condition.

I could not ignore the pain; it was now a constant.

Sitting in the waiting room I held the company of many. Noticeably all much my senior and in varying degrees of failing health, I could not feel anything other than incongruous.

A nurse called my name.

It was ECG time again. I was asked to strip to the waist and lie down. For the ease of parking I’d travelled on the bike so my attire was a little of a hindrance as the nurse needed access to my feet for the sensors. It took longer to hook me up than it did to get a reading. Rather than getting dressed fully, I put my teeshirt back on.

Returned to the waiting room, I looked even more out of place.

I was eventually summoned by a more mature lady in scrubs, with a stethoscope around her neck. I duly followed.

She sat me down and asked me to remove my teeshirt again, so she could listen to my chest and back. I breathed in and out as requested as she moved her pre-warmed device to various locations on my torso.

She then prodded and poked.

“Does this hurt here?”





Not so much


Very much.

My chest spasmed and contracted away from her touch.

The Clinical Practitioner sat down. “Tell me when it hurts; for example, how do you feel on exertion?”

The pain usually subsides or is non-existent.

“Ok” she said, as she took off her glasses.

“It is my opinion that you have nothing wrong with your heart. Your ECG is fine; your blood pressure is fantastic and your bloods, although you show slightly elevated levels of cholesterol show nothing else”

I tilted my head in curiosity.

“You’ve torn a pectoral muscle working out”

So, basically, I thought I was dying, but I’ve just…ripped a tit?

She smiled. “Yes”

I laughed. Very, very loudly and slightly hysterically. She began to laugh too. This continued for some time, to the point where her colleagues came in to see what was happening.

I apologised to her [and the entire NHS] for wasting her time.

“Better to be safe than sorry” she reassured.

active activity balance beach
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Sitting astride my bike I reflected on how my mindset had changed at the impact of such a serious illness. I’d rescued my diet, taking Omega3 oils and eating a clove of garlic a day, as well as ensuring that I got my 5 a day.

I’d also considered creating video diaries for the cubs, should the eventual prognosis be, not so good.

I’m lucky. I already have a healthy regard for life and I try to remain grateful for everything I have, not less my gorgeous cubs. More importantly, it was the reality of my mortality while they are so young that weighed heavily upon me. Selfishly, I didn’t want to be without them. Watch this space…

For now, I’ve dodged a bullet but it served as a good reminder to maintain a healthy lifestyle; sleeping, eating and exercising well.

I might give the kettlebell swings a miss for now though.

person jumping on seashore during golden hour
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You really are what you eat..

As you know, the cubs and I almost always have porridge for breakfast.

This day was a bit different. The wake up and shake up had taken too long and as such, we were slightly behind schedule.

Against my better judgement, I changed our breakfast menu. I do have alternatives to porridge; 2 packets of Rice Crispies (poor stock management) and a packet of Honey Hoops. They’ve been there a while, as I’ve said, we all prefer porridge.

Ok, confession time; my poor stock management included not shopping for more porridge in time, so I was left with a portion that wouldn’t satisfy anyone.

I duly dished up 3 bowls of honey hoops which we all hurriedly ate. Very sweet, was my only real thought.

Once finished, off we all went.

Youngest cub is now at big school so there’s only one drop to do. I go to work at hit my desk 15 mins later.

I catch up with my office chum, who’s been on holiday for a bit. She’s left a small, LCD projector on my desk as she couldn’t get it to work. She asks me to check it. I do; it works. I mock her mercilessly. I start to pack the projector away.

Inexplicably, I drop the projector under her desk. I pick it up; check it still works, then pack it away.

A little while later, she’s bringing me up to speed on office matters (I’d been away for 2 days) and I take the opportunity to clean my glasses.

Clumsily, I drop them on the floor. She stops mid sentence and asks if I’m ok..

I’m gonna grab a coffee; want one?

Finishing my coffee at my desk, I stare at my dual screens. I can’t concentrate. I take my glasses off and rub the bridge of my nose.

eye grab

She notices.

“You are not right; what gives?”

God alone knows but she’s right. I feel so out of kilter I can’t explain how I’m feeling. I do know however, that working is the last thing on my mind.

“Have you not had breakfast?” she asks.

It hits me.

I had a bowl of Honey Hoops…..

“What?? you my friend are having a sugar crash!”

Nail on the head. Eureka. Epiphany. That sugary, carb nonsense that I’d substituted my normal high fibre, high protein breakfast for had turned around and bitten me in less than 2 hours of eating it.

My mind immediately went to my cubs. If a bowl had that affect on my massive frame, what the hell would it do to their tiny bodies? The effect on my coordination and concentration was huge.

Nationally (globally?) there has been an unprecedented increase of behavioural disorders in young people and children.

Just how much of it is down to the modern diet?

There are now 3 packs of serial in my bin.

Mike on Cliff light sky


From the Bible; it’s Jewish..

It’s the end of their stint with me for the school holidays. Having pulled my back yesterday (on my birthday!), we had what was primarily a down day.

Late afternoon I felt sorry for my caged cubs. We jumped in the car and went to our favourite park.

Parenting trick; take them out near their supper time. They’ll then naturally leave the park in search of their next meal.

I had a plan for supper but was pressed for time. At the stove, they glossed over the fact that my usual ‘come and get it’ was replaced with ‘well, that’ll have to do’.

She finishes eating first, and leans into my personal space to tell me something.

“Daddy; there’s this story in the bible, about a stranger who knocks on a man’s door…”

Quite familiar with the bible, I’m at a loss for this particular story.

She chimes on.

“A man opens the door and the stranger asked ‘do you have a space for me to sleep?’ but the man said no”

Definitely not familiar with this story.

“The stranger then says ‘but I can help you! I can cook you a wonderful meal!'”

I’m wondering if this a Samaritans remix or some stranger danger thing that has become clouded in her brain.

She continues and I continue to fork food into my face.

“So the man let’s the stranger in and he starts cooking a soup. But the stranger hadn’t brought any ingredients so instead, he popped in a magic toenail…”

At this precise moment, something in my mouth went crunch.

“and then he popped to the neighbours to get some broccoli…”

I’m not listening any more.

The final element of confusion flooded in and brought me back to reality when she tailed off with,

“I think it might be Jewish”

“no; Christian…”

She angles her head in thought.

I fear my appetite may never return.

person standing in front of food tray
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It shouldn’t take this long..

The cubs are with me for this week; I’ve managed to score some time off work. Early crossed wires means that the ex and I cross paths at 60 mph in the countryside. A quick phone call and we make the switch in a near lay by

It feels a little like espionage, but we haven’t seen each other in what seems like an age, so its fine. Off we pop home, with a brief stop to get some groceries first.

I think that it’s important for the cubs to understand the shopping process, so away we go.

I never learn

First things first, back to the car for my bags for life. I pat myself on the back as I usually remember them at the checkout.

The first squabble begins; they both want to push the trolley. Last time I allowed it, one was involved in a near fatal collision with a pensioner. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember which one of them it was.

He gets first go. She wants a cuddle and to hold hands anyway. He can’t really see over the top of the cart but this does nothing to curb his enthusiasm. Or pace.

Most collisions are averted by gentle nudging and one, timely kick. He loses interest as we get to the escalator and abandons it at the bottom.


She needs a couple more tops. I acquiesce, as everything I buy seems to disappear but hey, you already know my thoughts on that one. He attempts to get me to buy him a bra, and breaks down in tears when I tell him not right now. A kind assistant places it back on the rack for me.


He’s in flight of freedom mode and stays at least half an aisle ahead. The store isn’t busy so I allow it. Now she wants to push the trolley.

Being a toddler, this immediately reignites his interest in the trolley so squabbles begin again.


Welcome to my world.

Be good or no-one will push.

“Then how will it move?”

She’ll go far that one.

person people woman hand
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Weariness finds me quickly. We’ve only reached the bread aisle.

Croissants or Pain au Chocolat? I ask. Not the most challenging of questions.

No answer. I ask again.

‘Can we have kippers? we haven’t had kippers in ages!’

When was that an option??

Would you like croissants or pain au chocolat???



As it transpired, he wanted one, she wanted the other, so we ended up with both. She was quick to point this out. We also got kippers.


I’m starting to forget stuff; I haven’t made a list. I end up backtracking down an aisle. As all men know, this is just wrong. We shop like snipers. This is a tell-tale sign that I’m worn..

I then accidentally turned down the crisp and biscuits aisle.. big mistake…

I tried to reverse before they noticed. I didn’t make it..

bird s eye view photography of bull surrounded with men
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They’re off like locust; scattering innocent bystanders as they go.

“CAN WE HAVE THESE DADDY?” times one million

My kung fu skills kick in and I’m throwing sugar out of the trolley faster than they can put it in.

I’m done; they’re giggling like crazy and I’m trying hard not to show that I’m done. A nearby couple are chuckling. Their children are probably grown up.

I’m bent over my trolley, contemplating how lucky I am.

“What are you doing daddy?”

Contemplating life darling.

“Constipating life?”

vintage car wrecked grayscale photo
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Independents day

Ok I’m back and hopefully so is my writing bug. Let’s see how this goes.

I like to teach the cubs life skills whenever I can and today was a big one; cooking breakfast.

She’s 8 next month and has shown the maturity to use kitchen knives responsibly in the past. It’s time to use the hob to make porridge.

Safety first

Sharps are one thing; flame another. She gets a thorough briefing.

  1. No loose clothing. We go into the reasons why, without unduly scaring her. It’s also an occasion to deliver a lesson on ‘stop: drop and roll’
  2. Rear rings only. I rarely use the front ones when they’re here for safety reasons. I tell her that this stops her clothing getting too close. She double checks her clothing.
  3. No flame until it’s needed. Just before the pot goes on.
  4. Long spoon. An absolute must. A belt and braces way of keeping away from the flame.


She hits the ignition; her life changes for ever.

She turns to talk to me and reach for a bowl. I stop her; keeping her attention on the job. One thing at a time.

She counts aloud as the porridge thickens. Perfection; hob off.

I help with dishing out, as the pot is heavy. (Does the coagulation of a thixotropic material proportionately increase its mass? I’ll save that one for her graduation)

Finishing touches

She added the finishing touches to my bowl; honey, nuts, banana, blueberries, cinnamon, turmeric and ginger. Her bowl was less extravagant but she nailed it (apart from the turmeric but hey; curried porridge can be a thing…)

The look of satisfaction and pride on her face is immeasurable.

‘Best porridge ever daddy?’




So I’m into this now; a drink from my youth.

I just need to figure out what might constitute a fatal dose.


We are what we eat?

Modern diets

Can leave a lot to be desired. As a dad, it always amazed when doing a food shop that the price of processed food was much cheaper than whole foods, therefore making process foods more accessible or at least more tempting to those on a tight budget.

I’m not a fan of fast food but that doesn’t mean I won’t eat it. I tend to use it as emergency food, mostly when I’m pressed for time. For example, I exited the school-run so late that we were in what I call the ‘bedtime window’ (too much Call-of-Duty!) while we were still on the road. The bedtime window is the hour between 6 and 7, where I want the cubs to have eaten and be winding down to their bedtime routine. As we were still driving, I pulled a pit-stop at the golden arches.

Global problem

Obesity is on the up; rates of Cancer are terrifying! in my 44 years the likelihood has gone from 1 in 4 to 1 in 2! How the heck did that happen? I’ve no doubt that our reliance on fossil fuels has something to do with it but we cant ignore the diet element. This made me think about what I put in my body, and definitely what I put in on my cub’s plates.

food for thought


A while back I think I might have been banging on about what I put on my porridge in the morning. I always have porridge for breakfast. Mostly. When I do, I load it. Here’s what goes in:

  • 1 Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • Powdered Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric.

It’s quite a lot I know but I always do this. I may occasionally put mixed nuts in but I’m not very good at buying nuts for some reason. The bottom 4 products are out of the spice rack.

So why these?

Well the list has grown over time; It started with bananas and nuts. If memory serves, the list grew dependant on how hard I was training. The idea was that I would do my morning workout, then eat a breakfast that left me satiated until lunch. I don’t mind snacking, as long as I snack healthily.

I became more interested into foods as fuels so I bought ‘The Illustrated Food Remedies Sourcebook’ by C. Norman Shealy MD. PHD

Closer look

It’s described as an A-Z of foods that can be used as natural remedies. I love it. Click on the pic if you want to buy and make me a penny! 

Eating the right foods will benefit you. I sounds so blindingly obvious that you’d wonder why we ever strayed from this thinking.

I now structure my weekly shop around foodstuffs that will benefit the cub’s physical development.

My spices

Ginger (root,raw)

Glycemic load = 0

Helps with:

  • Nausea and upset stomach
  • Nausea from chemotherapy, travel sickness, pregnancy and menstruation
  • Immune health
  • Circulation
  • Reduces inflammation and osteoarthritic pain.


There’s no entry for nutmeg….??


Glycemic load = 1

Helps with:

  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Heart disease
  • IBS.


Glycemic load = 0

Helps with:

  • IBS
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Atherosclerosis.



Folks; do your own due diligence. There are some pretty big claims against some of these foods and I can’t qualify them.

I do know that I feel better for eating well and less so if I let my diet slip.

I’m off to look up what Glycemic load is.


Gingerbread men; all over again.

With the memory of our last escapade behind her, my daughter and I have ventured into the kitchen again. She’s been asking since Thursday if we can bake together; a request I couldn’t refuse. We opted for gingerbread men.

It was gorgeous today. The colloquial term is an Indian Summer, meaning that we had unseasonably warm temperatures so I took us all off to the play-park where we used to live.

It elicits mixed emotions but good ones on the whole. The village itself is bucolic  perfection and the play-park is in keeping. It was full of young families who had a similar thought process to me.

On the way home we stopped off at the supermarket to pick up a few items for the bake. Then back to the corner shop for some that I’d forgotten. I really should make lists again.

Back home, the Kindle HD was fired up and ‘Gingerbread’ tapped into the search engine. Good old BBC Food came up first, so they got the honour.

My son was happy on a chair in the kitchen watching the proceedings, no doubt eagerly awaiting the end result.


Regulars (I have regulars!) will remember me saying that I needed to buy some extra bits in order to bake successfully a while back. Well I still need to buy them.

There was more than a little ‘At mum’s house we have that…’ which I duly ignored. Golden Syrup was subbed with honey and the imaginary scales that I was certain I had failed to materialise, so much was done by sight.


At this point, I realised that things weren’t going well but we pressed on…

I quickly learnt that flour doesn’t stick to a pint glass and a pint glass is a poor substitute for a rolling pin. No matter; onwards.

The cookie cutters became moulds, as this hateful mess refused to go anywhere I wanted in it’s entirety. The cubs were pretty happy though as they got the job of cleaning the utensils and mixing bowl.

In the oven they went.


Out the oven they came.

Yes. I even added some chocolate chunks for buttons and eyes, or a groin and shin judging by the previous photo. Now was the hard bit; sit and wait for 10 minutes before decorating…

Before we go any further, I realise that the cutters are cutters and not moulds but the viscosity of the mixture was such that I was on to a loser. Into the oven they went.

With the cubs waiting with baited breath, I made my move to seperate man from mould.


They crumbled and so did she. Cue tears.

15 minutes later I had managed to rouse a do-or-die spirit within her and back she came to decorate. Her brother and her sharing the stool and eating more than they decorated but hey; that’s the point isn’t it.

I really need to go shopping.



Short one

After a half day fishing, the cubs and I kicked back for a lazy afternoon.

The day is nice, the sun is shining so I buy ice lollies as a treat for when we get home.

Having little patience, they’re asking for lollies before the keys are in the door. “Wait until after dinner; I’m cooking now”

They acquiesce and trundle off to the lounge.

Meanwhile, the heat of the kitchen gets to me; I think the unthinkable. “That’d be wrong wouldn’t it? Eating a lolly after telling them to wait?”

I use all my martial arts skill to silently open the freezer. Then the box of lollies. Then take one out. Then unwrap the wrapper. I pause appropriately, listening for footsteps. Nothing.

I take a delicious, cooling bite.

Dad; what are you doing?


Silently swallowing a whole (but miniature, thankfully) Magnum, blinking through brain freeze (maybe needing a CAT scan later) and cripplingly sensitive teeth.

“Nothing darling. Go wash your hands while daddy lies down.”




Still last weekend..


It looks like my lazy day has turned into a lazy weekend. I’ve sat in bed; I’ve watched a couple of movies but I just had to get up.

The contents of the fridge are still there so I’ve decided to make something out what’s left. One pack of sausages, one bag of frozen veg, and some potatoes both sweet and normal. It looks like it’s going to be sausage and chips for Sunday lunch.

Time to cook these blues away.

Sunday afternoon

It looks like the cooking has come back with a vengeance, and what I thought was just going to be a boring meal turned into to something absolutely average.

For Sunday dinner it was a pretty lazy/easy cook with everything lobbed into a pan and left 45 minutes.

For some reason my phone has rotated this

I put some broccoli in for extra health, trying to wipe out the poor diet I have had over the last couple of days. Result was nice but then again I’ve always liked roasted sweet potato.

I shall call this ‘Hot Mess’. You should try it

You can tell I wasn’t convinced about this one as I took the pic after starting it. Mayonnaise is optional..

The shopping needs to get here soon though before I get scurvy.

Future goals:

  1. Copy a fellow blogger’s recipies
  2. Don’t ever upload from a mobile. Twice as long