About Life

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On The Up — March 31, 2016

On The Up

In my post earlier this week I was still reeling from what had been a pretty good Easter weekend.

The trend seems to have continued, I don’t know if it’s the lighter evenings, the decent weather or the beginning of the acceptance of “this is life now”.

It’s been pretty good this week, I’ve taken in Batman vs Superman (can’t be bothered with a review, but it’s worth a watch) had a bit of manscaping on the old beard and last night I had far more beers than I had planned after we were interviewed for another beer podcast.

The outlook for the weekend isn’t bad either…

Freshly groomed (ridiculous grin optional)
How Was Your Weekend? — March 28, 2016

How Was Your Weekend?

It’s been pretty good, thanks for asking. On Friday morning I wrote about how I was feeling pretty positive about the weekend ahead, which is an extension of me questioning whether I’m beginning the healing process. Part of me feels guilty for feeling ok, like I should be hurting all of the time but part of me feels ok right now. Here’s why… 

A nice trip to Colchester Zoo with my boys and the ex on Friday, the weather was great, we were all getting on, and it felt like a new normal. 

Photo courtesy of my son, who’s pictures are better than mine

I followed this up with a couple* of beers with an existing friend and (hopefully) a new one in Colchester. Both Martin & Michelle enjoy a beer, are easy to talk to, made me laugh and smile so much and also reminded me that things will get better for me. I’m grateful to those guys for making me see there will be a silver lining.

Saturday brought a hangover and a trip to Norwich with some of the guys from the bottle share that I’m involved in. Despite Greater Anglia’s best efforts to stop us from getting there (take your pick from their excuses), we eventually set of and following the few (compulsory) train beers arrived in Norwich just after lunch time. 

  
First stop was Virtuoso (also called something else but I couldn’t understand anyone) which was a 10 minute ** walk from the station. Seemed sensible to start with a 8.3% DIPA from Newcastle which was a little murky and (apparently I later found out) possibly past its best. Something to follow? Why not, and I went for a local brew, West Coast Pale from Redwell which was sherbety and refreshing and exactly what I needed. From here a short cab journey*** to The Fat Cat (apparently a very popular name for pubs in Norwich) for a round of beers that were far from what we wanted and to dull to mention. Another short walk to The Reindeer to meet up with local beer legend Nate and a couple of really decent dark beers before heading back into town.

  
Next up was The Mash Tun where the beer of choice was another a Redwell brew, their Pils which was being pulled through a randal infused with lemongrass and chilli. Refreshing with a slight burn on the finish but exactly what was needed as a pit stop.

  
Onto The Plough which was our first (and only) tap room of the day and home to Grain Brewery beers where I enjoyed another incredibly refreshing pale ale in their simply titled ‘pale’ before a bit of a detour from the main drag to hit up The Plasterers Arms for by far the biggest selection of beer so far and also some pretty amazing pizza. There was somewhere else after this (clearly memorable) before we finished at The Norwich Taphouse where I enjoyed Blacks of Kinsale’s ‘Model T’ stout on keg which was a welcome refresher. An amazing end to a great day in Norwich with friends.

  
Waking up on Sunday with less of a hangover than I imagined was a godsend and with my boys arriving for a few days after breakfast I had loads to look forward to. Spending the day geeking out with them on the sofa, catching up with The Flash and finishing by watching Back to the Future was a moment for some reflection on just how good the weekend has been. I’ve had pretty much the best of everything, and that’s making me revaluation about how I feel about life right now.

To finish the weekend, there’s been a trip to Base Jump which is a pretty impressive space in Rayleigh, Essex, full of trampolines and other such activities. This is the future of active children’s entertainment and allows my boys to have a good time and me to enjoy a coffee! Tonight will bring the recording of this week’s podcast which is a pretty great way to end a long weekend.

  
I’ve got a couple of days on my own now, and my spirits are lifted to the point where I’m currently not so worried about it. I’ve got enough to keep me busy and will be throwing in a trip to see Batman vs Superman so it can’t all be bad can it?

* It was more than we had planned
** Closer to 15. And mostly uphill.
*** Leaving a driver with a story about how he picked up a group of twatty Essex lads to share with his friends

Good Friday — March 25, 2016

Good Friday

So here’s a different feeling… I’m feeling ok. It’s 8.50am on Good Friday, I’m up, showered, coffeed, been and done the weekly shop and I’ve come home and baked a batch of delicious four seed flapjacks (recipe below).

I’m now sitting down with a cup of coffee enjoying said flapjacks and watching the TV.
Today is going to be great. I’m feeling positive, the sun is out, I’m off the the zoo with the boys and my ex (weird, but boys need to see we can co-exist) and then I’m meeting a friend for a couple of beers this evening.

It’s going to be a Good (Fri)day!

  

RECIPE: Four seed flapjacks

250g butter
175g muscavado sugar
600g oats
4tbls golden syrup 

2 handfuls sunflower seeds
1 handful pumpkin seeds
Small handful poppy seeds
Medium handful sesame seeds
Raisins (or other fruit of choice)


1. Pre-heat oven to 180
2. Melt butter sugar & syrup in a pan
3. Mix with dry ingredients
4. Put into a baking tray and pre-cut with a pizza slice
5. Bake for 12 mins (or longer dependent on preferred softness)

Letting It Out — March 24, 2016

Letting It Out

It’s been a few days since my last post (sounds like a confession…) but to be honest I’ve been struggling to find something to write about and I don’t just want to write for the sake of it.

Reviewing my first few posts about my life they all seem quite dark. That’s a consequence of where I’m at right now and I’m hoping in time I’ll be able to revisit them from a different place.

The fact is things are beginning to feel a tiny bit better. Yes, I’m still lonely, I dread doing back to an empty house, I miss my boys when they’re not around and I’m apprehensive of what the future holds. But I’m dealing with it, slowly.

Although, last night I came close to doing something that I would have regretted this morning. I was angry at my situation and the focus of that anger became my ex. Thanks to a last minute intervention by a friend the words ended up getting committed to my notes rather than the text message I was planning.

I’m reviewing where I’m at right now. Part of the reason for starting this blog was to get the ‘stuff’ that was in me out. To help me rationalise and process things. There are a couple of posts that are sitting in the drafts that are really personal to me and I don’t know if they’ll ever see the light of day but they’ve helped me to get the ‘stuff’ out.

So what next? I’m hoping to start lifting the time of the blogs, lighter thoughts, observational posts and more reviews of stuff. Let me know what you’d like to hear about and join me in thinking About Life.  

 

THOUGHTS: Daredevil Season 2 — March 22, 2016

THOUGHTS: Daredevil Season 2

Season 2 of Daredevil launched on Friday and it’s taken me a few days to get through all the episodes. I’m aware of people who took the day off or stayed up all night just to get through the 13 episodes in one sitting. I love it, but not that much.

From this point on, there are going to be some spoilers, so if you haven’t see it yet and want to, stop reading. Otherwise, enjoy my thoughts and let me know what you thought…

Picking up from where we left off, Daredevil continues to show how Netflix are interpreting Marvel’s darker side. It’s more violent, with more bad language and it’s generally just, darker.

It doesn’t take long for new characters to get introduced, the much awaited appearance of The Punisher and Elektra are both introduced in the first few episodes. Later on we’re reacquainted with some other favourites but I’m not going to spoil everything. I was quite surprised that both The Punisher’s and Elektra’s stories arced through the entire season, but neither felt dragged out and both intertwined well.

We get lots of guns, fighting, bloody ends and a simply jaw dropping fight sequence in episode 3. The bad guys at the start of the season are quickly dispensed to allow us to get on the the real bad guys that this season has for us.

There’s great balance of the main character’s ‘life’ stories as we see them continuing about their business and dealing with how their relationships with one another change through the course of the season.

It all comes together to a grand finale, although I was a little disappointed with the final episode (there was teasing of much more) and the end has clearly lined up a third season. Thoughts turn to whether we’ll see a Netflix take on The Punisher either in a film or a mini series of his own.

All in all, another very enjoyable Netflix/Marvel production with a nice nod in the final episode to Jessica Jones.

Daredevil season 2 is available on Netflix now

How You Remind Me — March 18, 2016

How You Remind Me

Chad Kroeger has a lot to answer for, although it would be harsh to blame him for my current situation.
London. The place where I grew up, the place where for most of my working life I’ve plied my trade and also the place where I first met my ex.

The latter point is the focus of this post as London has become a constant reminder of things that once were.

We had many of our early dates in London and as time went on other trips and visits both as a couple and then in time with the boys. The last anniversary we actually recognised we celebrated in London. Therefore there are lots of reminders and as I found myself walking along the embankment last night it seemed every building, every landmark was serving as a stark reminder of what was.

I believe this is partly the reason why I’ve lost a lot of my motivation at work. Working in London is a reminder of everything that is crappy with my life right now.

But I need to move past that, my walk along the embankment last night was serving a purpose as I was heading to The Rake in Borough Market for an Irish Tap Takeover to celebrate St Paddy’s Day.

The Rake was where I first discovered how good beer can beer, it’s a place where there is no memory of my ex attached and where I’ve had many a good night with friends. I never left there sober, last night was no exception and for a few hours at least, I could forget about Chad Kroeger.

Sam Black from Blacks of Kinsale Brewery (and me)
Times They Are A Changing — March 16, 2016

Times They Are A Changing

These little guys used to make me smile when I was away from home. They were a reminder of home as I lived only a few miles from the famous jam factory in Tiptree.

  
Those of you who have been following my blogs will know that I’m struggling with the concept of what ‘home’ means to me now, and this morning at breakfast I had a stark reminder.

This is being compounded by uncertainty at work and where there used to be three of us from Essex enjoying breakfast and joking about the jam factory, the future could mean that number reduces and I lose people that I consider my friends. This makes me really sad and doesn’t help my state of mind right now.

It’s amazing how the little things can have such a big impact.

Two Steps Forward… — March 15, 2016

Two Steps Forward…

…and one back.

Being away with work is an occupational hazard. It comes with the job. And it has it’s perks. I get to stay in some of the best beery cities in the UK and as a result am able to pull on the goodwill of good beery folk. Today’s case in point is Brew Cavern, independent bottle shop in Nottingham who were very accommodating in making sure I had some hotel beers to accompany my catch up TV tonight.

  
The down side? Being away makes me realise just how alone and lonely I am right now. There’s no one missing me and no one to go back to tomorrow. It’s just me, and that fills me with sadness.

  

THOUGHTS: Legends of Tomorrow —

THOUGHTS: Legends of Tomorrow

‘Thoughts’ will be my attempt at reviewing ‘stuff’. Now, I can write about beer and interviews but I’ve never really reviewed stuff. This should be interesting then…

Legends of Tomorrow landed on Sky 1 a couple of weeks ago, the much anticipated DC Comics assemble series featuring a series of bit part players from both The Arrow and Flash series.

So what have we got? ‘Rip Hunter’ the ‘time master’ played by former Dr Who companion Arthur Darvill (no the irony wasn’t lost on me either) pulls together a bunch of “people who won’t affect the timeline if they die” to battle time travelling bad egg Vandal Savage across the ages.

There’s possibly a bit more to it than that but there’s also possibly a lot of people who are able to do the premise of the show more justice than me.

But was it any good? I watched it with my boys, both of who are massive fans of Flash but will happily take or leave (mostly the latter) The Arrow. We enjoyed it, there was enough mindless nothingness to not have to follow things too closely and the effects were about what you’d expect from a TV series. Let’s be honest, if your expecting a repeat of Avengers Assemble, you’re probably better off just putting that disc in and watching it again.

The interesting thing will be if they are able to make each episode different enough to keep you engaged each week. There’s only so many “let’s jump through time, jerk around a bit and complete the missions” I think I could watch before I start to get a little bored.

Plus, we wanna see Flash and The Arrow in it from time to time, obviously.

Catch Legends of Tomorrow on Sky 1 every Thursday at 8pm on or catch up TV

Healing? — March 14, 2016

Healing?

It’s been a few days since my last post and now I’m not sure what to say.

I had a great weekend. My boys have been with me all weekend and we’ve done stuff together. We’ve talked, laughed, argued, explored and played. We spent the whole of Saturday night losing ourselves in geek TV and it was great.

I dropped them off to school this morning knowing I’d see them after school (I’d promised to help their mum with some bits) but also knowing that the special time we had together was done for a few more days.

Although, leaving tonight and coming home to an empty house was a little easier than before. Maybe healing has started or maybe I’m just buoyed by the weekend. I’m guessing only time will tell. 

Four sleeps. Then I get to be with them again.