I'd say that for about the last ten years or so myself and the wife have always made sure we have bought a brand new car whenever the opportunity arises.
The main reason for this being that after three or four years we always had the opportunity to trade it in for another new one.

We realise that this may work out quite expensive but because we have had so many negative experiences buying second-hand cars when it comes down to having them MOT'd, not to mention all of the upkeep and seemingly endless maintenance costs they required due to their age - it just never seemed worth it.

We are now going into the third year of having our current car and are really struggling with what to choose next.

Over the years we have had a mixture of petrol and diesel cars and we've liked both for different reasons.
We've found that the newer, lower emission cars have saved us money each month with their zero tax costings - a saving which was very welcome to discover.

 So with this in mind, it will come as no surprise that lately we have actually talked about the possibility of owning an electric car and we are thinking about heading down that route next.


We are both used to going to a petrol station on payday and filling the car up so we have a full tank to hopefully last us the month - it usually works too unless of course, we head out on a few family days which are usually a little further afield than planned for.

 Would this be the same scenario with an electric car though and how do you and where do you even full them up (charge them?)

Well I did a little research and there are 3462 New Motion charge-points throughout the UK and I'm sure as more and more people begin turning to electric cars the more charge points will be popping up.

I know the price of an electric car is considerably higher than a fuel powered car but do the savings on things like charging it and having to pay tax dividends work out in the long run?

This is a tough one because if you don't have the funds to purchase an electric car in the first place then the future savings kind of get overlooked. 


I know the last car we had was so eco-friendly that we didn't have to pay tax on it at all and it made a massive difference not having to fork out a lump sum every twelve months for it.

I've only ever been a passenger in an electric car and it was quite strange actually - it felt almost like I was floating around due it being so quiet and really quick but does this quickness and quietness outweigh the higher purchase costs?

Does being cheaper to operate outweigh long refuelling times?


I also know that the range and style is quite limited at the moment with the electric cars but after browsing the internet I did find some lovely looking ones - especially the BMWi8


It kind of looks like a car from the future and I could definitely see myself driving around town in one of these...sadly though it is way, way out of my price range - but I can dream, right?

I'm definitely confused on the whole is an electric car better debate and I'm 100% going to be doing a lot more research into this.
I do have another year or so before I have to make up my mind anyway - time will tell.

CARL
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Collaboration post 
I have started this post quite a few times over the last month and every time I seem to get a quarter of the way through it but have to stop, delete it and start again.

It has been one of the hardest posts I have ever had to write actually, not because I struggled with what to write, more a case of how to write the post.

The subject is weight loss you see so naturally, it's a subject I 100% wanted to get right and then with the product I have used being Herbalife, well, to be honest, I've always been quite sceptical about it myself as I have previously heard negativity about the products over on social media, making me want to make sure the post comes across just right.

When I do see such negative things though, whilst I don't read too much into them, favouring a more "I'll make my own mind up" approach I still think it is important to look at why and where the negativity has come from and then take the subject a lot more seriously then I may have done before.

Right, so before I get into the reasons why I started my weight loss journey I want to tell you a little about how my own followers on social media reacted when I first posted pictures of the products and told them that I would soon be using Herbalife.



Yep, you guessed it, it didn't go down well but to be honest, I kind of knew that reaction was coming.

It would have been nice for people to wish me luck and show a little support if I'm honest but as always people would rather focus on the negatives...well their own perceived negatives anyway.

Hopefully, this post will give me the chance to tell my story.

So in July I hit the ripe old age of 35 and a couple of my friends who I played football with in the past were bugging me to play again, but not for any old football team - it was for a veteran football league. 

At first, I was like, "Yes! This sounds great" but then I realised "Holy crap! What am I doing? I AM OLD!"

And to be perfectly honest I wasn't in the best shape of my life and was feeling quite down about it which wasn't something I would share with others and I didn't really tell my wife how bad I was feeling. 

I mean she knew I wasn't happy about my weight but I don't think she knew just how unhappy I was. 

I was in a really vicious circle which I just couldn't get out of and I became very lazy at home.
I didn't do any sort of physical activity and found I was beginning to make excuses when it came to helping out at my son's rugby training sessions which isn't something I would have done before - I loved getting involved.

I couldn't even walk up the stairs at home without being out of breath and - slight TMI moment coming up - I even started to sit down a lot of the time to have a pee just so I could have a breather after walking up the stairs.



Not good, but I had no motivation at all and the negativity was something that I just couldn't shake. 

And I was beginning to say the same thing to myself every Sunday evening - after just demolishing a Chinese...

"That's it! The Diet Starts Tomorrow!"

But come 8am on Monday morning, there I would be, sat in my work van tucking into a Greggs bacon and sausage butty with a sugar-laden latte on the side.

No point dieting this week then so the cycle carried on into Tuesday and Wednesday...

It was almost like the ever famous Craig David "Seven Days" song, only swapping the "lovemaking" for the Greggs.

I was feeding myself with super quick, super unhealthy convenience food and because I was working quite long days grab a quick, unhealthy snack seemed like the easiest thing to do.

What I should have done was make a hearty, healthy flask of soup at home on a night time to keep me full and warm well into the long work days but I had just had no motivation and was always too tired.

This is quite embarrassing to write and my wife who will be reading this post before it goes live may fall out with me for it but it got to the stage where I had no motivation, no energy and was just so tired that I would set off earlier to work in a morning just so I could leave the house,  pull up somewhere and get an extra half an hours kip.

I do feel so bad about this though because I could - and should - have been at home helping out with getting the kids ready in the morning but this is just how bad things were and shows just how bad I was feeling. 

I had started to feel quite insecure about how I looked too - clothes which would normally fit me started to feel really clingy and some didn't fit me at all. 

It definitely wasn't one of the best times if my life but I knew that if I didn't change something soon then I don't think I would have ever got myself out of the cycle. 

And final straw came when I had to get some new work pants because the ones I had became really uncomfortable and made me feel really agitated when I was wearing them but the only ones which would fit me were a 38-inch waist.

A 38inch waist

It didn't seem that long ago when I could slip into a pair of 34inch waist 501s.

Where had this extra 4inch come from? 

I already knew the answer to that one - it came from Greggs!

But this was the turning point I had needed and it is the moment my life my life took a turn for the better. 

I wanted to feel confident, I wanted to look good, I wanted the clothes I had had for years to fit me, I wanted to feel full of energy and motivation and I didn't want to feel so tired anymore. 

And this is where Herbalife came to my rescue.

I was talking to the people at Herbalife for a good couple of weeks before I took the plunge and said yes to reviewing some of their products - I really took my time and looked into what they could do and it wasn't until I spoke with the rep who was assigned to me (who had a similar story to myself) and had an hour or so phone conversation with him that I realised I wanted to feel how he now felt. 

We spoke about the products and decided upon products most suited to myself to allow me to reach my goals. 

As I mentioned above, my biggest downfall was the food I was eating whilst I was out at work because it was all convenient food which fit around my busy work life. 

The products that I was sent were to help with this, they were going to be as convenient as the food I had been eating but they were going to be a million times better for me. 

I was sent a good selection of meal replacement shakes - which all had some great sounding flavours - and I was sent a tub of beta heart powder so I could add fibre to my morning shake. 

I was sent some male vitamin tables to take once a day so my body didn't miss out on the vitamins it requires. 

I also received a selection of different snacks, some roasted soya beans and some protein bars and also some meal replacement bars which I could eat on the go if I didn't fancy a shake drink. 

I've done the whole meal replacement shakes diet in the past and to be honest, I did lose weight but it turned me into a right miserable git - if you don't believe me ask my wife and my ex-boss - and the shakes were disgusting too and I had to force them down my neck. 

Which was one of the main reasons I had second...and third...thoughts about starting this plan. 

I was so surprised when I had my first shake from Herbalife - it tasted amazing.

The plan I intended to do - and hopefully would keep to - would last a month and I had more than enough products to see me through this time.

So, basically for a month, I was going to be replacing my breakfast and lunch with Herbalife products. 

You may think that I would be missing out on a lot of goodness going in to my body by not eating "meals" but with the vitamin tablets, the fibre added to my morning shake and then with the shakes themselves being packed with protein - 18g per serving - and being calorie controlled - each shake has approximately 220 Kcal per serving - I'd say it was much better than a greasy fry up or a drive-thru meal.

Week One. 

I knew this was going to be the hardest because it was going to be a total change but I was 100% committed and focused on the task ahead. 

Before work, I got my little cooler bag ready and made a morning shake with the added fibre and then after a quick clean of the Nutribullet I made my lunchtime shake and stuck that in the cooler bag along with a protein bar and a bag of soya beans. 

The morning shake was the toffee apple and cinnamon one which I chose because I was really intrigued by what it would taste like and let me tell you, it didn't disappoint - it was by far my favourite.

For dinner, I picked the cookie and cream shake because, well why not right and once again the flavour didn't disappoint. 

So at around 7am I had my first shake - I had been up since around 6 so I was really ready for it and then two hours later I had a protein bar, which again surprised me because normally bars of this sort are quite bland and dry but these weren't too bad and tasted quite nice. 

I probably should have mentioned earlier on but water is a key part of this diet too, you're probably not surprised though because water should be consumed in every diet - even if you're not on a diet.

Drink more water guys! 

Then, at around 12pm I was beginning to feel ready for my lunch shake and my cooler bag had kept it nice and cold - it wasn't as thick as my morning shake due to having no fibre in but it tasted just as nice.

And then two hours later I enjoyed my bag of soya beans - I'm not going to say they were the best thing I have ever eaten but it was nice just to pick at them for 30 minutes or so.

Throughout the day I kept up drinking water and then once I was home I was so ready for my tea.
I can't say I struggled through the day though but the thought of tucking into a nice healthy meal really did have my mouth watering - I ate things like spiced chicken breast, whole grain rice and a huge salad full of colour - and it went down a treat.

I was so full that I didn't even think of grabbing a snack from the sweet draw which was a norm for me.

I won't do a whole day by day food diary because every day was basically the same I just mixed up the flavour of the shakes I was having and also added a little ice to the morning one to make it really refreshing - a top tip there.

I changed my tea too and had different lean meats and fish - I'm not usually a massive salad fan but as the week went on I couldn't get enough of it.

So after a week of this total change of eating habits how was I feeling do you ask?

Amazing.

Have I noticed any change in my energy levels?

Hell Yes.
I was feeling great - I was working the same hours at work but found I was waking up feeling a lot better and not as tired at all.

Honestly, I did think I would have really struggled but I had no setbacks at all and was loving the plan and couldn't wait for week two to start.

I know this is not all about weight loss and more about how I am feeling but I had already begun to notice a few changes in the fitting of my clothes - especially those 38-inch work pants...

Week Two.

 Much more of the same as week one and again I didn't struggle throughout the day because I was prepared.
I took a few pieces of fruit to have on the longer, earlier start days - I wanted to have the healthy snack there rather than be forced towards the unhealthy.

It was midway through this week when I weighed myself for the first time because I noticed my pants had started to feel really baggy and I wanted to make sure I hadn't lost a dramatic amount - I knew that wouldn't be good for my body.

I had lost about 7lbs in a week and a half which was more than I ever expected and I was feeling fantastic - my wife even commented on how jolly I had been.

I was really happy with the way things were going and I was still mega motivated to stick to it and push on and see what happens.

Week 3.

Now, this was a lot tougher, especially at the weekend because I attended a family wedding.
As you can imagine there was a lot of party food on offer and the temptation to have a few beers was high so I decided to stay away from the beer and enjoy a bit of the food on offer. 

I didn't go crazy but I did eat quite a lot but it didn't bother me because that morning I found I fit into my new 36-inch work pants and they fit really well. 

So what's a little party food blow out - it was definitely earned. 



Week 4. 

I was still loving the shakes and mixing the flavours up each day meant that I didn't get bored.
I had finished up all the meal bars though but was having a shake for breakfast and one for lunch too with a snack in between and it was still enough to see me through the day.
I was still keeping up with my water intake too - even though I had to use the toilet every 30 minutes or so

I was still loving all the healthy teas on an evening and it really helped that my wife was eating the same things too. 

I will admit that I did have a cheat night though, but when you really crave a Chinese, what on earth can you do but have one...! 

And I really enjoyed it too. 

I am so proud of myself for being so motivated and sticking with this plan, despite the negativity and the initial reservations I may have had...



I felt great and even signed back up to the gym and began training with my local rugby union team
(I decided the veterans football team wasn't going to cut it and I would have probably been sent off for some sort of two-footed tackle anyway) 


And it wasn't just the fitness I was feeling motivated with, I was back to planning family days out whereas before I would have preferred to stay at home and just slob out. 

Those new, smaller 36-inch waist work pants were getting baggy too and I downsized again to a 34-inch pair. 

I even managed to fit into a few pairs of my really old jeans again and my t-shirts were fitting a lot better too.

On my final weigh-in, I found I had lost around 1 stone 3lbs and dropped two trouser sizes.

This was a weight and a size I was really comfortable with and I know I don't want to lose much more and definitely don't want to put it back on, so maintaining my current progress is my next plan. 

But I will save that for another post.

CARL
It seems like an eternity since I last posted something male grooming related and the only reason for this is I haven't been taking care of myself.

Not at all.

Winter is our busiest time of year at work and because of this I haven't had a minute to myself lately - my life has just been work, work, work - oh and taking my son to rugby on a weekend too - if I wasn't working of course.

My beard got all out of control due to neglect and I've only just managed to get it sorted out - check out this little video I recently published testing out my new electrical shaver.

My skins feels old, which I'm not sure even makes sense but when look in the mirror all I see right now is "old".

It's getting alittle out of control really.


Don't get me wrong I don't want you to think that I haven't been washing myself or anything because I have - I don't stink or anything - I just haven't been following my usual, quite time consuming (when you have no time spare) grooming routine.

But this all changed a few weeks ago when the guys over at Murdock London sent me a few of their fantastic male grooming products to try for me to let them - and you guys too of course - know what I thought about them.

First though let me tell you a little bit about them which may be very helpful if you didn't already know anything.

Now if you are really into your grooming products you may know of them already, especially if you are from London you may know of their barber shops which are dotted around the capital. 

I know for sure if I lived down South then I would definitely have paid them a visit by now but being a Northerner it's quite an impossibility really.

So, in 2006 the first Murdock London barbershop was established in Shoreditch and it offered grooming treatments for gentlemen with really good taste who were dissatisfied with unisex salons and high street barbers.
They wanted to create a grooming experience inspired by the grand heritage of St James.

'Barbershops but tailored for modern, style-conscius men'

And when I first received the products I could see this style conscious element running through them straight away - my initial thought when I opened the box was that everything looked very luxurious, from the packaging to the bottles and the tubs the products were housed in - it was all very high end.

Then, when I opened up the products the scent of them (at the time I didn't know the price of any of the items) just screamed luxury and I knew instantly that they were going to cost a little more than your average products.
(and, after research, I was correct!)


In total I was sent five products, I can only give you my honest opinion on three because I haven't used the the two shaving products as I am currently reviewing some others and haven't had chance to use these yet, but don't worry, I am quite sure they will feature on another post just after Christmas.

So first up two products that I have been using to style my hair.

I don't know about you but when my hair is styled I feel like a different person, my confidence is high and I just feel really good about myself, so having the correct products is a must.

My hair is quite thick and I have a natural curl but I do like to wear my hair slicked back a little, so to achieve this I need products which are going to have a really good hold and ones which (normally anyway) have no moisture to them.

I find I need to use a couple of products at once to create the hold that is required to last me through the day too.

And the two products I have been using from the Murdock London range are the Sea Salt Spray and the Matt Mudd.

Now I've used quite a few mudds before but I've never used a Sea Salt Spay, so this was quite new to me.

The Sea Salt Spray contains tangerine, orange and lemon oils and obviously sea salts which is why the spray smells so nice - it's almost a smell you wish you could eat.


You can apply the spray to wet or dry hair - I used it with dry hair and then I used a blow dryer to comb it through.
I found this helped to straighten my hair giving it the pushed back look I was after and I did this a few times to get it as straight as possible and also to get rid of any excess moisture left over (otherwise the curls/frizz comes back full force). 



Then I added alittle of the Matt Mudd - which has a high hold rate and should only be used on dry hair.
Once again I combed it through to give my style the shape I wanted and then added a little bit more at the end to give it a final finish.


I'm really happy with the products, the photo above was taken around eight hours after using them and whilst my hair wasn't as slicked back as it was at the start of the day, the hold was definitely still there. 

Up next is a product I have had a bit of love-hate relationship with over the last few years and this is beard oil.

If you have been following my blog for a number of years then you will know that I used to write about beard oils loads and I will still say that the products did help me with my beard growth journey but because I had so many of them I just became bored with them and stopped using them for a while.

So now, if a beard oil features on my blog then you guys will know it's because I really like it. 


The Murdock London Beard Oil is just like the other products in the set - it looked great, it smelt great and looked full of quality.

Now the oil itself contains apricot, jojoba, organic argan and sunflower oils with extracts of calendula flower. 

The oil has a light weight formula, hand crafted for over two years to ensure a rich, conditioning and nutritive treatment is created.

I've used this oil a few times now and it does do what any good beard oil should - it gave my beard a good look by helping it hold its shape when I gave it a brush, it gave a slight shine and also conditioned the skin under my beard, helpingto keep the itch at bay and also helping leave me with no dry skin.

I found it washes out quite easily with the beard shampoo I have been using too.

Have you ever used any of the Murdock products?

Are you looking for a gift for the man in your life?

If so I highly recommend heading over to Murdock London and checking out the other products they have to offer.

CARL
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Products sent for an honest review, all opinions and photos are my own 













Let me ask you a question - if someone wears a band t-shirt and they don't know who the band is, does it bother you 

Being a blogger I am stuck in the middle of so many different opinions when it comes to fashion and I know that there are a few mixed opinions surrounding this subject. 

My opinion is no it doesn't bother me and this is simply because fashion for me is more about how you feel when you are wearing something rather than what it actually is that you are wearing.

I bet you're thinking "what a random start to a blog post" but I do have reasons behind it. 

A couple of weeks ago myself and my son were invited out for a spot of lunch and a visit to the pictures.
My son being the age that he is, he wanted to dress up for the occasion and asked if he could wear one of his new jumpers. 

The jumper in question was a Run DMC number, and as we were walking towards the event venue he looked down at it and asked, "Is Run DMC a good make?"


He's at a stage now where he will only wear branded clothing and I actually think he was just making sure that what he was wearing was branded so when I explained that Run DMC wasn't actually a clothing brand but was an old school Rap/Hip-Hop group he was a bit shocked.
We had a conversation about band tops being really fashionable and he was reassured that he looked good and was happy in what he was wearing.

We carried on the conversation a little and he asked me where he could get similar tops from, so we had a look when we got home and I told him about EMP who have a really great selection of band tops, a few which he became quite interested in.

Brilliant for us to know with it being quite close to Christmas and having no other ideas about what to get him.

It wasn't only the tops he was interested in either on the EMP website, he took quite a liking to a lot of the gaming novelty accessories, in fact, there was quite a few stuff that I wouldn't mind for myself.

What are your thoughts on band t-shirts and tops? 


CARL
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COLLABRATION POST 
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