15 April 2018

I Need A Little Time

I reckon time is something we all wish we had a little more of.
Whether it's more time in bed, more time with the family or even more time to just chill out and be on your own.

Yeah, I do wish I had a little more time but to spend getting things sorted around the house.

I'm currently trying to make more time for some major home improvements but it's proving to be a real struggle right now. I'm quite a hands-on guy and the improvements I am doing would be a lot easier if I could get someone in to actually do them for me, but that's just not an option, it would cost an absolute bomb and I just don't have that sort of money.

So I'm searching for time to get it all done myself which means I'm only really getting stuck into it when I take time off the day job - weekends are a struggle too at the moment because Charlie plays rugby both on a Saturday and a Sunday and then combine it all and look at the bigger picture and it means we really don't get to have much family time as a four right now either.

A little extra time would be a big help at the moment - if anyone has any going spare I would really love to borrow a bit...

But it hasn't all been about rushing, about being busy and hasn't all been that bad - not really - a couple of weeks ago I received a really nice little timepiece to wear...
I mean it wasn't exactly the kind of time I've been searching for but it was really nice and I was more than grateful to have it sent my way


It was an all black, lightweight little number from a fab company called AlienWork

I've not actually had the chance to wear it out yet (what with all that working and DIY type stuff) but I have had it on my arm and it's a really nice fitting watch, it's so lightweight and feels like it is made really well.
I was also impressed with how strong and durable it appears and it is made from a very high-quality Japanese stainless steel.

It also has an easy to use adjustable strap, which is awesome, so when my son decides he wants to steal it, it will be easy for me to adjust back to my size.



The watch has a nice, plain design and it oozes style and sophistication - it's also a unisex design so it will really appeal to everyone.
I think it will go well with most outfits I will wear and I'm sure it will be featured in a fair few future fashion blog posts I have coming up too - actually I think I will try styling it with a few different outfit choices so you can see just how versatile it really is.

If you have read my blog before then you may know I'm a massive fan of an all black watch.  I don't wear a lot of jewellery usually so when I do, I like to wear a watch that feels comfortable and fits well and this is exactly what this AlienWork quartz watch does.



Receiving this watch really did make my day so now, whilst I go and outfit plan, it's my chance to try and make your day.

How would you like the chance to win an AlienWorks watch for yourself?



Well, good news - you can - and all you need to do is enter this brilliant competition using the form below and remember, the more entries you have the more chance you have of winning.

So good luck, and if you do win, I hope you like the watch as much as I do.

Win an Alienwork Quartz Watch #1


CARL
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4 April 2018

A Brief Post



I'm not going to lie, the title of this post may be a little mis-leading but no matter how I spin it, writing a post about what I wear to cover up my nuts is never going to be something I have practice in or will be something I do often.

And so thinking of a fitting title was quite a hard thing to do because the post subject was so different for me. 

Plus there was the fact that I just couldn't see me being able to have a full post worth of opinions about them - I mean every pair I've owned throughout my life so far kind of do the one same job.
Of course, they may look a bit different, they may feel a little different and the quality of them will most likely range depending on the brand and the price of them.

But at the end of the day underwear all do the same thing...

Anyway, undie talk, here we go.

I have to say, I'm honestly not too bothered about what I wear under my trousers, joggers or shorts at all - it could be a pair of Calvin Classics from the local market or a pair of authentic Apparel from Primark - they serve a purpose and if they do their job that is fine with me.

I'm exactly the same with the clothes I wear actually, I mean of course it's nice to wear fancy, designer clothes but I don't get caught up with having to wear crazy amounts of labels (I leave that to my son nowadays) and if you have read my blog before...

 (If not, why not?)

...you will know that I am quite passionate about wearing independent labels, especially ones that are up and coming and not a lot of people have heard of them before.
I like to be a little different in the things I wear and judging by the interaction these posts get I think a lot of my readers enjoy that style of clothing too.

Probably because people like to learn, to discover, to see new things they haven't spotted before and then if they find it and think it looks good, well they naturally want to find out more.

I'm a little bored and past people who only wear established branded clothing anyway - there's nothing wrong with it but it's just not really me.
I do own a few expensive branded clothes but not many - and most of the things I do have are about twenty years old and were purchased back when I was a single lad.

But, yeah, independent labels are where it's at for me right now and others with similar tastes are the types of individuals I want to make it a mission to seek out and follow. 

Right so by now you're probably thinking where am I going with this post - from undies to branded labels - well let me tell you...

A couple of weeks before Christmas the guys over at Body Branded sent me over a selection of Ben Sherman socks and boxers and wanted me to post my thoughts about the items here on my blog.

I know, I know - I thought the same too, "new socks and undies before Christmas?  What on earth could my family buy me now?!"

Wise up Carl, you're 35 now - you can never have enough socks and undies...good job really as it's the only gift I get these days.

Oh, and maybe a chocolate orange...

So, Body Branded started out as just an idea - an idea to provide underwear from some of the most iconic brands online.  They have a vast range of different products to which they are always refreshing and adding more lines to too.

Like I said, I'm not too fussed about branded clothes these days and the last time I wore anything Ben Sherman was years ago and I think it was a shirt, which if I remember rightly, I teamed with a nice Petroleum jumper from the local Jean Junction store.

You see, even back then I had all the makings of a fashion blogger... :)

But now I have it and gave sampled it, how does the Ben Sherman gear compare to my normal, very cheap and cheerful undercrackers?

Well, you can definitely see and feel that they are made of a better quality material and the shaping is a lot better too...which is something you kind of expect with the higher price tag I think.

They feel a whole lot better whilst wearing them to the others too, even taking into account they are a little tighter fitting than the normal ones I wear, despite both being the same size.

I've found that they feel better on too when I'm working in them, bending over and reaching to fit things - no builders behind showing here and now, rather than the usual Calvin Classic sign covering my arse crack there is a much better looking Ben Sherman one in it's place.

All of the items were a really nice fit and will be getting worn on a regular basis too.
I will 100% be heading to their website when I'm in need of some more undergarments that's for sure.




CARL

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1 March 2018

Creating Amazing Memories Through A Love Of Rugby

Well, I hope you are all enjoying the 6 Nations coverage from the last few weeks - I know I am.
The Scottish beat us - which is more than a little gutting - but I'm still quite upbeat about the rest of the games England have lined up and I'm sure they can go unbeaten from now on and finish in the top spot.

I know watching the games on the TV isn't quite the same as being there in person, enjoying some of the Twickenham Hospitality but I will take watching it in HD on my 50-inch curve screen TV for now but I'm hoping that one day soon I will have the opportunity to head down to the stadium with my son and share some great, amazing, live rugby memories with him watching brilliant England. 

If you follow me on any of my social channels then you will already know that I am a massive rugby fan and still do play from time to time, well when I can find the time away from work that is.
But even if I don't manage to play myself I still get my rugby fix each and every week because my twelve-year-old son plays both codes all year round.

He plays League throughout the Summer and then Union during the Winter and he's been doing this since he was about five - so that's a lot of rugby watching.

However, throughout all of this time, he's never been all that interested in sitting down to actually watch the game and he doesn't really follow a team either.



In fact, the only time we really get to watch games live, where he is really enthralled and into the game is when we go on our annual "lads and dads" rugby tour, and on Saturday - which will be the 3rd of March - we will be heading off on this year's trip.
We are Leicester bound first and then on Sunday, we will be going to watch the Wasps vs London Irish.



Maybe one day I'll get to go on a "daughter and dads" tour too - Willow loves playing with Charlie's rugby ball and sometimes even asks us to put "RUG-A-BIE" on tv too.



I'm all for her getting involved and her Mum will let her follow any path she wishes hobby wise...although I think she's hoping there will be pink and tutus involved in the sporting activity Willow chooses to pursue...

Anyway, during our previous year's tours, we have been down to watch Worster and have also travelled up North to watch the Newcastle Falcons, both of which were fantastic experiences and I have learnt a lot of things from them both. 

One of the main points was that you really have to wrap up warm and wear plenty of layers on tour, and this is definitely going to to be the case this year due to all of the snow The Beast From The East delivered to us and especially seeing as how the temperatures have been hitting the -6 mark over the last few days. 

Another tip I picked up was if you are travelling with a group of kids (as we obviously do) then make sure there is a really good selection of sweets and snacks on hand.
I know some stadiums do not allow you to take your own in but it's definitely worth checking out before you head to the match because it can cost you an arm an leg just for a few treats in the stands.

This year though, I know for sure that I will be taking a lot more photos of the whole weekend.
It's one thing I have forgotten to do the last few games I have been to with my boy and it's missing memories that can never be reclaimed.

I am a firm believer of when you spend time with your special ones there is nothing more important than capturing the moment forever, then the moment is saved, accessible to look at and talk over again and again.

Priceless really.

Are you going to any of the games this year?
If not, what is your favourite memory of going to a game in the past?
Let me know in the comment section below.

CARL
BLOGLOVIN | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

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27 February 2018

Game On

Game on! Why We Love to Play the Lottery 

As much as we would like to think that genders are equal in modern society, and even though it might not be politically correct to say it, when it comes to gaming and gambling there are significant differences between the sexes. 

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation in Australia determined that "men were significantly more likely than women to gamble for social reasons or for general entertainment, while women were more likely to gamble for charity or because gambling relieved stress, loneliness and boredom." 

Men, it is said, are more likely than women to take risks. This is why, studies suggest, that men tend to favour sports betting, horse racing, and online gambling. This tendency can also explain why men play more poker than women, and on the other hand, why women are more attracted to other types of games, like bingo. 


But with the lottery, it seems that we all want to play the game. When the American Powerball lottery offered a record-breaking jackpot of $1.58 billion in January 2016, or when the other big American lottery Mega Millions offered its own incredible jackpot prize of $656 million in March 2012, there was a mad rush on ticket sales. Even those who had never previously purchased lottery tickets were eager to take a chance on winning such a huge, life-changing prize. 

Imagine what we could do if we won the lottery. Buy a new home. Travel the world. Go wild with a new sports car. Or two. If we would use our lottery windfall wisely, we would ensure our family’s financial security for a generation or two. 

The odds of winning a lottery jackpot are quite low, infinitesimal in fact. To win Powerball you would have to beat odds of 1:292,201,338, while in the UK, you only have a 1 in 1:45,057,474 chance. But winning the lottery doesn’t necessarily mean winning the jackpot. Lotteries offer a wide range of secondary prizes and the odds of winning one are significantly better. Many lotteries stage supplementary raffles, increasing the chances of winning a prize in a lottery draw. 
Whatever the odds, as insurmountable as they may see, we are not dissuaded from purchasing tickets. According to studies, 70 percent of UK adults play the lottery on a regular basis. And the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries determined that Americans spent a total of $70 billion on lottery tickets in 2016, more than they spent on sports tickets, books, video games, films, and music combined. 

Statistics aside, whenever lotteries offer incredible jackpot prizes, there is no difference between gender, age, or financial standing – we all hurry to purchase our lottery tickets. We know that if we don’t play the game, we won’t have a chance of winning the prize. 


Playing the lottery gives us a chance, as small as it might seem, of winning something very big. It’s a game we all want to play, so game on!

CARL
BLOGLOVIN | TWITTER | INSTAGRAME

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9 February 2018

Should We Opt For An Electric Car?

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
BLOGLOVIN | TWITTER | INSTAGRAME

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5 January 2018

A Month On Herbalife

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
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