Sunday, 7 August 2016

Fat 2 Fit @ 40: Week 0 to 8 of 20

8 Weeks of hard work.

Fat 2 Fit @ 40 Week 0 to 8 of 20.

The journey continues, I started out with the vision of being as fit as possible within a certain time-frame and then maintaining my fitness from that point onward. I am writing this at the close of week 8 and as you can see in the picture to the right, there has been a definite change in myself. At the moment it's all about trimming down the fat (cutting) and in a few weeks it'll all be about the bulking and putting on lean muscle.

Quite a few have now asked for my diet so I thought it best to impart how I got to this point and most importantly debunk any thoughts of this being a "diet". I tried and failed before until I realised that you can't become awesome by following the crowd, with their diet pills and shakes; I had to go back to basics, I needed to learn everything as best as I could in the little amount of time I had. So this is a holistic transformation, I changed everything to get to this point, not just my diet. My mindset, diet, lifestyle, exercise, sleep pattern; even the way I shave!

I'll put all the information on this one page and attempt to link it all together so you can jump around and not get lost. For those of you wanting just the diet then you can get to just that part. Like I say though, that's not what's at work here people.


You have to understand the why, otherwise it just becomes a process of going through the motions, for me it's all about my mindset, I built simple targets, I found out what motivates me and I exploited them.  I'll talk more about that in the mindset section below but my 20 week cut off date is when we go on holiday. I plan on being insanely strict until then, it could have been less but that holiday gives me the focus I need. I also have some other targets, most of all though to take me past that I have one target written down on my wall which is.
I aim to be the best I can be in fitness, focus, drive and kindness so that I and those close to me can live the life we dream of without any limits.


So I knew how why but how do I get to that point? Truth be told I studied a lot, looked at what the successful people are doing, took on board advice from trainers and mostly read around the science of it all. It all boils down to one simple thing for this phase:
Eat less calories than you need.
That's it, pretty simple huh? So yes, all the fat ones out there that use weak bitch ass excuses about how their genetics don't allow them to lose weight, or that they are too busy to exercise, not enough hours in the day, not enough energy, old injuries, waiting for the right moment. Bullshit excuses. Wake up and smell the coffee, you're fat because you've eaten more than you burn off and you have no willpower. Plain and simple, lay off the pies and stop feeding yourself lies! That's the point I was at when I started, loved takeaways, made every excuse not to exercise because doing so put me back on my crutches (old bike injury) and didn't have enough hours in the day.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against being fat as long as those that are fat don't constantly bitch and whine about it. If you're comfortable with the way you are then that's cool.

It all had to change.

Nutrition - Exercise - Mindset - Lifestyle


I couldn't get to where I need to be without changing my mindset. 

#1 Imagine yourself and how your life will be.

How can you aim for a goal if you don't have a clear vision of what that goal is?
I wrote it down along with 5 reasons that I deserve it and downloaded some photos which I printed out and made a multi photo frame that I can look at each day. Why? because it's going to be tough, there's times when I want to skip those last 10 pressups because my arms are burning, mornings when I get up and have to use my crutches because it was hard on my legs the previous day, and days where nothing goes right at work and my motivation to exercise wanes. By having a clear vision that I can refer to every morning and night gives me that glimmer of hope in the dark times. Most think I'm a happy go lucky guy, in the main I am but let me tell you, when you're running a 1500 calorie deficit with 20% carbs across a day and getting up at 5am, working out twice a day and stacked out with work, it gets to you. I get exhausted, I get frustrated but then I learn to get angry, tie a knot around myself, double tie it and hold on. 

No point in having a plan B, it only distracts from plan A.

#2 Exploit yourself

Find out what makes you tick! I love to think that somehow in my life I am able to inspire people, make a positive ripple somewhere in the universe. So talking about what I do and showing others that it's possible works for me. I love to feel accountable, publicly if possible, so posting online what I'm aiming for, no matter how many "Ah you'll never get to that point" comments, it proves to spur me on. To dispel the non believers to which I draw great strength from. The fear of failure is there too but in a good way. I've said I am going to look a certain way by a point in time and therefore there is no option but to succeed.

#3 Create your home team

That's right, it's not easy going it alone and equally not as easy if those around you don't buy into it. I spoke to my other half about it, told her how I had planned on getting where I am going and why, I asked for some simple things, such as not asking me if I would like a sweet, never asking me if I would like a bit of her tea no matter how tempted I looked and most of all to be understanding that this is only temporary. The journey will become easier, a lot easier, but in the meantime I have to make sacrifices.

Get rid of the nay sayers! Yes that's right, Unfollow all the "OMG I hate today" posts on your social media accounts. You know the ones, bleeding you dry of life by constantly attention grabbing. If you know the "I'll believe it when I see it" people, don't include them until the end, you don't need that negativity in your life because right now you need to believe it to be able to see it later.

Surround yourself with positive people and build your team, know who you can call on to make you smile, know which friends you can call on to rant, know which ones give good hugs and know which ones will give you that extra kick if you need it. 

#4 Be happy

Smile, face skyward and feel the warm sun on your face, find something positive in the smallest of things. Happiness is always there within us, you just have to know which thoughts to get rid of in order to see true happiness. (I meditate every day)


 I work for myself and have two spaniels that require walking and I contribute my share of the housework, including ironing, hoovering, washing etc. So my day had to change from my 7.30am wakeup and 10:30 / 11:00pm bedtime to 5am wakeup and 10pm bedtime. 2 hours walking dogs, housework, 8 hours of work, exercise and what was left over is my time of which I usually get around 30 minutes to an hour at the end of a day. You can get a feel of my day by clicking on the image to the right.


Now we get down to the nuts and bolts. As I have mentioned, this phase is all about getting rid of the excess fat, so good fat burning exercises were a must, HIIT was my weapon of choice but I have been down this path before and to do what I needed to in the time that I had and without a gym membership I needed something more. So I added in cardio.

Put simply it means that I do HIIT (Freeletics) in a morning to make use of the afterburn effect to burn calories off during the morning and then after work I complete an hour of cardio on the exercise bike 110bpm to 120bpm to keep me in the fat burning zone. There are theories debunking this and theories supporting it, all I know is that by doing what I am doing it's working for me.

A typical Freeletics session (yesterday's) was as follows:
50 Burpees
50 Pullups
100 Pressups
150 Squats
50 Burpees
10 Burpees
10 Situps
10 Pullups
25 Burpees
25 Situps
25 Pullups
10 Burpees
10 Situps
10 Pullups

I subscribe to the coach so it takes the thinking out of it for me and I feel more accountable. However you can equally just download the app and choose the exercises yourself.


Tuna, light philadelphia and lemon on sweet potato
Last but not least it's the fuel you need to allow you to do all of the above but still lose weight. So remembering that you need to eat less than you spend in calories you now need to do some calculations, not everyone is the same so you need to find these out for yourself. However this is how I got to my figures.

My Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) 1770 which is based on a scientific equation of which one is the Harris-Benedict equation created nearly 100 years ago. There are many BMR calculators online to make things easier. This needs adjusting as you lose weight.

Then I needed to add in my lifestyle, which is pretty easy, other than walking the dogs I do little else apart from housework and sitting infront of the PC all day. Walking 1 mile is roughly 100 calories for my weight so take an average of 4 miles, that's 400 calories, plus around maybe 300 calories from HIIT and 650 calories from cardio. That's an extra loss of 1350 calories, add that to the 1770 and I have a loss of around 3120 calories which for arguments sake we will round down to 3000 because there is some overlap. There is a lot of science and much more in depth than what I provide here which is a brief overview in comparison and misses out quite a few variables but it's enough to gauge what I need.

Chicken, curry paste & peanut butter.
Bearing in mind that 3500 calories is 1 pound in weight and I am to lose around 2 pounds per week that means I need to be in deficit of 7000 calories a week, that's 1000 calories per day. So I took my 3000 calories and reduced it down to 2000. Then again I drop one day cardio as I only do 6 and I only do 4 to 5 days a week of freeletics. Not to bore you any more with figures i'll cut to the chase and say that I aim for 1500 calories per day.

It doesn't stop there though, so I know I need 1500 calories but how is that made up? Well, eating often (I eat 7 times a day) keeps your metabolic rate up and burns the fuel more efficiently, leading to less fat storage. I reduced my macros down to 20% carbs 25% fat and 55% protein and kept to some rules:

  1. No fats 1 hour either side of exercise
  2. More carbs in a morning
  3. No carbs 3 hours before bed
  4. Slow release protein at bedtime
All made possible by pre-preparing my meals. Yes it's boring as hell but it doesn't have to be, it's not forever so I don't mind and I would rather eat boring food for a short time and be more organised than have to think about my meals all the time.

Finally.... Water, I drink a gallon of water a day. It's a lot I hear you say but it's not really. Get a big bottle, fill it up and chug on that all day long.

That my friends is how I got to where I am now.
Sacrifice, hard work, dedication, self-belief and the ever tempting vision of cheat day.
Grillstock for lunch!

Gelato Village for dessert.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Dementia - Making the most life while we can.

Dementia - Making the most of life while we are here.

There's a happy point to all this, but first some background...
My parents have always been hard working people. Dad had a demanding job in the finance sector and Mum had various part-time jobs on top of being a full-time mother - always there for me before and after school. As most parents do they hoped to give me a life full of love, support, and success but always worried about whether it was ever enough.

It was always enough, more than enough, and I have led a great life so far thanks to them.

Fast forward to present day and an invisible eraser has been at work, taking Dad slowly away, blurring the edges of the man I respect and love. Unfortunately, it seems to be getting exponentially worse and his reluctance to do anything to counter the issue is not helping. Things are obviously hard for Mum as she cares for him on a daily basis.

It is hard to watch, and unbelievably hard to try and contemplate the impermanence of life, when the subject is your once 'indestructible' parents. I try to see the positive in life so when I went to visit and Dad would tell me the same things as the previous week, I would smile on the way home and think that I'd never be short of conversation because he would never remember what was said previously.

No matter how positive a spin I put on it, when you're sat discussing wills and Power of Attorney with the solicitors it all hits home. The reason I started making this book was because of some of the things Mum said, "I wish we could have done more" and "I'm sorry we had you so late, you should't have to be dealing with this" along with the daily reports that Dad is forgetting things more often than not. Even to a point recently where he could not recognise me in a picture.

No matter how much I explain to them that I'm happy, life is good and how I wouldn't have changed a thing about childhood none of it seemed to be hitting home. So I began to write a journal using one they bought me for Christmas which had been hand-made in Turkey. I split it down into sections to tell some of the moments in my life which I could remember, the positive lessons I had learnt and some pictures taken along the way. It starts with a section dedicated to before they had me so they can fill it in themselves; how they met, what life was like while they were courting and so forth. Hopefully that walk down memory lane will serve up some happy thoughts and reminders of why some 40 years later they are still together too.

I thought that maybe jogging Dad's memory in a positive way would bring him into a happier place, and hopefully they will also read it and see that I appreciate every moment in life especially all that they have done for me. I know I can never stop them worrying but to think that at least may make them smile.

For anyone with relatives suffering from any form of Dementia I hope you manage to find some solace along the way. Don't be afraid to talk about it, you may be surprised at the amount of help and support there is. Most of all I wish you happiness.


Me and dad 2001

Me and dad 2016

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Fat 2 Fit @ 40 - Milestone 1 (Week 4)

Milestone 1 (Week 4)

Rather than weekly updates telling you I have been doing the same thing seemed somewhat boring for the readers so here's a summary! This stage of the process for me was all about loosing the fat and getting into a routine. One of my biggest challenges was fitting it all in one day, the only way to do this was to get up earlier, so 5am starts became the norm. It's not forever though, I have detailed the timings of my day at the bottom of this post along with my cheat day!


I'm not sure of my fat % at the start as I realised at week 2 that I had the scales setup incorrectly, fortunately the picture speaks a thousand words. At week 4 I am 24% body fat and 12st 13lb.


The biggest change I found was swapping cardio and Freeletics around so that I was doing Freeletics in a morning to make use of the afterburn effect during the day.


Eating 6 meals a day certainly kept hunger at bay somewhat and also gave rise to more energy. I kept my macros at 20% carbs, 50% protein, 30% fat roughly and did this by planning food every day and tracking it closely on the shealth app.


30 mins cardio per day at 80% of max heart rate for the first two weeks rising to 1 hour cardio per day at 120bpm in the last two which for me is in zone 2 (fat burning zone). Freeletics days per week were, 7, 5, 4 and 4. Plus two hours walking the dogs.


This is how a day pans out for me in the most intricate detail I can think. My alarm is a smart alarm on the phone so I wake up anywhere between 4:45am and 5:15 am. The meals which are shown as 0 minute intervals are just to highlight that I have a meal. They only involve putting broccoli in the microwave for 2 minutes and taking back to the desk. I drink water constantly through the day, approximately 3 liters plus whatever I get from green tea.

05:15 - 05:30 > Wake up, Soaked oats and hemp, glass of water, get dressed.
05:30 - 06:30 > Walk dogs
06:30 - 07:10 > Stretching (trying to do splits) & Freeletics
07:10 - 07:30 > Shower & Dress for work
07:30 - 07:50 > Meal 1: Omelette (1 yolk, 3 whites)
07:50 - 08:00 > Wash pots & clean kitchen tops.
08:00 - 08:30 > Hoovering, Dusting, Ironing.
08:30 - 08:45 > Meditation
08:45 - 09:00 > Potter around, make a brew, read a book, phone my mum.
09:00 - 10:00 > Work (Writing Software)
10:00 - 10:00 > Meal 2: Chicken & Broccoli
10:00 - 13:00 > Work
13:00 - 13:45 > Break & Meal 3: Tuna, sweet potato.
13:45 - 16:00 > Work
16:00 - 16:00 > Meal 4: Chicken & Broccoli
16:00 - 17:10 > Work & plan following day.
17:10 - 18:20 > Stretching & Cardio (Exercise bike, 120bpm HRZ 2)
18:20 - 18:45 > Shower, change.
18:45 - 19:00 > Meal 5: Chicken & Broccoli, rest.
19:00 - 20:00 > Walk dogs
20:00 - 21:30 > R&R + work on personal projects if needed.
21:30 - 22:00 > Meal 6: 40g Caesein & relax, no work, no checking emails, no watching depressing things like the news.
22:00 - 05:15 > Sleep!

That's pretty much it, I think that if I had put that schedule infront of me a few months ago I would have said there is no way I could do it. However the constant eating and the exercise does give me more energy and also better sleep. I don't do Freeletics every day so the 06:30 - 07:15 becomes free and admittedly I curl up on the sofa with the boys and read a book or watch some TV.

The weekends are no different, other than I don't usually work, so theres gardening to do and cleaning, cars to wash and places to see.

As I mention before though, as manic as this may sound to some readers, this is only for a pre-determined length of time and although it'll be ingrained into my daily life I won't be needing to do so much cardio in the future for a start, nor will I be needing to eat so little and often or so plainly. Right now it's all about putting the maximum amount of effort and sacrifice in to get to where I need to be, and it's working.

One last bit of information, cheat day!

Cheat day

So at 7lb loss and after 4 weeks I took a cheat day. I still did Freeletics around lunchtime and I still had Omelette and oats for breakfast and then ate 4 pancakes with honey and lemon which left me feeling bloated. At lunch we went to down and I had an Alabama Slammer, bottle of beer, full rack of ribs, coleslaw, two portions of french fries (ate my girlfriends too) pork belly, Giotto cake, large cappuccino, 20 rum balls, 3/4 pack haribo sour mix. We then went back and later on I finished off by eating a thai green curry and a glass of red wine. I felt tired and bloated but nourished. I would definitely do it again but not the sweet stuff.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Fat 2 Fit @ 40 - Freeletics rebooted

Update Links
Comparison & Update 1: (Week 4) 

Weekly vlog:

A new chapter starts again! The past year has been a real roller-coaster, finally selling my dream house due to the breakdown of a relationship, being homeless, dad being diagnosed with Dementia, meeting someone new and then finally moving into our new home some 9 weeks after leaving home with the two dogs and a tent and the clothes on my back.

After some training injuries and finally a pulling a hamstring I feel it has been too much of a pause in my fitness so I've restarted Freeletics and over the past few weeks have been doing some cardio and stretching. In case you haven't seen the transformation video from 2014 you can see it here:

I thought it would be a good idea this time to give those reading and watching a bit more information about me and my experience rather than what I have been eating and what exercises I have done to get the gains I have got. All too often I see some awesome transformations and wonder to myself how many hours a day that person works, whether they have children, how they fit the times in etc.

A little about me

I'm 41 and work as a software engineer, so a good 8 hours a day is spent sat in a chair staring at screens. I'm not usually my best in a morning, not only are my energy levels usually low but a bike accident some 15 years ago has left me with only 30% movement in my right ankle; so each morning I spend the first ten minutes in extreme pain whilst it begins to get used to being moved again. I love to cook and love to eat but I can be extremely lazy and will eat out of habit which leads to driving to see clients and eating a large bag of jelly babies just for energy. Not the most healthy of lives. Although that does change somewhat when I am exercising!

What changes have I made?

Available time.

To ensure I didn't try and do too many things all at once and therefore set myself up to fail I decided that I would need to make more time in the day. Just one extra hour early has made a huge difference. I get up anywhere from 5 to half five (using a smart alarm) so it wakes me when I'm not in really deep sleep; and I go to bed around half nine onwards, usually 10 but if I am tired or want some quiet time to read it'll be half nine. That's 3.5 hours every morning to walk the dogs, shower, clean the house, drive to work etc.

Eat more often.

One of my biggest downfall when times get tough is comfort eating or unconscious eating. Cold Christmas nights ended up with me on the sofa with a movie on, fire lit, bottle of red wine and a large bag of chocolate (after eating a meal). Another bad one is driving to clients, some are a few hours away so I'll buy a huge bag of jelly babies and by the time I have got there I have eaten them, 400 calories in one car journey!
Organised and calm.

So I spent a month, every evening for a few hours researching how our bodies break food down, how I can keep my energy levels during the day, how much water I need and so on. I wanted to find a way of being the best I can be this time but not cost a fortune in protein shakes or supplements. So now I have a meal plan I am following which means I eat every 2 to 3 hours a day, just small meals and they are all pre-prepared on the weekend. I just pop one in the microwave for two minutes and they are ready. Which has removed the weekly and daily calorie and macro counting and certainly made things easier.

Calm and focused.

One of the issues I had was that work was busy and I would naturally worry about things and bend over backwards to help clients. Leading to me taking on jobs that were nothing to do with me, or worrying un-necessarily. So rather than worry I started to meditate using an app on the phone called headspace, they have a website too . I had meditated for a while but not daily so this wasn't a new thing. I do it just before work mainly and it gives me a good calm start to the day. Not every time but most times.

I still stress somewhat over work but I do get to 5 / 6 and shut the computer off until I have done everything I need to at home and maybe revisit some later. Certainly the getting up at 8am on Monday and working through with no sleep until Tuesday night has stopped.

What's to come?

Last time the blog posts become a bit repetitive, I guess the same may be said about it this time round but I figure an easier way would be to do a quick video and post that up. If I have chance to jot some notes down on here I will do too. I've got a busy year and have a holiday booked at the start of November which is the end date for it this time, or at least the end as in being overly strict. Once on holiday and afterwards I figured I would just do freeletics every day and maintain my fitness.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Sold house, next chapter of life starts here.

Google + public album:

This year has had it's moments and I have finally moved out of the house and set off on our adventure. First stop, Scotland! Dumfries and Galloway to be exact. Finding temporary accommodation for me and the dogs seems like an impossible task so I figure the best bet is to live in the tent. Hopefully it's not going to be too cold! 

It was a bit of a rush to get everything sorted for the tent, however the hardest thing was selling and throwing away of things I have stored because "I'll use that when I have some spare time." Of which that spare time was never realised. Fortunately the elements did some of the work for me and old computers (Amiga A500, Commodore 64 etc) had become damp and beyond repair. Other things I had sold on eBay including the cage trailer and had swapped that for a roof box and roof rack. Which seem a good buy at the moment.
I bought a tarp for the front of the tent so me and the boys can sit outside in relative comfort and watch the world go by, and most of all look at all the stars. From what I read on-line the place where we are going is fantastic for seeing all the stars, and I have seen some wonderful pictures of the milkyway too.

As it's now winter I decided to buy a stove too, it sits inside the tent and even when on low it belts out some fantastic heat. With the additional side plate it's great for keeping things warm. The only issue with such a small stove is the size of the flue, apparently they do need cleaning out on a regular basis, although it's not very high and I am hoping that I can clean it out by some ingenious method without having to turn it off or remove things. One idea was to use cobalt magnets as they are good up to 300 degrees. However I have found that one on the inside of the flue and one on the outside was just very hard work. Firstly they are very strong and therefore hard to move, secondly the one inside didn't always move with the outer one. I know this is because of the flue but it was worth a try.

Life is quite cosy in the tent even though it is quite cold, night times get down to around 4 degrees and daytime temperature hovers around the 10 degree mark. With the fire on inside it does get quite warm and I do have an electric 2kW fan for backup.

I work from the tent too which was working out well at the beginning, after a few days the novelty soon wore off for the dogs and they soon became restless as they were in the tent all day whilst I worked. The wind and rain lashed down for a while and the winds became so strong that it would lift the tent up at night. 

As cathartic as it is I do miss home comforts and the security of a roof over my head. It is a means to an end though and I am grateful to have this chance. The area is beautiful and the people here are wonderful. Well, it's only a few weeks to Christmas, fingers crossed at finding a house soon before the snow comes!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Bell Tent Life - too many nic nacks and not enough time!

Following on from the first few nights and a few weeks before the tent's first official outing I decided to get some things for it. Nothing like a last minute shop to get the stress levels up. I took a lot of inspiration from the Bell Tent group on facebook, what a lovely group!!!

Firstly I had to keep it all secret as it was a big surprise for my girlfriend Cheryl, all she knew at this point was I had bought some things and a tent. So I spent my mornings on eBay and Facebook collecting bits and bobs for the tent. Unfortunately not everything came on time but as I write this I am about to pack-up to see Cheryl later this week and take the new things with me. We live a few hours apart so I travel down to see her when possible, hence the tent as my house has now sold (see pic) and I will stay in the tent for the interim period while we find a house together. Dogs aren't allowed where she lives so the tent seemed like a good idea.

The gathering of things was a massive success, people kept coming over and asking to have a look in the tent as I started to adorn it with bunting and fairy lights - as I explained about the surprise more and more people came over. It did make me smile when a few of the couples walked away and the ladies said to the men "you never do things like that for me" and I figured I owed the men of the camp a beer haha.

So here's the tent in all it's glory. I'll write a little on each thing as I did comment on the group's post that I would tell everyone how and where I got things from.


Coir Matting sounded a touch harsh on the ol' feet so bought some rag rugs and some sheepskins. I also went to Asda to pick-up a fire-pit and ended up buying a huge thin black throw and a rubber backed mat. 
I didn't like the idea of walking straight in the tent so I looked in our wood store (have wood burning stoves at home) and found some softwood planks in various sizes and some paracord, then tied them all together with one continuous thread. The idea being that I could transport them around as a load of planks and create it each time. Although I ended up using it as firewood in the end to save packing it up.


It's a long story but I have three carved African chairs, all for less than £20 each. The really small one you see in the top picture is great for in the tent. I only had one delivered at the time but I have a matching one to take this week. The larger chair was so comfy and spent it's time by the fire pit. They are just two pieces of wood that slot together which means they fold away flat.

The firepit came from eBay and the cooking tripod was from eBay but I was too late so I called the guy and found out that he was 45 minutes from the camp site so I drove down to meet him in a car park. A bargain at £20! locally picked up.

A simple box found on eBay for £30, I did prefer some others but time was tight. Although it did it's job perfectly well.

I have more than what is shown in the photos as you can see from the links. I wanted a chandelier but I also wanted to make something as Cheryl is VERY good at making things and I wanted to show that I could turn my hand to something creative. 

So the lights are suspended from the main pole ring using some jack chain (hanging baskets) which you can get for about £2 a length. Using pliers I bent the links in places and hung a round parasol candle holder from it. Then I put another two chains down and hung some tealight lamps from that. I also have another tealight holder which didn't come on time, I plan to do the same and have all three in there. I found that searching for 'parasol candle holder' gave some awesome results but mainly from USA.

The little LED lights around the tent pole and the bed are battery powered. However the external ones... I can't remember where it was, I went shopping with a friend on the first night camping, had a drink, bought a toy unicorn and the rest was a blur :-/


Bunting / Accessories:
I got the bunting because Cheryl loves Alice in Wonderland so I found these on eBay. The signs on the pole I tied to the pole using some string that I found on the labels of the mats and the outside bunting I tied on using the guy ropes. Although they ended up ruined because the morning dampness soon lifted the ink off, to be expected though.

And now for all the piccies.

Bell Tent Life

This year has been manic to say the least, so manic that the house is now sold and I have no-where to live per-se. I have to wait for my partner to sell hers and we don't want to rush into a new one. I cannot move to where she is as it's no dogs allowed so I figure the next best thing was to buy a tent. Yes it's nearly October and yes it does sound mental but after months of research I found out that I'm not the only one!

I have slept in it in the garden for a bit and also been away at a game fair which went really well, they really are worlds apart from a nylon tent and I would never go back even after this short time.

After much hunting around I found what looked like a good company called Dusky Deer ( They just seemed quite personable on the site and explained the benefits well. So I parted with £399 of my hard earned pennies and purchased a 4m Bell.

Before this and whilst I was waiting for it to be delivered I spent weeks buying little things for it but kept it as a secret from my partner Cheryl. I took lots of inspiration from a fantastic group on facebook where everybody was so helpful and lovely. More on the bits and bobs that are in and on the tent >>here<<.

The tent came within a few days and I decided to get it pitched up so it could at least have one night of rain on it to weather it before I went away. I was amazed at how quick and easy they are to put up! 20 minutes and I was done, including putting some wooden guy doobreyfirkins on to replace the plastic ones.

The first night it rained, oh boy did it rain! So much that it came in the tent a little. Not through the fabric but through the zip on the groundsheet which was directly attributable to my shocking pegging out of the guy ropes leading to water wicking up underneath the skirt. That said, after 8 hours of heavy rain there wasn't enough to wet a tea-towel. The following morning was nice and sunny but amazingly it wasn't like a Chinese sweat shop inside like the nylon tent was. I was sold!

After a few days the weather dried up and I managed to pack it away, quickly realising that even though it was in the garden I needed to put something under the groundsheet so I didn't have to brush it all down as I packed it away so much. So the first purchase was an £8 blue groundsheet from B&Q.

Fitting it in the car was another story altogether. I bought, and bought, and bought, to the point that I couldn't see out of the rear view mirror and I could just see my left wing mirror. So the drive down was spent in the slow lane of the motorway due to not being able to see my blind spot!

The drive down was eventful as I had to pick-up a wooden box on the way and some camping fire irons. When I picked the box up I realised that I couldn't fit in in the car and had to unpack it in the middle of a street in Nottingham so I could put some things into it and put it back in the car! It dawned on me at that point that the firepit I was supposed to be picking up in Telford later certainly would not fit!

Long story short, it just fit and the first outing was a massive success.... more to follow.

Nice large bag with plenty of room.
No more trying to squeeze a tent down.
Lots of really strong pegs and some nice touches with the wooden guy things.

Really simple to lay out, few pegs into the groundsheet and then it's in with the pole.

One pole in and just the A frame to go.

Not a bad first job I thought, Even frank was impressed.

A quick lie down to take in how large it really was and I was immediately covered in spaniel.