Paying for Postage

This isn’t a big thing, but try explaining it to a 9 year old!

The other day I lost the little plastic cover from my removable towbar. I think I heard it come off on the motorway but thought nothing of it until the next morning when I noticed it was missing. The annoying thing is I put it on in the dark and probably knew it wasn’t on properly.

So on to the internet to find a replacement. With an idea in my head about a fair price for a piece of plastic smaller than the palm of my hand I went straight to the manufacturers website, knowing that it would be the most expensive, but at least I would have the name of the correct part so I could find it cheaper elsewhere.

The price was OK, £9 – I was expecting about £10 so not a bad guess. How much for postage? £7.60.

How does that work then. Nearly as much for postage as it is for the product itself, yet the product is a piece of plastic that will cost no more than £2.50 to post. A quick look round the rest of the web and it’s a similar story for all suppliers (I actually think everyone is getting the product drop shipped from the same place so no wonder it’s the same price).

So onto the point.

£15.60 isn’t bad for the product, delivered. So what’s the problem?

The problem is I feel like i am being ripped off on postage. If the product had been £13 with £2.60 postage I would have had the credit card out in a flash and bought it there and then. After all, if I don’t have it I risk getting the towbar hole clogged up with grit etc making it difficult to get the towbar in next time I use it.

So why so much for postage on such a small item, and why does it bother me so much that I may be getting ripped off? It’s not the cost itself, it’s the perception and the feeling that I am being overcharged for postage.

All I can say to those who run online shops is, please offer postage at a reasonable rate, otherwise you are going to lose sales.

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Intermittent Fasting (IF)

After many years of battling with my weight and even blogging in September last year about being on a diet, I decided to try something new.

I was skeptical at first, when my wife suggested that we look into intermittent fasting – known as the 5:2 diet. It looked too complicated, just a fad or a phase. After all there is no substitute for just eating less calories and making yourself feel miserable is there?

There are a few videos online about how it works and how the doctor who ‘invented’ the 5:2 diet came across it. After watching them and doing a little bit of digging it seems that there is a way of loosing weight and still eating pretty much what you want, and what you start to crave when you are on a ‘normal’ calorie counting diet. I say normal, but diets are not normal, eating sensibly and having smaller portions is normal, eating like a child who is growing and needs all the calories they can get to develop is not.

My wife wanted to give this a try so I thought why not, it can’t hurt can it? But what is it?

The basic premise of the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet is this. You eat ‘normally’ for 5 days and ‘fast’ for 2. Fasting means you can only eat 500 calories in the day, eating normally as i have already suggested means eating sensibly but doesn’t mean you have to diet or miss out on some of your favorite foods, even if these include chocolate, pizza and take away curry.

I try to follow these simple rules:

On a fast day:- No or very few carbs
– Try to eat 2 or 3 portions of fruit and veg
– Don’t eat breakfast, fast as long as you can maybe as long as 16 or 17 hours since your last meal (this is also known as 16:8 where you fast for 16 hours and eat within the other 8 hours)

On a normal or non-fast day
– Eat normally
– Try to get at least 4 portions of fruit and veg per day
– Don’t deprive yourself of anything

As I have already said I eat pizza, take away curry and rice, chocolate and bread (both white and brown). I also drink alcohol in the form of lager or Guinness. I can do this on the non-fast days and it means that I don’t crave any of these foods, something that I used to do all the time when I was on my last diet.

The other thing I do more of now is exercise, in the from of riding my mountain bike or more recently on my exercise bike as the weather isn’t great. You can read about my cycling exploits on my other blog all the gear no idea, a blog I write about my rides and the pictures I take whilst I am out. This isn’t part of my weight loss program and was something I started before Intermittent Fasting, but it is something that I enjoy and find much easier now that I am a lot fitter and healthier.

So does it work?

Without a shadow of a doubt I can say a resounding yes, it does work. In a little over 10 weeks I have lost 18lbs, I am lighter than I have been since I came out of hospital over 6 years ago and I am also lighter than I was when I got married nearly 15 years ago.

Not only that, my shape has changed. I wear clothes that I haven’t been able to in years and am also in danger of having to put a new hole in my belt, having gone from the first to the third hole and being well on the way to having to use the fourth – totally unheard of!

This isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. I will continue to fast intermittently for as long as I am happy to do so, going from 5:2 to 6:1 when I reach my final goal of loosing 36lbs. I’m halfway there and even with Christmas approaching I think I will get there early next year to be the lightest I have been since I was at school.

You can read about the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet here

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A New Blog

I have neglected my Loads of Things blog over the past few months, OK for most of 2013!

There are many excuses, things I have done instead, a number of drafts that never got finished, opinions that have changed and not enough hours in the day. But one of the biggest things that has changed is that I have started cycling again (I say again, the last time was perhaps when I was a teenager) and as such spend more time doing that than anything else. Instead of thinking about articles to write or things to say, I have been thinking about routes and gear and anything to do with riding my bike.

To go with the new ‘hobby’ I have also started a new blog. Yes I could have used this one, but it just felt right to keep the cycling stuff and my general rants separate, although they will be linked via this blog. The new blog will also have pictures of the places I visit and the views I see whilst riding. One advantage of living in the Pennines is that although the hills are big, you get some great views once you reach the top.

In a shameless effort to get some readers (that’s not why I am writing it, it’s for me to look back on in a few years to see how far I have come) here it is… And yes I do know that the URL is missing an e but the other one was taken and this is more literal – No I-D-A

I hope that some of you will follow me on my new blog, I will update this one from time to time with cycling and other things, I hope you enjoy it.

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Review of 2012

My wife asked me the other day what my highs and lows of 2012 had been. Looking back this was quite a tricky question to answer as I can’t really remember any real highs, lots of good times, but what constitutes a high? Also lows, not too much in this either except for the unfortunate passport incident which meant I had to postpone a business trip whilst picking up a new passport.

My other big low of the year was my oldest giving up gymnastics, something we were convinced she was good at and wanted to do, it turns out she was only going because we were pushing her to do it.

So without any real highs or lows I thought I would look back at my year and see what I have done. To aid my failing memory in 2013 I am participating in the 365 Project – where I will be taking one picture per day for the whole year, starting today.

After the usual slow start to the year we decided to buy a cat, mostly to sort out our mouse problem as we live next to lots of fields we always seem to get them each year. I also ran the sport relief mile with my oldest raising over £200 and took part in the a-z blogging challenge, writing a post every day in April.

Holidays in 2012 consisted of a few days camping in a very wet and very cold Pickering over the Jubilee weekend and 10 days camping in Cromer in late August, I think we will go a bit earlier this year!

I think we all enjoyed the Olympics and Paralympics, we didn’t get to see anything live, but managed to watch loads of different sports on TV even through the shocking coverage on Channel 4 of the Paralympics. I just hope that my children are inspired by the athletes, not necessarily to become great sports people, but to give their all and be the best that they can in whatever they do.

Family highs for me include seeing my youngest learning to talk so that we can finally understand most of what she is saying and my son learning to read to a higher standard than his older sister at the same age. The only downfall to this is he can now read everything I am typing (he’s sitting next to me eating his breakfast) so we have to be careful what we are looking at with the older 2 around!

2012 has ended on a high for my oldest, having her artwork chosen for the school e-card and front cover of the school play dvd, making her mum and dad very proud. She also competed in the inter-school ‘sports hall athletics’ competition, helping her school come first out of the 13 schools that took part.

So perhaps no massive highs (we didn’t win the lottery!) but then define high. I suppose with 3 children it is easy to miss some of the simple things that we take for granted like leaning to read, write, walk and talk which are in fact big things especially in a child’s life.

So here’s to a happy and high filled 2013, at least my passport won’t expire this year!

Categories: Daily Life, Just Stuff | Tags: , | 1 Comment

What’s in it for Me?

I get quite a lot of requests from businesses asking for feedback and for me to fill in a survey to ‘help them to improve their services’.

What I find more and more is that the first thing I look for is what’s in it for me? Why should I spend 3, 5 10 or even more of my precious minutes of the day filling in survey’s to improve services that I sometimes hardly use?

Is it wrong to expect some kind of incentive to give something and receive something back? Have I become too consumerised in my want for something for nothing? Well for me it’s not nothing, time is precious, time is money, so why should I give it away to make someone else more money by giving them advise and tips on how to make their products or services better? Some companies pay good money for that kind of insight and others want it for free.

So if anyone out there reading this is thinking of sending a survey to get better insight into how we use your service, just so that you can make it better – and no I don’t think an improved service is reward enough for my time, that should be a given, not an add on if I complete a survey – then please consider why the person you sent it to should fill it in.

You never know you may just get better results.

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Losing Weight – I’m on a Diet

I have finally decided, after many years of being ‘overweight’ that it is time to lose weight and become more healthy. I want to do this not just for me, but for my children too.

Unlike other attempts to reach a target weight, this time I am inspired by the recent London 2012 Olympics and more so the Paralympics, not to get fit, but to put in the effort and not to give up.

I have tried this before, numerous times and although I have reached a certain level, I have never been able to get down to a weight I would like to be, nor have I been able to maintain the weight loss I have achieved.

So here I am, back to the same weight as I was when my oldest (now 9) was born, having already lost the amount of weight I need to do now, all be it in four or five attempts added together!


I will talk about how I am going to lose the weight in a moment, but the first thing I have done is to set some simple goals. On the face of it they seem very easy to meet, but I know in the dark times in the middle of winter and the run up to Christmas, all I will want to do is come home in the dark and eat some chocolate and a couple of beers.

From a starting point of 15 stone 5lbs goal 1 is to be under 15 stone.

Goal 2 is then to be 14 stone 12lbs – thus giving a 7lbs or half a stone loss

Goal 3 is to be 14 stone 9lbs – so I am in single figures in the lbs

Goal 4 is 14 stone 7lbs – just because I am then 14 1/2 stone

Goal 5 is 14 stone 5lbs – as I will have lost 1 stone

Goal 6 is then the same as goal 1, but to be under 14 stone, and so the cycle continues.

The hope is that lots of small achievable goals will help to make the thought of having to lose 3 stone easier to manage.


I’m not ashamed to say that I am on a diet. Yes there is healthy eating and a balanced lifestyle, both of which I believe will help me along the way, but the truth is I am on a diet.

There are loads of things I could do, Weight Watchers, Atkins, Slimming World, to name but a few. All very good if that’s what keeps you going, but for me it is a simple case of counting calories. I say simple, I am using an online system to count calories of everything I eat coupled with changing the amount and type of food that I consume.

I used to have a packet of crisps everyday as a snack around 10.30, now I have a nectarine. I have cut out / down on bread and I have reduced the amount of pasta and rice I eat with meals like Chilli and Spaghetti Bolognese. All of which is designed to allow me to eat more volume of fruit and vegetables that are lower in calories so that I feel fuller for longer.

The basics are to eat less of healthier food and don’t go over the calorie limit for the day set by the website I use. Simple.

I will of course be doing some exercise to help my weight loss. Exercise will not be an excuse to eat rubbish in the false hope that I can burn off the amount of calories in a double decker bar in 10 minutes on my exercise bike. Exercise should be used to help and make me feel better and not as the miracle cure to my weight loss problems.


I am two weeks into my diet and healthy eating and so far I have lost 9lbs. Too much too soon? Maybe, but I am happy with both the weight loss and the amount I am eating. It isn’t just about being on a diet, it is about changing the way I think about food in general that will see me through to my goal.

As long as, in the dark days ahead (of which I am sure there will be many) I can remember the extra ordinary dedication and sacrifice people like David Weir, Jess Ennis and the other sporting heroes from this summer, I will reach my goals and most importantly remain at my target weight.

Categories: Daily Life | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

I Wish

There are loads of things I could wish for, more money or win the lottery, be more healthy or loose some weight (without having to try), for world peace or reduce global suffering and poverty but that isn’t what this post is about.

What I wish for here is the little things in life that make things better, those little thing that annoy us on a daily basis as we go about our daily lives. Just things that if other people thought, just for a second, about people other than themselves, life would be so much better. Most of this revolves around my working life as I spend most of my waking time at work, so here goes.

I wish people would put the lid down on the bin in the kitchen, when it gets hot it stinks

I wish that the person who leaves t-bags in the sink would put them in the bin, you don’t even have to lift the lid as that has already been left up

I wish people would stop leaving time on the microwave when they have finished with it – it doesn’t take much to clear it ready for the next person

I wish people would indicate on roundabouts so you know if you can pull out or not

I wish people would stop hogging the outside lane on the motorway, especially the Nissan Micra that was overtaking it’s shadow at 70 miles per hour last night with a huge queue of people wanting to overtake.

I wish people would put subject lines in their emails, come on that’s just lazy

I wish people who send round funny videos would say what it is about and not just say this is awesome – I will be the judge of that

I wish people would leave things as the found them, or at least put things back once they’ve used them so we don’t have to hunt for them just to use the salt

Finally I wish I was perfect, but I’m not.

What do you wish?

Categories: Just Stuff | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Just Once

We all know someone who likes to be the centre of attention. Be it in our working life or just people we know or indeed call friends.

But why do these people want to always be the centre of attention? And why do they think that in doing what we do, we will like them any more or think of them any higher. Because the bottom line is we usually don’t.

You know the people I am referring to. It’s that person at work who always has to be involved in things that are nothing to do with them. They have to know everything so that they can see if what you are doing is better than what they are doing so that they can get involved. They take your ideas and pass them off as their own, or tell you that they had already thought of it but just never got round to telling you about it.

Does any of this sound familiar?

If not how about the friends who always have to have done what you have done, just better, faster or longer? You must know someone who, every time you tell a story, they’ve done the same thing just better? How about when you lost weight, your friend lost more. Or you lost weight in a short period of time, they lost more in less time?

My question is why, why do they have to do it and what do these people think they are achieving by doing it? All it does is wind people up, maybe not outwardly, but I can bet that if you know people like this you moan about them behind their backs, but never to their face.

I then start to feel a bit sorry for them. Is it because they are insecure or did something happen in their childhood to make them that way? Whatever the reason, perhaps they could take a step back and think, just for one second, how their actions make the people around them feel, because we may not all want to be the centre of attention, but maybe, just once, it would be nice to be the person who came up with the great idea, or the one who did it faster, higher or better.

Just once.

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Opinions – We All Have Them

We all have opinions, on a range of different subjects and they are all invariably different. An opinion can be defined as a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. In other words if you can’t prove it, it’s just an opinion rather than a fact.

My question is why?

At what point in our evolution did we start to form opinions that are different to those of other people. Was it the cavemen who one day came out of a cave, one said it’s cold out today, the other said doesn’t feel too bad. That’s a difference of opinion.

How did it come to this, that everyone has an opinion and in most cases it is different to everyone else around them. Even if you agree with someone’s opinion in general, there are bound to be bits which you don’t agree with – now that’s my opinion and I’m sure you, reading this, will have a different opinion on the subject.

You only have to look through time to see how opinions have shaped the way we live. The biggest one is probably religion. Does God or Gods exist, in whatever form and from whichever religion you believe in, it is still your opinion because you can’t say for certain.

The other one is politics. Which is better, red or blue, conservative or labour, socialist or right wing. I’m not going to give my opinion on that because it’s a whole other topic and one I don’t feel the need to investigate in this post!

Today, one of the most talked about Radio 1 DJ’s decided to quit and move on to other things, I am of course talking about Chris Moyles. Lots of people have their opinion about him as a person, most of whom have never met him, or indeed ever listened to his radio show, but it doesn’t stop people from giving their opinion, good or bad.

Not only do we have opinions, some people like to share them with others as often as possible, as if we want to hear what they have to say and that we may want to agree with them rather than forming our own opinion (a bit more politics creeping in perhaps). Take the Daily Mail website, where you can not only leave your opinion on a story, you can also agree or disagree with the opinion of others.

How did it come to this? As a race how did we start to form such different opinions that people want to kill each other when someone doesn’t share their opinion? Have we always been like this? Do monkeys and chimps have opinions and can they express them in the same way that we can? I will never know the answer, it is something that, having seen the hate and vitriol that comes with different opinions made me wonder where it all started.

So what’s your opinion of this post, do you like it or is it just a load of old waffle? Why not leave me a comment and let me know!

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2 Pages or Not 2 Pages – That is the Question

I have been recruiting for a placement student to work in our company in the coming year and felt I had to comment on the quality of the CV’s and covering letters that we received.

In years gone by we were told to keep your CV down to no more than two pages, but that was always a guideline not a hard and fast rule.

Having employed many people over the past 15 or so years, and read 100’s and 100’s of CV’s I can’t for the life in me understand why senior people within educational institutions insist in telling students to write their CV in such a way as it must not, under any circumstances, be more than two pages.


If you’ve got enough to say and you say it in such a way as it has to go onto three pages then so be it. Take one example of a CV I received the other day. It has so much waffle, no line breaks and very little white space on it, I couldn’t have read it even if I wanted to. It was presented this way so that the CV didn’t go over the magic two pages (I know this because I emailed the person who sent it to me with some tips). I felt that I had to email the person because they had some useful skills and I wanted to read more, I just couldn’t as it hurt my eyes.

Of course I am just one person, as was pointed out in a recent interview when the person I was interviewing, in response to me saying I don’t mind if CV’s go over two pages said “everyone is entitled to their opinion”. Cheeky git. Yes it’s my opinion, but then I am an employer, I read these things, I pick the people who I want to interview based on the information I read and if you missed something off just to get it down to two pages then more fool you.

So here’s the point.

If you apply for a job, there will be at least another 40 or so people who are also applying for that job and quite often there will be loads more. So your CV had better be good, more to the point your CV needs to contain the information I need to know. Here are my tips.

If you are looking for a position with particular skills like a computer programmer, start with a list of skills. I currently employ people who code PHP so if you code .NET I don’t need to read any further. List your skills with a length of time and competency level. If you have more generic skills like business development or strategic thinking you can list these up front here too.

What I don’t want to have to do as an employer is to have to trawl through loads and loads of text to find the skill sets I need – use bullet points and pull them out in a list near the top of the page.

If you have relevant qualifications tell me about them next. I don’t need to know what you have GCSE’s in if you have A level’s. Just tell me how many and at what grade. If you have a degree, do the same with A level’s because to have a degree you need A level’s (or equivalent) and so on.

Employment – this is the big one. Don’t lie or tell me you have an eBay shop when all you have done is sell your mate’s golf clubs and a broken iPod. If you get an interview you will be found out and go straight down the list of credible candidates.

You don’t need to put every job you’ve ever done, keep it to the ones that are relevant or just list older ones. No need to go on and on, we will get the picture!

So for employment, give the job title, company, dates and a short description of the company, then try to give some key points like responsibilities and achievements. That way I can see at a glance if the experience you have matches what we need.

No need for references, we can ask for those if you are successful and it just wastes space you could use to tell me how great you are. If you want to put what you do in your spare time then go for it. It’s not necessary and shouldn’t sway anyone’s judgment, but it does give an insight into the person you are and what you like to do outside of work.

Last point but the most important – tailor the CV to the industry or company you are applying to. Make what you say relevant to the people you are talking to, pick out skills or achievements (that you have), which are described in the job advert.

And before you ask my CV is two and a half pages long!

Categories: The Day Job | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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