Better Things

If you have read this blog for a while you will know that I am a big fan of the punk band – The Bouncing Souls.


One of my favourite songs by them is called Better Things.  With catchy, feel good lyrics, this makes it a classic Souls anthem.  But when I first ventured into the Gold Records lyric sheets it turned out it was not written by them, but by Ray Davies – of the Kinks. Continue reading

A man of many talents

This year I made a cake for my birthday.

Being aware of many of the activities I do (many of which I highlight in this blog).

Someone remarked “You’re a man of many talents”

I guess I am.  But the reason I am is because I make the effort to apply myself and try.

I know my cake was not the best cake out there, but I made the effort and had something there.

The key to having many talents is to doing many things.

I remember the first cake I made, it was far too small, so I doubled the ingredients.

Then it was a bit brown, so I turned the heat down on the oven,

Many experiences through trial and error made me improve, to make a reasonable cake.

I am a man of many talents, I am not exceptional, but I can probably do a lot of things better than average.  That is because I try.

  • I draw.
  • I write.
  • I go to the gym.
  • I run.
  • I climb.
  • I work.
  • I cook.
  • I speak a bit of French.
  • I take pictures.
  • I make cards.
  • I use Microsoft Office.
  • I use WordPress.
  • I can write a good job application.
  • I am confident at presenting, that I can at least engage a listener for a short amount of time.

These things I have some sort of talent for, because I try and I guess if I wanted to really exceed at something I should just focus on one thing.

But all my talents had a beginning where I was bad or below average at it.

For example I know I am bad at putting up a shelf – because I never do it, but if I did it on a regular basis I would become good at it.

To be a man of many talents, requires one simple thing – to start.

Just what the doctor ordered

I walked in to see my GP a gibbering wreck.  Despite knowing I needed to do this, there was a reluctance to what I was about to do.

Despite being at my peak of fitness I doddered over to my seat like an 80 year old.

I sat down and swallowed, my nerves made me very tense as I clung to my chair.  The doctor patiently waited for me to share my aliments.  Realising I wasn’t going to say anything he opened up. Continue reading

Unlucky for some…

I play bingo – no lie.


Nearly every Friday for the last six month I go down to the local working men’s club and play four rounds of bingo.  I haven’t won that cash prize once.

Logically I struggle to understand why some regulars win it more than others.  They are there pretty much every week – but then so am I.  If I went by mathematically probability I would have won by now.

But then you get the non-regulars who turn up once every so often and get a winner.

Maths should have the answer to everything, but not with bingo – it is purely down to luck – yet we all know that luck is for losers and that only those who try really hard should get all the spoils.

Yet it doesn’t work like that.

Every success in my life has been down to hard work, there is arguably luck in certain aspects – usually involving  right place, right time situations.

My mum has the habit of saying “I really need to win the lottery.”  But I always have to remind her – she never plays it and with the element of being lucky – you have to be in it to win it.

I have been at bingo so long and never once experienced a win – I know that if I keep going I will win because of, well the law of maths.  In this example I am willing to try, try and try again no matter how many times I lose.

The first time I went I didn’t win and I thought I might not bother going again – but by not trying I would never win!

And that is a lesson to learn with what has happened and what will happen with the rest of my life –

  • I only become a good runner by running regularly.
  • I only got stronger by going to the gym on a consistent basis.
  • I only got into a long term relationship by talking to women.
  • I only got a degree by working hard and studying.
  • I will only get better jobs by always being open and looking for the next opportunity.
  • I will only win if I  compete.
  • I will only get what I want if I make the effort.

Along the way I have experienced lots of failure with these experiences.  Then the day you win, someone turns round and says how lucky you are.

You make your own luck by doing things more and participating.

I never thought when I first went to bingo that it would bring an Epiphany on luck.

Anyway – eyes down!  I think tonight may be my night for bingo…



It appears I am not the only one making efforts to work out bingo wins by probability


Back to the gym (take 2)


I really tried to make the gym I joined in  April work.  But it just never  right and I never developed a steady routine.  It was always difficult getting to it after work and it was always a problem getting stuck in rush hour work traffic if I went in the morning.

My life has changed a lot – the time I used to spend at the gym has suddenly got more scarce.  So I have had to work smarter to develop a routine.

The council run gym was 4 miles from where I lived and in the old days when I had lots of time I would have been getting up early on Saturday to run the four miles, then do a two hour gym session followed by running the four miles back!

The best I managed was a 3/4 time a week routine for a month, but it did not last.  The gym was okay at best, but quiet expensive for what you got as it had a big swimming pool which I never used to maintain.

I decided it was not worth the money and so I began looking elsewhere.

As I have started stepping up my running for the Spartan Beast I have been running from the outskirts of the city centre into work – twice a day.  During this journey I have ran past a 24 hour gym about half mile from where I work.

This was not the 24 hour gym I refer to in my other post, but another one (apparently 24 hour gyms are quiet normal in a city centre?)

When I was at my fitness peak I benefited fro having a gym on the doorstop where I worked – that meant I could go before, during or after work – it all depended how I felt that day.  It is a lot easier walking to a gym down the road than having to fight your way through rush hour traffic after a tough day at work.

The council gym didn’t open till 7am, so it was always a rush getting into work and it always suffered from the early morning crowd all eager to have a quick session before work.  A big appeal was having the flexibility of when I could go training.

After having a meeting in the same building the 24 hour gym was located I walked in and made a purchase of a 1 year gym membership!  The membership was £10 cheaper as there was no big expensive pool to maintain.

1st Day back training

This morning I had my first workout – not the best idea as I had been to a wedding the night before but thought I should start as I mean to go on.  So I parked on the outskirts of Leeds and ran to the gym.

The benefit of the gym is that it had some of my old favourites such as battle ropes.  The downside was that the medicine balls weren’t heavy enough!  Never mind its good enough.

I don’t know if it was from running to the gym or having a late night but it was really hard – my frustration is always going to be that I am not as good as I used to be.  But the only way to beat that is to maintain a constant training schedule.

Another benefit was the space of the free weights area – there was plenty of space and not too many people training (I imagine being open 24 hours means that the insane 5/6am weight training crowd can get in!)

This membership is for a year, so this time I have no choice but to make the best of it..  I am determined to get back in my old ‘Spartan’ shape.

All the best – James

Money vs Happiness


One of the key elements of my ‘Money’ system is to move up the career ladder

Recently I have had the opportunity to fill in for a senior member of staff who has been on long term sick.  As I was covering a large part of their duties, I viewed this as an opportunity to prove myself and felt that by the time they returned I would have been ready for promotion.

I have carried out a number of more responsible tasks, liaised with the top execs in my organisation and gained knowledge in new areas.

But if I am honest – I hate their job.

I love my job – I may not be as important as them and my duties are only of minor importance and could be done by anyone with half a brain.  But their job is seriously  boring.

My job has its tedious tasks and duties, which are well below my abilities.  But it also gives me the opportunity to be creative where I want.  I learnt new software such as SharePoint and this gave me the confidence to build a website used by a wide range of people within the organisation.

I really want opportunities to develop, but I don’t want a promotion for the sake of achieving promotion – sure the extra money is nice, but I would rather stay happy.

For now, I will be patient, develop my skills in the areas that interest me  and gain promotion working with those things, rather than keep doing tasks that I hate.

Doing this job in the short term has been positive, it has given me confidence in what I can do, but I have no interest in there job.

I can’t say that I have achieved promotion just yet, but sometimes not getting instant results is not always a bad thing.

For the short term I would have had a growth in money, but a decline in happiness.

If I had really wanted to I could have been promoted, but that would have led to more sucking up to executives every needs and taking minutes.  At best this would lead me to becoming a senior PA – I have nothing against people who choose this path, but well – that just is not me.

I see myself in the next two to five years becoming a Project Analyst.  With my academic background, experiences and my skills that is my best route.  By waiting I will improve my financial situation, without taking that hit on happiness.

I still think I will be promoted by the end of the year – people see how good I am, its just a case of picking the right opportunity to lead me to my Analyst objective.


Till next time, I will be keeping the photocopier stacked with paper – James

Making Hand Made Cards 2015

Although I have not made hand made cards with the same intensity as I did around Christmas.  I have made a few cards for various occasions.




I have really upped my game since I started Card making.  Although I enjoyed the work I did at Christmas I did feel that they were amateurish.

I also had a limited budget which meant I was creating dozens of cards from limited stock.

They say practice makes perfect and with time, effort, persistence and opportunity to increase my stock of craft making materials I feel I am producing some high quality cards.

Card making became my creative pursuit because all my hobbies involved exercise, which was no good when I was tired and wanted to relax.

Everyday is a learning process as I learn new techniques.  Sometimes I have no idea what I am going to design and am inspired only by colours or particular craft items.

I also keep a supply of recycled materials and buy cheap cards to cut up for my work.

The only problem now is my small box is increasingly becoming bigger and I need to sort out all my materials.

Till next time “I think I am the only man that makes his own cards” James