Author Archives: Nigel

A haircut and fake news

I went to get what little hair I have left cut this morning. Whilst waiting I picked up one of The Sun newspapers that were lying around and had a quick read. The issue was from 7th July and the front page headline was that there is a butter shortage and prices are going to increase. They put the shortage down to increasing demand due to studies now saying butter is not bad, and to the Great British bake off sparking an increase in home baking. I put that copy down and picked up todays copy, and a little way into the rag I read the headline ‘Floggy Bottom’, sales of cake ingredients down 27m. Supermarkets are reporting a fall in cake making ingredients, a 12% fall. over the last year. I don’t know why I am surprised, the Sun is pretty much a work of fiction inspired by what is going on in the world. Although the Sun maybe the joke newspaper that the ‘Great British people love’ it is still promoting the agenda for the billionaire owner, whatever that is. The same goes for all the other newspapers, the spin is always in the interests of the billionaires. I find it much more interesting and significant the news the papers and media don’t follow and report on. You have to dig a little deeper into the depths of the internet but it is there, and when you find it, you just don’t get why this is not on the BBC or front page headlines. The site that carry this new might be obscure, but the sources are all mainstream, government agencies and the like, which makes it all the more incredible that we don’t see it on the news. However the rise in butter prices for fictional reasons makes the front page.

Voting for the same, all the time

Our political system in the UK is designed to split the population, to keep roughly half the population opposed to the other half. With this sort of split,  the powers that actually run the show can pretty much do what ever they want.  Take the EU referendum,  that really did split the population, there can be no argument about that. Both sides end up voting for things they do not want,  as the arguments for each side were pre loaded.  For those that wanted to remain,  you were effectively voting to further the globalisation march of big business,  probably not what many remainers wanted,  but they were voting for other stuff,  but in order to do so had to accept that aspect.  As for the leavers, they had to vote for racist anti humanitarian policies if they wanted to vote against the globalisation policy of the EU’s controlling big businesses.  Both sides were right in their passion for fighing for what they believe, both sides were duped into agreeing to something they did not want. This is how politics works, keep the people divided and keep a majority of people voting for some of the policies that keep us poor and serve big business. People end up voting with fear being a driving force,  fear of poverty,  fear of losing the wealth you have,  fear of losing your job etc.  The stick being used to beat the population with fear always reverts back to money,  and money always leads back to big business and the banking system. They are our masters,  they dictate what we should argue about, what will keep us split as a population. 

Bensons for Beds, the saga part 1

On the 2nd January 2017, something very exciting happened with my wife and in our married life, a first. After twenty three and a half years of marriage we brought a new bed. The beds we have had were previous to our marriage or discards from other family members. We always make do, we have never been too fussed, but as we have become older comfort is now more important. Therefore the day after the New Year festivities (hangover free and feeling refreshed ) we travelled to our nearest bed shop, which is Bensons for Beds. We had already half decided which frame we wanted, and seeing it again cemented that decision. We now just had to find a mattress. After trying almost every single one in the shop, (including those that we could not possibly afford), we decided, unanimously, (a great achievement for us) on a mattress. We were very pleased with ourselves and now  just needed to order and pay for it. We found a sales person who took the order, and then announced that it would be an extra £39.50 for delivery. Me, I was just happy to swallow it and get on with the paperwork, but Kerry, my wife, had other ideas,

“What we have to pay to have it delivered? Can we pick it up instead ourselves? We can’t, but we still have to pay? That sounds stupid.”

The sales person buttered up the sale (and quietened her down) by throwing in a couple of over-priced pillows to compensate for the delivery fee. Sales person happy, Wife happy, I was happy, and the delivery date was set for 26th January 2017, anytime during the day, it was a £44.50 charge to specify AM or PM delivery.

The said day arrived and I was up early to deconstruct our old bed, and vacuum the mountain of dust that had accumulated underneath. In addition I cleared away 14 books and three Ordnance Survey maps from underneath Kerry’s side! Of course my side was completely clear. Space was created to construct the new bed when it arrived. At 10:40am I had the call, they were 20 minutes away, and bang on 11am there was a knock on the door. The two delivery guys were stood there and said there was a bit of a problem, not all the packages had been loaded for my order. They said they don’t load the vans, and that this was the third one that day where something had been missed. They delivered what they had, (basically the slats for the bed had been left out) and told me to call the customer help line and they will sort it out. I got the booklet out that we got at the time of the order and I will quote directly from the booklet;

“If your order is incorrect or we deliver the wrong product then (as long as the right one is in stock) we’ll contact you to rearrange delivery. Where possible, this will be the same or next day”

Well, I was to find out that statement is pure fantasy, and impossible for the company to for fill with their procedures.

As I was telephoning customer services, after reading the statement, I felt hopeful that we would still be in our nice new bed by the weekend -it was Thursday. Apparently they were exceptionally busy and I could press 1 to save my place in the 20 minute queue. I duly did press 1 and waited and a call did happen after about 20 minutes, I was quite impressed, not like BT. Anyway problem explained, they could not tell me anything, they could not book anything, they just sent an email to another department and told me,

“You will get a call sometime.”

“When ?” I asked.

“Don’t know”, was the reply,” it’s chaos at the moment in the warehouse, and they are making loads of mistakes like this.”

I asked to speak to a manager and they arranged for one to call me. They eventually did and said there was nothing they could do for 24 hours as that’s how long it takes to get a reply from the department that sorts out deliveries, so she said she would contact me the next day. Of course that call never came the next day, so I rang up late just before the call centre closed. I was told of course, nothing new and sorry if the call did not happen as the manager was really busy sorting out lots of complaints, not just mine, it was inferred that I was being a bit selfish and the guy actually shouted at me saying they had taken over 2000 calls in the centre that day. I did remind him that I was the customer and he calmed down a bit.

Our bedroom is now full of bed boxes, and we are sleeping in the spare room, actually the spare bed, although a bit small, is very comfy, but it is a bit of a way to our bedroom which has become a very big and cluttered dressing room!

It was not until the following Monday that I received a call from Bensons saying that the missing box from the delivery will be delivered on 17th February. To say we were unhappy with this is just a minor understatement. They told us they would sort out some compensation once it was delivered, but could not tell me what it would be or who would sort it out. I therefore called that local branch where the manager agreed to refund the delivery charge plus £100. I then asked if I were to cancel the order how quickly could they pick up the parts that are here. He did not know I would have to call customer services. So I called them again, and I was told it was the branch that sorts that out! It turns out that the bed frame was an incomplete order so it was customer services that sorts that out, but the mattress order was complete so the branch had to sort that out, you really could not make this up. Anyway the earliest they could pick the stuff up if I cancelled would have been 21st February. We therefore decided to wait it out for the delivery on the 17th.  The next day I reported the company to the Advertising Standards Agency for making false claims in their literature. I also emailed Bensons to let them know what I had done, and also to inform them I was writing this article which I will give them a chance to reply to before I publish. Later that day I get another call from Bensons to say that they will pick up the bed on the 7th February as I had cancelled! I pointed out that I had not cancelled and they then said they could deliver the missing box on the 7th instead now. In addition the branch is going to sort out a fitter to make it all up for us free of charge as well.

On the whole there is nothing wrong with Bensons staff, they are all doing their jobs to the best of their abilities given the structure and procedures the company operate around. It is the inflexibility of this structure that causes the problems to customers and stress to the staff, as they really cannot do anything apart from operate to this inflexible system. This type of operation and system are very efficient when they work, I have seen this a lot from my time in the financial services industry.  It is fantastic for the mass market, however when things go wrong, and that is a certainty as not everything fits the system, it can go horribly wrong. The test of a company’s customer services is not when things go well, it is when there is a mistake; that is when a company’s true customer service skill comes through. Bensons customer services involves trying to shoehorn you back into their already overstretched system, it just does not work. But this comes from being part of the multi-billion pound furniture goliath that is Steinhoff International. Profit of course is their driving force, it is all a number s game to them and a bit of bad service to a few customers is inconsequential, they know that it is cheaper to provide a bad service to those few customers as it is all about the numbers. Of course the millionaire suits at the top of the tree don’t have to engage with unhappy customers; they pay people the minimum amount possible to do that on their behalf. They have to ensure the rich can get even richer, and we all play a part in this game, we really do not seem to have a choice. If you trace the ownership of many high street brands they all lead back to a handful of companies, so you see we have the illusion of choice, but that is it.

Bensons have decided they did not want to respond to my request for comment. In addition I  received a phone message late on the evening of the 6th February saying the missing part will not be delivered on the 7th now as it is not in stock!

Part two of this saga will follow.

Two weeks after the Fast

It is now two weeks since the end of my two week fast where all I consumed was water. Eating is now back to normal, my heart rate is back to normal, and energy wise, I have loads. I am now eating everything I used to eat, but as much as possible it is organic. Now that I have done the full detox, I don’t really want to fill the body with rubbish again. Having said that it was the start of the six nations championships yesterday, and I ate a load of cheese and crackers and a few bottles of beer. However I have been in calorie deficit since the fast; that is I am still consuming less than my body is using. Although I am still not eating enough to run my body I am still gaining weight, replacing glucose reserves in the muscles etc, but still burning fat. Looking back at the stats from my previous fasts, the first one I did I lost 12.1kg and then gained 5.6kg afterwards, giving a net loss of 6.5kg. The second fast I lost 13.4kg and then gained 7.9kg giving a net loss of 5.5kg. That second fast I completely lost it on after a few days of eating again and over did things. With this fast total loss was 13.1kg and the gain has been 3.2kg. My eating has been much more controlled and I feel much better, and the bonus is I have still not got the cold that the rest of the family have had.

Looking back on my fast the stand out thing for me was when my body started to react to the cleaning gel I put on my hands and the washing powder residue on my clothing. My interpretation of this is that your body does not normally have the resources to repel these chemicals. With enough resources freed up, your body has the resources to clear out more threats. Knowing that the slightest chemical contamination can affect the body has made me more aware of what I eat and what I come in contact with. Just because your body is not reacting to it does not mean it is not having a negative effect, it just means the body is not coping with it and perhaps not able to metabolise the chemicals, therefore the residue is just stored. It is that gradual increase of ‘stored chemicals’ that will have a negative effect on your health. Slow poisoning, there is no long term studies on this, but so much evidence that this is a major health issue, purely on the amount of people that have a turn around on their health when detoxing with whatever method they use and the change of diet, by cutting out the rubbish.

My next goal is to get my weight down to under 90kg. I am to maintain a calorie intake of 1500 to 2000 during week days and 2000-3000 at weekends. If I manage to maintain that it should take eight weeks to hit my target but I will give myself to Easter which is 10 weeks. I may do another blog update then on this subject.

Weight today 97.7Kg, water drank today is 1.5 litres. Resting Heart Rate is 67 BPM. Calories consumed 2400.

One week after the Fast

A week of eating now behind me, I did a six mile walk today with relative ease. My heart rate is falling quickly back to normal and my appetite has returned to normal. I will still take it easy over the coming two weeks, restricting my calorie intake to 1500 – 2000 per day. Today is my last of my daily updates; I may do another update next week.

Today I cooked a Sunday roast for everyone. I usually do myself a nut or lentil roast, but today I decided just to go for vegetables. Roast pork for the family, together with roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips. I all put together an array of 7 other vegetables, (I wanted to taste everything!); beetroot, carrots. Broccoli, green beans, sweetcorn, cabbage and of course brussel sprouts. The sprouts I roasted in coconut oil with salt, pepper and Harissa spice. Served with olive oil and a drizzle of pomegranate syrup. The recipe can be found here. http://ohsheglows.com/2015/11/21/mouth-watering-crispy-brussels-sprouts-plus-7-ways-to-flavour-them/  It is outstanding. The whole meal was outstanding, and the fact that I was sat down with the family eating pretty much the same meal was great as well. The problem was that it was so good that I ended up eating much more than I should have, but hey ho, it has been a while since I have had a proper meal like that.

Back to normal (ish), this week I will reintroduce, cheese, eggs, beans and lentils. Bread, in limited amounts will come in next weekend.

Weight today 95.7Kg, water drank today is 1.5 litres. Resting Heart Rate is 74 BPM. Calories consumed 1,477.

Day 6 after the Fast

Eating wise soup and smoothies made up most of today, but I ended my eating journey today with a detox salad. I am getting more veggies into the diet now and cutting back the fruit. My breakfast smoothie this morning was raw beetroot, sugar snap peas and a banana. This is something I would normally have for breakfast at times anyway. The smoothies I try and keep to the ratio of 70-80% veg and 20-30% fruit. However I have been enjoying a mid-afternoon smoothie made from 4-6 clementines, which I will keep going just to maximise the vitamin C, to try and fight the cold everyone around me seems to be going down with.

During the two last days of the fast, or the dark days of the fast as I think of them, I spent my time reading, or rather fantasising over recipe books, websites and You Tube videos. I have discovered many new recipes to add to my diet, and learnt quite a bit about cooking techniques. It was a very fruitful two days. One of the recipes that came from this weekend of fantasy was the detox salad. I made this last night in preparation for today to let the flavours infuse overnight. The recipe can be found here. http://ohsheglows.com/2011/09/27/detox-salad/

The detox salad consists of broccoli cauliflower, carrots, sunflower seeds, fresh parsley, raisins, fresh lemon juice and kelp powder. Served with a drizzle of maple syrup, it was wonderful, and I have enough for another couple of meals. In addition I nicked a couple of chips at dinner time, they did taste good!

My heart rate continues to fall, as I said yesterday, in correlation to my rising hunger.

Weight today 95.3Kg, water drank today is 3 litres. Resting Heart Rate is 76 BPM. Calories consumed 1,208.

Fifth day after the Fast

Proper food today, proper solids, food I could chew for the first time in 19 days. It was so good, in fact too good. I made a veggie stir fry, consisting of; cauliflower and broccoli stalks thinly cut, (the rest of the cauliflower and broccoli are part of a salad for tomorrow), green beans, green pepper, cabbage, garlic, (five cloves), and beansprouts. It was very green and the massive wok full of the stuff, including the cooking oil came in at 420 calories. I had a huge bowl of it, leaving the same again for this evening. The problem was that it was just too good. I ate it slowly, savoured it, and after I wanted more, I did not want that taste experience to end, so I promptly dished out the rest into the bowl. I justified it to myself as it was such few calories, however just a quarter of the way into that second bowl I felt, very full and stopped, saving the rest for the evening. I felt bloated and a bit uncomfortable for most of the afternoon. This is the problem of eating again, your mind wants to eat loads but the body is just not equipped for it. Coming out of my last too fasts, this is the point it starts to go wrong, quite simply I ate too much and too much of the wrong stuff. This completely overloads the recovering body. The result in both previous fasts was a stinking cold at the end of the second week of eating. Then again those times I compounded things by training at judo and going to a boxercise class in the second week. I am determined not to do the same again, having said that the rest of the family have all gone down with really bad colds, so it might be coming my way anyway.

Another plus is my heart rate has started to drop; this has a direct correlation with my hunger which is now returning to a bit of normality. It means that my body is burning less fat now hence the lower heart rate, and the bonus is that my feet and hands are now warming up.

Weight today 95.3Kg, water drank today is 1.5 litres. Resting Heart Rate is 78 BPM. Calories consumed 1,047

Day three & four after the fast

 

Sorry for the lack of update yesterday, I got how late and did not have time to write it, so a double write up today.

Yesterday I saw the introduction of hot food; leek, sugar snap pea and spinach soup to be precise. It was very green, and it tasted wonderful. I had one large bowl for lunch and one and a half in the evening, Breakfast was pineapple and melon smoothie. The fruit smoothis is sitting much easier with me for breakfast. I finished off the evening with a glass of Kefir once again. My Kefir granules arrived today so I set them to work on a a quarter pint of unhomogenised milk, (that is the old fashioned milk that has not been messed about with, where the cream gathers at the top), it is surprisingly hard to find. I finished off the day drinking many cups of Earl Grey Roobios tea chatting to a friend.

Today with my energy levels still quite low, and that fact that I had a slight pang of hunger for the first time, I decided to get more direct carbs to see if this would make a difference. I kicked off with the now standard fruit smoothie, Pineapple and mango today. I then dismantled the bed as we are having a new one delivered today. Bed dismantled, room cleaned and just in time as the delivery van arrives. Very excited as we have been waiting three weeks for the bed and mattress, but we could have done with a new one years ago! Anyway, apparently not all the boxes had been loaded at the depot, so I was a box short, the delivery guys said sorry, they don’t load it and it was the third one that day already with an incomplete order. I would have to call the customer services number and sort out the delivery with them. That call did not go well. To cut a long story short, the company is in a mess with no communication between departments, and it could be a long time before the box arrives. Top tip avoid Bensons for Beds at all costs. It is a good job we have a spare room with a suitable bed.

Back on track, to get the carbs up I opted for sweet potato. I made soup again, making it as easy as possible for the digestive system. Leek, sweet potato and coconut, my God, it was good. That was lunch and dinner, something I will have to make again, perhaps with a bit of chilli and some smooth peanut butter added to the mix.

My kefir culture was a total disaster, the yogurt maker is too hot for it, so I will have to leave it out to ‘cook’ at room temperature, unfortunately our house being over 700 years old is not the warmest of places, so our room temperature may not be warm enough. We will see, another batch is under way.

I started to look at my calorie intake for the week, Monday was 424, Tuesday 621, yesterday 815 and today 952. Although I am still in major calorie deficit my weight is rising, as I said at the start I recon it will end up around the 97-98kg mark.

Big day tomorrow, proper solids!

Weight yesterday 94.6Kg, water drank today is 3 litres. Resting Heart Rate is 80 BPM

Weight today 95Kg, water drank today is 2 litres. Resting Heart Rate is 80 BPM

Day two after the fast

Food wise it was almost the same as yesterday. Again today I felt a bit queasy after the plain yogurt for breakfast, so I will cut that out tomorrow and slot it in somewhere else during the day. I had two of the pineapple and melon smoothies, one for lunch and one for dinner. I also had a mid-afternoon orange smoothie.

Judo coaching this evening was physically hard, I would say harder than last Thursday. My energy levels have a lot of recovery still to make, but I can’t force the food intake, I have made that mistake in the past. After judo I had a small bottle of kefir. That stuff is so expensive in the shops, £1.60 for 250ml, outrageous. I have therefore ordered some Kefir granules  so I can make my own, for an outlay of £3.50 on ebay this will be cheap for an endless supply. The granules are live, and the more you use then the bigger your supply of granules get, and the larger quantities you can make in one go.

Looking forward to tomorrow, it is the introduction of some hot food.

Weight today 94.5Kg, water drank today is 2 litres. Resting Heart Rate is 80 BPM

Eating again!

When I woke this morning I felt fairly good, in fact I felt that I could continue with the fast for a few more days, but my decision to end was already made. I had a pint of water to start the day followed by a plain active yogurt, (a small one). It tasted fantastic, I savoured every spoonful. Five minutes after I felt a bit sick. It is a slow frustrating process getting the body used to food again. On one had I am desperate to taste everything, but I have to go slow as the digestive system has been shut down for two weeks. This week will take far more will power than the 14 day fast. After breakfast, pick up one or two extra things from the shops that I will need this week. For lunch I had a quarter of melon and pineapple whizzed up into a smoothie. I was just going to have pineapple but I thought it might be a bit too intense, hence the melon. It made just over a pint, which I drank slowly enjoying the sweetness hit, it was bloody marvellous. I didn’t feel too bad after. It is funny, the hunger has not come back yet, but the desire to taste is off the scale. I finished off my new love affair with food with a glass of Kefir in the evening. Kefir is a cultured milk drink, it has loads more live cultures than yogurt. The idea is to get the digestive system up and running as fast as possible, the yogurt and kefir are added to the needed bacteria in the system.

Weight today 94.6Kg, water drank today is 3 litres. Resting Heart Rate is 80 BPM