Tuesday, 30 June 2009

No More Work For Me!!

Well the day has finally arrived and I am now officially free! It was a bit of a strange day to tell you the truth. Obviously, it was fairly relaxed as it was more about tying up loose ends than actually doing much work as things had already been passed onto other people last week. I managed to get out of the office at about 4pm so was home pretty early for a change today.

It turned out that the collections floor had put together a collection for me and I got the princely sum of £27.95 from the collections staff. I used to work in the finance department of the company for a while and they had also clubbed together and had bought me a 350ml bottle of Jack Daniels – I love Jack Daniels! – and a digital watch with an inbuilt digital compass. I am sure that will come in use as I am bound to lose my bearings at least once along the way!

Having watched other people leave in the past I wondered how I would feel when it came to the crunch. Some people get emotional as the realisation sets in whilst others are not bothered in the slightest. I certainly didn’t get emotional – I am happy to be leaving and have left for bigger and better things. It was a little strange walking out knowing that I would not be going back there but I think the realisation will set in tomorrow morning when I don’t have to go there.

I have asked one of the lads I work with to arrange a night out this weekend as a sort of send off. It would be nice to get together with a few of the people from work to celebrate and, I guess, also share some fond memories. It will either be this Friday or Saturday that we will be going out but I will speak to the lad, Chris, tomorrow to sort it out.

I managed to find some time for a jog and a workout tonight as I was able to leave the office early. Nath came with me and Roman again – this time we only went for a two mile jog as I wanted to try and keep Roman’s exercise levels down a bit due to his recent limping. The only problem with total rest is that he starts to go stir crazy and I feel cruel on him if he doesn’t go out – he looks at me with those puppy dog eyes as if he is saying ‘please take me for a walk’!

I have decided to go to football training tomorrow night for the first time in ages. Even though I will not be playing Sunday league football next season as I will be on my way to Rome it will be nice to get together with the lads for a kick about as I have not seen most of them for quite some time.

I have the interview with the guy from the Chester Chronicle and the appointment at the vets for Roman tomorrow so it is sure to be a busy day for us. I am going to start trying to get hold of PR departments of national and multinational companies tomorrow in an effort to drum up some sponsorship interest. I will also be looking for companies that trade in things such as camping gear, hiking gear, etc in an effort to find someone willing to donate equipment to me.

I am sure that now I have finished work I will actually be busier than ever. I am determined to start learning Italian tomorrow and would like to do a minimum of two hours a day but it would be nice to find time to do more. It will help me immensely if I am able to speak reasonable Italian when I get there as Italian employers like to do interviews in Italian and I would look a little unprofessional if I was unable to speak Italian. Even if I only speak basic Italian it will look better to them as they will be able to see that I have made the effort so, hopefully, this will make it a little easier to find work.

Monday, 29 June 2009

1 Day Left!!

Well, it’s nearly here. Tomorrow will be my last day at work before I am officially a man of leisure! I have been looking forward to this day for quite some time and will make sure I appreciate it fully for what it represents. In effect, tomorrow signals the end of an era and the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life. Nothing will ever be the same after tomorrow.

It’s surprising how quickly it comes round really. It only seems like yesterday I typed up my resignation letter and began posting on my blog but it has been five weeks already! I am sure that the next seven or eight weeks are going to fly by too and I will have to make sure I am as organised as possible if I am to achieve everything I want to before I go.

I rang the vets this morning and booked Roman in for Wednesday lunchtime. I have the interview with the Chester Chronicle at 12pm so thought I may as well kill two birds with one stone and head off to the vets afterwards. I am keeping my fingers crossed that whatever it is is not serious but am also preparing myself for the worst eventuality so that I am ready to deal with whatever happens.

I took Roman out on the field with Nathan today to have a game of football – he loves chasing up and down after the ball and tends to get tired out within about twenty minutes. To expend the same energy by walking we would probably have to walk for at least an hour if not two so it is a quick way of making sure he gets his daily exercise.

I have decided to go to football training tomorrow night with the team I was playing with last season. I will not be playing with them next season but I will be at a loose end and it’s always good to have a game of football – especially seeing as it helps with the fitness! It will be nice to catch up with the lads as I have not seen a lot of them in a couple of months now.

I spent most of this evening round at my brother’s (Rich) house with Roman. He has a little boy called Reece who absolutely loves Roman and he was devastated he couldn’t play with him because Roman was knackered after football. They go together really well and Roman is really good around kids.

It really is a shame that so many irresponsible Rottweiler owners have contributed to the negative perception towards the breed. They really are excellent family dogs in the right hands. Don’t get me wrong, I would never leave him with Reece unsupervised, but then again I would never leave any child with any dog at all. I trust Roman 100% but people should realise that, essentially, a dog is an animal and can react in a way that we deem unacceptable at any time, regardless of the breed.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

I Made It To Dog Obedience Training!!

I hope you’re sat down for this – I managed to get out of bed in time for dog obedience training! I woke up at about 8am but took an hour to wake up and got out of bed at 9am. I chilled out for about half an hour and then got myself and Roman ready to go. We walked about 3 and a half miles before training – I didn’t want to walk too far considering Roman’s limp (yes, it’s back!) but wanted to make sure that he wasn’t too full of energy as he is much easier to deal with when you take the edge off it.

The training itself went quite well. There was a small dog there who wasn’t too keen on Roman and barked at him so they spent a little time barking at each other and a lot of time trying to stare each other down from across the room! One of the things we had to do today was a recall whereby we get the dogs to sit off the lead and walk 10 yards away, ensuring that they stay seated, and then call them over. Roman did pretty well – the first time he tried to follow me but the second time he got it perfectly. He didn’t even think about going towards the other dogs and just came straight to me.

It’s difficult sometimes with Roman when I am out walking and you get a “flashpoint” between him and another dog. He is so strong that I often cross over to be able to deal with it easier – if the dogs are on opposite sides of the road they tend to look at each other but don’t try to go towards each other. If we are on the same side of the road it can be difficult with Roman being so strong. I tend to make him sit in these instances and put my body between him and the passing dog. It works but it would be nice to be able to find a way to prevent the flashpoints occurring in the first place. I’m sure it will come with time and effort though.

Angela gave us a dog backpack and first aid kit today as sponsorship for our little adventure. This was really nice of her and Roman seemed as happy as I am. I put it on him and he didn’t even bat an eyelid. Apparently some dogs can be a little funny about them at first but he didn’t even seem to notice. That’s one of the best things about Roman – he is totally trusting and just accepts things in a stoical manner.

This afternoon I went to a barbecue at my brother’s (Rich) girlfriend’s sister’s house. Wow! How many apostrophes did I use then? It was her mother’s birthday and it was really good fun. Obviously the food was really good – for those of you who don’t know me I love my food! – but it was good fun too to see the kids playing. I instigated a fair bit of water fighting and we all got pretty soaked but, with the weather being so nice this afternoon, we all dried out pretty quickly.

I played football tonight again and again we were on the wrong end of a defeat. To be fair, tonight we were beaten by a much better side but we seem to be better organised at the back and tend to stand up better to the better sides now. I had a bit of a spat with the guy who runs the team. We have been friends for about 16 years now but, when passions run high, things like that can happen.

I got really, really wound up and had to walk away. I am a really passionate person, particularly where football is concerned. Ordinarily, this is a good quality and it drives me on to succeed and often lifts others around me but, every now and then, I boil over and reach a point where I am ready to snap. At times like these I have to walk away. We made up about 15 minutes after the match after I had cooled down a little – when I am in this state I just need to be left alone to calm down. It’s not a particularly good part of my personality but I know to distance myself when I get this way.

I have just got in as the heavens have opened so Roman will not be getting another walk tonight. To be honest, it’s probably a good thing given his recent limping. I am going to phone the vets tomorrow and arrange an appointment for Wednesday. I will arrange it for after I meet with the Chester Chronicle – I just hope it doesn’t rain on Wednesday!

I was contemplating what it would mean if I found out Roman had something wrong with him other than something routine like a muscle strain that needed resting. I had read a fair few things on the net about arthritis and bone cancer in young Rottweilers from the age of 18 months on. I decided that I would take him anyway. If it meant that he could only walk 3 or 4 miles a day then I would have to see about getting some kind of custom built cart that I could put him in and I would either push or pull it along.

There is no way I would leave Roman behind – he is my best friend and one of the few things I look forward to each day. He has been a massive part of my life in the last couple of years and I think I would be lost without him. On the other side of the coin, I am now fully committed to doing this walk – I finish work on Tuesday and I hope to sell the house soon so there is no turning back now. I am determined to make this happen, whatever sacrifices it may take.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

I Got Up Early For A Change!

I thought I would update my blog early today – it can sometimes be a little bit of a pain late at night and tends to end up being a bit of a rush job so I can get to bed and get up for work in the morning! Today has been a fairly busy, and unusual, day. It has been unusual in the fact that I managed to get out of bed early on a weekend for a change and was up and awake by 9.30am!

I had hoped to get up a little earlier but I reckon if you have been reading that you are probably getting to know me in that respect by now. I fed Roman and allowed myself to wake up and then headed off for a walk. I did about 7 miles this morning but stopped off on the way after about 6 miles for a brew at my dad’s house.

Roman always likes visiting my dad as he has a border collie cross that doesn’t mind playing with him – most dogs either bark at him, run away or want to attack him! I stayed there for about an hour and then headed home so that I could have some dinner. I was pretty hungry after all that walking so I threw together a Bolognese. Rich came round for a spot to eat as the taxis (he’s a taxi driver) had gone a bit dead.

Chester Races have been on today and last night so the taxi’s have been a little busier than the average day but once they all get inside the racecourse it tends to die completely – too many cars out on the road and no work left for them.

I managed to get in touch with my ex this morning and we have agreed to drop the price on the house to £94,950 so I called Holly at the estate agents to ask her to do that for us. Hopefully, now that the house is way under it’s value, the interest will start to pick up. It’s gutting though as I have now lost £12,000 on the house and that is presuming it fetches the asking price!

Before Rich arrived I managed to get about an hour in on the Rosetta Stone application learning Italian. I don’t think I have forgotten too much – it has been a couple of weeks before I last did any – but I certainly had to re-familiarise myself with some of the words! I can’t wait to not have to work as I will be putting 3 or 4 hours a day in then and I am sure that things will start to sink in properly.

Once we had finished eating I decided, seeing as the sun came out for pretty much the first time all day, that I would take Roman for another walk. This time we just walked 5 miles. After his limping the other week I am trying to keep the distances shorter but walk him 2 or 3 times in a day to see how he copes with that. He seems to be ok with it really and somewhere between 5 and 7 miles seems to suit him.

I am going to go round to my brother’s house for a few hours again tonight to play a bit of Football Manager with him – his girlfriend is out round town tonight so we will have some peace and quiet as long as the kids behave themselves! I think Roman will probably just sleep for a few hours once we get there – he looks knackered now, poor dog!

Tomorrow is obedience training day – for Roman, not me! – and I am hoping that getting out of bed early this morning is a good omen for tomorrow. I think I will probably come home at about 11pm tonight so should be in bed by midnight. I would hope that that will be sufficient enough time for me to get enough sleep but we will see…

Friday, 26 June 2009

I'm Looking Forward To A Nice Relaxing Weekend!

I am so glad that this week is over! I now have a relaxing weekend ahead planned followed by 2 more days of work before I can really throw myself into my plans for my walk. I have an interview arranged for Wednesday lunchtime with the Chester Chronicle and I am really looking forward to that. I am hopeful that this may lead to a little more exposure with other media sources but I will just have to see what happens there.

I spoke with Richard from the estate agents again today and, although interest has risen slightly since I dropped the price, the interest is still nowhere near the level needed to achieve a sale. He reckons that there needs to be a 9 or 10% click-through rate on Right Move from people whose searches result in my property being displayed to have enough interest to spark a sale. The previous level was about 3% and it is now at about 4%. This means I may have to consider reducing the price again to get the interest going.

It’s a difficult position to be in as every time I lower the price it means I have lost more money. Even at the £99,950 the house is on the market for now I will have lost about £7,000 so if I reduce it to £94,950 like I am being recommended to then it means I will already have lost £12,000 and that is assuming that I manage to get the asking price!

I managed to get a workout in tonight and Nathan agreed to do one with me. It was quite funny actually as he really struggled to keep up! By the end of the workout he was in quite a bit of pain with his back – not from weights, believe it or not, but from leg raises! It’s a testament as to how far my fitness has come since last year as I couldn’t keep up with him fitness wise back then but now I am miles ahead!

I suppose the fact that I have a clear motivation probably helps though as I am really determined to get into really good shape by the time I leave in August. Above all, I am determined to get a six pack! Call me vain but I will just feel more comfortable walking around with my top off in the sun if I have a buff body with no flabby bits anywhere.

Once I had finished killing Nathan I got my brother, Rich, to come for a game of football with me and Roman. It was raining a little but it was nice to be honest as it was still warm and I was all hot and bothered from the workout. We played football for about half an hour – it never takes longer than that to tire Roman out – and then headed back to Rich’s for a couple of hours.

I was made an offer this week to stay on a little longer at work. They wanted me to commit to stick around for another couple of weeks but, although it was a fairly decent offer, I decided to turn them down. I feel that I have now come to a point in my life where I am ready to draw a line in the sand and move on with the next phase of my life. Also, I have made plans to meet with people and want to ensure that I allow myself plenty of time to make all of the necessary arrangements.

I like to think that I am a man that stands by my decisions – when my mind is made up it is rarely changed unless I am shown to be wrong. I think it’s important to act in such a way, even if it can ultimately be a bad thing for you. One of the reasons I put my notice in without a buyer for the house was that I felt dishonest taking wages when I knew I was not fully committed to the job and I feel the same about any extension of my employment.

3 Days To Go!

Today has been a bit of a nightmare day to be honest. There are loads of reports that were set up by someone else at work that has just left the company a week ago and they have suddenly stopped working! I am one of the very few people capable of investigating the situation properly so a lot of my time today has been designated to that – not good when you are frantically trying to sort all of your own stuff out for a handover!

I have not spoken to the estate agents today but, when I spoke with them yesterday, I requested that they call me back tomorrow just to keep me posted with what is happening – good or bad news. I asked what they thought about putting the house in an auction but they said there would probably be little benefit as the prospective buyers will be looking to pay well under the odds at a time like this. It’s really frustrating but I have to stick with it.

I only had to work until 5pm today so I managed to get home pretty early and get Roman out running in the sun on the field at the back of my house for half an hour or so – I didn’t time it, I just waited until he got tired and then headed back. When I was speaking to Angela, the dog trainer, she advised me to try to keep him on grass after his limping last week so I have been trying to take routes that have grass verges or have him running on grass. Touch wood, his limp has not come back so I think everything is alright. I am convinced now that he had hurt his paw.

I now have just 3 more days in work. That’s 24 hours or 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds – not that I’m counting! It’s pretty mad to think how quickly it has come around and how, on Wednesday, I will no longer have to get out of bed to go to work! I know I have said it before but it is a really strange feeling. I was asked again today by somebody if I was nervous and my reply went along the lines of “Hell no! I’m excited!”

I spoke to Julie this week from HR to ask if she had heard anything back from group about publicising what I am doing across the whole of the group – our company is in 11 countries and has over 1,000 employees so there is a fair amount of potential for raising interest there. I hope they agree but I guess I will just have to wait and see.

I am really looking forward to the weekend and am hoping that the sun stays around so that Roman and I can enjoy a few relaxing walks under the sun. I am determined to get some form of a suntan before I leave so that I don’t look like the odd one out! I didn’t bother with a workout tonight – I like to have one night on and then one night off so that my body has time to recover properly.

My brother’s monitor arrived today and he seems very happy with it. I have to say it does look really good so I have spent most of the evening at his house playing Football Manager – if I’m paying all that money out then I might as well enjoy it! I managed to con a lasagne out of him too but I reckon he got the better end of the deal!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

4 Days To Go!!!

4 more days to go and I am officially a free man! It is starting to seem very real and I am very excited about it – a few people have asked me if I am nervous but I can honestly say that I am not nervous in the slightest. I am really looking forward to getting into the routine of walking 4 hours in the sunshine each morning with Roman (providing our trademark English weather doesn’t play up for a change!) and trying to raise interest with newspaper interviews and meetings with companies in the hope of getting some corporate sponsorship.

It will be nice to be able to draw up a list of things I want to do with the day and actually have the chance to do it all without work getting in the way! Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed my time with the company but I feel completely ready for a change and cannot wait to start this new chapter of my life.

I managed to speak to the estate agents today and, unfortunately, there is still no interest in my house. I can’t believe how difficult it is just to get people through the door to have a look. I am totally convinced that as soon as we can get someone round to have a look there will be interest. I have done a lot of work on the house since I have been here – new windows and doors, new porch, new patio, new wrought iron gates at the back, new bathroom suite and new central heating system to name the main jobs.

The house cost me £89,000 when I bought it and I have spent about £15,000 on home improvements since moving in. Including the estate agents fees and arrangements fees when I bought the place and the house owes me about £107,000 but, even on the market at £99,950, I can’t get anybody through the door to look at it! The way things are going I will end up getting less than that but even at the current value I will have lost £7,000.

It’s heartbreaking really but I guess it is a good thing really as the whole experience has opened my eyes to what is really important in life. It doesn’t matter if I own a house or if I have a top job earning loads of money. The only things in life that really matters are your health and your happiness. Hopefully, by embarking on this little adventure, I will find the second.

One of the things I am looking forward to the most about walking to Rome is the chance to meet new people and experience new cultures. I think we don’t really know ourselves properly until we do things that take us way out of our comfort zones and see how we deal with situations. I reckon I will learn things about myself that I have never known before and I am really looking forward to this.

I tried again today to get a Just Giving page set up for the Abruzzo appeal using The Red Cross but Just Giving is still playing up. I can now log into my account and view and edit my pages but try as I may I just couldn’t manage to set up a new page. I will try again shortly and hopefully have more joy but we shall see…


Typical isn't it? Just as I finish typing up my day's thoughts and go off to Just Giving to try again (with an expectancy that I would fail) it works immediately! You will notice that there is now another widget in the top left corner for the Abruzzo Appeal - all donations are gratefully received so get donating people!


Today was a fairly productive day for me – I finally managed to get on the phone to Jennie at the Rottweiler Welfare Association and Lucy at the British Red Cross. There was good news and bad news – the good news is that the British Red Cross still have their appeal for the Abruzzo appeal via the Italian Red Cross open so I am able to set up a Just Giving page in the name of the British Red Cross and, as long as I inform them when I have done it, they will forward all donations received through that page onto the Abruzzo appeal.

Another piece of good news I had today is that the Rottweiler Welfare Association have decided to set up with Just Giving and are currently in the process of sorting things out. The bad news, though, is that they have changed their treasurer and, as a result, there is a lot of paperwork that needs to be sorted out with the banks before they can go ahead and set up the Just Giving page as the direct debit must be paid to the treasurer of the charity.

Still, this definitely represents progress and I am looking forward to setting up the pages for them as soon as I can. I have attempted to set up a page tonight for the Abruzzo appeal but I have been unable to due to the problems that have been caused by the upgrade that took place over the weekend. I will keep trying each day with this and I will update you as soon as I have any progress with this.

I have still heard nothing from the estate agents and, despite calling and requesting a call back today, am still trying to find out where things are up to. I will try them again in the morning to see whether there has been any interest at all since I have lowered the price. I am considering the possibility of an auction now as I really do need to sell the house before I set off – I will go regardless but it will be much easier if it has been sold prior to me leaving.

On the work front I managed to agree some action points with one of the guys I am handing some of my work over to today and feel a little more confident that things will go as smoothly as possible. I am a conscientious person and would hate to think that I had left things in a bad way. I know a lot of people probably wouldn’t be that bothered but that’s not me and I like to take pride in things that I do.

I went out for a nice walk with Roman a little earlier and we managed to get through about 6 miles. It would have been more but it poured down for an hour around seven o clock so I decided to have some tea before I went out. I had my hair cut earlier so also needed a bath – I hate it when you get all itchy from haircuts!

I think my haircuts are a curse to be honest with you – every time it is meant to be sunny I shave my head to a grade zero to try and catch some sun on my head before I go but it always ends up raining straight after I have had it cut. It’s happened the last three or four times I have had my hair cut now!

I am having my younger brother, Jamie, over to stay tomorrow night but hopefully he will come for a walk with me and Roman and then we can do a work out. Normally when I ask him to come for a walk with us he whinges loads but I am hoping the thought of a workout may help to keep him cheerful! He has been nagging me for ages to go boxing with him or to do a workout with him but I am reluctant to take him boxing as he has just got into the “I need to fight everyone I meet” stage so who knows what might happen if I teach him how to use his fists!

Monday, 22 June 2009

I Performed A Random Act Of Selflessness Today!

I’m not sure whether you have noticed but the Just Giving widgets have not been working for the past few days – it turns out that they have done a major overhaul on the website over the weekend and cocked everything up! I have sent an email off to them but it seems that a lot of people are having problems right now and they are already working on rectifying it so fingers crossed that they manage to get it all sorted soon!

I had such a boring day at work today – I think my mind is now starting to switch off. I know I have things to do and I am trying to get motivated but I am struggling to stay focused if I am honest. Only 6 more days to go now until I have finished and I am sure that those 6 days will fly by. I suppose all that remains now is for me to tie the ends up and pass on what I need to.

I really need to get back in touch with the British Red Cross this week – they said they would be in touch with me about collecting on behalf of the Abruzzo appeal for the Italian Red Cross but I have heard nothing and it must be almost 2 weeks now! I need to try and get hold of Jennie from the Rottweiler Welfare Association too so that I can find out how things are going. Having said all that though, even if I do manage to sort all that out, it’s not like I can actually do anything right now as the Just Giving site is playing up anyway!

I have had a pretty lazy night tonight – I was meant to be going for a jog and having a workout with Nath but he didn’t show up. I tried ringing him but he didn’t answer – it later turned out he had gone back to bed after work at 1.30pm and didn’t wake up until late. Lazy bugger (not that I can really say anything given my record of late!)

I managed to perform a random selfless act tonight – I love being spontaneous and tonight I certainly was! I had racked up loads of points staying at the Bromley Court Hotel last year and had cashed them all in for about £140 worth of Amazon vouchers. I was hoping I could get people to use them and give me the money but then nobody wanted anything! I spent about 2 hours tonight looking on Amazon at various things – Armani jewellery, Henri Lloyd trainers, etc.. but nothing quite jumped out at me so I decided to do something nice for someone else.

My brother, Rich, had his computer fixed and upgraded a few months ago only for his monitor to break! That lad has no luck! Anyway, I have been banging on at him for ages to get a new monitor but you know how it is these days with the credit crunch and all. I decided to spend my vouchers on a new monitor for him instead of myself – I found a 22 inch LG monitor for £116 and it looks pretty nice too! I’m excited for him!

I love doing things like that for people at times. It’s remarkable how good it feels to do something like that. It’s not like it really cost me anything but it’s worth a lot to him and I could see he was made up – this in itself is surprising as he isn’t exactly the most positive person! I reckon he will get much more joy out of the monitor than I would have done out of some Armani jewellery or Henri Lloyd shoes though!

The weather forecast round here looks pretty good over the next couple of days so I have decided that I am going to walk 10 miles each night with Roman after work. Most of our exercise lately has been in the form of jogging so it will make a nice change to just amble around for a couple of hours! He developed a bit of a limp the last time we walked a long distance and I have been trying to figure out whether it is his paw or his leg.

I looked on the internet and the first sites I found all said about arthritis and bone cancer being common in Rottweilers, even at a very young age. Naturally, I panicked a little but resisted the urge to rush off to the vet – he showed no sign of pain but just limped. Anyway, he appears to be all better now but he has spent a lot of time licking his paw so I am going to look into getting him some walking boots pretty soon.

Happy Father's Day Dad!

I am starting to think I have a problem – I just can’t seem to wake up any more! I woke up this morning at about 11.30am so had, quite clearly, missed the boat with regards to dog training (sorry Angela – again!). I think I must have still been trying to recover from my exploits around London and, despite the kip on the train, I obviously still needed more sleep! The only problem with waking up late on a Sunday (apart from missing dog training, of course!) is that it’s always hard to sleep at night so I end up being tired Monday morning too!

I can’t believe I now only have 7 more working days before I am a man of leisure – I love that phrase! Seriously, though, I am sure I will be busier than ever with all of the stuff I have to do – I need to walk at least 10 miles a day with Roman but will be aiming for 15 miles and I also need to be in touch with as many media sources, companies, etc. to make sure I get as much exposure as possible. I still have to learn Italian too!

Once I managed to get out of bed today I caught up on everything that had happened in Facebook world while I had been away – not much to be honest! I decided to watch a film so put Outlaw on – the Danny Dyer and Sean Bean film. I had been told it wasn’t very good but it is directed by the same guy who did The Business and Football Factory so I thought I would give it a go. To be honest, it was a little disappointing compared to The Business and Football Factory but it wasn’t awful.

Once that had finished it was time to go and see my dad and give him his father’s day card and collect my Sunday dinner! I love going to my dad’s for Sunday dinner – it’s the one thing you really miss when you leave home in my book. Roman always loves visiting on a Sunday too as he always guaranteed a bowl of gravy and, if he is lucky, some leftovers too!

I had meant to get my dad an iTunes voucher for father’s day but had run out of time with such a busy weekend so thought I would go online and buy a gift certificate that he could redeem straightaway but there has apparently been a lot of fraud in China to do with credit cards and iTunes so they have temporarily stopped the service! I had to order him a gift card instead that they send out so he won’t get it for a couple of days.

I had football again tonight and we had a 7.30pm kick off so I headed back home at 6.30pm to get ready. Tonight’s game was another against one of the better teams in the league so we were in for a tough match. We ended up losing the match 1-0 and I was bitterly disappointed. I am a hugely competitive character and absolutely hate losing but it really annoys me when we, effectively, beat ourselves.

That is exactly what happened tonight. Don’t get me wrong – they were undoubtedly a better team than us in technical terms but if everyone on our team puts in 100% then we are capable of grinding results out. Tonight, however, just didn’t work out like that. We did the basic things badly and the midfield was constantly being caught out with balls in behind them.

I play at the back so it is often me that has to try and mop up when this happens and, let me tell you, it is infuriating when you watch it time and time again. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell people to stay goal side and not let their man turn them it still happens! I’m sure we’ll get that right in time and I sometimes think it is a question of fitness but it still gets to me – I just want to win!

I have been home since about 9pm and have been chilling with Roman and catching up with a couple of people on Facebook (as well as apologising profusely to Angela who takes the dog training sessions!). I will be going for a bath shortly and then straight to bed with a film – I just hope I can sleep fairly quickly so I get up on time in the morning!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

One Hectic Weekend!!

I will start off tonight by apologising to anyone reading for missing the last couple of days. I was really busy while I was away and could not find any time to update here and there was no computer available for me to use at the hotel so I will update you all now on what I got up to over the last few days.

Thursday was a busy day work wise once I got there. I was on the 8.55am train from Chester so I arrived at the office in Bromley shortly after midday. It was a fairly productive day and I managed to get quite a few of the things done that I wanted to with the help of a guy I work with called Gary.

After work I walked back to the Bromley Court Hotel as the weather was reasonably fine. Once I had sorted all of my stuff out I went to use the gym facilities in the hotel for an hour or so. I managed to get through a pretty good workout and then spent half an hour doing cardiovascular work. I had a go of the bike for about 10 minutes and then jumped on the treadmill to do my usual 3 and a half-mile jog.

I don’t know what it is about treadmills but I find them really easy to run for a long time at a decent pace. Maybe it’s the fact that I am always running on a flat surface with no uphill or downhill sections. I think another reason may be because there is no chance of me putting my foot in a pot hole or anything so I am more confident running at a higher pace without the worry of twisting my ankle.

I managed to do the jog in 16 minutes 45 seconds, which works out as an average of 4 minutes 47 seconds a mile. I was really happy with that as I started off at an easy pace and did the first mile in about 5 and a half minutes and gradually sped up as time went on. I ran the last mile in under 4 minutes and had the treadmill set to the highest speed setting. It was pretty much a sprint for the whole of the last mile and this shows how far my fitness has come over the past year.

I had my trusty protein shake straight after my workout and then jumped straight in the shower – I hate being sweaty! As I was away I got the opportunity to get a 3 course meal inside me courtesy of my employers but was selective in what I chose. I had spiced cauliflower soup to start (it was actually quite nice!) followed by steak, roasters and broccoli and finished with strawberries and cream! I have always been a fairly big eater but I was stuffed after all that – I think the shakes do a pretty good job of filling you on their own.

I watched a bit of football – England U21s against Spain U21s and then put the WWE on in my room. I know, I’m a little old for all that but I enjoy it – if you take it for what it is (which is basically a pumped up, action packed soap opera) then it is actually fairly enjoyable. I fell asleep just after 1am, which was a little later than I would have liked it to have been as I had to be up at 7am to make sure I got to work on time!

One thing I always enjoyed about working away was breakfast time. I rarely, if ever, have breakfast at home but always make a point of having some at the hotel as you can get it brought to your room. I had a glass of pure orange juice, a couple of croissants, a couple of Danish pastries and a bowl of cereal – that’s a pretty good start to the day in my book!

I got to work bang on time on Friday and had another pretty productive day. We managed to get pretty much everything sorted out that we needed to – there are a couple of things that Gary and I need to discuss a little further but, in general, things are moving in the right direction. I managed to slip off 10 minutes or so early as there was little for me to do and I headed straight to the pub to meet Dave – another of the guys I work with.

We started off in the Tom Foolery in Bromley and met up with a couple of other lads from work – Glynn and Mark. We had one drink there and then moved onto the Swan and Mitre for another one. Once we had finished that Dave and I headed to Dave’s flat so that we could drop off my stuff and get a shower and get ready to go out. I decided I wanted a new top to go out in last night so had been into Bromley to buy myself a nice new Armani t-shirt.

We headed back to the Swan and Mitre after that and met up with a few more people from work. Dave’s missus, Anna, joined us after a little while too and I met Dave’s brother. We had 3 or 4 more pints in there and had a few games of pool too.  A few of the lads decided to start having some arm wrestles so the honour of us northerners rested squarely on my shoulders!

I acquitted myself pretty well and had 5 arm wrestles in total. I won 2 of them, in 2 of them it was a draw after our arms not moving even an inch and lost 1 against Glynn – to be fair though he has arms the size of my legs so I was always going to struggle with that one. I felt I did ok to be honest and, although I was never going to beat him, I reckon I didn’t make it too easy for him!

Some random guy came and sat with us and had his guitar with him – we asked him to play us a tune but the music outside the pub was too loud so we couldn’t hear him! He looked a little like Eddy Grant and I was considering asking him to play Electric Avenue for us but managed to resist!

We left the Swan and Mitre and headed to the bus stop to go to Crystal Palace and then the Eddy Grant lookalike, who was actually called Danny, got on the same bus so we did get to hear him in the end. He was a little nuts to be honest and was singing a song about a homosexual elephant or something like that! He was a nice bloke though and we had a good laugh with him.

The bus then decided to break down but, luckily, it was right outside a pub so we popped in for a drink while we waited for another bus. We had to down our drinks though as the next bus came along pretty quickly! When we got to Crystal Palace we popped into a bar for a drink and I managed to blag a tequila off Mark! I have acquired a taste for Tequila over the past few months and necked it without even a blink of the eye!

We popped over the road to another bar after that and had a couple more pints before I managed to persuade Mark, Glynn and his girlfriend to head into London. Dave had to be up early this morning to go into work so he headed home at about midnight. We went round a few bars in London around Leicester Square and then decided to head to Vauxhall to find a late night club.

We stayed in a club until just after 6am and then went to get the bus back to Bromley. I’ve got to be honest, I was pretty hammered and also pretty tired! We got off the bus at Brixton and then jumped on the train to Bromley – Mark got off at Beckenham and I, somehow, managed to fall asleep despite Bromley only being about 2 stops down the line!

I woke up back at Brixton heading back in towards London so jumped off and got back on a train heading to Bromley! I eventually got back to Dave’s flat at about 8.30am this morning and then slept until just after midday. I managed to get a cup of coffee down me before I had to head off to get the train back to Chester. I thought I would have felt really bad but I felt alright really, just a little tired!

I got myself a chicken legend from McDonald’s in Victoria station and then headed off on my way back to Chester. I dozed on and off on the train from Euston back to Chester but, this time, the train terminated at Chester so there was no risk of me missing my stop! I got back into Chester at about 5pm.

I couldn’t be bothered going for a jog or doing a workout tonight and couldn’t even be bothered to cook anything to eat so I went down to Pizza Hut with my brother’s girlfriend as she gets 50% discount as she works at Royal Mail. I got a large stuffed crust meat feast and potato wedges for just under £8 – bargain!

I headed back home after that and have just been chilling out since – I am watching The Business as I am typing this up – I love that film, and the soundtrack! I really like Danny Dyer and Tamer Hassan and it is one my favourite films.

I will be heading off to bed shortly as I have to be up quite early. I am taking Roman to dog training in the morning but want to walk 8 miles beforehand so that he is chilled out – he always behaves better when he is a little tired!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

I Will Miss Roman While I Am Away!

I didn’t receive a call back from the estate agents today (shock horror!) and I also didn’t manage to find the time to ring the British Red Cross or the Rottweiler Welfare Association either! Unfortunately, I was just a little too busy at work today to be able to even think about anything else. Still, there are only 9 working days to go now before I finish for good and I will have loads of time to sort all this stuff out then if it isn’t sorted beforehand.

I am feeling a little tired today after the workout last night – I upped the weights by quite a bit and pushed quite a lot further. I have had total rest tonight but will make sure to have a jog and a workout tomorrow night in the hotel after I finish work. I stay in the Bromley Court Hotel when I have to work away and they have a gym, of sorts, in the hotel, which is quite handy.

I am planning to do a pretty good workout tomorrow night as I will be out drinking on Friday night so my first opportunity for another workout will be Saturday evening when I get home. I reckon a 30 minute jog on the machine should be a good warm up and then I’ll move on to lots of upper body work for an hour or so. I am going to take some of the whey protein, dextrose and creatine with me but will have to remember to get a pint of milk on the way back to the hotel after work.

It will be the last time I visit the Bromley Court Hotel which seems a little strange considering how much time I have spent there over the past 18 months – I got a reward card and have had a 3 night break for 2 in Milan, a 4 night break for 2 in Rome and about £150 worth of Amazon vouchers in return. Not bad really but I must have spent about 125 nights in that hotel!

Due to the pricing of rail tickets with Virgin Trains to get to Bromley I don’t have to get a train until 8.55am tomorrow. The ticket at that time costs about £35 but if I left any earlier it costs £105! I managed to get the return ticket for £13 as I am coming back on the Saturday instead of the Friday so in total it will only cost the company £48.

I have managed to get one of the lads I work with in Bromley to arrange for some people to come out for a drink around Bromley, Beckenham and Crystal Palace on Friday after work as a kind of send off for me as it will more than likely be the last time I ever see a lot of the people there. It seems a little more real all of a sudden!

I will miss Roman while I am away but I’ll be back before I know it. Roman will probably just sit by the back door waiting for me for a few days like he always used to. It’s really funny but he misses me loads when I am away but there was no difference whatsoever when I split up with my ex. It was like he hadn’t even noticed! I think that is probably because I always walk him and am the only one to play with him really. We have a really strong bond between us and we are like best friends (how sad do I sound?).

I am going to have an early night tonight – early by my standards at least – so that I am nice and fresh in the morning. I usually take my laptop with me when I go to Bromley but it hasn’t worked for a couple of weeks now so I think I will have to take a book instead for a change. Hopefully I will be able to get access to a pc when I am in the hotel to update my blog – I am on quite good terms with most of the staff there so I reckon they might just help me out if I am cheeky enough to ask (and believe me, I usually am!).

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

I Nearly Flooded My House!!

I spoke to the estate agents this morning and lowered the asking price to £99,950 as recommended so hopefully we will see some movement some time soon. I asked for some information from the guy I was talking to and seemed to get a lot further with him that I had been doing so that’s good. He said there was about 30 people he could ring round to try and raise interest in the price bracket the house is now in.

They rung about 15 people today and got mixed results. Some people said they didn’t want to live in the area my house is in, despite saying they wanted anywhere in Chester! There were a few people that were not it so they will try them again tomorrow but it was nice to get a phone call back for a change to keep me up to date. He has promised to ring me back again tomorrow to let me know how he gets on with the rest of the list too!

The price will be amended on Right Move overnight so, again, hopefully this will drive a bit of interest as it now falls under the £100k marker that a lot of first time buyers may be searching on. Fingers crossed now that I can get some interest but I am not too happy as I have now lost £5k and it could end up costing me money to actually offload it! If I didn’t have other debts then I would just rent it out but I can’t afford to maintain the other payments while I am travelling.

I had a good idea today – at least I think it is a good idea but we will have to wait and see how it turns out. I was thinking of trying to get one of the mobile phone providers to provide me with a state of the art phone – 7 megapixel camera, GPS, keyboard, internet access – so that I could take pictures and upload them to my blog when I leave and also update my blog with it. I am hoping that they will see the attraction of having “this post was brought to you by….” at the end of every post.

I have not heard back off the Rottweiler Welfare Association or the British Red Cross since I spoke with them last so, if I have not spoken with them by tomorrow afternoon, I will try and get hold of them again for an update before I go to Bromley on Thursday morning. I will be there Thursday, Friday and Saturday but, don’t worry, I’ll find a way to update my blog!

I went for a jog tonight with Roman and Nathan came along with us again – he wasn’t happy about it and complained a little but I keep telling him if he does it 3 or 4 times a week then it will get much easier but it’s just hard to get him to actually do it! We did a really good workout afterwards and I am feeling fairly tired now.

We had our customary protein shakes afterwards and then I cooked some cod in butter sauce (two each for the protein!) with boiled rice and peas. I had forgotten just how nice cod in butter sauce is! I really enjoyed it and it was just what we needed really. I have had a strawberry yoghurt for dessert and will probably have boiled egg and soldiers for supper once I have had a bath – you have to get plenty of protein when you are working out!

I must have the best bath in the world – it’s a really deep corner bath and I don’t even miss not having a shower in the house, it really is that nice! There’s nothing better than running a nice hot bath and relaxing in it for half an hour. I had a bit of a worrying moment earlier – I put the bath on while I was cooking tea and chatting to someone on Facebook and forgot all about it! It was only when I was rinsing the pans before eating that I realised as the hot water seemed slow coming out of the tap.

I really panicked when I realised and flew up the stairs half expecting to find my bathroom flooded and water running into the landing and down the stairs. It seems my bath also has a pretty good overflow though as the water hadn’t even reached the top of the bath – phew!

I only have ten more working days left now and am really looking forward to my first day of freedom. I don’t think I will have a lie in or anything though, I have big plans for what to do with my time once I leave.

Monday, 15 June 2009

At Least I Still Have Roman!

Today has been a really good day and a really bad day at the same time. I managed to speak to Jennie from the Rottweiler Welfare Association who has told me that she is in contact with Just Giving and hopes to get the paperwork over to them this week so that I can set a page up so watch this space on that one! I also called the British Red Cross to see if I can set a page up on Just Giving to send any donations to the Italian Red Cross through them. I was told that the appeal for L’Aquila is still open so it should be ok but they should ring me back tomorrow to confirm. Fingers crossed I may be able to get both remaining charities sorted this week!

I also managed to speak to the estate agents today and got some proper figures off them. There have been over 3000 searches on Right Move that have resulted in my house coming up on the results but, unfortunately, only about 50 click throughs. Out of those 50 there has not been a single viewing. I have been advised that this means the public obviously think the house is overpriced so I will need to drop the price. Richard, the guy at the estate agents, recommended dropping it from £105k to £99,950 so that it falls into a lesser value bracket.

This is really not good news as my financial commitments with the house total £100,500 so it looks like I will have to pay to sell the house – crazy! Still, I just want rid of it now as I am sick of living such a limited life so the sooner it goes the better. I could leave it on at £105k but if it takes another 6 months to sell then it will cost me £6k in the meantime to pay the mortgage and outstanding loans so I would be even further out of pocket and it would really mess with my plans.

I am going to phone the estate agents back tomorrow and ask them to drop it to £99,950 in the hope that we can get things moving as quickly as possible but I am preparing myself for losing money - £105k would have meant I broke even as I paid £89k for the house, just under £15k has been spent on the house and the fees to sell are just over £2k! Blasted credit crunch! Why couldn’t it have waited until next year?

Still, such is life and I guess I will just learn a lesson from this. My life has been so hard since the start of February trying to manage the money and I have often had as little as £20 a month to live on but I didn’t mind whilst I thought I might get a little back at the end of it all. Now I am left with the realisation that all that struggle has been for absolutely nothing. Well, nearly nothing, at least I still have Roman!

On a positive note I now only have 11 working days to go until I finish and then the preparations for my trip can start proper. It will be full steam ahead from then and I will be getting in touch with as many organisations as possible to try and get the sponsorship going.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Going Back To Work For A Rest!

I am so ashamed – I didn’t get up until 1pm today! I must have better discipline tomorrow though as I am back in work and have to be there for 8.30am! Once I was up I got straight to it – sorted some breakfast and a coffee out to wake up with and then set off on another 10 mile walk with Roman. It was surprisingly warm despite the cloud cover and Roman was suitably knackered when we got home. It never ceases to amaze me though how quickly he recovers – within a couple of hours he is ready to do it all again!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to take him again – I had decided to do another work out (Nath declined again, the big girl!) and my brother, Rich, agreed to do one with me. After an hour of working out and a nice thick, creamy protein shake I cooked us both grilled chicken breast, boiled rice and peas (it’s fast becoming a trademark dish in this house!)

I didn’t actually eat until about 7pm and this was a bit of a mistake as I had to play football at 8.30pm. We were playing the team that is second in the league so we knew it would be a tough match. To be honest, we never really got going but managed to go in 1-0 up at half time! Within a minute of the restart we gave a cheap goal away and the match finished 1-1.

I left the pitch with mixed feelings – it was a game we should have won as we were the better team despite never really getting going but I was also happy as it was a good results we probably would have taken before the game against a good team.

I had an idea last week that one of the lads that turns up every week to watch should pick a man of the match each week so I had a word with him before the match and he agreed. Hopefully it will create a little more competition in the team and lead to better performances and, in turn, better results. I had a good game, as did our striker Johnny, and got the first man of the match award!

Despite me having a lot of sleep this weekend it has also been a fairly tiring weekend and I will be looking forward to going back to work tomorrow for a rest! I have a few things to do tomorrow too – I need to go to the estate agents to find out exactly what they are doing in an effort to sell my house and I need to chase up PayPal and the Rottweiler Welfare Association so that I can start raising funds for the RWA and the Italian Red Cross.

I am starting to develop quite a following in the Rottweiler community so I am hoping that I will be able to raise a decent amount for the RWA – they certainly deserve it for all the wonderful work that they do. I am keen to get this side sorted out once and for all too so that I can concentrate my efforts on publicising my plans.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

I Didn't Get Up Until 1.30pm Today!

Well today certainly never went to plan! I didn’t get to bed until about 2.30am and put Menace II Society on to watch in bed. I only watched about half an hour of it before falling asleep but didn’t wake up today until 1.30pm! I must have needed the sleep – it must be due to the lack of sleep during the week but I am still pretty annoyed with myself!

I chilled out for a couple of hours and had boiled egg and toast for my breakfast before setting off on a 10 mile walk with Roman at about 3.30pm. I went and met Nath out of work at 5.30pm – he works in the city centre – but he bailed out on the workout so I had no training partner tonight!

Roman was a little tired – it was hotter than I first thought when I went out – so we popped to the café that we had gone to a couple of weeks ago with dog training as I knew they would happily give Roman a bowl of water. He was certainly very grateful for it!

I got chatting to the couple who run the café and it turns out that the owner’s son is in the army – he is due to go to Afghanistan soon – and they had done some fundraising for Help For Heroes a month or two ago. I told them about my plans and asked if they would be prepared to put a poster up for me. They agreed and also agreed to forward a copy of the poster if I email it to them so I will be putting one together this weekend.

Just next door to the café is a fruit and veg shop I worked in when I was about 16 and I saw the owner there while I was drinking my coffee so I had a word with him and he agreed to put a poster up also as well as agreeing to forward a copy on to all his contacts – there should be quite a few if you include suppliers and clients.

Once I got home I popped to see my brother who cut my hair for me – I now have a nice grade zero! I came home and had a bath and then did an hour long workout – I feel a little knackered now to be honest! I’ve had my protein shake now and am just cooking myself some grilled chicken breast, rice and peas – a little dull I know but it’s got everything I need in it and will aid my recovery.

I am determined to get to bed at a decent hour tonight so I can get up nice and early tomorrow as it would be nice to have a day walking in the sun before I go and play football tomorrow night. I need to make sure Roman is comfortable covering long distances in sunny conditions – if he is not it might end up taking me six months to walk there!

Lazy Evening

I am so happy that the weekend is here and, even better, the weather forecast seems to be pretty good. I will be getting up early tomorrow, shaving my head and then taking Roman for a 10 mile hike before lunchtime. My mate, Nath, is working tomorrow afternoon but will be coming round after work at about 6.30pm to go for a jog with Roman before we do a workout for an hour or so.

Dog training is off this week as there is a Race for Life this weekend so some of the roads around the city centre will be closed off. That’s a bit of a shame really as we couldn’t go last week as I was too hungover after the Oasis gig. I will make sure that we do plenty of exercise though and am hoping that we can put in at least 20-25 miles over the course of the weekend walking and at least 5 miles jogging.

I have football on Sunday night again and we will be looking to make it not only 3 victories in a row but also 3 clean sheets in a row. It will be harder this week though as we are playing the team that are second in the league. Still, since I moved to centre back, the balance of the team has looked much better and we haven’t conceded a single goal so there is always a chance!

Work dragged a little today – I think I am just waiting to finish now to be honest. There is still a fair bit for me to do as I need to try and get everything sorted by next Wednesday for when I go to Bromley to do a handover of all of my tasks so I am sure that next week will be a busy one. At least that should make the time go quicker!

I have had a bit of a lazy evening tonight, not been for a run or done a workout but I guess it’s best to have alternate days off really. I am really enjoying the working out at the moment and am determined to have a nice six pack and well defined frame for when I leave – I’ll look a lot better walking around with my top off if I do!

I got a call this afternoon from a guy at the Chester Chronicle. He wants to meet up with me and Roman to get a photo and some more information so that they can publish a story about what we are doing. I am hoping that this will lead to national coverage as they have links with the Daily Mirror but we will have to see on that one. I cheekily asked if he would get me on the front page but apparently that is not his decision.

I have now decided to send my story into as many magazines as possible- Take a Break, Bella, That’s Life, dog magazines, etc. in an effort to raise publicity. The audience for those sorts of magazines is pretty big so, if they publish the story, I should receive heightened interest as a result

Friday, 12 June 2009

I'm Frustrated!

Whoever thought it would be such hard work to publicise something like this? I have been trying so hard to raise interest in what I am doing – often spending countless hours online sending messages to people in the hope that they will take an interest. I am beginning to think that I am going about things the wrong way though! Has anyone else ever tried to publicise something on a very large scale? If so, how did you go about it?

I am feeling rather frustrated with things at the moment but only because I never seem to have enough time to do everything I want. I am determined to be at peak fitness when I leave so have been doing lots of exercise recently and that has taken up a fair bit of my time. Work obviously takes a lot of my time at the moment and life in general just seems to get in the way!

The Facebook group I started seems to have slowed right down – there are currently 757 members and about 1800 invitations outstanding but the growth seems to have levelled out somewhat! I am really unsure as to the best way to get things moving in the right direction again.

I suppose once I finish work it will probably become a lot easier. After all, I will have plenty of time to sort everything out and I will be able to get in contact with organisations that may be able to help greatly in publicising this. The big problem at the moment is that I work office hours and these are generally the only times that I would be able to speak to the necessary people.

I really can’t wait to finish now and, even though there are only another 13 working days to go, it feels like it’s never going to end! I know that is silly but it’s just frustrating to have so many plans and so little time to carry them out.

I went for a jog again with my mate, Nath, and Roman. Nath did much better tonight – he managed to get the whole way around without stopping. We then did a work out for an hour or so and we are planning to do the same tomorrow. I am determined to have a six pack when I leave and am hoping to have the best tan in the world when I get there to go with it!

I made a decision this week to completely change my diet and went shopping and bought absolutely loads of chicken, frozen vegetables, rice, pasta, etc. If I want to be in peak condition I guess I need to make sure that I cut out the fatty food and ensure my body is getting plenty of carbohydrates to give me the energy to do everything and plenty of protein to aid my recovery. I just need to cut out the pasties for lunch and the crisps and chocolate I seem to be snacking on everyday!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

14 Working Days To Go!!

I have still not heard anything back off Jennie from the Rottweiler Welfare Association or PayPal so I will have to get on the phone to them both tomorrow and see if I can sort the charity stuff out once and for all. I just can’t wait to have that part sorted out as I am sure that there will be plenty of donations forthcoming for both causes.

It’s hard to believe that in 14 days I will no longer have to go to work – at any point in my life I think I would be worried about what I was going to do for money and how I would be bored but now I know that I will have plenty to do as there is so much to organise before I leave.

I need to go and see the estate agents this week too. I am a little concerned that I have only had 1 viewing – and they didn’t even show up – despite the house being on the market for about a month. I feel the house is priced very competitively so I can’t understand why there has not been more interest. Also, whenever I speak to them on the phone they seem to give me vague answers and I am interested to find out exactly how much they have done to market my house and see what the reasoning is behind people not being interested – they must give a reason surely?

I have made some headway this week at work with some of the work I have to handover. For those of you who don’t know I am an assistant business strategist for a debt purchasing company. I am responsible for quite a lot of reporting and I have to rewrite it all in SQL and handover to someone before I leave on the 30th June. There is quite a lot of work to do to make this happen but I feel more and more confident every time I use it – I have only been using SQL for a short time but I tend to pick things up pretty quickly.

I think it is going to be a little weird the first day I don’t have to go into work. I have worked really hard over the past 6 or 7 years and on countless occasions have worked 60 – 70 hour weeks. I have always been a very self driven person so it will be weird but I am sure that I will transfer this quality to the task ahead fairly quickly.

I am looking forward to being able to get up in the morning and walk 10 miles with the dog before lunchtime each day. I have already decided that I will use the middle part of the day to try and contact businesses to try obtain sponsorship and liaise with organisations relevant to the cause. It’s probably going to be the busiest part of my life to be honest with there being so much to think about.

I managed to get 3 people to log into Facebook today so I could invite all of their friends to my group so I have sent out about 1000 invites to the group in total today! Hopefully this should help to build up numbers as the progress has definitely slowed down a little. I also decided to send a message out to all of the group members to ask them to invite all of their friends – I know I said I was going to wait until I got nearer 1000 members but I’m impulsive!

I really can’t wait to get things moving now and am already looking forward to the day when I have a job over there and somewhere to live and I am able to start inviting people over for the weekend – I am hoping I have enough takers to have someone over pretty much every weekend of the year but we’ll have to wait and see on that one!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Nothing In Life Is Worthwhile If It's Easy!

It’s now a certainty that I will have to set up a PayPal account to raise money for the Italian Red Cross if I want to keep a track of how much money I manage to raise along the way but I have a few questions that need to be answered before I do it so as I fully understand any potential implications of going this way. I sent an email off to customer services at PayPal earlier this afternoon but have had no answer as of yet.

I have not received a reply from Jennie off the back of my email reply to her yesterday evening but I am hoping she will be in touch soon. I am a little frustrated at the moment – not with the people with whom I am dealing but just the fact that I can’t seem to get the last bits finalised with the charities. It would be nice to be able to get everything set up, whichever way it has to go, so that I can tick that section off and move on to addressing the next task on my list.

In case you’re interested, the next task on my list is to start getting in touch with large organisations that have some kind of relevance to the charities I am raising for. I mentioned before that I was going to try and get hold of a list of vets and pet stores to push the Rottweiler cause and I have also decided it will be a good idea to see if I can find some contact details for a central area for the Armed Forces – surely they are the best people to be in touch with regarding the Help For Heroes cause.

The other two are a little more tricky in terms of target audience. I guess with the MSF it would be a good idea to try and get some involvement from doctors, surgeons and nurses, etc but also try and get humanitarian groups involved. I have no idea where to start with the humanitarian groups so any offerings of advice will be gratefully received but, if none is forthcoming, I will find a way!

As for the Italian Red Cross I know that I can try and liaise with the British Red Cross but I am not sure how much fruition that will bring. When I spoke with them about alternative channels for raising money for the Italian Red Cross I was told the appeal had ended so I couldn’t liaise with them in that way. I am just hoping that they have some form of contacts database that they may be able to contact for me to stoke up some interest – fingers crossed!

Failing that I am going to try and find some Italian orientated organisations in this country – again I have no idea where to start here but where there’s a will there’s a way! I have also been thinking about getting in touch with more media sources now – local newspapers, TV news broadcasters, national newspapers, dog magazines, French media, Italian media – the list goes on!

I got a phone call this morning from Sam at the vets again to inform me that she had heard nothing more back from the dog food company but would let me know as soon as she did – I am not too worried about this, it’ll all come good in time. It turns out that Sam also knows a reporter at the Chester Chronicle so suggested I could speak to them.

Facebook has wound me up tonight – they have groups on there for Rottweiler lovers so I thought it might be a good idea to send the members of these groups a targeted message informing them of my plans with the angle that I am raising money for a Rottweiler charity but, after about 50 messages, Facebook got all high and mighty and started warning me about spamming! I can sort of see the point but it’s frustrating to have such a good network to tap into shut off like that. I have tried sending a message to the group creator asking them to send a message to all members but have heard absolutely nothing back!

My group is still growing but not as quickly as I would like – the group now has 729 members and 2,019 invitations outstanding. I have been trying my best to raise interest but I guess it just takes time. I will wait until I get nearer 1,000 members and then send out another message to all members asking them to invite all of their friends – the way I work it out if everyone invites an average of 200 people then, at current levels, that would equal 145,800 invites so it is clear that only a small proportion of group members have invited friends to the group.

I am determined, however, to make this a total success so will persevere with my efforts. I now know I am in for the long haul and it will be hard work every step of the way but nothing in life is worthwhile if it’s easy!

Monday, 8 June 2009

2 Day Hangovers

I’m glad today is out of the way – I have still been feeling the effects from my exploits on Saturday night! I never thought when I was younger that I may suffer from 2 day hangovers too but I’m afraid I do nowadays! Still, I’m not one to let stuff like that beat me and I’ve done a fair bit more exercise tonight – it’s always the best way to drag your body and mind back into the real world, I’m not one to mope around feeling sorry for myself for self inflicted ills.

I only had to work until 5pm today so I was home by 5.30pm and my mate, Nathan, was here by 6.30pm – he nearly collapsed after football last night despite being a revolving substitute and only 21 years of age! What is happening to the youth of today? Anyway, I managed to coax him into doing a workout with me so we started off by jogging a few miles with Roman. I’m not sure who was more done in – Roman or Nathan?

Once we got back here I made us a pork and apple sausage sandwich each to get some protein in before we moved onto the weights. We had some creatine-laced water – Nath’s face was a picture as I told him it was tasteless! Then I made a shake up ready from whey protein and dextrose with half a litre of full fat (I know!) Cravendale milk – talk about frothy!

We bench pressed 3 sets of 37.5kg, 3 sets of 32.5g and 3 sets of 25kg (I did 8 each time, Nath did 6) before moving on to the legs. We did 2 sets of 8 on 7.5kg and then 1 set of 8 on 10kg. Next was the curling – 2 sets of 8 on 10kg followed by 1 set of 8 on 12.5kg per arm. There were various other exercises thrown in too for good measure and, before we knew it, we had done an hours workout! It’s surprising how quickly the time goes once you get started.

I managed to establish communication with the other two charities today – the Italian Red Cross and the Rottweiler Welfare Association. It looks like the Italian Red Cross are not able to set up on justgiving.com due to them being a “public institution” and they have “very strict rules (both in terms of accountability and adherence to the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement).

As a result of this I think I will have to set up a Paypal account specifically to raise money for them so that I can keep track of exactly how much I raise for them. This is a little inconvenient as it would have been nice to have 4 Just Giving pages but such is life.

The reason I have struggled to get in touch with the secretary of the Rottweiler Welfare Association is because she has been away on holiday (the cheek of some people, eh?). She has emailed me this evening so I have requested that they sign up for Just Giving so that I can set up a page there. Hopefully I will get a reply on this tomorrow. I am hoping that they can do it as it will make things much simpler for me.

I have 6pm finishes tomorrow and Wednesday and, to be honest, I could do without them – there seems to be so little time to do anything when I finish at 6pm and I always seem to end up staying up too late trying to fit everything in and end up tired for the rest of the week. Still, I only have 16 more working days until I am officially free!

Oh, I nearly forgot – the viewing arranged for Saturday. The buggers never even showed up. I’m not too happy about that to be honest – I was already rushing around as I was getting ready to go to the Oasis gig and I only found out on Friday the viewing was booked so had very little time to organise the house. I took Roman out for an hour or so in the pouring rain and took his crate, bed and toys to my brother’s house so they hopefully wouldn’t know a dog lived here and they didn’t even have the courtesy to let me know they weren’t coming! Grrr….

Wow, wow, wow, wow!

Well, what a busy couple of days it has been! The Oasis gig was absolutely awesome, totally out of this world! I knew I was going to love every minute but it really was on another level. We left Chester at about 3.30pm and got into Manchester at about 4.30pm. We found a park and ride that had been put on for the gig and paid £10 to park up there and jumped on the bus. Heaton Park was only a mile or 2 down the road so we were there by about 5pm.

We managed to actually get in to see the gig at about 5.30pm and the first thing that struck me was how wasted people were already! I’m sure there was a lot of people who must have been there since about 2pm and been drinking all day – there were some right sights! I had some random bloke telling me how hard he was and how he could take any of the 4 fellas that were near us. His poor missus was fuming and doing her best to keep him out of trouble but he was completely gone – I think this was at about 6.30pm too so I am not sure if he managed to stay around or be straight enough to see Oasis!

Twisted Wheel – a band I had not heard of before – were the first we saw perform and they were pretty good. I really liked the music but I wasn’t too keen on the singer. When they went into solo guitar riffs they were really enjoyable but then the singer started up again and spoilt it!

The Enemy were next up and I had been really excited about the prospect of seeing them but was not sure whether they would play as they had to pull out on Thursday night as the lead singer had food poisoning. They certainly didn’t disappoint – I think I would go as far to say that they were sensational. They are probably my favourite band right now and they were so much better live than on the album.

Kasabian were a little disappointing for me to be honest. I think maybe because the music is a little darker and more subtle it just didn’t capture my attention in the way that The Enemy had – they were in your face and it was like a party atmosphere while they were on while Kasabian kind of blended into the background. They weren’t bad, they just didn’t get me going which was a shame as a lot of people had told me they were good live.

The pinnacle of the evening was undoubtedly Oasis. These guys are living legends – whether you love or hate them you have to admit that they really do have something special. They banged out loads of the old hits with a few of the more recent songs and finished with a superb rendition of Champagne Supernova. I don’t know how I still have my voice as I was singing all evening!

One thing I noticed about the venue was that there was no signs of searches anywhere – at one point a lad in front of us pulled a bag of cocaine out and he must have had about 10 grams on him! Each to their own I guess. There was a constant smell of skunk in the air too.

I spent over £150 over the course of yesterday (I know, I’m meant to be skint!) but it was worth every penny. There were stalls selling official merchandise and I bought an Oasis hoody for £35 and a jacket for £40. My brother, Rich, bought a t shirt for £18 and we are both made up with them.

I can’t believe how much I drunk yesterday too – by rights I should have alcohol poisoning! I bought a bottle of Somerset cider (7.2%) before we got on the motorway and drunk that on the way. By the time Oasis came on I had drunk 10 pints of Gaymers and headed back for another 2 about 30 minutes before they finished. Strangely, I didn’t actually feel wasted – it must have been the atmosphere and I guess drinking it over the course of 5 hours probably helped too.

We walked back to the car afterwards (don’t worry, my brother was not drinking!) and it took us the best part of an hours as we had to walk about a mile to get out of the park and then another couple of miles up the road to where the car was parked. It was much easier to get out than we thought it would be – we had visions of waiting for ages with 70,000 people being there!

We got back to Chester just before 1am and I decided to go up town and carry on drinking! My brother dropped me off and then I had another 4 pints of cider! I am certainly feeling it today but felt fine last night. I can’t believe I drunk all that! I got to bed at about 4am and was up at 11.30am – I should have been at dog training this morning but didn’t make it (sorry Angela!).

I had the biggest fry up you have ever seen this afternoon – 3 pork and apple sausages, 3 rashers of bacon, a beef and chilli burger, a lamb and mint burger, fried bread, half a tin of beans and a fried egg. I was stuffed after that and then monged out on the sofa before falling asleep for a couple of hours. I got up at 6pm and then had to go out and play football.

Most people say that they can’t do anything when they are hung over and tend to just laze the day away falling in and out of sleep. Although I still felt a little out of it I threw my kit on and went and played. If I’m honest I actually enjoy playing football when I am mashed and, for some bizarre reason, actually play quite well when I am! We won 2-0 for the second time in a row so I was happy with that, especially as I have now been playing at the back for 2 games and we have not conceded in either!

I have been a little lazy since I got back and am pretty much ready for bed – I will be getting a bath first though as I will stink otherwise! Roman has not had a walk tonight but will be getting a good run tomorrow night to make up for it. He’s really good though – he’s not played up or anything, in fact he must sense I am not at my best because he keeps coming over to give me cuddles!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

I Got My First Donations Today!

I finally managed to get some of my charity pages sorted today on justgiving.com and you may well have noticed the widgets to the left of this post. The two that are currently in place are Help For Heroes and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). I had been in contact with Help For Heroes for a couple of days and found some time today to fill in the relevant forms for them so I could set the page up. I also rang MSF and spoke to a guy who had actually already heard of me! He is a United fan and was looking on the internet for information about getting to Rome and my post in the LazioForever.com forum popped up! It’s quite bizarre that people already know who I am before I speak to them!

I also received my first donations today from one of the collections managers at my place of work (thanks Claudine!). Unfortunately, there have been no more donations yet but at least we have a start! I tried and tried to get in touch with the secretary from the Rottweiler Association today but just could not get an answer so I will try again on Monday. As for the Italian Red Cross, I tried calling the British Red Cross to see if they knew anyway to get in touch with them directly as I’m not fluent in Italian yet and was hoping there may be a number to speak to someone who speaks English. They gave me a number to ring but it is an international number – I hope it’s not too expensive! I will also ring them on Monday.

I had some more good news today – I rang the estate agents this morning to see how things were going as I had not heard off them for a little while. As it was they had rung round about 30 prospective buyers that morning and had managed to arrange a viewing for midday tomorrow. I am trying not to get too ahead of myself but I must admit I am a little excited!

I came home from work and immediately set about cleaning the house from top to bottom to get it as presentable as I can. I will have to give it a quick once over again in the morning though as Roman sheds a fair bit of hair at this time of year! I am going to take his crate and bed round to my brothers to give the appearance of not having a dog and have had oil burners going for the last hour. Don’t get me wrong, my house doesn’t smell of dog – in fact a friend who visited a few weeks back commented on how she couldn’t smell Roman. I was really happy about that as it is hard to tell when it’s your own dog.

Tomorrow is an exciting day for me all round as I am off to see Oasis at Heaton Park in Manchester with my brother. I have seen Noel Gallagher performing live before at a Versus Cancer event at the MEN arena – he was playing guitar and Paul Weller was doing the vocals (awesome!) – but I have never seen Oasis live before so I am really excited. They are being supported by Kasabian, The Enemy, Twisted Wheel and Free Peace.

I have been a fan of Oasis since day one and just know tomorrow is going to be amazing! I also like Kasabian although, for some reason that I am not sure of, I haven’t listened to them a lot in the past although they have been on my iPod quite a lot over the past couple of weeks! The Enemy are absolutely brilliant and one song in particular (Away From Here) really rings true of my situation at the moment. For those of you who do not know the song here are the lyrics to the first verse that typify me right now:

I'm so sick, sick, sick and tired

Of working just to be retired

I don't want to get that far

I don't want your company car

Promotions aint my thing

Name badges are not interesting

It's much easier for me see

To stay at home with Richard and Judy

Obviously in my case it’s much easier to walk to Rome but I am sure you get the gist!

I have not heard of the other 2 bands before but am pretty open minded and hope they will be good. To be honest thought they could be complete garbage and it wouldn’t matter due to the rest of the lineup! The Enemy had to pull out of Thursday night’s gig due to Tom Clarke falling ill with food poisoning. I hope he is better for tomorrow as I am really into them at the moment.