This week, my flat has been fitted with new windows. That’s pretty exciting in itself, but it’s meant a few other changes around the house.

My bed was previously in the corner of my room with its headboard in front of the window.

To allow the workmen to get access to the window frame, rather than just moving the bed away from the wall, I decided to rotate it 90 degrees to now be along the long wall of the bedroom.

Apart from having to rearrange the rest of my furniture to fit around it, it’s created some big questions that I’ve been struggling with all week: Firstly, should I leave it like this? Secondly, which side of the bed should I sleep on now that I can access it from either side? Thirdly, what should I do with the massive pile of things that were dumped at the end of the bed and are now (metaphorically) floating around the room?

I’ve not slept the best since moving the bed, but sleep quality has many factors and I’m not sure I can pin it on this one change. I’ve not fully transitioned yet as I still need to optimise the new layout (my bedside reading light isn’t plugged in and I probably need to shift the whole bed slightly closer to the window), but I could easily switch it all again and get back to what I’m used to. But it’s probably only for a few months so maybe it’s not worth it and I’ll just leave it as it is for now. Or maybe I should go back to the old layout that worked better and I was used to. Let me know what you think in the comments.



The news keeps telling us that inflation is high and the price of shopping is going up. But can we trust the media, and just how high? Well, I went through 8 months worth of grocery receipts to find out.

I should first point out that this is my personal inflation level and yours will depend very much on what you buy. Fortunately for this investigation, I generally always shop at the same place and buy a lot of the same items each shop.

The dates themselves aren’t important, but the trends are. All items normalised to a starting value of 100% as of June 2021.

There’s some items I buy most shops and these are shown in the graph above. Bags of apples have fluctuated the most, varying between £1.10 and £1.60 over the last few months, probably because apples are often on sale. The next highest increase is for the small packs of cherry tomatoes which have gone up 28% (the large packs have only gone up 8%). The price of cheese also varies depending on what form it’s bought in. A 400g block of cheddar is now 23% more expensive than June last year, whilst packs of pre-sliced cheddar are only 11% more expensive. And 6 pints of semi-skimmed milk have gone up almost 10% in price, but 4 pint bottles have only gone up 5.5%.

Of my non-regular items, I discovered this week that 220g cans of Branston baked beans have gone up 37% after being stable for ages (was 40p per can, now 55p). In other big swings, wholewheat penne has gone up 27% from 55p per bag to 70p per bag.

Of fruit and vegetables, the only item which hasn’t changed price is cucumbers. Cucumbers have remained at a constant 43p for a standard non-large, non-organic cucumber. This is the same price as my local low-cost supermarket so I wonder if there’s some price competition going on here. (Loose onions have also stayed the same price, but I haven’t bought them for a while.)

And the one item that has come down in price is 1.25kg of sweet potatoes. Last June these cost £1.50 a bag, but they now cost just £1.11 a bag, a 24% reduction. And this one does have a sticker they’ve price-matched the low-cost supermarkets.

Long-life items such as cereal and toiletries appear to have remained relatively constant (or gone down), but I only buy these when they’re on offer and then I stock up for a while when I do, because that just makes sense. So fresh foods is really where the impact is going to be felt.

So is inflation real? Yes. How bad is it? Well, it depends entirely on what you buy (and in what packaging).

Full data (for items I’ve bought at least twice in the last 8 months):

Disclaimer: These prices are the most recent price I’ve paid, not necessarily their current prices.

Apples (6x Royal Gala)1.201.60+33%
Bananas (Loose)0.73/kg0.76/kg+4%
Baked beans (Branston 220g)*0.400.55+38%
Bacon (8 slices of back bacon)*1.251.50+20%
Branston pickle (small chunk)*2.502.500%
Bread – Kingsmill 50/50 sliced1.001.000%
Bread – Wholemeal seeded loaf1.101.20+9%
Cereal – Special K (Peach and Apricot)*2.002.000%
Cereal – Raspberry and Yoghurt Crisp*1.501.500%
Cereal – Shreddies*3.003.000%
Cereal – Weetabix Mini (Chocolate)*2.002.000%
Cheddar (400g)1.702.10+24%
Cheddar (10 slices)1.701.90+12%
Cherry tomatoes (330g)0.700.90+28%
Cherry tomatoes (500g)1.251.35+8%
Cucumber (whole)0.430.430%
Milk – Semi-skimmed (4 pints)1.091.15+6%
Milk – Semi-skimmed (6 pints)1.551.70+10%
Pasta – Wholewheat penne*0.550.70+27%
Onions (Loose)*0.85/kg0.85/kg0%
Pasta bake sauce*1.701.00-41%
Shower gel*2.201.25-43%
Sweet potatoes (1.25kg)*1.501.11-24%
* Item bought infrequently or only when on offer so may not be accurate of complete trends.

Filling up

Two years ago, a new thing called “coronavirus” was appearing in the news. One by one, all in-person events got cancelled. Sometimes to be replaced with virtual alternatives, sometimes with the promise that they would return when able. I remember a particularly depressing day when I went through my calendar and deleted pretty much all future events.

This week though, I’ve been filling up my calendar again with the events and activities that I want to do this year. Some of them I’ve booked, some of them are just tentative. Some of them I’ll do, some of them won’t fit in with other plans.

Either way, it feels really good to be able to plan ahead and to have things to look forward to.

Wordless Wednesday


That’s broken my 33-day, 10,000 steps a day streak.


Same again, but different

Last year I ran my first marathon (I may have mentioned it).

Now, I’m training to run another one. But this time there’s a big difference… I’ve not actually signed up for another marathon yet.

So why am I doing it? Firstly, I really enjoyed training for something, and if I am to train for something, why not a marathon? Secondly, loads of people from my running club are training for marathons (but unfortunately I can’t do any of the same dates).

But as well as not actually having a target race, the other big difference is how much busier life is at the moment. I previously commented on the amount of time it took for training, but at the moment it feels like I have even less time now than last year. I’m still just as busy at work, but other events that were mostly online last year are now back to in-person as normal life has resumed. And the weather is colder, wetter and darker than in the summer which doesn’t motivate outdoor exercise.

I’m not saying I’m definitely doing another marathon, but I’m also not ruling it out either. If one came along on the right date and location and I thought I had trained enough, I may do one. This time around I’ve definitely missed more runs from my training plan than last time. But, if I’m not actually training for anything, does it even really matter?

January Habits

January Habits: 2021 Remix

It’s January, so it’s time to pick some habits to follow throughout the year. Some I’ve been doing for a while, some will be new.

Since nobody gave any (sensible) suggestions for a fourth habit, and since I couldn’t think of anything either, I decided that my fourth choice would be a revisiting of my habits from 2021.


I’ve already explained that one of my habits for this year is to walk (or run) 10,000 steps every day. I don’t think this needs to be included again.

Waking up early Going to bed early

Rather than waking up early, I’ve decided to change this to going to bed early. I’ve recently found myself going to sleep after 11pm which is too late. I normally sleep for 8 hours, so my aim is to be falling asleep by 10.45pm. This should mean that I wake up around 7am which is a good time to not be in too much of a rush the next morning. There will inevitably be some exceptions to this rule, but I’m making this my first “2021 Remix” habit to try to ensure that I stick to it.

Cold showers

I am back to doing this, but I’m not going to make it a habit that I track this year. I’m doing it because I very much have a love/hate relationship with cold showers.

Journaling Gratitude

Journaling is one that I included last year but struggled to fully integrate into my life. I was debating just keeping this habit the same as last year, but then I watched this video by CGP Grey last week. There were two interesting things he included in his journal. Firstly, his habit tracker has different levels of completion, i.e. habits that meet a lower threshold can still be scored, helping to keep a sense of achievement. The problem I have is that a lot of my items on my tracker are binary: e.g. “have I been running, yes or no?” I’m not sure how to do that so I’m going to put that to one side for the moment.

But the second idea from the video was gratitude, and how thinking of things that you’re grateful for puts you into a better mood. Grey suggested listing one gratitude in the morning and one in the evening. So far I’ve only been doing one in the evening, but I can see how having a positive gratitude mindset can set up for the rest of the day. It still feels very early and despite a lot of thinking, most of my gratitudes are very generic, e.g. grateful for “running” or “friends”, but I’m sure it’ll become easier as I get more used to the process. So that’s why this is the second part of my “2021 Remix” habit.

So that’s my final habit: Going to bed early and Gratitude. I’m sure I could have tried something brand new for my fourth habit of 2022, but sometimes learning from the past and improving on it is one of the best things to do. Come back later in the year (probably July) to see how I get on.

January Habits

January Habits: Diet

It’s January, so it’s time to pick some habits to follow throughout the year. Some I’ve been doing for a while, some will be new. I’m still short on one more for next week, so let me know me know if you have any suggestions.

My third choice for 2022 is “diet”. I’m not talking about the “I need to lose weight” diet thing, but the more general definition of diet, being the things that I eat (or don’t!). And there’s two things that I want to try changing this year.

Firstly, I want to reduce the amount of meat that I eat. This is always one of those practical things that is suggested when looking at ways of having less impact on climate change. It seems fairly straight-forward so I’m going to try and see it how it goes. I’m not planning to go vegan or anything like that, but I am aiming to have at least one day per week where I don’t eat any meat. I’m thinking it will probably be Mondays (because you know, meat free Mondays) but I’m not too fussy and if I find myself in an all-you-can-eat steakhouse on a Monday I’ll change the day. In fact, I’ve not had a meat-free day yet this week for various reasons so it will probably be Friday or Saturday now. Recipes for good vegetarian/vegan meals are welcome…

The second thing I want to try is trying other milks. I’m a big drinker of cow’s milk (plus on my cereal) and I normally go through a six pint bottle in about a week. Herding cows is also supposed to be bad for climate change and I’m curious to see what other milks are available. My plan is that every month I will try a different type of milk. I currently have a carton of oat milk in the fridge which I will break open in a couple of days once I’ve finished my open bottle of normal milk. There should be plenty of alternative options out there, but would love some recommendations if there’s any I should try (or any I should avoid!). Maybe I’ll find something I really like and replace cow’s milk altogether. (Side note: I am sticking to cow’s milk cheese.)

Come back later in the year to find out how I’m getting on with these two challenges (and for my milk reviews).

January Habits

January Habits: Mindfulness

It’s January, so it’s time to pick some habits to follow throughout the year. Some I’ve been doing for a while, some will be new. I still have room for a couple more, so let me know me know if you have any suggestions.

My second choice for 2022 is “mindfulness”. For those unaware, mindfulness is described by the NHS as “paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – [which] can improve your mental wellbeing.”

I had heard of mindfulness workshops which had been run at work, but I always thought it was something I wouldn’t be interested in. A bit later, in February 2020, everyone was offered a free account to Headspace, a mindfulness app, which I thought I may as well sign up to.

I’ve done a few sessions in the app since then (the stats part of the app says 24 sessions), but I’ve never got too into it. I feel like the sessions are useful, but I’ve not used it long-term enough to see any actual benefit yet. I have learnt some interesting things about separating thoughts and feelings, and the “get back to sleep” sessions are also quite practical in the middle of the night when I occasionally can’t.

And that’s what this habit is to change. Admittedly we’re twelve days into the year and I have only done one session (which was earlier this afternoon), but my aim is try to become more consistent. I’ve not quite worked out yet how often I should do a session – daily feels like too much, but weekly seems too little. It probably also depends what else I’m doing. It’s much easier to find 10 minutes to meditate on a working from home day than it is on an office day. I’ll see how it goes and will update later this year.

Have you tried mindfulness? How often should I be doing it? Any tips on how to improve my experience (including not napping during sessions…)?

January Habits

January Habits: 10,000 steps

It’s January, so it’s time to pick some habits to follow throughout the year. Some I’ve been doing for a while, some will be new. I still have room for a couple more, so let me know me know if you have any suggestions.

First off, I chose this as I thought it would be fairly straight forward and easy to measure. Looking into it further, it turns out that 10,000 steps a day is no longer the recommended amount of exercise, instead it’s three brisk 10 minute walks per day. I could change my challenge but we’re already 5 days into January and I probably do enough walking/running to meet or exceed the health target anyway, so this is more just for fun (although I don’t see why extra steps aren’t good exercise anyway).

I’ve previously noted that my normal day is between 6000 and 8000 steps unless I go for a run, so I don’t think 10000 steps is too ridiculous. I also mentioned that my watch sets a different daily target depending on whether the previous day’s goal is met or not, however I’m ignoring that for the purpose of this habit.

The aim is to do the 10,000 steps every day, but there are of course some exclusions such as being ill, having to self-isolate or otherwise being physically incapable of doing the exercise. I could come up with a definitive list of rules but I’d be bound to miss something.

As I said, we’re five days into the year so we can have a look at how I’m doing so far:

1 Jan – 16,733 – I started the new year with a 7 mile run so this one was easy to achieve.

2 Jan – 11,429 – I was planning to do a 10km walk, but shortly after starting it began to rain and I also realised I wouldn’t finish before it got dark so cut my walk very short. Fortunately my planned takeaway choice later was shut so I had to walk further to get to the next one that was open.

3 Jan – 24,499 – A 13 mile bank holiday Monday run ensured that I easily hit the step target.

4 Jan – 10,048 – This was the first day that I almost failed. Despite going out to do some chores and adding a really long diversionary walk to get home, I was only on 9500 at bedtime so I had to walk around my flat for another 500 steps. I can see this being a common occurrence if I’m not too far off the target, but hopefully not too often.

5 Jan – 17,858 – Another 7 mile run sorted it out today.

Come back later in the year to see if I can keep it up.

Annual Review

Annual review 2021

It’s the last blog post of 2021 so time to pictorially review some of the things I’ve done this year.

Not the first walk of the year, but my first walk in sunny weather was along the Thames in early April. I did a very similar route a couple of weeks later.
In May I walked the North Downs Way.
Later in May I made it out of London again for a 26 mile walk in the Chilterns.
And at the end of May I walked 75 miles in about 36 hours. The ice-cream each time I passed the lake was one of the highlights.
In July I passed through Leicestershire on the way to see friends so stopped at the site of the Battle of Bosworth.
A trip to Northumberland in July.
My now annual walk with my brother. This time, the Yorkshire Wolds Way.
In September I made my first trip abroad in almost two years with a visit to Vienna.
And then back again to Vienna in November.

And finally, an overseas trip that didn’t happen this year. I had planned to be in the USA this week until recent events happened. Anyway, here’s a photo from the last time I went in July 2018. Hopefully I can make it there in 2022!