Thursday, 29 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 29 - FAILED!

The challenge is over - it beat me and I've failed. How? I decided it would be a core session this evening, so out with my bench. All going well until I decided to perform a set of Static Back Extensions. The bench was weighted down with a 60lb training vest, with my feet hooked underneath said bench. 

All going well with one set complete. Midway through the second set my hamstring pulled. Thankfully I think I've caught it so it wasn't up to Grade 2. But it was enough to let me know I was pushing beyond its limitations of stress coping.

So it's now down to R.I.C.E. (rest-ice-elevation-compression), and a couple of days off training.

I got close, but no banana. I'm so very gutted, but that's the way it goes. I'll certainly be back into training by next week, but mindful not to irritate my hamstring. Next port of call will be to see a fellow Sports Massage Therapist to strip out the leg for me. Utterly not looking forward to that painful experience.

Here goes for my last music posting of the July Challenge, Evanescence and the beautiful, 'My Immortal'.


Wednesday, 28 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 28.

Cardio session again. Thirty minutes of hamster wheel peddling in order to go nowhere fast.

All I can say, is I'm so glad I've got Netflix. Alas, tonight I have very little to say at all. You're all familiar with cardio and its aims, so I'm not going to bore you with redundant information. 

Instead I will leave you with Talking Heads, and 'We're On The Road To Nowhere'. Have a great evening, or day, depending where you are when you read this.

Until tomorrow, enjoy.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 27.

 Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads and Lower Back - that was tonight's session, finished off with 20 minutes on the Renpho. And guess what? It didn't kill my butt - I'm either getting used to it, or the seat is beginning to soften.

I've had my post-session smoothie: hemp protein, egg white protein, turmeric, a pinch of black pepper, cinnamon, MCT oil, collagen powder, creatine, organic bio yogurt, semi-skimmed milk, blue berries, strawberries, banana and a drizzle of organic honey. Oh, almost forgot, a new addition, half a teaspoon of Muringa powder.
Asides from the smoothie's rather dull, dark green appearance, it really does taste quite nice, but then I've also drank other types of 'green' smoothies containing Kale, Spinach and other such wonderful ingredients, less palatable, but chugged down nonetheless. So my own concoction is nectar by comparison.

The one thing I'm becoming very aware of during this challenge is my training times. I seem to have adapted to 2100hrs+ time slots, and my body responds quite nicely? So very curious. I think it might have something to do with my hospital work schedule, where I'm home by 1730hrs+, feeling peckish, need to unwind, sometimes need to take the dog for a walk, and just potch (part of my unwind process, so it would seem).
But once I'm at it, I'm away and full into the session. My only drawback is deciding what music to listen to via Spotify.

Talking of music, for tonight I give you The Four Tops, and their brilliant song, 'Reach Out (I'll Be There)' from 1967.

Enjoy, until next time.

Monday, 26 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 26.

Getting, oh so, very close now. Earlier finish tonight at 2126hrs. Time enough for a light salad, bath, and bed - once this is taken care of, naturally.

Tonight's session focused primarily on triceps and upper back, with a smidge of biceps and delts by default. No 'Hell Set', tonight, but the 4 x 20 Incline Dumbbell Press came close, as it was last-but-one exercise out of the complete seven. Several times my shoulders, biceps and triceps wobbled like jelly from fatigued and threatened to drop the weights.

Five sessions left until the end of this challenge. They can't come quick enough, if I'm honest. I have zero clue as to how I made the 2015 June Challenge. Obviously I was younger, fewer injuries, but still, I'm quietly envious of the 2015 me. Smug bastard.

Today's song is by one of my all time favourite bands, Queen, and 'Don't Stop Me Now'.

Enjoy, until next time.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 25.

Cardio day. Yay.

Yeah, I find it rather difficult to get excited, enthusiastic, eager or revved up to hop on to my nut-crusher of an exercise bike seat and crank out 30 minutes of fat burning hell. But I have, and now it's done and my legs are quietly tingling with blood gorged veins and capilliaries, and my butt is breathing a sigh of relief - and no, that's not a euphemism for farting. Shame on you!

So, today's 'Hell Set' was the entire 30 minutes of fat burning - on an empty stomach! Although I'm glad I've done it, as always. It's just the actual process I'm not so much in love with. Running I could cope with, as you had a cooling breeze, changing scenery, sometimes rain, varying terrain, sometimes seeing folks you knew and that lovely, calming settling of your heart, lungs and body into that rhythmic, almost hypnotic cadence of foot hitting ground.

Yup, I really do miss running.

So, before I wail into my computer screen about the injustice of this cruel, cruel world and 'woe is me!' (joking, obviously), I'll move on to the music for today.

I love The Stranglers, 'Golden Brown', so fitting for a Sunday summer afternoon. 

Enjoy, until next time.

Saturday, 24 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 24.

 Keeping this one very short and sweet as I'm really in need of sleep. Apologies, but today was a heavy one at the clinic, and being up since 0430hrs courtesy of our old, deaf, partially-sighted and slightly senile dog, Darcy, I'm now running on fumes.

Hell Set - YES! We have a winner! In this evening's session, it was all about the arms. About two thirds through the session was a bicep curl into shoulder press (3 x 20). This one drained the strength out of arms and shoulders combined, almost to the point of wanting to drop my dumbbells. Not recommended. Seriously. Especially when barefoot.

And the musical offering for this evening? I give you David Bowie's brilliant theme song to the 1982 remake of the classic 1942 film, 'Cat People' - the remake starred a young and very beautiful Natassja Kinski. I recall taking an equally beautiful French exchange student by the name of Nadia, to watch this film at one of Cardiff city centre's cinemas. An amazing film for an amazing period in my life.

Enjoy, until next time.

Friday, 23 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 23.

Muscle strain. It really is a pain. But one you cannot afford to ignore and leave untreated. I should know, I've had several during the course of my life to date - note how I say 'to date'. I can't be sure I won't suffer another at some point in the future. No one can. Not unless they are genetically blessed, of course.

I've had my muscle strain (which in reality are tears within the muscle fibre, to a lesser or greater degree) treated, which, incidentally, is how I ended up becoming a Sports Massage Therapist, and trust me, it is agony. Seriously. My first tear was a calf strain in the distal portion of my gastroc, otherwise described as the superficial two-headed muscle of the rear portion of the lower leg in humans.

The above image is almost identical to my first calf tear, though mine was slightly lower and on the outer aspect of my calf. This injury ended my running as I knew it, and also my time serving with the Territorial Army (now known as the Army Reserves). The tear happened on a six mile training run one summer evening on drill night. It occurred half way through a six mile course, but I finished the six miles, but hobbled for the remaining half back to barracks.

There are three grades of tear: Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3. The last grade requires surgical intervention. You really don't want one of those.

My most recent tear happened two years ago whilst test riding a motorcycle, stalling it and trying to prevent it dropping as it pitched over to the right. I put out my right leg and tore the hamstring. 

Mine was a Grade 2 in the Biceps Femoris of the right leg. I instantly knew it was torn - as you will too, should it happen to you (which I hope it doesn't). You experience a white-hot searing pain and an inability to move your limb as normal without causing further searing pain. Any pressure on it is excruciatingly painful. The image below is of my hamstring several days after the tear.
*NOTE: the two black dots are marks placed there by the ultrasound operator when they scanned the area, revealing a 2cm x 4cm tear.

Copyright ©. 2021 Mark Kelly
All Rights Reserved.

So if you 'strain' any muscle, and bruising like that shown above appears, you have TORN the muscle fibres. People have a toned down impression of a 'strain' due to the wording, usually thinking they've just over-stretched a muscle and that it'll be fine the next day. Don't fool yourself. ANY sign of bruising is a tear. The one in my photo is a Grade 2.

My reason for mentioning all this? Well, after my session this evening, I thought I'd try a gentle jog. I must have gone 50 - 100 metres when the hamstring started pulling. It's not good. Going from my running days in the T.A. (Territorial Army) of anything from a three mile to a fourteen mile run, reduced to a quarter-of-a-mile at best post calf tear, and now, thanks to my hamstring tear, reduced even further to, at very best, 100 metres. Sad. 

Will try another jog first thing tomorrow AM, but gentler, just to test the leg out after being rested and less fatigued. Mind you, any slower and I might as well walk.

Take care of those muscles. Listen to your body. It will alert you to any problems. Ignore those warnings at your peril, for to do so is risking the end of your training for the remainder of your life. Trust me, I know. I miss running so very much.

Your music for tonight comes from Orange Juice, and their 1983 aptly named hit, 'Rip It Up'.

Enjoy, until next time.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 22.

I'm tired. Really tired. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. All due to a multitude of things cascading together in a steady waterfall of circumstance. My one relief is that the day is now over and tomorrow is my rota day off. Short lived, though, as I have people to see at the clinic in the afternoon, the upside - the weather is going to be dry, sunny and perfect for a motorbike ride into work.

This evening's session was a bit in reverse. A mix of legs, core and upper back, finishing off with a twenty minute fat burning ride on the exercise bike. I seriously felt like stopping within the first five minutes. Fatigue screamed at me from my legs, my brain was complaining about the humid temperature, and that bloody bike seat was a literal pain in the arse. So I put my head down, focused on my breathing, pictured my legs flowing with energy and pushed through, finishing with a strong 98.8% performance rating. Yes, the Renpho app does that, and compares your performance to other Renpho riders tackling the same riding mode as yourself.

No 'Hell Set' to speak of, but there is one honourable mention - Hip Raise with Knee Squeeze. The knee squeeze comes into play with a cushion, exercise pad or something equally squishy and bulky to grip between your knees. This one was a burner for lower erector muscles, hip flexors, glutes, hams and adductors. This one I did 4 x 10 reps.

My cold bath is running as I type, and I'm already gasping for another glass of water, so it's music time again. Tonight I give you John Hopkins and the beautifully relaxing, 'Abandon Window', taken from his album, 'Immunity' (oh, the irony).
I highly recommend listening to this track on a good set of headphones, relaxed, and in the dark. Thank me later.

Enjoy, until next time.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 21.

Ten more days / sessions to go. Funny how a month can be both slow and quick at the same time? Hopefully you'll understand what I'm getting at.

So today was cardio day, spiced up with a little floor work prior in the form of a push up sequence. Chest and shoulders felt a little stiff, but quickly smoothed out after the first twenty push ups.

I now have to prepare for my late shift at the hospital, so a soak in a cool bath is next on my list of 'to do', so I'll make this a short posting and get to today's music.

I present to you Hiatus, and a track entitled, 'River' taken from the album: Parklands, and features the lovely vocals of Shura

Enjoy, until next time.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 20.

I never thought I'd be hoping for rain, but here I am, post session, wishing with every fibre of my being that it would pour down, clear the air and cool everything off.

Moving on, though - today's session, was like yesterday's: unpleasant. All down to the temperature. I just hope you have had more luck in staying cool during this heatwave (unless you happen to be elsewhere in the world that isn't currently being roasted by that big ol' ball, called Sol)?

Session today consisted of body weight routine - no weights, moderate cardio, but primarily focusing on core and functional movement and compound exercises. Mix it up, always best. Like the mind, the body can also get bored if you repeat, repeat, repeat, which in turn will hinder progress and development gains.

My cool bath water is now ready and calling to me, so straight to the music.

Josh Osho and the very apt, 'Imperfections'.

Enjoy, until next time.

Monday, 19 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 19.

Just when you think it can't get any hotter, the sun proves you wrong.

At least 'warm up' was as minimal as possible, seeing as my body was already well up to temperature and glistening with sweat. Down side, clothes were sticking to me, making initial movements slightly restricted.

I'm either getting better at my sessions, or I'm not being evil enough on myself when putting the day's session together, as for today, once again, there was no 'Hell Set'. 
I'm now sticking to the 20 rep range, with sets numbering no more than four. I'm going longer cardio sessions on the bike, but not as a warm up for the rest of the session. It's counter-productive.

If you'd like to know why, then watch this gentleman, Thomas DeLauer...

Music: Simon & Garfunkel and the enchanting, 'Bookends'.
Enjoy, until next time.

Sunday, 18 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 18.

Not thinking this could be possible, but today has been hotter than yesterday, with temperatures in Wales hitting thirty degrees. By 1900hrs the temperature had dropped to twenty-five degrees, thankfully there was a cooling breeze on the go.

I love the summer, but I can't cope with extremes of heat, or cold, for that matter. I seem to be a bit of a 'middle man' where weather is concerned. But I still love the seasons. You get pissed off with one, and soon enough another rolls by. Variety is, indeed, the spice of life.
And so it was with my session for this evening. I worked from the feet up, assigning one set per body part, 20 reps each set, performing with little-to-no rest between. So basically, one massive super set. 

The one I found most tiring would have to be the squat into shoulder press. Asides from that, I managed to bulldoze my way through the session, albeit a hot and uncomfortable one, temperature-wise, even with a fan blowing.

Tonight's song is from Black, and his 1987 hit, 'Wonderful Life'. Sadly, Colin Vearncombe died in 2016 from injuries sustained from a road traffic accident in Ireland. He was placed in an induced coma, but passed away peacefully in Cork University Hospital surrounded by his family.

Until next time.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 17.

That dreaded exercise bike day again. Today was a 45 minute session that left me with numb toes in my left foot, and an aching butt. That last 0.5 miles were purely down to mental effort rather than physical.
Part of me wonders if I should have got a running machine instead? Space (or the lack of) dictates ultimately.

A horribly sticky evening after a merciless hot day really does make for a sweaty exercise session. I'm just grateful I bought a portable rechargeable mini fan - what a God send. A welcome cool breeze is (almost) as good as an ice cold drink on a hot day.

So, for a lovely summer sound, I leave you with Corrine Bailey Rae, and 'Put Your Records On'.

Enjoy. Until the next time.

Friday, 16 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 16.

What an intensely hot day it's turned into today. So-much-so, that for me, I find it quite uncomfortable to be under the sun's glare for any great length of time.

I had two clients booked in for the early afternoon, and upon finishing my treatment sessions I returned to my car, opening the door had the very same effect on me as when I open our oven door after cooking, the blast of heat from inside my vehicle was quite intense. It was insanely hot inside my car.

At the risk of being boring, I'll repeat my message from the previous post:


People will complain that their dog has separation anxiety if left at home. Whilst that can be upsetting for the dog and a bit messy for the returning owners, having your dog, quite literally, be cooked from the inside out after being left inside a car in the baking sun is a better prospect? 

Imagine the EXTREME suffering, distress, anxiety and slow agonising death your beloved family pet endured whilst you, the so-called 'responsible, loving, and caring' dog owner, strolls around the supermarket, taking your time deciding if you should get skimmed or semi-skimmed milk.

If it were down to me, I'd lock same said owners in a car just for an hour, windows shut, no air, with the midday sun baking down on the vehicle. Then see how they feel about the situation. After which, I would serve them with a lifetime ban on owning ANY animal. 

Yes, I get angry over this. But I won't apologise for it.

Advise if you do find such a situation with a dog baking to death in a car - we are told to use your mobile device to record the temperature, THEN break a window of said vehicle, and call the Police.

Back to the point at hand - today's session: legs, upper chest and shoulders. Nothing stunningly creative, but God, was it draining in this heat. No particular 'Hell Set', but what I will share is my favourite set from the session.
Something I now call the, '9 o'clock - 3 o'clock' set. This is a delt / trapezius set with dumbbells.
Either performed with external rotation of the wrist, placing the hand into a hammer grip with the dumbbell - this will hit your anterior delt.
Or wrist in internal rotation, so the backs of your hands face the ceiling when lifting the dumbbell. This will hit the mid delt.

Picture the top down view from above your head. The way you face is 12 o'clock. Both arms raise at the same time, left arm abducts away from the body, the right arm away in front of the body - so from above your arm positioning would resemble the 9 o'clock position on a clock face. Arms then return to resting position. That is ONE REP.
SECOND REP you repeat the move, but now the left arm is raised in front of the body, and the right arm abducted out to the side. This is now the 3 o'clock position. Arms return to rest position, and that's the second rep done.

And so it goes: 9 o'clock - 3 o'clock - 9 o'clock - 3 o'clock, etc.

To begin with I would suggest 4 x 10 reps. Start light. Eventually build up to 4 x 20 reps, again, be mindful of the weight. It's a great delt / traps burner. Have fun with it.

I leave you with 'Here Comes The Sun', from The Beatles. Enjoy, until next time.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 15.

Day fifteen, and it feels...well, it sucks. Maybe this IS my wall, and a few days back was just me out of juice?

Anyway, I shouldn't complain as I'm still able to get through the session, after which I feel a sense of masochistic satisfaction of having pushed myself and proved my tired body (and mind) wrong.
Today's heat in work did not help, and it's getting hotter according to the forecasts for the next few days.

I just wish television would run ad campaigns to remind morons NOT to leave their dogs (or children) in their car in ANY kind of heat, and for that matter, in the cold too - dogs can also get hypothermia.
I'd rather they - the main stream media - focused on saving the lives of animals rather than worry about pronouns. But then, animals don't have cash to give. I leave a LINK to the RSPCA web page regarding the above.

No 'Hell Set', just cardio, into a legs triple set, then on with an upper chest triple set to finish. My apologies if I seem rushed this evening, but I'm absolutely desperate to get something to eat. Poor excuse, I know, but true.

I now leave you with 'This Mortal Coil' and the beautifully haunting song, 'Another Day'.

Enjoy, until next time.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 14.

After a mad day at work, where I'm rushing about like a cat with its tail on fire, the last thing I want to do is exercise. Seriously. The hospital I work at was warm. Every ward, corridor, room and stairwell was warm and humid. By the end of the day it just sucks all the energy out of your body.

But it's cardio session, and climbing into the saddle was about as pleasant as eating my own armpit hair.

I now look forward to a soak in the bath, then bed, and back up at 0500 hours to start it all over again. Yay.
So no babbling like a brook in tonight's post. Just keeping it plain and simple.

Today's song is from Placebo, back in 2006, and a live cover of David Bowie's 'Five Years'. I stumbled across this several years ago purely by accident, but I just love the tonality of Brain Molko's voice and the strumming sound of the steel stringed guitar.

Enjoy. Until next time.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 13.

Copyright ©. Men's Health.

Day thirteen, unlucky for some. Did you know that stairs rarely, if at all, have thirteen steps, and in hospitals you will never see a bed numbered thirteen, only 12A? But being born on the thirteenth, I couldn't give a toss.

Today was a day of brain fog. I couldn't formulate a training program off the top of my head, so I went to my small book collection and pulled out, The Men's Health Big Book of Exercises, by Adam Campbell, Fitness Director of Men's Health.

From this compact tome of pain I managed to put together a 60 minute session for the upper body, hitting chest, back, shoulders and arms (biceps and triceps). No super sets, just 3 x 20 reps of each.

No cardio work this evening, that's all ready for tomorrow's session after work. Oh, joy. What I am finding is the craving to eat is growing, but I'm trying to moderate calorie intake in order to make my body utilise what fat reserves I currently have. When the hunger niggle starts I drink water where possible, which satiates the pangs for a while. 

If you weren't aware, there is a hormone by the name of Ghrelin, otherwise known as the 'hunger hormone'. This bundle of fun is what niggles at you to eat, eat, eat. Good news is, the longer you go without food, as in a fasted state, the less the hormone niggles at you. Eventually you will be able to go for longer periods without feeling the pangs of hunger. It does work, I know, having done the 16/8 fasting routine previously. What fasting does for the body is to burn fat stores of the body as they should for energy, thus making your body more efficient at using its fat storage system. Also, fasting helps to give the digestive system a rest, allowing it to 'detox', instead of being in a near permanent state of food processing. Your mind becomes clearer, concentration improves and you will find you have more energy, and your gut doesn't feel so bloated or full all the time.

I've pulled a video from Thomas DeLauer, whose channel I follow on YouTube and placed it below for those with an interest in fasting and how to go about it. It is nearly half an hour in length, but this guy goes into the important facts and science behind it. If it isn't your thing, then skip on down to the song for today.

The song for today is by 'Choir of Young Believers', and 'Hollow Talk'. Enjoy. Until next time.

Monday, 12 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 12.

Fat burning. What can I say? It's hard. Very hard. It takes consistent and intense effort, and at the end of a session the expenditure isn't always as much as you'd like it to be.
That was my session: fat burning via the Renpho AI bike. No hell sets, but just continuous muscle burn and relentless peddling against the clock. Not my favourite kind of session, I have to be honest.

But, like I always say, run your body like a bad bank account and keeping spending more than you put in, and you'll see results. The flip side is, it's still hard bloody work.
I recall a friend of mine, back when he was just about knocking on his twentieth year, saying to me during a discussion regarding food, "I can eat whatever I want, and I never put on weight." I just grinned.
He now understands the reason for that grin, as does his waistline.

We were all once lean, fast, strong, with endless energy, and some even had the kind of definition to their physiques that fitness magazines dream about. Never good trying to live in the past, you only set yourself up for disappointment and failure. I know. We all do, at some point or other. It's the nature of the rose-tinted glass-wearing beast within us. The hardest part is acknowledging to yourself that you're a different person than the one you hold a candle to the most, and your abilities have changed accordingly.
Work with what you have rather than against it, you'll be surprised at the progress you can make. There is nothing you can't do, within reason depending on your physical state and health.

Think positive, be positive, act positive. It's a challenge in itself, there's no mistaking that. Master that and a whole new world of experiences will open up to you. Enough of my twaddle. I have another Joe Rogan video for you, and the subject matter today is 'Training The Right Way'.

Today's song is a cover version of 'The Sound of Silence' by 'Disturbed'. Enjoy.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 11 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 11.

Copyright ©.2021 Concrete Playground.

Sunday used to be considered 'a day of rest'. Back when I was a kid, Sunday's were quiet affairs. Shops would be closed, corner shops (God, how I miss those!) had limited opening hours, and people went to church, or not, and stayed home. Kids would sometimes play out in the street but did so fairly quietly for fear of getting a ticking off from the neighbours, or worse, their parents.

If you walked around your local area it would be fairly deserted. Family's settled down to the traditional Sunday dinner, prepared and cooked by the mother - usually a Sunday roast, with roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, cabbage, peas, carrots, sometimes parsnips, Yorkshire pudding and roast beef, or chicken, and gravy. All followed by dessert. Then (for my family) father would do the dishes.

Come the evening, kids and teens would settle down and listen to the radio and the UK Top Forty. Often a cassette tape recorder would be used to record the top forty so it could be listened to in the bedroom or, if your car was modern enough, play it in the car's cassette deck when driving around. Recording the Top Forty was a skill, as you would have to be quick on the pause button in order to cut off the DJ's chatter, then un-pause to continue recording. After which, you had a near seamless, continuous play list of singles to listen to.

But for me, today was no 'day of rest', but a continuation of the challenge. I have to admit, I feel as if my energy had be drained out of me today, more so than yesterday. The session got completed regardless.
And yes, there was a 'Hell Set'.

This session focused on legs... urgh! Plus, I re-jigged a set I often use for warm up, and performing it wasn't fun at all.
The warm up set was:

10 x Sumo Squat with Dumbbells
10 x Spiderman Push ups 
10 x Mountain Climbers

All the above three exercises are treated as ONE SET, performed without rest between each exercise, and performed FIVE times. I tend to have 60 seconds rest between sets, but when on form, I will run through these without rest, as fast as possible, whilst maintaining good form.

The 'Hell Set' for today was a super set:

3 x 20 Goblet Squats
3 x 20 Squats with Dumbbell Shoulder Press.

It hurts. Your mind will be screaming at you to give in. Push through, you'll be glad you did.

Due to my low energy levels, today's session lasted 75 minutes. My longest session yet. I normally aim for 50 minutes maximum, but the warm up messed with me, and the 'Hell Set' slowed me right down.

If you decide to give them a go, I wish you the very best.

I leave you with a great tune by the talented, if somewhat eccentric, Jamiroquai, and the great 'Virtual Insanity' - I'm always mesmerised by this video, such a clever concept.

Enjoy, until the next time.

Saturday, 10 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 10.

Copyright ©.2021

Saturday is always clinic day for me, when I get to see the majority of my sports massage clients. Today was no exception. Five booked in - two 30 minute sessions, and three 1 hour sessions. And yes, at the end of the day I'm ready for home and collapse. But not today. It would seem one of the side benefits of my exercise routine is giving me more energy and stamina. At the end of my clinic I felt almost as fresh as I did when I started the day. Plus my blood pressure is dropping nicely, and my body weight is down by 5lbs.

It's always good to get results you hoped for.

Due to the physical nature of my work, today's session consisted of a circuit styled routine combined with a 30 minute fat burning session on the Renpho AI Bike. A work colleague suggested I buy padded cycle shorts when I told him about the Renpho. I'm so glad I listened to him. Damn, those seats are hard on the butt! So I'm pleased to say everything in regards (right knee not included) to my month's challenge is working out well and going to plan. But there are still 21 days to go. I'm just starting to climb that proverbial hill.

Today's song is a nostalgic favourite of mine for many reasons. It came to my attention back in 2009, a time in my life when I held three jobs, and was massively active with online gaming. As a result of the latter I met some really good people and some special ones along the way.

I dedicate this song by Newton Faulkner, and 'Dream Catch Me' to those special people. A big thank you to those who knew me (and the few who still know me), and helped to make that such an amazing period in my life. I hope you're all safe, healthy and happy.

Friday, 9 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 9.

What a day. Awoke with a tight throat. My first thought, 'I caught the receptionist's damn cold!', but within 30 minutes of being up and about it evaporated like morning mist. Result.

My knee, however. Without a doubt I've damaged my right meniscus from yesterday's session. My only reason for using a jump rope is because I can't run due to a previous high tibial osteotomy on the left leg, and scar tissue in my bicep femoris of my right leg - I stalled a motorcycle whilst out on a test ride, and as it toppled, I put my right leg out to stop it and RRRIIIPP! The bike (KTM790) still touched the ground as I lowered it, but with minimal damage. Same could not be said for my hamstring. The bike in question is pictured below. A weight of 417lbs (189kg) on one leg, the outcome isn't going to be a good one.

Copyright ©. 2021 Wallpapercave.

Anyway, I digress. Jump rope is less impact than running, but it would seem even that lesser amount of impact had a negative effect. I should emphasis that my right knee should also have undergone a high tibial osteotomy following the first, but as the surgeon had over-corrected and refused to perform a revision, I told him he wasn't touching my other leg. Therefore I would have to say, my right knee has been functioning on borrowed time.

As for today's session - I've focused on triceps and back. And, much like yesterday's session, there isn't one set that fits the bill of 'Hell Set'.  The closest I got to it was a dumbbell bent over row set, primarily due to my right hamstring and the scar tissue pulling tight. So keeping form had an added extra degree of difficulty for me. 

The set is as follows:

4 x 20 Dumbbell Bent Over Rows, strict form.

No super sets were performed today.

The song for today is by Woodkid, and is entitled, 'IRON'. This has to be among one of my favourite game trailers. The animation is amazing and fluid, why more feature length films are not made like this, with this quality of CGI, I'll never know (Yes, I'm talking to you, Mr Peter Jackson and that thing you did called, 'The Hobbit'!)?
Watching this still send shivers down my neck when the main character starts kicking serious bad guy butt. Does anyone else think the hangman at the end looks suspiciously like Jason Statham?

Either way, enjoy.

Until tomorrow.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 8.

Day off from work today, and what a great day for exercising outdoors. Not too sunny, slightly overcast with a strong breeze. So kept nice and cool, and it made a refreshing change from the stuffy room I usually confine myself to.

The session today took over an hour, and was primarily jump rope and circuit based. Its format was 50 rotations of jump rope x 3 sets, super set with a circuit based exercise, again, x 3 sets, then a rest period of 2 minutes for stretching, then moving on to the next rotation. In total, there were five rotations.
Other kit used, besides the jump rope were: 2 x 20lb dumbbells and an 8lb medicine ball.

If truth be told, there was no particular set that could be deemed a 'Hell Set', it was all just hard. It would appear my left meniscus could be on its way out, but I knew that several years back. Time has caught up with me, so it might seem. But screw it, I'll just adapt and adjust, and play it out until I have no options left.

One thing I have learned, the hard way, is that surgery shouldn't be your first port of call. If anything, when it comes to your joints, seek every avenue prior to going under the knife.

Lastly, post session drink. I look forward to this the most. I use Hemp protein, mixed with creatine and egg white protein, one whole banana, four strawberries, a scoop of collagen powder, turmeric, cinnamon, a shake of crushed black pepper (it reacts with the turmeric, causing a greater increase in absorption of the curcumin), a tablespoon of organic MCT oil, semi-skimmed milk and probiotic yogurt, plus organic honey to take the edge off the Hemp protein's earthiness.

Whizzed together makes a great post session smoothie.

All that is left to do now is soak in the bath, chill for a bit, then hit the sack.

For your listening pleasure we go back to 1983 and a surprise number 1 hit for 'The Flying Pickets', and their cover version of Yazoo's, 'Only You'.

*A bit of trivia for you - back in the early 90s I had a bit part in some Welsh drama, playing Airport Security, and had the pleasure of working with the lead singer, Brian Hibbard, of this particular Flying Picket's song. Also a fellow Welshman, and a really nice, genuine fella. Sadly, Brian Hibbard died in 2012 from prostate cancer.


Until tomorrow.

Joe Rogan Experience.


As an added point to the conversation yesterday, I found this short film by Joe Rogan where he talks to Laird Hamilton - an American big-wave surfer, co-inventor of tow-in surfing, and an occasional fashion and action sports model, and lastly, the same age as myself: 57. Disgusting, isn't it? Only joking.

I'm posting this, not due to the person interviewed, but rather the subject content, which harks back to what I was talking about - Mind Controls The Body, and training with purpose.


Until later.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 7.

Today's session did for my arms and shoulders, what yesterdays did for my core, and I know I'm going to feel it tomorrow. But that's the whole point of exercise and training - it should never be easy. If it is, then you're coasting and not pushing yourself enough, and as a result, you will not improve.

Your approach to training and exercise should be one of purpose, determination and dedication. At the beginning your mind will tell you to "stop, give in, it hurts." This is where your strength of character comes to the forefront. Refusing to listen to that inner voice urging you to stop is the first step to building a stronger mindset. Even when you think you've given it your all, your body still has more in reserve than you think, and this is how members of the Special Forces make it through the gruelling selection process. By sheer mental force of will and character.
It really doesn't take much to give up, but it takes way, way more to pick yourself up, despite the screaming ache in your muscles from lactic acid build up, the desire to vomit and your lungs feeling like they will explode. 

Mind controls body, NOT body controls mind.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 6.

Copyright ©. Warner Communications Co.

A day off from work, so I was able to train at a more sensible time today. This session consisted of bodyweight exercises primarily targeting core.

Possibly one of the best core systems on display, before it became widely popularised in modern film, was that of Mr Bruce Lee. I'm not by any means stating he had the ultimate of core systems, but his was one that drew attention to the whole aspect of what the potential for a disciplined and strong core system was capable of and looked like, later to be supplanted by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and others.

The importance of core is immense, and something people simply do not understand, and the intrinsic relationship it has with the gluteal system, which is basically the bodies engine and drive unit. These are essential to be in good working order. If one is dysfunctional then the other is going to be affected and will follow suit.
Your gluteal system is a synergist and fixator, and the core is the stabilising 'girdle' which holds the body upright and strong, especially the spine, allowing for rotational movements ranging from minute adjustments to large, powerful twists, e.g. a golf swing. Plus it keeps all the internal organs safe and secure, not to mention, in place.

So today's session focused on that aspect of the body, and no surprise what my 'Hell Set' consisted of.
Once again, it is performed as a 'Super Set'.
Here it is, unaltered:

4 x 20 Slow Mountain Climbers - alternating opposite knee to opposite elbow = 1 rep

4 x 30 Shallow Leg Kicks (10 reps)
           Cross-over Kicks    (10 reps)
           Scissor Kicks          (10 reps)

This set hurt me, but not in the way of an injury, but fatigued my core so rapidly that I couldn't help but let out the odd expletive here and there as I had to seriously push myself not to give in and lower my feet.

*IMPORTANT: Do not drop your feet when stopping these exercises, you risk injury in doing so. Lower to the ground with control, then relax... and curse some more.

Shallow leg kicks are performed as if you are kicking in water on your back, toes slightly pointed in. By 'shallow', your feet should start roughly six inches off the floor and travel no further than another six-to-eight inches in the kicking phase.

Cross-over kicks start with your leading foot below your off foot. So if you are right side dominant, your right foot starts UNDER your left, and vice-versa. It is, in essence, a mini scissor kick, but you alternate placing your feet one above the other. 
The foot you count the reps with is the one starting under the other. Up and over and back again = 1 rep.

Scissor kicks are just that, feet start together, then open, so both feet travel away from the midline of the body, and then return coming to a brief rest together = 1 rep.

Throughout these exercises it is important you engage the glutes 100% for the duration, until all three exercises are complete. Also, keep your lower back flattened to the floor throughout, and engage your core abdominal region. Do not hold your breath.

Today's song is by Garbage, from the album of the same name, and is entitled, 'Crush' - which, incidentally, is part of the film soundtrack for the brilliant film, 'William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet'. Click HERE to see the official trailer from 1996.


Until next time.

Monday, 5 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 5.

Copyright ©.

Earlier today, in work whilst on break, I was having a conversation with one of my colleagues and friend regarding this 'challenge', and I bemoaned training / exercising in the evening, as I had done over the weekend just gone. So what do I end up doing this evening? Yup. What a mug. All my own fault, as I got caught up watching the tennis at Wimbledon.

Today's 'Hell Set' was the following:

4 x 20 Farmer's Squat with Dumbbell Shoulder Press
4 x 20 Forward Incline Bench Flys (basically face down on the bench)

The Farmer's squat and shoulder press had me beaten in both shoulders and lungs, so as previously done, I dialled the number of reps back to the following:

4 x 15 Farmer's Squat w db s/press
4 x 15 Fwd Inc Bench Flys

A rather stupid thought crossed my mind this evening, that being my last session on July 31st. What if I took the worst of the 'Hell Sets' and created one big 'Hell Session', all unadjusted. I think I'd need a rather big bucket in the corner.
We shall see. Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy - and who was it that said we get wiser with age?

Todays, or rather, tonight's song is from a brilliant horror flick entitled, 'American Werewolf in London', an absolutely fantastic take on the werewolf genre, and quite ahead of its time for the make-up and animatronics for the man-to-werewolf-transition, plus moments of dark humour.

The song is from Van Morrison and is the title track of his album, 'Moondance'.


Until next time.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 4.

Copyright ©. 2021

Morning? Afternoon? Evening? The time of day, or night, you do your session is a very personal thing.

I know, for myself, training first thing in the morning isn't my preferred time slot. Evenings I can deal with, but my optimum training window would be the afternoon. It's just how I've found my body to perform at its best, in terms of endurance, fluidity, strength and recovery.

Today's session took place at 2115hrs - not ideal by my standards, but it was my own fault, as Sunday was a distraction day with a dull, sky and heavy rain showers, so I tackled the little jobs required doing to my motorcycle, and, just like browsing YouTube, once you start the time flies by.

This evening's 'Hell Set' was a super set combo consisting of the following:

3 x 40 Mountain Climbers
3 x 20 Squat Thrusts

Now I completed the first rotation, but had struggled with the squat thrusts by the 8th rep. And my lungs were blowing more than I expected. So I dialled the sets back to the following:

3 x 30 Mountain Climbers
3 x 10 Squat Thrusts.

I suppose what doesn't help is the early stages of arthritis within my left wrist as a result of all the years of sports massage I've done, so a prolonged hand position with all my body weight driving through it doesn't feel good after a while. But as it happens I have an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon this coming Thursday. No doubt he'll stab my wrist with a needle and inject something in to calm things down. Not something I'm looking forward to.

As a wind down (for me) I'm leaving you with a song from 'The Beach Boys', and their album, 'Surf's Up'. Oddly enough, this album is very environment centric, and concerns for the environment around us. It is worthy of a listen. The track is entitled, 'Disney Girls'.


Until next time.

Saturday, 3 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 3.

Copyright ©. 2019 Viacom.
Car alarms. What a huge pain in the arse they can be, especially when your neighbour's car alarm goes of at 0430 in the morning and doesn't knock it off until almost a quarter of an hour has elapsed.

This was the start to my day, today. Woken by said car alarm, I got up to check all was ok, which, aside from the banshee wailing of  the car alarm, turned out to be the case. But I couldn't get back to sleep, so, to hell with it, I thought, and went downstairs and tidied up the kitchen and fed our very demanding cat.

I had three clients booked into the clinic for Sports Massage, so once the kitchen was sorted I prepped my clinic gear for the morning ahead. By the end of my clinic session I was drained. The drive home was more or less via autopilot. Not ideal, I know, but the roads were mercifully quiet for a change.

Being home alone for the weekend I had tasks awaiting my return, and these required my immediate attention before I dared write out my day's training program. Once all tasks were completed I needed food, so whilst that cooked in the oven I took our ageing dog, Darcy, out for her afternoon drag - she's now 15, practically fully deaf, losing her sight, arthritic and possibly suffering a touch of dementia (getting old is a bastard, it really is), so a gentle stroll was order of the day. Finally home, I fed both cat and dog, then myself - and almost immediately fell asleep on the sofa. Bad thing to happen.

I awoke ten minutes later, neck stiff, and feeling like crap. Next, I did the worst thing possible. Went upstairs for a lie down. You know, that, 'Oh, I'll just have 10 minutes kip', theory. Bad idea. That was mid afternoon. I awoke at 1030-ish at night. And I felt just as crappy. 

So, irritated with  myself, I pulled my shit together and got down to the session at hand. Only difference being, this time no bike warm up, just gentle stretching, as my legs were aching from the previous day's session.
I focused on upper body and back. It was hell. I grumbled all the way through it in my head, berating stupid me for doing such a dick thing as falling asleep for so long. Now my body clock is out of whack.

But hey, shit happens and you deal with it, right? Today was no different.

I leave you with today's song, by Faithless, and 'Insomnia'.


Until next time.

Friday, 2 July 2021

July Challenge ~ Day 2.


Copyright ©. 2021 Renpho.
I have an issue. It's my exercise bike, made by Renpho. Unfortunately the handle bars are not rotational in adjustment, height yes, but that's it. What I find is that the pressure exerted down through my palms over the oval tubing has a tendency to reduce blood flow to my fingers, which after a few minutes begin to tingle. It's annoying, as I can't keep a single hand position for too long.

One thing I have learned from using this machine is that padded cycling pants are essential. Really.

There is one final gripe regarding the Renpho AI Exercise Bike, and that's the free app. It's hit and miss. Quite often it will refuse to upload your session at the end of the workout, plus the cadence tracking seems off. It's a good machine, but I wouldn't say it's the best, but if you wish to learn more about it, click this LINK to go to the Renpho website. Pricewise it's in the mid range. Sold either directly or on Amazon, it's priced at £699, although offers are available from time-to-time.

Asides from all that, this bike provides a good warm up session for my daily training, so I aim for anything from 15 - 30 minutes, depending my mood and time of day. 

Today's session mainly focused on legs, but I ended it with a super set (I always perform super sets if possible) of the following:

4 x 15 push ups (close arm position)
4 x 60 second plank, arms fully extended in external rotation.

This killed me. The final set I failed to complete fully as I had no strength left. Going from push ups straight into plank I could feel the strength and energy quite literally drain out of me as each second sloooowly ticked by. But then, it's only day two.

Music for today is by The Sterophonics, a great band from my homeland of Wales, and the track, 'Maybe Tomorrow', from the album, 'You Gotta Go There To Come Back'.


Until next time.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Start the Pain ~ July 1st - July 31st.

 I've been lazy. I've been King of Procrastination. I've been in denial. And lately, I've been part-time.

What am I referring to? Exercise. I used to refer to it as 'training', but that implies there is a specific purpose and goal at the end of a given period, such as a competitive activity. For me, those days are long gone, so I now refer to it purely as 'exercise'.

So why the title? Going back, way back, to when I was 17 years old, and recently quit competitive swimming (you know, the six-days-a-week gig, sometimes twice-a-day schedule, with championships and swimming competitions and galas) all because I was in love for the first time. Then said girlfriend flew off to the US shortly after for a month, to spend summer with her mother. 
What to do? Being used to the regime of waking, training, school, training, eating, sleep, repeat, I did what came naturally - I trained every day, twice-a-day, running and weights (and burned out by the next month).

Fast forward to 2015. Having qualified ten years prior as a Sports Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor, for some bizarre reason I decide, 'Let's test myself and everything I've learned.'

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Summer Evenings and Hypocrisy.

 Odd title, you may be thinking, but I'll keep this short as I want to post an 80s summer song for you from a band I loved back in those glorious days of summer when I was a mere sapling of seventeen years.

Hypocrisy: the UK's Prime Minister, Boris Johnson dishing out a 'free pass' to all his V.I.P. chums from abroad to fly in with no swabbing, no quarantine, no being locked up in a hotel, jabs not needed nor masks or social distancing. Just so they can have a great, old time attending the UEFA football, Wimbledon Tennis Championships (which apparently is being palmed off as an 'experiment') and even Ascot Horse Races. All very jolly with lots of hugs and kissing.

Then there is the exception granted to 'business elites' being allowed foreign travel without penalty, the reasoning being that they bring economical benefits into the country. All this whilst the rest of the UK has to endure bans on singing or dancing at weddings, no hymns at funerals with limited numbers attending, and the usual 'lockdown restrictions' and mandatory mask wearing, not to mention the travel restrictions applied to going on holiday abroad and being locked up in an isolation hotel, for which you must pay around £1400+ for the privilege.

Summer Evenings: I remember being bought 'Ghost in the Machine' by The Police somewhere around 1982, by my then girlfriend. It was a wonderful surprise. I have a fond memory of a lazy summer's day spent at Southerndown beach, my old Ford Capri parked on the grassy hill used as a car park, and my squad mates from the City of Cardiff Swimming Club, Alun and Phil, along with a handful of others, generally enjoying the sea and sunshine, and listening to the Radio One Road Show - back when Radio One used to be worthy of a listen.
Then after returning home, that sun-baked feeling you get over your skin, when you know you caught the sun, but you're not quite at the crispy, burnt stage. And to top it off, crashing out on your bed, windows wide open, cool cotton sheets and a soft breeze.

Yup. Quite a contrast, huh.

So I leave you with 'Every Breath You Take', by The Police from their album, 'Ghost in the Machine'.

Enjoy. Until next time.

Monday, 28 June 2021

Electric Cars and Green Power. I Think Not.

Copyright ©.2021

There is a problem brewing. And it's a green one. Namely electric cars, bicycles, and scooters. I don't include electric motorcycles as all but one manufacturer has ceased making them - because no one wants them, namely sensible bikers.

It would seem that the Tesla and other electric car manufacturers are hitting the right note with the trendies with cash to burn. Apparently, the average electric car in the UK today costs £44,000. Though prices do range from the cheapest at £17,350 for something called a 'SmartEQ fortwo coupe', to an eye-watering £138,826 for a Porsche Taycan Turbo S.

Copyright  ©. 2021 YouTube.

I think back to when mobile phones first released, and basically looked like military field phones, but yet the trendies just had to have one and strut about with it. Same with the Sinclair C5 - where did they go, I wonder? Same with the electric car, scooter and bicycle, the 'trendies' had to be the first.

But for those too young to even know what the first mobile phone looked like, here is a picture of one below. And 'No', it's not from 'Call of Duty'.

My concern regarding electric vehicles is the production of this green electricity. Renewable? It's another smoke and mirrors con job. What do you think powers the stations producing this electricity? Fossil fuels. But there are some run by an energy source I found both unbelievable and outraging. To find out what it is, watch the video posted at the end.

As for solar power, forget it. Here in the UK, if we take London as an example, on average has 1460 sun hours per year out of a potential 4383 hours per year, with an average of 3.59 sunlight hours per day.

Then there is wind energy; this can have adverse environmental impacts, including the potential to reduce, fragment or degrade habitat for wildlife, fish, and plants. Furthermore, spinning turbine blades pose a threat to flying wildlife like birds and bats, plus noise pollution from their spinning.
But possibly one of the least known problems of wind turbine are the blades. They are unrecyclable, so get buried in massive 'turbine blade graveyards', a.k.a. landfills. See below.

Throughout Europe there will be around 3,800 blades coming down annually through 2022. The problem is only going to get worse and has become an issue of great concern. Whilst 99% of a turbine's parts can be recycled, the majority of turbine blades are a challenge. So much so, that they end up getting buried in huge landfills.
But there is something else I wanted to share, and this comes in the form of a video, so I'll stop here and let you watch and decide for yourselves regarding my opening remarks on electric vehicles and the creation of all this wonderful 'green' electricity.


Sunday, 27 June 2021

Rurouni Kenshin ~ More than you Imagine.

I first discovered Rurouni Kenshin on Amazon Prime's film listing at a time when it was free to view. Noting it was (at the time) a trilogy, and being a lover of Asian subtitled films in general, I gave it a go. It did not disappoint. I was immersed in the visual quality, and thrilled by the amazing fight sequences and choreography. In short, I thought it was brilliant.

Since then I have acquired the trilogy on DVD, and consequently done a little more digging into the history that is Rurouni Kenshin, and this is what I discovered:

Originally written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki, the first chapter of which premiered in the 19th issue of Weekly Shōnen Jump on April 25, 1994, and serialised in the magazine until its 43rd issue on September 21st, 1999. Kenshin was created as a former assassin and the story, for its time, took a more serious tone as it progressed. The manga revolves around the themes of atonement, peace and romance.

The complete work consists of twenty-eight tankōbon volumes, though years later it was reprinted into twenty-two kanzenban volumes. Several Japanese studios adapted the manga into an anime television series which aired in Japan from 1996 to 1998 - but to discover the complete history of Rurouni Kenshin, click on this LINK to the wikipedia page.

As of December 2019, the manga had over 72 million copies in circulation, including digital releases.

There is no denying that Rurouni Kenshin has become a popular favourite and as such has been produced as an anime series, an anime film, a 4 episode Original Video Animation in 1999, followed by two 2 episode OVAs in 2001 and 2002, then in 2011 and 2012.
There have also been stage shows, soundtracks, art & guidebooks, light novels and video games.

But possibly the biggest attention grab has been from the live-action films, now totalling five (since I originally bought the first three), which can be seen currently - at time of writing this post - on Netflix.
The films in chronological viewing order are as follows:

1) Rurouni Kenshin (film).

2) Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno.

3) Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends.

4) Rurouni Kenshin: The Final.

5) Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning.

If you have yet to watch this great series of films, I urge you to do so. But for now, I'll leave you with the first official trailer. I was considering leaving the last film trailer as a bonus, but thought it might be filled with too many spoilers.  Enjoy.

Until next time.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

To Be, or Not To Be, That is a DM.

Copyright to Image Creators - Source Unknown.

During one lunch time break at work I sat with two colleagues, both friends and members of our newly formed RPG group, one of whom has been bitten by the RPG bug and is already eager to learn the ways of becoming a DM. His weapon of choice? Dungeons & Dragons.

Recalling my first tentative steps on that beckoning wilderness path of adventure that was my first rule book, my mind was both excited and confused at the same time. More questions pulled themselves out of the muddy ground of my mind like restless undead in a hill top burial ground. I will admit, the core rules of my early years were far less number driven in complexity, and upon reflection, were very straightforward by comparison. Today, however, it seems number crunching is order of the day, and there is a roll for everything and every action. Why? I ask. If I wanted a dice rolling convention of a game, I'd play Yahtzee.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Traditional RPGs in 2021.


Copyright ©. 2021 Mark Kelly.

Allow me to shed a little perspective on a pastime, and I suppose, hobby - though I rather look at it as a simmering love affair - that is traditional paper & pencil role playing games.

I was first introduced to Dungeons & Dragons back in 1981. The whole thing seemed a confusing and curious experience that teased my imagination, and unknowing to me at the time, laid the glowing ember of role playing games deep within the heart of the furnace that was my imagination. There it would gently glow and smoulder over time, until eventually giving rise to the flame of desire to become the creator and story teller of worlds yet to be born and shared with people I had yet to meet.

Role playing games were like a back room industry in the early years. Many publishers at the time were small concerns run by enthusiasts producing 'home brew' game systems and rule books in A5 format. Many were printed via a copier machine, stapled together and distributed to the chosen few gaming / hobbyist shops, such as Beatties, which in Cardiff, was situated opposite the corner of Cardiff Castle as you travelled in and out of the city centre. This was the first influencing location I discovered containing the hidden treasures of RPG games, miniatures and the then brilliant independent gaming magazine, White Dwarf - now a sad, former shadow of itself, turned into a useless Games Workshop catalogue.

Monday, 14 June 2021

My Reason for Blogging.

Copyright ©. 2021 Mark Kelly.
All Rights Reserved.

Back in March 2011 I sat down, logged onto the Blog website and began the formative process of creating this blog. Admittedly, it looked far different than it does today, but that's evolution for you.

I didn't come by the blog website by accident or design. I was guided to it by a friend at the time, who was savvy in such things and well ahead of the curve in all things social and online. In fact, they even introduced me to the concept of people and their 'entitlement'. Like I said, she was ahead of the curve. Upon reflection, there is much I learned from her, even in terms of being made aware of certain musical tastes. I do miss our conversations at times, as hers was a mind of discovery and exploration, and I was fortunate enough to be part of that journey for a time - so I would, even though I know she will never see this, just like to say, "thank you."

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Late Night Funk & Soul

Song for Today.

It's 0120hrs and I can't sleep, and it's all due to my own stupid fault. I broke my own decision not to eat too late, and now I sit here, stomach not feeling all that clever aided by a touch of heartburn.

Combine that with a decision to 'lay down' in order to aid my complaining stomach before 2200hrs and consequently falling asleep. I then wake, and the bedroom has that pre-dawn lightness to it, so I get up, visit the bathroom, stomach still feeling drum-like, only to discover the time is just after midnight!?

I look outside and the sky is covered in cloud that is reflecting, seemingly, every light source around. I exit to the garden where it is very lightly drizzling, but so lovely and cool. Still, everything is oddly bright, so-much-so that you could read by it.

Stepping back inside, sleep now having fled, I find myself listening to Spotify and 'Funk & Soul' Classics, and one track in particular, Dusty Springfield and 'Son of a Preacher Man', which not only makes me think of a cool summer evening, but back to a time when I last really sat and listened to it: 1992 driving down to Cornwall for my honeymoon. Seems like another lifetime ago.

This was written in September 1968, by American songwriters John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins, recorded by Dusty Springfield for her album, 'Dusty in Memphis'. All when I was four years old.

Sit back and enjoy, especially if it's a cool summer evening, a gentle breeze is working its magic and your favourite drink is to hand, helping you to relax. And now sleep is whispering in my ear. 

Until next time.

Monday, 7 June 2021



Possibly the most under-used word humankind has ever created. It is the jack-of-all-trades in terms of usage; it can be singular in response, requiring no other syntax attached before or after. It can project playfulness, disbelief, anger, surprise, hurt, accusation - the list goes on. Surprisingly (to me), it doesn't even make the top 100 on wikipedia's 'Most Common Words in English.' If curious, check for yourself by clicking on this LINK.
Just ask any parent trying to cajole a five year old into eating broccoli:

"Eat your broccoli, darling."
Defiant child, "Why?"
"Because it's good for you, sweetie."
Inhales deeply, "It'll make you big and strong, darling."
Evil little twinkle appears in the eyes, "Whhhhhy?"

And you can see where that is heading. 

Below is a more clinical breakdown of this versatile, little, innocuous word that has such power and impact.

is an adverb - for what cause, reason or purpose, "Why did you do it?"

a conjunction - the cause, reason or purpose for which - know why you did it... that is why you did it.
for which / on account of which - know the reason why you did it.

a noun (plural: whys) - reason / cause - wants to know the whys and wherefores.

interjection - used to express mild surprise, hesitation, approval, disapproval or impatience - why, here's what I was looking for.

Even used in a sentence as an adverb - Why did you quit your job? Why is the sky blue?

Moreover, it's used when we feel betrayed, let down, cheated or as an expression of anguish. It can be the most crushing of words uttered from the lips of the one you love and have hurt, but more likely, the one you used to love. It's imploring tonal use, coupled with tear-filled eyes and a heart-broken visage standing before you is more powerful than any physical assault, and sometimes the latter is preferred.

As the one asking, it is doubly painful when the one being asked refuses to give an answer, and that, as mentioned, can be a soul-crushing feeling. I have been there, both as the one asking, and the one being asked. Neither is an experience I wish to repeat.

On the flip side, it is also a powerful means with which to disarm a passive-aggressive barrage of words thrown at you by a smug, self-righteous arse. WHY can destroy the rhetoric hurled your way in one simple stroke, forcing the opposition to regroup and explain. This usually results in flustered  mumbling then abuse, should the person in question have zero grasp of what they've said, proving they're regurgitating words from another source, whilst not knowing or understanding the justification, logic or viewpoint from which the diatribe originated. This is commonly used by certain political advocates as a means to discredit an opponent without any basis in truth, fact or justification, but purely based on an opposite idea of thought.

Quite often WHY is a method of self analysis. A delving into your own reasoning and psyche. Admittedly, there are those for whom the act of opening their inner Pandora's Box is an unappealing prospect, and the majority will opt for an easy route, never to darken that particular closet within their mind.
But for the stronger and less faint of heart it is, or at least, can be, a massively empowering journey towards the iD - as described by Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, 'the id is the personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs and desires.'
To face this is to face the darkest depths of your own personality and humanity. To gaze into this mirror is never to un-see it, nor unknow it. It stays with you your entire life, so be careful as the person staring back at you isn't always going to be the one you hoped for.

WHY did I begin this post? A combination of things; my current state of mind, life, memories, a feeling of reflection maybe? Ultimately, only I will ever know, but has it set you to thinking?  If so, then good.

Whatever the reason, IF you've read all the way through I thank you. I shall leave you with Annie Lennox and the song that sums it all up beautifully, 'WHY'.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Dragon Warriors ~ Sellat Port Town.

PART 2 ~ ' You Never See It Coming. '

Ulak grunted as he leapt across the gap between the buildings, the moonlight illuminating his chosen point of landing. As the young Naran's boot hit the rooftop, the tile beneath it slid away without effort, skidding off into the dark of night. Only the young sorcerer's fast reflexes saved a plunge off the rooftop and into the undulating sea of fog below and the waiting predators gliding through it, as his hand grabbed hold of the chimney stack's edge, halting his potential slide to doom.

The stone work groaned in response. "Don't you even think about it," growled Ulak quietly, carefully easing himself to the ridge of the rooftop. Below dark figures gathered expectantly, hungry for their elusive prey.