January 22, 2022No Comments

Great video on crypto and NFTs


I wanted to write a short preamble because I think about this topic a lot, and this is more than just a confirmation bias retweet. Dan Olson’s video (below) is two hours long and covers the topic in detail.

Skip to the video


At the Formula 1 season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, emblazoned across the giant footbridge, was an ad for Crypto.com. Not having heard of it, I took a look at the website where I was greeted by Matt Damon talking to camera, and the message: “Fortune favours the brave”.

Sponsoring the Grand Prix and getting Matt Damon is expensive advertising. Crypto wants fresh blood! Those already in, and those running the exchanges are set to make a lot of money.

I don’t have a side in the crypto culture war. Except: I currently don’t have any investment in it*. Time will tell whether that’s a mistake. I’m fairly sure the only people who are vocally pro-crypto are those already invested. And this obviously undermines the usefulness of their opinions.

(*Full disclosure: I previously owned a modest amount of Bitcoin and I was lucky enough to sell it at a profit. I was curious about how it works. I made about £400 on a couple of grand investment.)

I tend to be naturally sceptical about things until I’m convinced otherwise. Despite having worked in tech for 24 years (I launched my first website for a client in 1998) I haven’t been convinced by the benefits of crypto apart from the obvious one: That evidently many people have successfully bought coins or tokens low and either sold them high, or still hold them at a higher value than when they bought them. So yes there is of course money to be made.

But because every transaction is both a buy and a sell the opposite is also true: An equal amount of money has also either been lost or is being held at a lower value than when those coins or tokens were bought. A lot of people are currently in Bitcoin negative equity (1 BTC = $35,000 today, down from $67,500 on 8 November).

Only if its value kept going up forever could everyone win.

Depending on who you listen to Bitcoin is either going to replace the US Dollar, or it will go to zero. It’s hard to get any objectivity on it, and of course you can’t predict the future. Value is a complicated subject and largely a matter of consensus or sentiment.

I’m conscious that the Twitter algorithm has me in a crypto-skeptic bubble but many of the arguments presented in it are well reasoned. In an attempt to balance things out I follow and have read or listened to a number of crypto advocates: Changpeng, Vitalik, Michael Saylor, Jack Dorsey, Chris Dixon and Anthony Pompliano as well as a couple of NFT guys (although I had to mute one, he was too tedious). Bored apes are everywhere and now we have hexagonal profile pictures too. I enjoyed Lex Fridman’s interview with Pomp. But obviously he is inherently very biased.

Oh and – guys – the whole laser eyes thing is not exactly helping it not feel like a cult.

The technology is certainly interesting but I’m not convinced that it is necessary or beneficial to society. Yes, even taking into account the fiat inflation problem. If you’re a card-carrying libertarian you probably don’t give a shit about societal benefits so long as something can make you personally richer. In which case by all means do your thing.

Friends who are crypto investors will likely roll their eyes at this post (not another hater!) But I believe privately they’re thinking “shut up dude” because I’m talking down their investment. I understand that – I have investments in tech stocks and I tend not to enjoy negative posts about those either.

Anyway I did previously attempt a blog post about all of it but there are too many aspects that each start to unfurl into complicated arguments that require well researched evidence and for which there will be counterexamples and frankly despite being in tech I’m not an expert on any of it so I decided there is no point, other than that I like to occasionally blog to iron out unresolved things that have been going around in my head.

Then this morning I saw this video created by @FoldableHuman and it really is very in-depth and starts from the beginning in 2008. I felt it was well worth sharing in more than just a tweet, hence this post.

Enjoy – or be pissed off by it – as per your conditioning!


I can’t predict the future and am open to the possibility that I might turn out to be wrong about everything!

May 15, 2021No Comments

Keeping yourself out of a rut

If you always feel amazing, all day every day then there is nothing for you here. For everyone else – if you’re anything like me then you have good and bad days, and sometimes good and bad weeks. In my case these things come around in cycles. By ‘bad days’ I’m talking about what is probably a form of mild depression – that thing that nobody wants to talk about but nearly everyone gets. I’m pretty sure in my case it’s nothing serious because it never lasts that long, and it's probably pretty normal but it is very disruptive.

To be clear: If you do have persistent and / or debilitating depression then I’m absolutely not an expert and you should seek professional medical help. I know nothing much about it and would hate for you to think I’m trivialising a serious illness.

No, I’m just talking about getting stuck in a rut. For me being stuck in a rut presents itself in some of the following ways:

  • Habitually staying up too late then sleeping badly (intermittent insomnia), and for only around 5 hours.
  • Drinking alcohol during the week and at home. Not too heavily, in my case, but maybe two beers or half a bottle of wine in an evening. I feel like I want it to de-stress after a hard day. It’s way over the recommended limit if it becomes a regular habit.
  • Gulping down two large coffees in the morning and sometimes going for a third.
  • Bad diet, snacking during the day on whatever is in the house. Oh look there's some Häagen-Dazs in the freezer, that will go nicely with my 11am coffee (whaaat?)
  • Inability to focus during the working day.
  • Needing to nap sometimes more than once a day during the day.
  • Feeling stressed about how much work I have to do but being seemingly paralysed and unable to start it until it’s almost too late, at which point I will then work several very long days (12+ hours, often working till 11pm) to get it finished by the deadline.
  • Lack of interest in the things I really want to do (e.g. making music) when I do have some time off. And feeling stressed that I’m not doing it.
  • Stopping all exercise, feeling like I don't have the time or energy to do it, and the feeling that with each passing day on which I don’t do it, it becomes an increasingly distant and daunting mountain to climb.

I am having none of these problems at the moment but I was a bit like that back in early March. And looking back over the past few years I’ve dropped in and out of good habits every two months or so. Keeping up with running (which I am into) sometimes feels like trying to keep a ball rolling uphill. As soon as you lose momentum you can fall a long way back down.

Being overly ambitious

I’m sure we’re all familiar with that “Right, this is it. Today is the day.” epiphany moment where one day you wake up full of determination to sort your life out. Maybe you go and buy a yoga mat and new clothes to work out in, or a new bike, or join a gym. Famously (in normal years) gyms are busiest in January after the excesses of the Christmas break.

For me running kick-starts some sort of chain reaction that leads to most of the above bad habits becoming dialled down or even stopped completely. So in February one determined morning I decided to start doing a daily run.

The problem with this approach – I have come to realise – is that these sorts of optimistic plans are generally made when you are fired up and feeling positive and determined. But you cannot count on waking up with that same drive day, so it is almost bound to fail.

I managed to run for nine consecutive days before some small thing conspired to get in the way on day 10 and I didn't make it out. I don’t even remember what it was, maybe I just felt too weak to put on my running gear and get out the door. Or the weather was terrible. Or childcare commitments made it impractical on that particular day. So I missed a day but that broke the cycle and I stopped. And felt bad about it. I had failed.

I was very busy in March and quite stressed out by work and it quickly started to feel like I just didn’t have time to get back to running. I would tell myself that I would get back to it ‘once I had this big chunk of work out of the way’. But then it got to a week, then two weeks, and then pretty much the end of the month. And with each additional day that went by the very thought of going running became a more distant abstract idea. I put weight on. And the pressure to get back to doing it mounted the longer that I didn’t do it, which in turn made it become this Really Important Thing that I should be doing but wasn't doing – and so my not doing it became something else to feel stressed about.

That big glass of red wine with dinner dissolved that stress away, and I found myself back in the bullet list territory.


But now I believe I have found a hack that works. It was inspired by the running / cycling app Strava. They have various challenges that you can sign up to for free. At the end of March The 1% Better Challenge appeared. The basic idea is to do at least 15 minutes of some form of exercise every day. Strava is primarily for runners and cyclists but you can track any sort of activity on there, sync it after the event from another app or just record it manually.

The kicker for me was that 15 minutes is just 1% of a day. To claim I couldn't spare just 1% of the day to move around a bit would have been nonsense. Even when I’m “too busy”, after my morning alarm goes off at 7am I will sometimes lie in bed for 30 minutes scrolling through social media (which, yes, is a bad habit).

I started on 27 March recording Daily Something 1

Trying to commit to a daily run was biting off more than I could chew. But now, worst case scenario, I can just log a walk into town and back, which at least keeps the streak going. If it feels too much to do something intense there is always a fallback option that’s easy. I do some home HIIT workouts, we have a rowing machine and I do yoga some days. In April I only ran about twice a week, but on the other days I did something at home or at least went out for a walk. So far in May I am running more like three times a week. I’ve started to get more visible muscle definition, I'm sleeping better and drinking a lot less, and am able to focus all day at work.

For me, making sure I religiously do one thing a day ensures that it never becomes a mental mountain to climb. The longer I leave something the more my brain builds it up into that Big Important Thing. And the more important it is the less I feel ready to start it for fear of not being ready.

Do what works for you but if you’re struggling to keep the momentum going I can highly recommend lowering the bar and just taking a short walk every day if that's all you feel up to. And importantly: Track it or log it in whatever way works for you and keep that unbroken record going. By doing this I have found that when I do feel strong I can then easily notch it up and do a decent run or bike ride without it feeling like a big deal, or like I ever stopped. Today was Day 50 and to mark the milestone this morning I ran my first ever half marathon. Tomorrow I absolutely plan on doing 20 minutes or so of something very easy.

Photo: Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure is great for home workouts

April 2, 2021No Comments

About male problems and women’s safety

Back on 13 March I saw a tweet from my friend Hana that read:

So strange, most of the men I follow on Twitter are talking about rugby, startups, algorithms, basically anything else but what most of the women are talking about. It’s really jarring.

Hana Sutch on Twitter

Later that day the vigil for Sarah Everard, who was murdered, allegedly by Wayne Couzens, was held at Clapham Common. Hana’s comment was of course made in the midst of the conversation about not only the murder but how practically all women feel (or have at some time felt) unsafe, or been harassed (or of course worse) by men.

So why were we talking about rugby, startups and algorithms?

I don’t know if I’d recently tweeted about any of those things specifically but of course that’s not the point – I don’t think I had commented on the trending topic of men’s treatment of women. I had actually started writing a blog post but I got stuck and wasn’t sure if it was appropriate or needed or helpful (I tend to have several half written blog posts on here that I start on a whim then think better of). I wouldn’t have tried again and written this had I not seen Hana’s tweet.

Here are some reasons I can think of that explain why I had not said anything:

  • It often feels pointless adding to an already very active conversation.
  • Because it might look like mere ‘virtue signalling’ (as this blog post might).
  • It felt like it was women's time to be heard and I felt saying something could be perceived as trying to make it about myself.
  • It felt that I had nothing useful to add from my own experience. But saying that would essentially be another "not all men" response so I thought best just to shut up.
  • Fear of being cancelled (not that I’m particularly un-cancelled as it is given I’m not well known but you get the point) for making one bad tweet. Or a well intentioned tweet that is misunderstood.
  • Twitter is in my opinion a bad place for important debate because of its short form. Even though you can make threads, individual tweets and particularly replies are usually seen in isolation and nuance is hard to cover within the character limit. The real world is very complicated and there is always nuance in everything. But on Twitter you are either right and an angel or wrong and basically Hitler.
    That said I do think it has its place and is a very powerful platform (I love it really!) but it tends to support the rapid generation of bubbles of people singing from the same hymn sheet. And in this case that’s a good thing because women were able to boost each other’s messages. But then is there any point in me, a man, stepping into that? What would anyone care what I think? Am I even welcome?
  • I’m not that great at people-y stuff generally. I find even an uncooperative computer easier to understand.
  • Probably some other reasons. I wrote and didn't send some tweets and replies. I try to self-censor. Pile-ons aside there is nothing worse than a tumbleweed tweet, and having to sheepishly delete it 24 hours later. I jest.

That all said while this was going on I watched and read it all with great sadness. This column from Marina Hyde, about being harassed on the street recently was particularly depressing – precisely because it is not very surprising. I imagine these things are happening to a woman or girl somewhere all day every day.

Fortunately these things almost never lead to murder. The man who killed Sarah is presumably a psychopath or otherwise deranged. Nobody was saying “all men are murderers”. The point was about women’s safety and the fact it is men that make women feel unsafe all the time.

Yes of course men also make other men feel unsafe too – but surely not anywhere near as often or as much. And I’m sure you could dig out some isolated examples of awful women being awful too. But primarily and statistically speaking it’s men being dicks here. And by statistically I mean practically always.

I believe a woman should be free to walk anywhere she wants wearing whatever (or not) she wants and not expect to have anyone harass her. And the blame should be 100% on the perpetrator of the crime if one does happen. There should be no “Well she shouldn’t have...” response. It should be safe to dress how you want, and it would be if society wasn’t broken.

Women are repeatedly expected to change their behaviour and reduce personal risk but that shifts the responsibility away from men who are the cause of the problem.

What the recent outpouring of sentiment and anecdotes from women made me realise is how sad it is that society just sort of shrugs its shoulders and says “that’s just how it is” over this. Really we’re not very civilised if we think it’s fine to accept it. And it’s not just about walking the street, it goes on in workplaces, pubs and clubs too.

A lot about maleness – and the expectations of you when you are born male – is pretty broken or at least in dire need of reinvention. In many circles you’re expected to be a certain way – tending towards this alpha male type persona. Sensitivity is seen as ‘gay’ (Why is that even a bad thing? What are they actually saying by that?) We’re ‘supposed’ to be thick-skinned and sort of Jeremy Clarkson-like. Waheeyy lads. Join in or you’re one of the weirdos. The nerds (oh but then some of the nerds evolved into incels... ughhh we’re fucked...)

I’m not claiming to be whiter than white or to have never objectified a women or never looked at porn or anything. As a heterosexual guy women are attractive to look at, it’s hardwired. But you can of course look and appreciate without crossing a line: staring, harassing or more. We should be respectful.

Why would you expect a stranger you wolf-whistled at to be attracted to you? And then get angry with her for not wanting to talk to you. Do you have no self control, like an animal? And don’t get me started on unsolicited dick pics. I suppose it’s the modern version of flashing. Has one ever lead to any kind of continued relationship? I doubt it.

But now I’m making it about me (or implicitly not-me) again.

Having seen her tweet I had a brief chat with Hana, and I have since discussed it with my wife Rachael. I’ve been helped to understand that women generally would appreciate it if more men spoke up about this, and that it might help in some way. So that’s why I started this post.

Lots of us guys also feel that a lot of of male culture is toxic and though our inaction we are complicit in allowing it to continue. So here I am calling it out. We can do better, surely!

Also I think the more difficult aspect of this is that it can appear rewarding to be like one of those Dapper Laughs type characters. Of course you can be a confident and successful man without being a predator but far too often the charmers turn out to be nasty pieces of work behind closed doors (How could anyone be horrible to FKA Twigs? [Yes I know the court case is ongoing... but honestly??]) Psychology demonstrates that is an allure to aggressive men. As a teenager they do appear to “get more girls” to use a colloquialism that is itself part of the problem.

The long road to fixing it surely has to start with parenting and role models. The wolf whistling types are not being brought up properly, right? It is clearly seen as acceptable and funny in very large circles. The problem is not limited to Sun-reading builder types*. Rachael has to deal with misogyny on a regular basis.

I don’t have the answers because quite honestly I am more comfortable talking about algorithms, but there are my thoughts on it all for what it’s worth.

(*Sorry, nice builders)

Photo: © Thomson Reuters A woman brings flowers to a memorial site at the Clapham Common Bandstand, following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, in London, Britain, March 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

September 6, 2020No Comments

Money money money…

(Root of all evil?*)

At the end of 2019 I had one of those overdue paperwork sort outs, and had a bit of a scare. After years of burying my head in the sand I realised I didn’t have a long term plan. I have a stakeholder pension that I’d not been paying into for years and, due to us paying for recent home improvements, didn’t really have anything left in the way of savings, other than the value of our house itself.

It’s probably a familiar situation to a lot of people around about my age. I decided it was time to sort it out.

So I made some changes (and spreadsheets of course) and I’ve started paying into the pension again but really that is not going to cut it based on current projections.

Options for what to do with any money you want to save have become pretty limited – as you will know savings accounts basically give you zero interest, cash ISAs are not much better, and pensions – well they are better than nothing but even they are not without risk.

Around about the same time someone introduced me to the app Freetrade and I tentatively dipped my toe into the world of investing.

My dad was always very good at this sort of thing but somehow investing was never something I engaged with in my younger years. I suppose it never seemed interesting to me, and I didn’t then see it as a necessity. My uncle Jon is a stockbroker and in the 1990s I was bought some shares in (early UK ISP) Freeserve. I then proceeded to pay no attention to it for years while the value climbed meteorically and then crashed again. So I missed out on making any return on that. Stupid.

Based on conversations I have had online it seems there are now millions of people like me realising midway through their lives that their only option for having any kind of retirement plan for later life is to start actively investing. And this coincides with the rise of commission-free trading platforms. It’s all become a lot more accessible to the everyday person. Or retail investors as we are known.

I’m also acutely aware that there are a lot of financial institutions licking their lips at the prospect of making money out of us.

Apps and platforms

Freetrade is great and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to try out investing for the first time. It is a nicely designed app that’s simple to get your head around.

I have more recently moved everything over to Trading212 (yes that is my referral link). Trading212 is more advanced than Freetrade, with features such as limit orders. In addition it has a sophisticated web interface, as well as a mobile app, whereas Freetrade is currently mobile only. The header image is from Trading212.

On both platforms buying and selling is free in the sense that they don’t charge a fee, and this is attractive especially if you only want to test the water with a small amount of money – but be aware of the hidden costs of ‘free’. There’s a good article here on Forbes about that.

Both platforms offer a stocks and shares ISA (basically a separate portfolio within an ISA, subject to ISA annual limits, and where the gains are not taxed).

Trading212 also has a CFD service but I would not recommend going anywhere near that unless you really know what you are doing (high risk!) Both platforms give you access to more than just the London Stock Exchange, buying Nasdaq stocks is just as easy.

I have not tried any others but there several out there. The big one in the US is Robinhood.

Learnings so far

The upshot is that I actually now find it all pretty engaging, and so far we’ve made a very respectable return in just a few months (partially withdrawn and partially still in stocks and ETFs). I’m not going to quote figures but let’s just say it’s much more than any savings account would ever give you – but I’ve also invested a lot of time in educating myself so that has to be taken into account.

It requires you to keep an eye on things, but it’s possible to set alerts and also automate actions when things go outside of certain bounds (not without its pitfalls but has its uses).

I have dabbled a teeny bit in short selling and it was hair raising, and I took a small profit (luck!) but I’m not ready for all of that. And I’ve not touched Crypto or Forex yet. Not sure if I will. Maybe, I don’t really know anything about it at the moment.

There’s a wealth of info on YouTube (and lots of bullshit too) and I’ve read a couple of Kindle books. I’ve learned the difference between day trading, swing trading and investing. I’m very much in the latter camp but dabble a bit with swing trading too. Day Trading is not something I am interested in right now, as really it has to be learned and treated as a full time job. However it is useful to understand the technicals that those traders use.

At this point if you are still reading you may be either rolling your eyes and thinking “Finally caught up have you Ade? I’ve been doing this for 15 years”, or possibly “Oh no he’s become one of THOSE people.” – Well, yes, and sorry but I don’t want to be skint.

Alt account

To keep things separate I have a new Google account and Twitter profile that I use when I’m doing or researching stock market stuff. It’s probably not interesting to most of my friends and followers, and it's nice to shut it off when I’m done.

In my alt accounts I am bombarded with ads for dubious sounding get rich quick schemes, trading courses and for various platforms and services. It’s like another world.

Unsurprisingly it’s a world full of chancers. Day traders post impressive winning trades they have made. Apparently some go long and short the same instrument in two separate accounts and then post the winning trade in a bid to convince you to sign up to their whatever. I have read this is a very old trick. There’s an inherent bias because people don’t tend to want to share their massive losses.

On Twitter in my alt-persona there's an effervescent mixture of Californian or Scandinavian liberal Tesla Fanboi types, and ragingly right wing / pro-Trump / pro Wall Street types. It’s all quite an eye-opener especially coming from my usual tech / science / liberal arts bubble.

Right now there’s a lot of shouting about how “the Marxists” are going to wreck everything if Biden gets in, mixed in with anti-mask conspiracy theory crap (generally the same people). What I hadn’t realised though is how many young people were Trumpists, I’d always caricatured them as somewhat redneck types but, no, there’s a big contingent of market-savvy wealthy influencers who I guess don’t like tax and regulations (i.e. right-wing, stating the obvious). But yeah, I would now not be surprised if he gets a second term.

I would say it’s healthy that I’m exposed to these people outside of my normal bubble. But I still think they’re wrong. You can run a society that is pro-business AND regulates appropriately, cares for the misfortunate, invests in public services and so on. But apparently everyone is either extreme left or extreme right these days. I think they’re both deluded.

But I digress...

In summary

I have no real point as usual, other than satisfying my desire to share rambling thoughts on whatever is occupying my brain. I hope someone finds it useful.

I am obliged to state that none of the above is financial advice. Do your own research.

But if you are interested then it’s quite easy to get started and genuinely I have found it to be an intellectually engaging pursuit, and one that could (should?) reap benefits in the long term.

I am quite technically minded and usually I can reduce complex problems to fundamentals and eventually solve them. But this is a bit like the ultimate problem because it’s chaotic and human-driven (although increasingly AI-driven too). That makes it an interesting puzzle. But equally you could say it’s just a form of gambling, which is at least partially true.

(*Massive Attack – Five Man Army)

September 5, 2020No Comments

Old NET magazine article

Remember Net magazine? It ended publication a few months ago after 25 years on the news stand. As a keen amateur / pre-junior designer I used to buy it to be inspired and learn various coding top tips.

I blogged about this back in 2013 but this morning while I was searching through old files to create the Pirata work page on this site I found the actual PDF of the article they published about us. Rather than let it languish on my backup drive it deserves to be on the web.

I’m not loving my profile photo (no fault of the Photographer, James) – I was much heavier back then and resemble a kind of young Steve Ballmer, but anyway here is the article:

Read more about Pirata here.

August 24, 2020No Comments

Taking a Covid-19 Test

[Edit: It came back negative. Not surprising but worth knowing, and hopefully useful information. I’d be more interested in an antibody test but that wasn’t on offer].

Did anyone else get one of these testing kits? I received a letter last week inviting me to take a home test. I suppose they want to figure out what proportion of the population has asymptomatic Covid. I am happy to help.

Lateness in the year aside, it all seems very well organised – so far. I am taking the samples tomorrow morning and a courier will pick it up during the day. Apparently they need to have it in the lab within 36 hours.

August 24, 2020No Comments

MTB Serra Grossa

My brother lives in Alicante, where in his spare time he's a keen mountain biker. He’s recently got a new GoPro camera and has produced this stunning 4K video cycling around Serra Grossa.

Thought I would share. Enjoy!

May 16, 2020No Comments

In wildness

Some musings I had while out for a run the other day.

There’s not a huge amount to say about running other than that I have ‘discovered’ it over the last two years it’s a now thing that I seem to be partially dependent on. When I fall out of the routine, say due to illness or tiredness from going out too late, everything seems to begin slowly unravelling. There are obviously many worse things to be hooked on so I’m not that worried about it but still it is an addiction of sorts.

Running is also the only time I really get to myself where I’m not busy, mentally speaking, with something. It is good thinking time, although this can unfortunately lead to blog posts.


Some time around 2005 I was traveling by plane on my own. I was reading Richard Dawkins’ 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker. I studied A-level biology so know a bit about the mechanics of genetics (dominant and recessive alleles, experiments with fruit flies and so on) but had never really thought about it deeply or philosophically. And the book does go quite deep.

I came to a particularly astonishing passage in the book describing and explaining how all life is really connected. And it is connected in the scientific sense, not just as some vague hippie sentiment. I had a moment of sudden insight (exactly what the author intended to convey), framing all life on Earth as genetically related, interconnected, and symbiotic. Seeing life forms as essentially different configurations of vehicle for the replication of DNA. And while each species is opinionated about how best to go about the mission, all of us have (in a reduced and ultimate way) exactly the same mysterious end goal of keeping life going.

Naturally Dawkins put it much better than me, and I don’t have the book to hand, but I do remember that when the concept sank in the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stood on end, and I lowered the book to my lap, stared out the window at the Earth from above for a moment and mouthed the words ‘fucking hell’.

One of those moments, anyway.


So a few days ago I was out running. I nearly always take my Bluetooth headphones and distract myself from the exertion of it all with an audiobook or podcast but on this occasion I’d been having problems with the Audible app and it was stuck in some kind of loop syncing to my watch. This was holding me up so I decided to leave the headphones at home and go ‘unplugged’. It was early. I took a route further out of town than usual, one I’d only cycled or driven before.

The weird atmosphere of the COVID lockdown has been commented on at length, but that morning the whole area felt particularly deserted. As I ran the weather started to turn. The wind picked up and whirled around so I was being rained on from all sides. It was the sort of weather that, had I just been walking, would have been miserable but I don’t mind the rain when I’m running because I get hot and so it’s refreshing (within reason).

There is not really a point or conclusion to this post, nor do I wish to imply pretentiously that I had any particularly special or unique revelation. It’s just... because I had so much time to think after the moment had passed, as I ran home, I resolved to write it down if only because it was interesting to me at the time and I want to remember it. A personal experience.

I had not passed a single person for at least half an hour. I was completely drenched but warm and in that running zone where you start to feel like a well oiled machine that could keep on going forever.

Everything seemed wilder and more overgrown than usual, brambles snaking aggressively out of hedgerows. Of course this could have just been down to the changing season and the amount of both sun and rain there had been recently but my imagination was wandering.

There was this sense of the very beginnings of nature reclaiming the land, which of course it always is until we cut it back. The trees seemed huge and impressive, twigs swishing noisily through the air as the branches swayed around. The birds were singing loudly in the canopy overhead. The wind seemed to get stronger, whipping the trees more violently, and due to the air swirling in different directions there was, I thought, a slight doppler effect applied to the birdsong which mixed in with the rain gave it a dreamlike sense.

And all of this brought me back to that moment on the plane in that way that you sometimes remember a feeling.

Yes it does sound a bit pretentious but, hell, whatever. Nature is pretty amazing.

I suppose the lesson is that I should leave my headphones at home more often, and also maybe that the most obvious outdoor weather: a nice sunny day, is not necessarily the most interesting.

May 3, 2020No Comments

Thanks for the donations

My little 26 mile challenge this week has so far raised £918 for Cancer Research UK (£1,037.75 including GiftAid) which is really great. Thanks to everyone who made a donation, or shared, liked, commented on my posts about it, it all helps! Should you wish to donate, my JustGiving page is still open here.

I have combined all three running routes just to see it all together on the same map. Red, then green then blue.

Strava links: Run 1 Run 2 Run 3

February 14, 2020No Comments

Meat alternatives

I’ve lately seen a lot of convincing cases made to go meat-free. First there was The Game Changers which I watched on Netflix back in November. It did come across as fairly heavy pro-vegan propaganda, but then I thought about the old adage “follow the money”, and figured that if anyone was going to be pushing a dodgy agenda then surely the meat industry is prime suspect here. So maybe what it is, is that we’ve been hammered by pro-meat propaganda for decades and The Game Changers is a fair and timely pushback.

Anyway, it’s worth a watch, and presents some pretty convincing arguments, endorsed by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lewis Hamilton among others. If I had any critique I would say it is largely anecdotal. These are high profile case studies. But evidently at least some top athletes are succeeding without any animal products in their diets. So on balance it makes a good case for veganism.

Personally while I do occasionally enjoy a burger or a steak it’s now only roughly once every six months. Health and nutrition arguments aside, surely – given the terrible environmental cost of cattle farming – we can at least cut down and start to see beef as more like a delicacy rather than something that has to be on every plate. Obviously there’s also the amount of milk we consume to to take into account. I’ve been using almond and hazelnut milk (the latter of which is great in tea!) recently but then there was that story about bees so as usual nothing is simple.

People argue at great length about nutrition and organic and so on and in my view a lot of what gets claimed is bullshit, in part because it’s hard to prove or disprove what actually happens inside your digestive system and beyond. I find Snopes good for fact-checking this kind of stuff. It seems to me that the human body is impressively versatile at dealing with whatever you chuck down your throat. But of course over the long term a healthy diet is going to be better for you than an unhealthy one. Surely the odd bad thing now and then isn’t a disaster unless perhaps you’re a high performance athlete. Everything in moderation.

Anyway, burgers aside I don’t think I’ll be giving up chicken or fish anytime soon but we do have a lot of vegetarian meals during the week and options are getting better. Quorn mince seems as good if not nicer than meat for making meals like chili con carne (technically chili sin carne I suppose).

Today this (apparently not sponsored) video by Mark Rober (remember the glitter bomb guy?) popped into my feed and I have to say those Beyond Meat burgers look very tasty. And I’ve just been informed on Facebook that they are available in Tesco. So I’m going to pick some up later and give them a try.


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