Category Archives: Sport

Kite flying

kiteA few years ago, on one of our first holidays as a couple, I bought my lovely wife a sports kite. This summer – we finally got it out of the pack and into the air. It was a thing of surprisingly intense exhilaration and speed, cutting through the air with extreme prejudice as Amanda maneuvered it through the strong seaside breeze down the South Coast last weekend. I entirely failed to get the knack of keeping it aloft, despite the coaching efforts of our outdoorsy, engineer friend Matt (as opposed to our lanky poker-proficient friend Matt), and even Amanda and Matt managed a couple of dramatic, high-velocity ground impacts.

Definitely a Fun Thing, though, and a repeat outing will need to be had. And in a break with tradition, that’s actually a picture of our kite in flight!

Spurs and the Olympic stadium–tactical bid?


So I’m possibly the world’s worst football fan. When my classmate Bozza explained the offside rule to me in 1994 I decided I supported Spurs, and when, at college and beyond, it transpired that Damo and Jimbo were also Spurs fans, it somewhat invigorated my ‘interest’ and I’ve paid some attention to the team – over the years – and particularly over the last two or three.

Now as a general rule (which I intend to break a bit over the weeks ahead) I don’t write about “comms strategies” and suchlike on here, but this has been an absolutely fascinating story. Other than submitting the application and speaking in controversial theoreticals (smashing down the stadium / getting rid of the athletics track etc), Spurs has held relatively quiet on the whole topic, with Redknapp in particular focussed on getting his team to the top of the table. As well he should be.

But of course, the negative outcry has begun. Football in the UK, despite its internationalisation, and that of the Premier League in particular, has ever been a local thing. The “North London Derby” galvanises the residents of different parts of the city into a neighbourly frenzy of competitive spirit. I’m brought to mind of the episode of “Life on Mars” in which Man City and Man United fans started to wage war on each other, and of course of Terry Pratchett’s latest Discworld novel

So the move to Stratford makes little sense. Except that its a fantastic story, and despite the outcry, it seems as much flack is hitting the Olympics Legacy company as Spurs itself – which makes sense. After all, if the legacy of the Olympics should retain something of the Olympics (which makes no sense to me – after all, no country needs four velodromes running at 1% utilisation!), then it’s unsurprising that the global athletics wonks are getting upset about it all.

Of course, if I’m right in thinking the whole thing is just Spurs going after some profile-raising publicity, and in trying to eke out some regeneration money – then when they step magnanimously away from Stratford and commit their £500m of redevelopment to their local neighbourhood, local residents will be relieved and it’ll just be the Olympic legacy company that has to contend with the fallout of ever having considered such a thing. And odds are, Spurs chairman Dan Levy will get the “regeneration monies” he needs to invest in his local neighbourhood…

What do you think? Tactical bid vs. genuine interest? Comms / negotiation strategy vs. club migration? Be interested to hear.

Weight loss – how I’m doing it

I’m nearly down 13kg this year and hope to make it to my target of losing 21kg in another couple of months. People ask me what I’m doing in and inevitably I tell them at length in a tedious, unstructured manner. So here’s the latest on how I’m achieving this so far, and you can let me know what you think. I think this counts as ‘weight loss tips for geeks’ as it involves at least one technology, and a bit of random nerdiness, but hopefully you’ll like it.

NB this post follows on from my earlier post on Chivalry House that I apparently forgot to cross post here. So start there, or here… doesn’t really matter.

Track everything
I’m logging all food and exercise on (the nasty renaming of the friendly ‘’ as it was). It’s a great way of keeping me honest. My weight loss is operating on the basic principle that if I eat less than I use on a normal day (i.e. not accounting for exercise), I will lose weight. So I’ve set (and maintained) a calorie target of 1,500 since about April. And I’ve been losing about 1kg per week, which I understand is about as well as you can hope to do. I also weigh myself daily (and am unbothered by occasional fluctuations, you can use a moving average if you want but weighing yourself at the same time daily gives some consistency). Dailyburn doesn’t yet have an iPhone app but it does have an iPhone optimised page which works pretty well.

Be aware of what you eat
My previous ‘values’ for food were determined by how much I like the taste of it, and I pretty much indulged in eating food I liked when I liked. Having an understanding of a) how many calories are in everything and b) how much it fills me up for that has changed the way I ‘value’ food. On 1,500 calories a day I’m pretty much always hungry so its necessary to eat cleverly to avoid the worst of it. Here’s my tips:

1) Avoid processed foods and simple carbohydrates (white rice, white bread, rice cakes etc). They digest too quickly, you don’t stay full and have a poor full up / consumption ratio.
2) Eat fresh, eat fibre – go for foods with more fibre content and tonnes of fresh vegetables to fill up.
3) Bulk-up with the good stuff – eat the vegetables etc., FIRST, before you eat the ‘tasty’ (for me, meat) portion of the meal.
4) Find healthy ‘treats’ in each category of food that are better for you – e.g. strawberries for sweets (7 calories each and delicious). I haven’t found a great savoury low-cal snack yet, but if anyone has any ideas…
5) Keep yourself honest – Make sure your food diary is kept on the side of caution – always estimate more rather than less so you don’t go over your calorie target
6) Drink tonnes of water to stay full, before or during a meal – NOT AFTER. After seems to swell your stomach and get you hungry again.
7) Don’t reward exercise with food. Never works, you’ll always bump the calorie count more than you think.
8) Do eat things you want sometimes – even if its bad for you. For me, it’s Hitting the Hut. Make sure you add it to DailyBurn anyway and keep within your weight loss or at least weight maintenance band.
9) Reverse the meat/carbs proportion of your meal. Western diets are generally oriented around eating a LOT more rice/potatoes/bread than meat, but we actually probably need more meat than carbs if we’re doing a weight loss/resistance training programme. Swap in more veg instead of potatoes or rice. Aubergine is a great bet and can be made pretty damn tasty.
10) Soup fills you up more than other things – see this article. Eat’s soup, which is unebelievably delicious and mostly healthy (a few in ‘Very Big Bold’ sizes to be avoided, worse than a baguette), has helped me get through many a tough day on the diet.

Resistance training
The reason most people give up on exercise regimens (including me) is because they require more time than we can gather the willpower to give. I’ve been working to one target – to increase my strength for press ups. This happens to be a good exercise that works a lot of other muscles as well (biceps, triceps, chest, core, etc), so works for me, but others might prefer squats or sit-ups. I’m doing the programme over at Hundred Pushups, which requires the princely time-commitment of 30 minutes PER WEEK. I’ve gone from a max of about 15 push-ups to my current limit, about 35-36, in 5 weeks. In another few weeks I hope to be pushing 60 before I make it to the 100 mark (the idea is to get to the point where you can do 100 in a single set). And I bought their iPhone app to keep me honest, if you want to do it the high-tech way.

Don’t. Most alochol is calorific as all that. On the occasions I’ve been out, I’ve had vodka shots alternating with pints of water. At 50 calories of carbs per shot its as efficient as you can get, but still not great for you over an evening. The pints of water are a great way of feeling involved in social drinking, preventing hangovers, and help reach your daily target for water intake.


…and I think that’s most of it. I’ve been rewarding myself with new clothes (necessary as trousers no longer fit and jackets and t-shirts etc., look baggy) – instead of food – which works well. And a real imperative is getting to my target weight before I get a suit tailored for the wedding in October (first fitting in a few weeks!). That maybe gives me more will power than most, but in honesty I’d just had enough of being a fatass. I’ve been gaining weight from 10 years of eating what I feel like, so losing it over 6 months of hunger is not a great deal to put up with… I’m going to carry on using Gyminee when the target’s met to prevent a resurgence, but I’m really, really looking forward to getting back to 2000 calories per day…

Any thoughts, feedback, further advice, or useful links appreciated. Thanks to all who’ve been encouraging & supportive through the proceedings, both online via Twitter and Facebook, and IRL.

Euro 2008 – Fantasy League

In defiance of the fact that I know very, very little about football I’ve set up a mini-league and promoted it via Twitter. I currently have two fellow leaguers — Mr Tom Phillips and Mr Nick Leonard. Anyone else fancy it? Mosey on over to Metro’s site, go to “mini league” and find “Twitter League.” The password is twitter1234.

Join the fray. And don’t mind that I picked my team more or less at random, without the usual discernment I put into fantasy football (I look for Spurs players). I’ll buy the winner a Mars bar.


I’m loving poker at the moment. The subject line is a term for a certain type of straight draw in poker (when you get five cards in sequence for a hand) — where one card is missing. A risky hand to bet… and a wonderfully silly name for it. It’s also known as a Gutshot, which isn’t quite as dramatic a name…

James and Matt introduced me to the finer points of the game, and Damo’s playing now too… We’re on Pokerstars (I’m div6 if you want to find me)… and you can check my recent form on – a bit up and down recently…

I think I enjoy poker for the human element — they say you’re meant to play the people, not the hands you’re dealt. I’m still probably a little too conservative but am getting better and have had a decent couple of weeks of form. Looking forward to another tournament at the Gutshot, a club near Farringdon where I occasionally play live tournaments…

I’m not a morning person

For the last couple of days, at least partially inspired by the fatbloggers, but also due to various other (personal) incentives, I’ve been waking up early to work out. A cycle lap around the park yesterday, and some light weight training this morning to remind my body of those muscles I’ve forgotten about… Hopefully the park again tomorrow.

Interestingly, its not the exercise that’s been causing me the most issues. Yes, its hard to motivate yourself, but when the sun is shining gloriously it’s a little easier. Rather, its the earliness of the morning. It hurts, but, as I knew I would, I have felt good during the day as a result.

That said, when I was doing my lap of Regents Park yesterday I was taken back to my school days, heading up to far distant school pitches at ungodly and unpleasantly cold hours of the morning… It was a strangely nostalgic moment.

A good day

Today was a good day. Lazy, but good.


(1) Got tickets to Glasto. Woo! My first ever festival. Very exciting.
(2) Witnessed Spurs victory – we played a decent game and glad it came out a victory.
(3) Saw the first episode of the new Dr Who – which is excellent. The new companion is cool, but mainly: the moon. Space Rhino Police. What more could you possibly ask for?
(4) Got tickets to see Hot Fuzz in a couple of weeks. Finally!

So, all in all, a good day.