30 in 90 (at 89)

– This post was written on 8th September –

2013 It’s been a hell of year.

Professionally, I’ve achieved more this year than in the last 3 put together. I got a dream job, one that I’ve been passionate about and has the potential to take me on to the job I’ve wanted for most of my adult life. Even so, it’s given me time to pursue another project, just now coming to fruition that I’m enormously proud to have done. I’m just about to embark on yet another long standing academic ambition.

All this I’ve achieved because I’ve been able to plan long term and do what’s right, and not have to firefight the nonsense and priorities of other people.

Personally, I’m far more stable and focussed than I’ve been for a long time. And even at it’s worst I’m pretty focussed!


It’s been a hell of a year.

Those of you who see me often will know about what happened in January, and the knock on effects of that. Those of you who see me rarely will probably already have said to me “You’ve lost weight.” And how! After January’s stuff I dropped around 25% of my bodyweight in three months. Just as I was stabilising in April and even gained a little by the middle of May, I dropped another stone by mid-June.

Since then I’ve languished around 30 – 40 lbs below my comfortable weight. And it’s so tiring. And no one is sympathetic, they all wish they could do it, too! No one wants to hear about how you’re trying to put ON weight.

So, as of the beginning of September, I’m starting a self designed program to put on 30lbs in 90 days. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? I’m not so sure.

– This part was written on 28th November –

So, that professional achievement has gone on to become the basis of my greatest post-osteopathy achievement. I couldn’t have hoped for more. There’ll be much more about this on the blog as it becomes public, but as I included mention of it in September, I thought I’d update you!

As for the weight, it’s going back on very nicely. Not quite 30lbs in 90 days, as I’d hoped, but around half that, and I’ve taken the opportunity to make sure it goes on in the right way. I’m in better shape physically than I’ve been since my early twenties. Which makes me feel pretty good!

Another thing I’ll be writing about on the blog in the coming month is the amazing gift I received from Bunnahabhain whisky yesterday.

That gift was the icing on the cake of an outstanding November, which itself has topped out the best 12 months I’ve had in a long time. November is traditionally a rubbish month. The last time something very positive happened was 8 years ago when Number 3 was born. Since then it’s been bad November after bad November. Someone has always managed to mess things up, often right at the end of the month. But this year it has been good news after good news.

Perhaps I shouldn’t speak too soon, there’s still two days left! Lets see if someone tries to mess things up again!

20th November 2000

The car did its job. Every single panel was damaged, but I walked away completely unscathed.

I was driving home to Thame from my clinic in Wallingford. The last week had been extremely wet, even by November standards. The roads were pretty treacherous, particularly the A329, just barely an A road and quiet. I know I was driving well because I’d had a police car behind me for the last few miles, so I was steady and below the speed limit.

On my way to work I’d noticed that the farmer in a field along the way, at the bottom of a dip, had decided to haul his potatoes out of a waterlogged field and there was mud on the road, so I was ready for it. It covered the other side of the road. As I crested the hill before the field, what I wasn’t prepared for was the car coming up the hill, on my side of the road to avoid the mud. There’s a little wiggle in the road at the crest, and all I could do was swerve onto the muddy side of the road to avoid it. Head on collision averted. Well done me.

But now I was swerving on a road smeared with slick wet mud and travelling at about 55 miles an hour. Downhill. With no grip. Towards a tree.

The car I was in, my favourite car of all time, had a reputation. The rear window is a flat, quite small sheet of glass with a habit of popping out and flying horizontally forwards when you hit something head on. Head off, might be a better description, as it has been known to decapitate all the occupants. Not pretty.

I couldn’t get traction to steer the car away from the tree, so I decided the best bet was to swing the car  through 180 degrees to hit the tree going backwards, thereby craftily avoiding the separation of my head from my body. It’d also mean I was cushioned from the impact by the seat. It’s a great plan, and as I travelled down the hill, gaining speed as I go, I started to spin the car around. What i hadn’t factored in was the ditch to the right. I got about 90 degrees into my oh-so-clever manoeuvre, when my rear wheels dropped into the ditch. Suddenly the side of the ditch acted like a rail as my front wheels lifted from the road surface. Travelling sideways at over 50 miles an hour on your chassis isn’;t good for a car, or your nerves as the world rushes towards your window, the plants slapping hard against the driver’s door. The advantage was that the rail/ditch guided me past the tree and onward along the verge.

The car was heavy, and the ditch relentless, so it was inevitable that the chassis would snap. As it did, with an incredibly frightening noise, all four of my wheels – still powering away – made contact again; the front ones with the road, the rear ones with the bottom of the ditch, and I was abruptly propelled across the road, into the opposite ditch, through the hedge and 50 years into the waterlogged fields.

I sat in the now stationery, and somewhat more compact, car. I checked myself over; neck – okay, low back – okay, legs – still there… That’s what you want from a car, for it to unquestioningly lay down its life for you. If I hadn’t been a fan of Jaguars before, I would’ve been now. It’s why I say they’re the best cars in the world, because if I hadn’t been in one, I might not have lived to say it.

A policeman, from the following car, opened my door. I say opened, it would be a better description to say he relieved the car of the burden of a driver’s door. I stepped out, entirely unharmed to see a car eight inches lower than it had been, broken in the middle, every single panel dented and scratched. The policeman (sincerely, I think) congratulated me on how I’d handled the car, and wrote to my insurance company to tell them I wasn’t at fault (although they hadn’t got the number of the driver coming up the hill).

It’s fair to say this was a life changing moment. I felt incredibly lucky. Instead of being dead I was completely unharmed. Without doubt both the worst and the best thing to happen to me in a November!

It’s pretty easy to drive when nothing goes wrong, making people think they’re good drivers. But the moment things don’t go to plan, most drivers are at the mercy of physics. The truth is if I hadn’t learned earlier in that year how to handle an out of control car, I’d have been headless in that tree.

The lesson? Learn how to handle a car when the unexpected happens. One day your life may depend on it.

Google Maps A329

New Threads

The blog has been an interesting experience this year. I started out blogging diligently at least once, but often twice a day and you read it in your droves. But as time has gone by and I’ve blogged less often, you’ve kept reading just as much.

As the date of publication for the guidebook approaches, I’ve pulled the posts directly associated with it (don’t want to cannibalise my own sales too much!) so along with the whisky, sweetie and ad reviews, I’ll be launching a new thread of blogging in the next few days.

Before I do, I’m going to tweet out lots of links to existing posts, just as a catch up.

(I’ll see how many people unfollow me on twitter when I do – current followers: 1407)

Whisky Review: Lagavulin 37 Years Old

This was my great extravagance of the week. It was between this and a 34 year old Port Ellen.

A 37 year old Lagavulin. The 12 year old is always so reliable, that when I decided what to splash out on, this was an obvious choice. That said, it was an insane amount of money to spend on a bottle of whisky, and although it’s very, very good I wouldn’t buy a second even if I had the disposable income! I don’t suppose there are any left, anyway. The great sadness is that most people who buy one of the 1800 bottles probably won’t ever open it. What’s the point of that? If you’re going to buy a bottle – whether it’s a regular off the shelf or a special bottling, drink it (slowly, maybe – but drink it), or let someone else buy it who’s going to enjoy it as a drink, not an ornament.

I opened it. It didn’t disappoint.

37 years old is the oldest bottling Lagavulin have ever done. The distillery isn’t usually given to aged bottlings, perhaps they found an old barrel at the back. Lucky for us.

That said, it wasn’t cheap. It’s not an everyday bottle (unless you’re in a very different financial league to me!). Now I’ve bought it, it’s not so much better than the ‘everyday’ whiskies to be able to justify drinking it, apart from on special occasions. So it’s a bottle destined to be in my Monk’s Bench for years, giving up a glass or two a year.

But the idea of enjoying this for the next half decade suits me just fine. I hope it’ll have equally good (and obscenely expensive) company by then.

Ultimately, though, as good as this is I could have had ten bottles of the 25 year old Bunnahabhain for the same money. And – if I were buying again that’s what I’d have done. Sorry, Dad.

whisky review.Lagavulin37

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