I’ve been quiet.
I know I know.
It’s all good though. Whilst a period of radio silence on my blog usually indicates either a lack of worthwhile content or a pronounced dip in my mood neither could be further from the truth this time.
I’m both really happy and have a lot to write and think about – although not all of it fits in with my strict criteria for blog inclusion, so I’ll gloss over some of what’s been going on for the time being.
I’ve been on a holiday of sorts over the week between Christmas and New Year and have been exploring the wilds of Sussex – which have actually turned out to be rather lovely.
I was told by one of it’s denizens that this is something that I must not talk about publicly however, because if I do then people would soon start flocking to its beauty spots in much greater numbers – and the sense of supreme tranquility that I observed would be ruined.
Instead I was told to say that Sussex is a monstrous carbuncle of concrete covered with traffic and urban decay – but it’s difficult to tell such horrendous fibs – especially when it looks this lovely.
After getting intimate with the beautiful but rather muddy countryside near Cuckfield on Thursday I went on a rather longer (and seriously picturesque) walk on Friday to explore the South Downs.
They frankly have some pretty wonderful views.
On a clear day (which this thankfully turned out to be after some rather grey clouds disappeared) you can see all the way to Brighton and Hove on the coastline and the North downs (a future destination for sure) in the opposite direction.
I’m reliably informed by a rather spirited local (who appeared inexplicably to know rather a lot about geology and geography) that the long ridges of the downs used to actually be a giant dome, stretching from the white cliffs of Brighton to the North downs in the distance.
The whole region comprises of a thick band of porous chalk – deposited during the Cretaceous period around sixty million years ago. Movement of the landscape over time caused the top to gradually crack ‘like the chocolate surface of a mars bar being bent in the middle’ (or so they said). Subsequent weathering and erosion during the last ice age then sculpted its landscape into these rather lovely valleys, hilltops and ridges.
They’re really really beautiful.
The endless views of the downs are a major contrast to nearby Brighton though – which I had never visited before.
This well known resort’s plurality seems to be part of its character – and nothing underlined its sometimes contradictory facets better than the rather rustic looking piano near the entrance of its (quite lovely Victorian) train station.
When I disembarked from my short train journey on Saturday this was the very first thing I spotted, standing there like an ambassador for the charms to be found in the nearby streets. It looked like it was simply aching to be played – but simultaneously it was not in the mood to be touched in any way shape or form.
Nothing says ‘don’t you dare fiddle with me’ better than a giant padlock…
I had no idea that Brighton was actually a city until I started exploring – and had always just assumed (underlining my woeful lack of southern geographical knowledge) that it was a seaside town.
On the one side is tradition – with its pier and pleasure beach harking back to a stubbornly bygone era of British holidays and postcards – and on the other there’s modernity.
The rising glass viewing donut of the British Airways i360 is an impressive sight for sure – although I hear that it has something of a reputation for getting stuck at the top, so I resolved not to chance it on this particular occasion…
Despite its occasionally unreliable visitor attractions Brighton is otherwise a bustling metropolis with consumerism standing side by side next to alternative counter culture.
It consequently has interesting and pronounced contrasts between seaside tackiness (it’s practically impossible to avoid the scent of burgers and chips wherever you walk) a very bohemian area, clear problems with homelessness and extremely aspirational retail outlets contained within an extremely well to do shopping mall.
I like the mix though – and not just because there are some particularly well named shops (look closely) in the windswept and interesting parts.
Not only is the more ‘hessian and unshaven’ area of the town a great place for geeks (who seemed to be constantly in evidence as I browsed) but it’s an excellent location to have a mooch around if you like Star Wars.
As well as there being absolutely masses of figures, comics and statuettes in the stores there was some really cool bespoke art to be found in the nearby galleries too.
Sci fi seemed to be a theme that ran throughout the day like letters in Brighton rock – and I couldn’t help but explode in a shower of nerd joy when later on I saw a Millennium Falcon the Lego shop in the exclusive Churchill Square shopping arcade.
In particular I marvelled not only at the detail (look at the little lego Mynock on the hull!) but the frikkin price!!!
How on earth can parents justify a Christmas present with a tag that huge?!
I guess the answer is that it’s not just children who are obsessed with Lego these days.
I know this because I overheard a conversation with a seriously crestfallen nearby man. As I passed he was receiving clearly distressing news from a surprisingly earnest store assistant that a certain edition of the Lego Batmobile was now a discontinued item.
Obviously the staff knew the upset such news could cause.
This was no joke.
‘Oh……… Oh………’ Came the response, as the guy processed this unexpected information.
‘Right…. OK….’ He said, clearly trying to deal with what sounded like a sudden bereavement in his family.
The assistant nodded with both hands clasped in front of him as if he were a Lego pall bearer. For a moment I half expected him to place a reassuring hand on his customer’s shoulder – but he stopped short and remained in quiet attendance of the man in front of him.
The guy next to me really wanted that Batmobile.
I can understand it though – because if (like me) you’re a fan both Lego and of something like Marvel films and comics then a massive version of the Mark 44 Hulkbuster Armour from Avengers: Age of Ultron is a huge bucket list item.
Coming in at an infinitely (no pun intended) more reasonable £120 (!) the only reason I didn’t buy this (apart from preferring to eat food rather than Lego bricks and not having endless money to waste) was because my head was turned by the MOOHASSIVE Harry Potter Hogwarts diorama nearby.
I know of at least two regular commenters on this blog that would probably donate organs to own and play with this.
With an asking price of £350 they may well have needed to…
Saddened by the absence of a bottomless wallet in my pocket I moved on from shop to head turning shop – all full of items that I consider both lovely but also way too expensive to buy.
Practically the only thing I could have justified in that whole arcade was the delightful handfulls of Lego sitting in huge bins like cinema pick and mix.
Talking of cinemas – this turned out to be the reason for my second visit to Brighton the following day – when myself and a fellow geek decided to see the seriously cool Into the Spiderverse animated film.
It’s rare that you can go to a movie that’s classified as ‘Universal’, has kids on booster seats nearby and still have the entire audience so captivated by the subject matter that there’s barely a peep out of anyone in the auditorium until the end credits.
I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone that likes Spider-Man (or indeed animated movies) and not only because it’s a great film with a brilliant storyline, but because it contains a really really poignant little cameo from the late and great Stan Lee (may he rest in peace).
It’s worth te trip for anyone (and their kids) – so make sure you go before it’s no longer showing on a big screen!
I’m quite sentimental so this particular cinema ticket is a keeper.
Sunday was sadly my last evening in Sussex though – and the following day I reluctantly headed back to Warwick – only focused by the fact that on Saturday I’d missed yet another weigh in at Slimming World.
I don’t like doing this – particularly as I’ve now got plans for next Saturday too (if my group are reading – sorry guys!), so I resolved to weigh in at Angie’s Monday group instead.
However – before I could do this I had to cater to another borderline OCD habit. My mildly obsessive side was also in need of a swim – and it had been a few days since I’d enjoyed one.
I do find though that taking a break from exercise for a little while often means a surprisingly effortless performance increase when I do. Both my stamina and endurance seemed to have been recovering/building while I was away, meaning that I managed to shave almost five minutes off my previous time for a two kilometre swim.
What’s more – I did it with a lower average heart rate too!
When I finally arrived at the Monday group’s 4pm New Year’s Eve weigh in session (which unsurprisingly seemed to have a lot of new members joining with resolutions to lose weight in the new year) I already suspected I was a lot lighter than before I’d headed off to Sussex.
I’d been pleasantly diverted the whole time I was there by many different things, and for once my focus had not been food. I’d managed to occupy myself far better than I normally do in the evenings and as a consequence had eaten significantly less than I normally would – whilst still maintaining a good level of activity during the day.
When I stood on the scales therefore I was out of my target range – but for the FIRST TIME EVER this was because I was way below the 13st 11lbs minimum I needed to be rather than way above it.
This is the lightest I have ever been in my adult life!!!
Although I’ll need to put some weight back on (hardly an awful problem to have at this time of year) by some kind of wonderful Christmas miracle I managed to lose a frankly ridiculous six pounds over the festive period.
On top of that I only went and got a TWENTY ONE STONE AWARD!!!!
How wonderful is that?!
Happy flipping New Year!!!
I’m sure you’ll agree internet that my time away has been time well spent!
Over the coming days I have more things planned, and this may also mean a period of radio silence – so stay frosty people.
Just like The Terminator ‘I’ll be back.’