Summer plan – 40 days of surfing

It might not even be Christmas yet but having just returned from a weeks surfing in Morocco I’ve already got a few ideas running through my head for the summer months.

One of them is to drive around the UK and Western Europe, surfing every day for 40 days. I’d live out of my car (after a few little modifications) and carry a board or two on the roof (thinking like a 9ft and maybe a 7ft, which I’ll make at the start of summer).

I was thinking of trying to combine it with WWOOFING or fruit harvesting, to fund the trip, although this needs a bit more thought.

Firstly though, route ideas… I spent a week of last summer in Cornwall with my family and had a lovely time. Spent a day surfing a longboard in Polzeath and when the sun started to set I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful location. The only issue was the crowding and, being summer, a lack of swell. The other option then is to head way further south, maybe explore W/SW France. I spent a week camping and surfing in Moliets a couple of summers ago. A tour of the west coast of France could be well on the cards then, especially it being remote enough (I think) and warm enough to be able to sleep in my car. Maybe the occasional cheeky foray into a campsite for a shower and food…

Last summer I was in Sagres, Portugal for a weeks surfing, also had a great time and found the Portuguese to be very relaxed – they do a cheese and ham toasted sandwich in any bar, any time of day or night. Add in a chilled glass of local white wine, total cost? About 3 euros! Peniche seems a decent surf spot, able to offer waves with most swell directions and isn’t too far to drive. I could do France/Spain on the way, spend a couple of weeks in Portugal then drive home in a couple of days.. SWEET!

This is the sort of route I’d like to do, totaling approx 3000 miles. At 55mpg, with the current price of Diesel, it’d cost me something like £300 in fuel (taking a route that avoids tolls). Accommodation would be free (I’m sure there’s a website out there for free campervan spots in the EU) and food would be inexpensive (eggs, tinned fish, veg..).

Sorted? Well just an idea for now but it seems promising!

The future is here!

I have never been a big fan of the fluids modules I’ve had to study in the past, but after discovering these two interesting videos I have a bit more respect. Goes to show what clever design can achieve. I’d like to see cities full of the Velotilt and cars mostly gone.

http://mpora.com/articles/fastest-bicycle-world#JyeDrIqDPsGBFiL5.99

Manufacturing videos that I does like

Have started a new course here at uni, now on the manufacturing and mechanical stream rather than the pure mechanical. The stuff i’m doing at the moment is WAAYYYYY cooler than what I did last year. It’s also much more my way of thinking, its the application of engineering/science/technology rather than the pure theoretical. I described my course last year as ‘what is the most powerful engine that could theoretically exist’ and this year as ‘well how the bloody hell are we actually going to make it!’. After all, whats the point in spending time thinking and solving problems if the solution is impossible to make. All the modules this year make sense and tie in together and the lecturers are shit hot at what they do. There is also a great bit of discussion that happens during these classroom sized lectures and it feels like being back in A-levels, which I love, so bring on the rest of this year and lets hope I do better than last!

My favourite way at the moment for learning and understanding manufacturing techniques is to watch videos, especially the factory tour variety, so here are a few that I’ve found:

Infact, here’s a whole playlist I’ve just found:

Time to spend a few hours ‘learning’….

Cheap Ragu with courgette tagliatelle

I have discovered something amazingly wonderful and supremely satisfying – the reduced meat counter at my local Morrisons. Every day of the week, but Saturdays especially, they have offers for meat that is nearing is sell-by date. Every one, and particularly students, know of the reduced sections but not always what to do with the resulting trolley full of meat for £5.40.

I have been watching ‘The Two Greedy Italians” recently, and whilst their opinions are slightly dated, it is very life affirming to watch a couple of old men dodder around Italy eating whatever they can get their hands on. Reminds me of my grandfathers…There is one recipe on the program that really struck me in its simplicity, the Meat Ragu that Gennaro cooks.

It is basically a load of different meats that are browned, finely diced ‘mirepoix’ (carrots, celery and onion) are added along with a couple of bay leaves and tins of chopped tomatoes. Oh and basil, a big old handful of it. This is left to simmer away for a few hours until it becomes this delicious, meaty sauce. On the TV program larger cuts of meat were used, these are removed at the end of cooking to make a separate dish – starter of pasta in the tomato sauce, main course of the meat with a side salad. I really like the idea of doing one big cook and ending with two distinct dishes – very cool.

Mine wasn’t quite the same as my sausages fell to pieces and I used half a kilo of beef mince too which all mixed into the sauce – no worries I’d just have to eat both courses at once. I initially ate this with some Rigatoni although yesterday I tried again but this time with the wonder food that is Courgette Tagliatelle. Honestly the most simple thing to make, well on par with Cauliflower rice, I just peeled a large courgette, rotating it a bit after each peel, until I’d done the whole thing and had a core of seeds left. The ribbons were then fried in oil, a pinch of salt added and then treated exactly like pasta – amazing!

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A bit more fresh basil, a twist or two of black pepper and a grate of cheese – AH YEAH! The best thing about this dish was I got to use all the reduced meat I’d bought – mince, sausages, pork chops/ribs etc. It all goes in and everything adds to the overall flavour. Also making this one big dish – it filled my entire casserole pan and needed 4 cans of tomatoes – means I can probably live off it for the next week, score!

I think I feel the beginning of a new Saturday afternoon routine…..

The Bromlette

Ladies and Gentlemen, today I will introduce to you what is probably the cornerstone of my daily routine. The one thing keeping me from cornflakes and insanity – the Bromlette.

What is a ‘Bromlette’ I hear you cry?! Aside from being a surname, it is also short for Breakfast Omelette, and it looks like this:

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THAT is a Bromlette. A delicious combination of cheese, eggs, butter and chives, “Omelette aux fines herbes” if you’re French, or a “French omelette” if you’re everyone else.

It’s taken me a few attempts and an hour or so on youtube to perfect it, but, I now believe my bromlette to be second to none. The trick, I’ve learnt, is to quickly mix and agitate the egg/chive/cheese mixture as soon as its been poured it into a hot, buttered pan, to ensure the ‘curds’ (the folds of cooked egg) stay as small as possible, resulting in a smoother overall texture. Once it’s half way to scrambled eggs, stop mixing and spread it out with the back of a spoon as flat as possible over the pan.Let it cook for a few seconds longer, so it all binds together, then flick over one edge, roll it down to the opposite side of the pan and try and get it onto a plate with the seam facing downwards.

I like mine oozing in the middle, totally colourless, enough cheese so as to taste it but not become overpowering, and big enough (4 eggs) to sustain me till lunch. Served with a black coffee, its “the best a man (or woman) can get” – if Gillette did bromlettes… which they don’t.

It’s all going swimmingly…

So here I am, a few days in to my new start/routine/existence and it’s all going well.

Sunday afternoon I cooked my first roast dinner in quite a while, I did a large roast chicken smeared with a thyme/garlic/rosemary butter (also forced between the skin and meat of the breast) and stuffed with a warm, pricked lemon, garlic and more herbs, and some roast courgette and onions.

I normally roast a chicken in this big roasting tray I had but tried it in my casserole dish on a bed of onions. This made making the gravy easy peasy as just had to pick up the chicken once it was done and let all its juices drain back into the pan. The pan could then go back onto the hob where I added a chicken stock pot, some white wine and a bit of water. I scraped anything on the sides of the pan into the gravy and reduced to a nice consistency.

I did cheat and have a beer (homemade at least!) but I felt it was justifiable as I’d only eaten breakfast that day.

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After din dins I removed all the leftover chicken meat from the bones which I put back into my casserole dish with a glug of vinegar, a few whole black peppercorns and filled with cold water.

This I left on the hob for a couple of hours before straining the liquid off and adding in finely chopped onions, carrots, celery and peppers with a tin of tomatoes, tin of sweet corn and a chicken stock pot. Left this to simmer for an hour or so and – ta da! Soup for the week!

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I went for a swim on Sunday, I haven’t got my funky speedo’s with me at the moment so a pair of shorts had do to, they were a bit of a drag….! Did 60 lengths but I’ve definitely lost a lot of fitness over the holidays, I ended up doing a load of 100m sets, interspersed with kicking and stroking (?) sets using the floats thrown in, resting as needed between them all.

Stayed at my girlfriends that night and left my shorts and towel there, major bummer, so didnt swim Monday. On Tuesday I was a bit caffeined up and needed to go expend some energy. On campus now they have these outdoor bodyweight ‘gym’ machine things – tagline “Workout like your inside, outside!”. Only three offered enough resistance to be useful, the dip bars, then a chest press and shoulder pull sort of machine, did 3 sets going from one to the other, max reps each time. If I slowed the movement down (3s/3s) then number of reps was 8-12.

I had a membership (£5 a week!) in term 1 to a gym that was literally 5 minutes walk from my house, however with this new schedule I want to be in for exams (namely leaving the house around 7.30am and returning around 7.30pm) I don’t want to by gyming before or after. The gym on campus is amazingly new and modern but also expensive – I think ill try and do these outside exercises a few times a week, if only because they’re more fun than press ups and they’re outside and free!

Anyway, everything’s off to a great start and now its time to get back to revision!

Cheers!

 

 

This time I’ll succeed!

Hi all

I have known about the whole primal thing for a while now and have been a follower for almost 4 years, however, I have never been particularly strict. Being a 3rd year student I have literally been SURROUNDED by opportunities to cheat – casual beers with friends a few nights a week, parties, meals out, meals with friends, stress, take aways, etc etc. The usual for most people then, but the pressure is high and the temptation to go along with it all is very hard to resist. Also I’m not very good at resisting…

After telling my self numerous times to just have a bit more self control and discipline, I’d be getting into a good routine for a while then having it interrupted by something (holidays, exams, deadlines). Any positives gained are quickly lost after a couple of weeks of heavy drinking, late nights, stress, lack of exercise…

Anyway, I’ve had enough of being overweight in my early twenties, unless I take a bit of control I’ll end up being this way forever and turn out just like my Dad and Granddad – both badly overweight. For the rest of this year, deadline is Christmas, I’ve signed an agreement with my Dad to both loose weight. The target is 2kg weight loss per month, I am at 87kg now and have set an end point of 78kg but I want to sustain the lean body mass I currently have. Failure to meet this target every month will mean I have to send my sister £50 – something I DEFINITELY do not want to do (he’s got to do the same to his ex-wife – an equally unsavoury proposition).

I consider myself to be a good cook with an adequate understanding of nutrition – my biggest issues are lack of exercise and giving in too much. With this in mind I’ve devised a solid meal plan:

Upon first waking – Protein shake
Breakfast – 3 egg omelette and black coffee
Lunch – Soup
Snacks – Hand full of nuts, tin of fish (mackerel, tuna)
Dinner – Meat and veggies

I’ve experimented with I.F. and the like however I have come to realise that I do far better with regular feeding throughout the day – fasting led me to binge and over eat in the evenings, however strictly primal and fat containing the food was. I followed the above plan for a few weeks at the end of last term and felt GREAT, unfortunately it was all interrupted by holidays, going abroad and giving in. Seeing as term has just started again and I wont have any upsets for the next 6 weeks (aside from EXAMS ahh!) I really want to get back to this and staying clean.

Exercise-wise, I was really getting into swimming, going to the pool about 4 times a week doing 60 lengths each time, depending on energy levels I’d either do a good sprint routine I’d found:
16×25 warm up, 8×25 (30 sec intervals), 6×50 (1:15 intervals), 4×100 (2 min intervals), 8x warm down (1-2min rest between sets)
OR simply moderate pace freestyle, stopping every 15 lengths or so.

This is something I am very much looking forward to getting back into now I’m back at uni again. Also with spring finally here (YES SUNSHINE!) I can get back out on my bike. I plan to cycle to campus a few times a week (7 miles each way) and at weekends just go out for rides. There’s a cool mtb club here that does weekly rides and a decent 4x track, which is basically sprint training! ([url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqzIjtSjwzg]Jordan Lunn Leamington Spa 4X 2012 – YouTube[/url])

To monitor it all (I’m an engineer, I like numbers) I’ve got myself an Ozeri electronic scale and a fat caliper, ill take measurements every day I can and using a great spreadsheet I found on Scoobysworkshop ([url=http://scoobysworkshop.com/how-to-weigh-yourself-accurately/]How To Weigh Yourself Accurately – Scooby’s Home Workouts[/url]) I can track weight and body fat. I was once into lifting weights and hitting the gym however right now the first target is to shed some of my excess fat – I am currently at approximately 21% bodyfat and 191lbs.

Long post for starters, Ill use this journal to keep track of my progress, post meals, write daily summaries etc. Also hopefully as another motivational tool to help keep things all ship shape.

If you’ve made it this far then thanks for reading and wish me luck!

Alex