[AD] The Fox & Hounds – Review

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[AD] This post is a gifted opportunity which included a complimentary three-course meal in return for Social Media Coverage and a Blog post.

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The Fox & Hounds of Harlestone has just had a complete make-over, from the decor and interior design to the menu and food itself, and this Saturday 13th July they open the doors again for you all to come in an enjoy their new look. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek before the grand opening and I have to say the whole experience was phenomenal, amazing, Amazingly Phenomenal. Both my GF and I walked away in awe of the entire night and to the team there, we are truly thankful.

I had always heard good things about The Fox & Hounds but never found myself in that neck of the woods to try it out – so I never knew what it was like, but I can safely say now even though it’s a little out of the way from us (20 mins from East Hunsbury so not that far), it is most definitely worth a visit and we will most certainly be going back.

Enterance


 

Imagine this, a lovely warm summers evening. We are greeted by Heather the smiling hostess who shows us through to the bar and gives us a brief rundown on the refurbishment and the new decor before leaving us to explore for ourselves. First stop was the Gin bar. With strawberry and slice of grapefruit in one of those massive gin glasses, we were off and exploring.

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The decor is a fantastic rustic animal themed experience. Mixing old classic woods with modern quirky twists. From portraits of animals in suits. To a wood burner in the middle of the dining room. The Fox and Hounds have its own unique vibe that both my GF and I instantly fell in love with. With a dark Emerald Green colour tastefully covering the dining room, the whole place felt cosy and warm. Then tucked away at the back is the Gin Garden Room – what I can only describe as a botanical garden styled dining room, with flower pots all down the side and overhanging vines and plants across the rafters and windows that overlooked the garden.

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After some time checking out the place, tasting the canapés that were flowing around the bar and enjoying the general fun ambience. We finished our tour and took our seats ready for dinner


This is where the fun begins.

Menu

The passion in Daisy our waitresses voice as she spoke about the menu was superb. She was as happy to be serving us the food as we were to actually eat it. The menu felt like it went on forever, in a good way, the options were widespread which catered for everyone. With Vegan options having their own separate menu. From locally grown produce to 21 day matured prime cuts of meat – it was a tough pick from the amazing selection but we managed it. The choices were made. The order was placed.


Starter

We started with a Sharing Starter. Truffled Honey Baked Camembert. Which as any cheese lover and friend of my GF knows, is a top choice. It was served with honey drizzled walnuts and figs on top and a selection of sourdough and rye bread bites. This went down a treat, perfectly cooked and so Moorish. The only tidbit we had was it could have done with a couple more slices of the bread. The cheese to bread ratio was very Pro Cheese. But we didn’t grumble too much. It just meant more cheese smothered on the bread. Yum Yum


We moved onto the main which, like everything, looked amazing. The detail and commitment to presentation rang through the whole evening and honestly we couldn’t fault it. If anything it just made us fall more in love with the place.

Main Course

So I ordered the Rib Eye steak and the GF ordered the Pork Belly with broccoli and some Halloumi Fries for the table. The steak is always a bold choice at any restaurant. The fear of not having it cooked how you like it. Well, The Fox and Hounds team of chefs launched those worries out the window and I was presented with a juicy, tasty, succulent Rare Steak. It was divine. I also had a ‘Signature caramelised onion, stilton and panko crumb tart’ on my plate which when ordering I was unsure what it was. But after a couple of bites, it turned out I really enjoyed it. While opposite me the GF was tucking into her mountain of Pork Belly and mash potatoes. We traded bites like any lovey romcom film would and I have to say. The potatoes were amazing and the pork just melted in your mouth. She thoroughly enjoyed her meal but at one point it looked like the drinks, canapés, starter and main had won. There were talks of no dessert as were both very full. Scary right.

 

Then Daisy came over and asked the dreaded dessert question and we looked at each other. The GF said – none for me. (Noooo). So I took the leap and asked for a menu, I had just enough space for something sweet. We gave it a minute, asked for some time to decide and just took a moment to bask in the ambience of the pub. The second wind kicked in and we both ordered a desert! The GF went for a mini pud and coffee, opting for the Chocolate Brownie and I went for the Eton Mess featuring Cassis . . . . which I was not sure what that was but with Daisy on hand to find out we were about to learn something new. Moments later she came back to explain its a red berry liqueur. Well, I was sold. And when it came out it was the freshest fruitiest dish which was perfect after a big meal. It didn’t feel heavy or filling it was just right. The GF and I sat chatting and sharing desserts as the night came to a close, which during this, Becky the General Manager popped over to check in, see how we were and how we were finding our experience. Which we couldn’t fault at all. Smiles beamed across our faces as we discussed the pub, the menu and the decor with her.

 

All of the staff were amazing, everyone we spoke to was friendly, polite and passionate about us having a great dining experience which in this day an age of chains and takeaways is so refreshing.

It was truly an amazing evening that we both genuine loved.

Overall my review of The Fox and Hounds of Harlestone is this: Set to the backdrop of the countryside, the Fox and Hounds new refurb is a stunning breathtaking place that has everything you could ask for in a pub; from friendly happy to help staff, to luxurious decor and cosy settings, to a menu that just keeps giving. Whatever the occasion, and I suggest you find one just to go here. Birthday, Date Night, Random Wednesday out. Whatever the reason you will not be disappointed with what you find.

The grand reopening is this Saturday 13th July, use their website now to book a table.

WEBSITE

The Fox and Hounds.

TELEPHONE

01604 821251

ADDRESS

The Fox & Hounds,

Harlestone Road,

Northampton,

NN7 4EW


 

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June Round-Up

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June has been one wild month, so much has happened and so much more is to come.


FamilySo we start the month with my sisters birthday, but due to my busy schedule and the fact the Champions League Final was on this weekend (she’s a Liverpool fan), we ended up meeting for a meal on Friday night which was last month but shhhh. It was a really nice evening to see my Sister and Dad, as I don’t see them that often and had a chance to celebrate my sis’ birthday. Getting old now!

 


img_20190603_074300_240Another reason we did her birthday meal early is that on her actual birthday I was at a wedding. Number one of four for the year. You can tell you are growing up when you start getting wedding invites. This one was for my friend Steve whom I work with. (The stag do I mentioned a few months back) So on a lovely sunny morning, we all got ready to head over to a picturesque lake in Northamptonshire to share the lovely moment of a wedding with him.


img_20190605_102149_442Then the 7-year-old me had his wildest dreams come true as the GF and I went to watch the Spice Girls. The GF got tickets from her family at Christmas after months of hints as soon as the tour was announced. So we got there, had a cheeky burger and settled in to watch the girls slam it to the left and have a good time. They were really good and still after all these years managed to hold a crowd and put on a great show.

There were a few rude moments from rude people, but sadly they are everywhere. It’s never ideal when they invade personal space and trample you – especially when we were seated it’s just not on. Shame. But overall it was a really fun night and the GF had an amazing time.


img_20190610_103929_645The month goes on, the following weekend in the lovely sunny weather we all went to “Barclaycards Fun Day” – a massive fun day event that Barclaycard put on every year for their employees and families. £5 a ticket, which included a lunch of a burger, chips and a drink. There was also a sea of inflatable castles, walls and assault courses, Go Karting, Bumper Cars, Shooting, Candy Floss Stalls and Face painting. It’s so much fun and I’ve been 3 years on the bounce now. There is also a tradition of taking a photo of me and Sister 5 (my lil bestie) and this year I threw them all together where you can see how much she has grown. #MEGACUTE.

Overall the day was so much fun, a nice moment of relaxation and fun in the midst of busy adult life.


img_20190616_150914_271Did someone say WEDDING! Time for another one – this time it’s the GF’s Uncle who married an Indian lady, which meant Indian Wedding. It was a long day, having to be in Chipping Norton for 8.30am (which is over an hour away from us), we got there in the nick of time and sat down to the English Ceremony, then had a few hours to kill before the Indian Ceremony started. Everyone looked amazing, the babies where rocking cute dresses, I wore a tie, everyone was on point.

The Indian part of the wedding was such an experience as well. To be involved in something so culturally amazing. It went on for a while and the babies started to get a little tetchy at the end but they did so well overall for the whole day. We then partied into the night and didn’t get home till midnight. But it was a great day.

That is 2 of our 4 Weddings for the year done!


1561494549327Now time to mention the fun times of a ceremonial right of passage for any wedding – THE STAG DO. And what a Do it was. My best boy Tom is getting married at the end of July and after much planning the stag do was afoot. Hosted in Nottingham, 30 of the best and brightest teamed up to show him a great time. We went Go Karting, to begin with, and then after a couple of beers on the train, we hit Nottingham Town. We had a sophisticated meal at a local establishment named Hooters, where the beers flowed and the chicken was served. Then we head for the nearest bar and begin.

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Such a good night but being a big group we got a lot of grief from Bouncers who, even in broken up smaller groups would still not let us into a few places, while moving us aside to allow streams of girls in skimpy clothing in. I don’t want to call Sexism here but . . . well, it wasn’t fair.

Anyway, it got to 1am and I was starting to flag, been up since 6am, was a tad drunk and not a fan of club music so me and a friend snuck away to get pizza and ended up sitting on a bench in the centre eating pizza and putting the world to rights. To then sneak back in time for kicking out and home time. What champions we were!


 

That is the lot for this month I think, some side mentions that can’t go amiss: We got NFL Tickets for the Raiders-Bears game in October at the new Spurs ground which is going to be AWESOME. I announced that next month I have a chance to catch the new Spider-Man film early and I’m also booked in for another blogging opportunity next month which I will reveal soon. Now after all that I might go for a sit-down and a cuppa tea.

What is Mental Health?

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The first step to accepting and understanding Mental Health is to know what it is. This is a journey and post we’ll learn together.

Simply put it’s the psychological and emotional well-being of a person.

This is what MIND say about MH:

In many ways, mental health is just like physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it.

Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the ways you’re frequently thinking, feeling or reacting become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse.

Some of the statistics regarding MH as according to the Mental Health Organisation are as followed:

  • In England women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders as men.
  • In 2017, 5,821 suicides were recorded in Great Britain. Of these, 75% were male and 25% were female.
  • Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales.
  • 1 in 6.8 people are experience mental health problems in the workplace.
  • Evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
  • 1 in 8 adults in the UK have experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of concerns about their body image.

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Learning these numbers was shocking. Especially the ones relating to Work Life. 1 in 6.8 people is the one that hit me. At work there is 7 of us in our team. Which means one of us is likely to experience something. But due to the stigma attached to MH, people do their best to hide it from the world. Which isn’t healthy at all. There is not shame in admitting you’ve lost a step or two.

I often think this about Work, but it could also be applied to Life I guess. “It’s such a easy thing, but it’s made complicated by people and their actions. If everyone was honest and easygoing there wouldn’t be a problem” If people weren’t afraid to open up, or if people were accepting of MH and didn’t look at it with disgust or horror the world would be a healthier, happier place.

The stats are horrific and as a society and race we need to make a change. We can’t have this level of suffering, this level of uncomfortableness. Change is needed. Remove the Stigma and live our best lives to our fullest potential.

 

 

 

Getting Camera Ready [AD]

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[AD] This post is part of a paid opportunity.

With the summer rolling in, the BBQ’s being fired up and the late summer nights going on forever, what’s a better time to get yourself a new camera. A perfect way to capture those moments of fun; from road trips to music festivals to beach days and just moments you want to remember forever.

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Whatever the event, occasion or reason, Latest Deals have some amazing deals on a range of digital camera; from Action HD Cameras, to DSLR’s, to Pocket Digi Cam’s and even Security Cameras. Check out the following link to find the latest deal – Latest Deals Camera’s

Some of these offers and discounts are unbelievable, but they are constantly changing so if you miss one great offer rest assured another is right around the corner. As I write this there is a £100 saving on a Nikon DSLR which is a significant discount which could be the selling point for your purchase – and why wouldn’t it be.

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I think the camera is one of the best things you can spend money on. A way to capture moments and memories that will last a lifetime – yes I am aware of how cliched that sounds, but it’s so right, isn’t it? Birthdays, Weddings, Parties, Memories. All stored with the click of a button. And Latest Deals is a great place to supply you with the equipment, with handy guides and information about the different styles and types of camera’s, they give you all the know-how and insight you might need to make an informed decision about buying a new camera. What’s not to love. Even the cool flow diagram (above) is a key part of their marketing design to assess what style of a camera might be best suited to you. Are you thinking of pocket size, viewfinder, interchangeable lenses? Whatever style or piece of kit you are looking for and for what you are looking to do with it – Latest Deals will guide you to the right choice at a crazy discounted price. Can’t say fairer than that on service right.

So what is stopping you, break open that piggy bank, check out the guide and order a new camera today, all in time for the long hot summer of fun and memories that will last a lifetime.

I love my DSLR and wish I got it out more, there is some real beauty in the world and it would be a shame to not capture it forever.

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Sunshine Blogger Award

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Now it’s been some time since I’ve done one of these beautiful posts. I really like them as I think they are a great way of getting to know bloggers and I am always honoured and humbled that I’ve been nominated.

I was nominated by Ashli over on You Me and Benny – which if you don’t follow I highly urge you too. You can expect Movies, Marvel, Witty Banter and Dogs – what more can you ask for.

Also due to great minds thinking alike – Sophie over on The Smurfy Gamers Blog tagged me in this post too – which I had to laugh about because originally this post was going to go out on Friday, but I bumped it for the Hellboy Review and guess who was tagged in my post as a nominee – Yep, that’s right – Sophie. So now I am sat here after mowing the lawn on this sunny Sunday lunch time editing and adding more questions. Whoop.


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So let’s get down to the T’s and C’s:

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blogging sites.
  • Answer the questions
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo on your site or your own post.

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The Questions – You, Me and Benny Version

  • If you had a genie and 3 questions what would your questions be?#
    • I’d ask for money to help fulfill my dreams.
    • I’d ask for the truth behind the JFK assassination.
    • I’d ask for the cure to common cold.
  • Are you an only child or do you have siblings?
    • I have one younger sister.
  • What’s your favorite book/book series?
    • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Series – so good.
  • Do you have pets? If so, explain!
    • We have a cat which is lovely, but my god she is a pain in the bum sometimes. I can’t wait to get a dog!
  • What’s your favorite place to go in the Summer?
    • The beer garden, nothing better than lounging about with an ice-cold beer, talking for hours and just living in the moment
  • If you would have dinner with any celebrity – dead or alive – who would it be?
    • My answer to this used to always be Hunter S Thompson, but now days maybe Johnny Depp.
  • What’s your favorite food?
    • Pizza – hands down, every meal,
  • If you would only wear one thing forever what would it be?
    • I have follow-up questions about this question, but let’s say a white shirt and jeans.
  • What’s your all time favorite animal?
    • Monkey
  • Are you a scary movie fan?
    • Scary Movie Fan as in the films? Or the Genre – The films I like the first two, they were genius, then the rest of the series fell apart. The genre – yes, but I don’t think there are many genuinely great Scary Movies anymore.
  • If you could travel anywhere where would it be?
    • The USA. The times I’ve been, I’ve loved it and would love to see more.

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The Questions – The Smurfy Gamers Blog Version

  • What game are you most looking forward to this year?
    • Well hands down this has to be The Last of Us 2.
  • If you could play a game for the first time again, what game would you choose?
    • Well now I just have The Last of Us in my head – I’d love to play that again. Or the Modern Warfare series, like if you put all 3 into one massive game, that story line is deep.
  • If you could be part of a game series, which series would you chose and what role do you see yourself in?
    • I’d love to be a Cowboy in the Red Dead Redemption series – I’d play a Gunslinger called “Preacher” where I exact revenge on the unjustified and rob from the unworthy.
  • If you could visit any in-game world where would you most like to visit?
    • Probably something like Fallout 3 – just to try out the Wasteland life for a bit
  • What is your favourite thing to do in spring?
    • Not to worry about remembering my scarf and gloves
  • Who is your favourite character from any game?
    • John ‘Soap’ MacTavish from the Call of Duty Modern Warfare series. 
  • If you could visit any place in the world where would you go?
    • I’d love to visit Casablanca
  • What was the last film you watched and would you recommend it?
    • Last night I watched Mission Impossible . . . Rouge Nation – well I think it was that one. I think the newer ones are great fun and would recommend them. Just easy-going films.
  • What blog post of your are you most proud of?
  • What is your favourite soundtrack (Game, Film, TV Show)?
    • I go through phases because I love so many. But this minute the best favourite I can think of is . . . Grease!
  • If you were to learn something new (skill, hobby, subject) what would you want to learn?
    • I’d love to be able to do Parkour. Or maybe just be able to play guitar.

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My Questions

  • If you had to pick an actor to play you in a film who would you pick?
  • If you could do anything as a career what would you do?
  • Is Pineapple allowed on Pizza?
  • When was the last time you cried?
  • Would you rather have all your bills wiped for life, or a Million Pounds right now?
  • In the garden do you prefer Decking or Patio?
  • In the nuclear wasteland do you think you’d survive and how long for?
  • It’s been a long day at work, you are chilling on the sofa with no energy and motivation. What is your go to meal?
  • Amazon Echo or Google Home?
  • If you could see ANY band or artist – dead or alive, perform who would it be?
  • If you could have ANY superpower what would it be and why?

Now for the hard part . . .

The Nominations


Thank you for everyone that took the time to have a wee little read about me and keeps coming back for more. You guys are my mews.

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What To Do Next?

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As you might be aware of recent I’ve been a bit quiet on the social media, blog front. Just because I’ve been left feeling very deflated and . . . . well like this.


Stuck in a lifestyle that I am not a great fan of anymore. Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to bad mouth these aspects of my life because they have served me well and I’ve learnt and grown from them. But it is now time to move on and take a bigger step forward. Though how realistic is that?

Not to moan about money but sadly this is what makes life tick over. I know I should live in the moment. Enjoy what I have. Can’t take it with you bullshit. But sadly Karen that isn’t the world we live in. The fact of the matter is if I don’t earn X amount a month I won’t be able to pay my bills, buy food or get by. So if I bring home less than that or I have a sick day and don’t get paid. I feel the pinch.

It’s horrible.

But what can I do? How can I make my life better? I’d love to go freelance. In photography or media or blogging. But taking that plunge is an unrealistic step for me. I’d love to get into charity work. Especially Male Mental Health based work. To help give a voice to people. To do something meaningful and to make a difference but sadly in the most none selfish way that won’t pay my mortgage. Not to begin with anyway.

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A very supportive and lovely friend said the following to me earlier – “You really could do it full-time I believe in you buddy! You’re written word is fantastic, I love your content and you are always one of the first people to boost people up in this community! I honestly couldn’t think of anyone who deserves it more than you.”

Which is crazy cute and mega supportive of her and it made me think – who else thinks this of me, maybe I could be this figurehead that people look up to, maybe I could help everyone.

I’m thinking about setting up a movement / brand / organisation that focuses on those goals of raising awareness and money for Male Mental Health charities. Which is where I will need your help.

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I just hope something like this can and will give me purpose and until I find my feet I will have to keep going with my current affairs but in time, maybe one day, I will be able to stand up tall and look back at what I have done with pride.


 

Welcome to StrongMen

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StrongMen – What is it and what it is doing.


Just so you know this if not an AD, the Charity didn’t come to me. I asked them if I could write about them to help spread the word of who they are.

As many of you might know recently I discovered Channel 4’s S.A.S Who Dares Wins. Which pits a team of average joe recruits through a version of the selection progress for the Special Forces, lead by a tough team of Directing Staff which is made up of Ex Special Forces Operatives; Ant Middleton, Jason Fox, Matthew Ollerton and Mark Billingham.

Each season highlights the recruits back stories and reasons for taking on such a challenge, and each season for me has a couple of people who really stand out with some truly emotionally touching stories. Earlier seasons showed me Ehrem’s story and the season just gone showed me Mark and Milo’s stories. All dealing with grief, loss and a drive to prove themselves in honour of their lost family members.

Obviously as the world is very social media driven I jumped on the bandwagon to follow both Mark and Milo on Instagram. Only to find out their relationship has continued after the show and they are embarking on a Charity Climb of Mont Blanc in July with Ollie Ollerton. All in the name of “StrongMen”. Which got me thinking, who are they?


StrongMen

StrongMen is a non-profit organisation set up by several Ex-Recruits and a D.S. from the show. Their mission, to tackle Mental Health issues caused by bereavement and suffering in men. Offering weekend retreats for Men aged 18-55 who have suffered a bereavement of a family member.

With grief and loss being one of the main causes to depression, stress and other such mental health issues the team at StrongMen have set up retreats to focus on several aspects of life; from diet, to exercise, to leisure activities – all with the goal of helping men open up and talk about their emotions and problems. Even if you are not effected by such things I strongly urge you to check out, look into this group and support the team at StrongMen.


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Mental Health is an ever-growing concern in this modern world, as it becomes more widely recognised and accepted. There is still a stigma behind Men and their diagnoses but with the help of organisations like StrongMen we can move away from that stigma and make it socially acceptable to be worry free and open to discuss what is really going on in our mind.

Men can still be the strong characters they always have been, but there is also no shame or harm in being open about what is going on inside your head. Especially if it results in help.

 

 


With all of this new and fresh in my mind it’s really made me take a step back to evaluate my own personal mental health. The up’s, the downs and the vague patches in the middle. Evaluating my own thoughts and well-being has been on the forefront of a lot of discussions recently. Growing as a blogger I have had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with several Mental Health bloggers for both Men and Women and this has helped me dramatically change my opinion on the topic for the better.

IMG_20180121_224107_636I suffered a bereavement nearly four years ago now, where I lost my Mother. I was 24. It was the start of the summer and I was sat in a beer garden in Northampton with some friends. Just a standard evening of drinks after work to unwind. When I got a phone call. My sisters number, but it was my Dad on the phone. He broke the news to me that she had passed away. Regardless of my relationship with her it was still a shock and worse of all I couldn’t do anything to fix it. I couldn’t even drive the 70 mile trip home there and then because I was in a beer garden. Though I have always be a strong-minded character I think that deep down I have never properly grieved. I just took a deep breath and got on with making sure my sister was ok and putting my Mothers affairs in order as I organised a funeral. (My Parents were Divorced as this point, so power of the estate was in my hands).

I’d never thought about this as a contributing factor to my Mental Health before, but with life getting busier, Adulthood creeping in and responsibilities racking up that tower of Life begins to wobble and lean a bit from time to time. Maybe throwing “Money worries” “Frustration at work” and a dash of “Road Rage” into a pot on top of a ungrevied significant moment in my life isn’t a great move – but then on the flip side maybe I am at ease with it all and how I dealt with it was perfectly rational and understandable during that time in my life.


It is a serious discussion we should be having and with the help of organisations like StrongMen I truly believe that discussion will be taking place more frequently.

As much as I am no professional, I like to think I am a supportive guy who will help anyone, with that in mind – if you want to talk, open up or even just have the knowledge and thought that someone is there. Here I am. Don’t be shy.

I will always be there for you all.