Race to 100 err…103 grounds complete

Bloody England.

And Bloody Wales.

And Bloody Worcester City.

So I have been embarking on a trip to see as many football teams play in as many stadiums as possible. I had hoped to reach 100 by the end of the season, and I did! I thought I’d did it on a Tuesday in mid April when I went through the turnstiles at Deepdale (home of Preston North End), ticking off my 100th ground.

Or so I thought.

Turns out, like all brilliant minds do every now and again, I had miscalculated. I had seen 100 different teams playing at various stadiums. However, I’d actually ticked off a fair few already.

Let me explain using my beloved Wales.

Ask me if I seen Wales play at home, then I would say “Yes”. I had. However I’d seen them play in two different venues that they call “Home”: The Millenium Stadium & Cardiff City Stadium. Same applies to England (Old Trafford & Wembley) and Worcester City (St George’s Lane & Aggborough). Like Phineas Fogg, I’d well and truly screwed up my calculations and actually achieved more than I thought.

So in actual fact, my 100th ground – Ramsbottom United vs Colwyn Bay – was completed on a cold Spring evening in Late March, making Preston, Blackpool, and my trip to bloody Genoa rather redundant.

Oh well.

All in all, I feel a weird sense of pride with my achievement. It’s means nothing, didn’t make me healthier, didn’t raise money for a charity or even do something for somebody. It was selfish, it was selfish bloody minded stubbornness for something that impressed only me and a few other people. I don’t think I’d even put it on my Tinder bio.

But I don’t care, as for this journey, there has been a weird solace for me within a WhatsApp group. Two of my friends from university heard about the challenge and decided to go for their own challenge related to it. One of which was to hit 100, another was to hit 50. If absolutely nothing else, as I hurtle to my mid 30’s, I’m glad that I’ve managed to reclaim and spend some quality time with two great friends. That has been what has made the last 6 or so month’s special.

I’ve not decided if I’m continuing to 200, or 250, or whatever. This isn’t swimming: the next 100 will probably be harder, but I’ve paired with one of my friends and we’ve started a little instagram account for groundhopping. You can see it here at @ystbah. Please give us a follow!

Anyway, now onto some stats!

  • Most Northerly ground – Firhill, Glasgow (Partick Thistle)
  • Most Easterly & Southerly ground – GSP Stadium, Nicosia (Cyprus)
  • Most Westerly ground – Giants Stadium, New York (New York Red Bulls)
  • I’ve watched football matches in 13 different countries: Andorra, Belgium, Cyprus, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, United States and Wales.
  • I’ve watched football at 59% of the teams in the Evostik Divison 1 North, my most populous league.
  • I’ve seen football played in 23 competitions: European Championships, World Cup Qualifications, European Championship Qualifications, Champions League, Europa League, Premier League, Championship, League 1, League 2, Conference North, Evostik Premiership, Evostik Division 1 North, Evostik Division 1 South, North West Counties Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, FA Trophy, League of Wales, Cymru Alliance, League of Ireland, Scottish Premiership, Bundesliga & Serie A.

Anyway, here’s a map!

Anyway, if you have any questions or anything, I’m opening the comments up to an unofficial AMA, if you have any questions for my escapades, leave them in the comments!

Thirty-Four

This weekend I turn thirty-four.

It’s been quite a weird year. Thirty-three wasn’t a great year, starting off incredibly rubbish due to losing Bonnie and going through a breakup. July was when things started improving, thanks to some cool people coming into my life, and also reconnecting with some old ones (mainly the Manchester SEO crowd thanks to events like Media Poker), and although since about October 2017 I was pretty much waiting for the year to be over.

2018 has started well, I feel more focused, and more driven. I think the waiting for the year to end wasn’t necessarily the best course of action, but I’ve definitely got a plan for 2018 going forward. It’s going well so far too. Yes, this is vagueblogging. More will hopefully be revealed soon.

Regarding the things I love, I travelled to a new country for the first time whilst being 33 (Ireland). My Germanophile nature was fed further as a long weekend in Köln was spent following my love of professional wrestling, as well as falling in love with Berlin in November. I also took my main holiday in the UK for the first time since 2012 with a week spent in London and Brighton. I played a bunch of new games and my time playing video games has creeped up. Gym has taken a hit, but I’m walking a lot more these days. I also think I drink less, and eat slightly better.

Now, suggested by Nichola Stott, here is the first of what I hope will be an ongoing series, here is my life-by-life comparison with Reese Witherspoon.


Rhys (With a Spoon)
Rhys (With a Spoon)

Reese Witherspoon
Age Nearly 34 Nearly 42
Oscars (Nominated) 0 1
Books Written 1 0
Marriages 0 2
Children 0 3
WordPress Plugins Written 10 0

I'm not sure how much further I can compare my life to Reese Witherspoon, so if you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments!

Previous Versions: 30

Thoughts of a Pisshead on Dryathlon

So, it’s October, and I’m delighted to announce I successfully completed my Dryathlon. I had a few challenges, but overall it was fairly straightforward, and I had a few wobbles.

I surprised many people, but mainly I surprised myself. Last year’s dryathlon I managed about 15-20 days. Whilst I raised a decent sum for charity, I did notice a few things at my end. Here are some things I noticed during my Dryathlon.

I’m £300 Better Off

It is so scary how little money I spent this past month. I wouldn’t say I drank a huge amount recently, but this month the £20 on drinks, £15 on food, and an Uber home sure adds up, and they were gone this month. Instead of going out, I stayed in – and that saved me a small fortune (I worked out it was about £300). Hopefully in the months that follow I won’t go out as much as I did beforehand.

I Wouldn’t Say I’ve More Energy

One thing when people say they give up alcohol is “You’ll have more energy going forward!”. That I can say is bullshit, at least in my case.

Sure I’m waking up a lot easier and it’s nice not to feel like crap, but I don’t have quite as much energy as I thought I would.

That being said, it’s been so long since a hangover, I cannot remember what one feels like.

I Don’t Think I’ve Lost Weight

“You’ll lose weight!” they also say. I’m not convinced I have. I think because in the past month I’ve eaten a fair bit of crap (I’ve been so busy, and my diet has suffered), so whilst I’ve been exercising okay, I’ve been eating a lot of rubbish. So I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, I just think it didn’t happen to me.

It’s something I’m keen on fixing though, I’m going to buy a slow cooker for the winter so I can prepare lovely stews and warm hearty meals for the winter (I love warmer meals in the winter).

My Belly Is Smaller

With that said, I feel my belly is a bit smaller now than it was at the beginning of the month. My guess is that I’m not as bloated as usually am.

Friday’s Are The Worst

Saturdays and the week were incredibly easy to keep, after about half way through the month. The worst has been Fridays, as the post work drinks have become not much fun. Being the butt of jokes for not drinking gets tiresome, and also often being limited to coke, after a hard week in work isn’t great either. Furthermore this month I have been to a lot of free bars.

Never Drink San Miguel 0.0%, but Nanny State is Lovely

Of course, after the first weekend of Diet Coke, I decided to embrace the wide world of alcohol free beers. I drank 6 different non-alcoholic beers in total, and notes on what they tasted like:-

  1. Nanny State – Literally way ahead of the rest in terms of quality. Incredibly drinkable, tastes exactly like beer, and I can see myself drinking this when I return to drinking.
  2. Schneider Weisse Alcohol Free – Again, a really nice beer. Doesn’t have the sharp “yeah I’m not drinking beer” taste as the others.
  3. Erdinger Alkoholfrei – Was nearly 2nd, the aftertaste and the fact that it kept me wired made me not enjoy this as much. But tastes quite nice.
  4. Tesco Bavaria Non-Alcoholic Beer – A bit of a gap between 3rd and 4th. This was served to me in a couple of pubs in London. Drinkable, but a little less beer-tasting put it down the list.
  5. Becks Blue – Again, a huge gap from this to Tesco. This tasted bland with a slight lemony taste. Again, not unpleasant, but definitely not beer. May as well drink water.
  6. San Miguel 0.0% – Urgh. Utter dreadful. Served in a can that you get premixed drinks in. This tasted premixed. Long bitter lemon taste made this horribly unpleasant to drink. Avoid.

(secretly) Want To Continue

Here is the scary thing, after about day 22 of the Dryathlon I wasn’t missing alcohol. It was nice waking up without a hangover, and the social requirement of drinking beer disappeared. I’m curious to know how long I could go. Admittedly I’m probably will be drinking soon, probably by the time you read this, but as somebody who feels like I’ve never achieved anything, this has been a nice thing to achieve.

You can donate to my Dryathlon here.

Dryathlong Way Gone and Lifestyle Changes

 

to-do

Behold my to-do list. It’s been one of my constants on how to manage things in my life. Whilst Remember the Milk doesn’t have a fancy API (which displeases me so), it is one piece of software I pay for regularly.

Anyway, you may notice some things on my to-do list. including my monthly reminder to watch Hal Robson-Kanu’s goal against Belgium. One thing you don’t notice is one task – go to the gym.

On 1st July of last year I contemplated a lifestyle change. Basically lifestyle changes are more successful than diets in my eyes as, whilst more permanent – they are often smaller. They sound scary, but are actually minor. A diet means don’t you eat chocolate. A lifestyle change means you don’t eat chocolate on Wednesday.

Which one are you more likely to stick to, and which one seems easier?

So my lifestyle change was to aim to go to the gym at least once every 3 days. I love swimming, so my gym is usually going for a swim for half an hour to 45 minutes. I switched to the gym near work. And if it’s lovely weather my exercise is a brisk 3 mile walk home.

In short, I had planned to write this blog post in July, celebrating one year of hitting the gym. But I was behind. Going to Wrestlemania, seeing Wales in The Euros and my brother’s wedding does that to you. But as of the 15th September, I’ve caught up. I’ve now been to the gym at least once every 3 days.

I don’t know if this has got anything to do with my Dryathlon, but I know I’m not skipping the gym to go to the pub now. Even post September, it’s something I really want to continue.

Doing Dryathlon

So here’s the thing: the amount of booze I drink has dropped fairly significantly. Sure, there are still times that I have a drink or 6, occasionally showing up to work with a sore head, but since turning 30 the amount I regularly drink has dropped considerably. I also quite like sober me – he’s funny, with more energy and generally a more pleasant person to be around.

However, August was a heavy month for me, with stag does and weddings drinking everything from a cheeky ale after work to Polish Vodka. Now we hit September I’m looking for a change of lifestyle, maybe taking it easy for a bit.

As such, I’ve signed up to do September’s Dryathlon.

Fun fact: I actually did something similar last year, managing 13 days in October. Then Wales selfishly qualified for the Euros and I ended up celebrating with far too much alcohol on a Tuesday night. I even went on a date sober and everything. However beyond said date (who was confused as to why I was drinking coke in one of Chorlton’s finest real ale bars), nobody knew.

I hope that by publicly announcing it on here I’m able to actually complete the month. Whilst September doesn’t look too dreadful in terms of things on, there are a few things that would see me tempted to drink: Wales qualifiers for the World Cup, the obvious “just one” after work and – the big one – Chapter 36 of PROGRESS Wrestling. I’ll just have to channel my inner Jim Smallman for the last one.

Nevertheless, these sorts of things you don’t do just for yourself, as the chances are nobody will care. This dryathlon is for Cancer Research UK, so the hope is I can raise a some cash. I’ve set a modest goal. If you want to donate you can do so here, alternatively I’d be delighted if you share this post.

Donate to my Dryathlon Challenge

Thank you!