Hi everyone  and welcome to this weeks blog post. This week I will be discussing my night out on the Darlington Gay scene, the end of the Global Corporate Challenge, autumn, Great North Million Opening Ceremony and Scottish Independence vote. So as it looks like it is going to be a busy blog post I will get started.

I have had a week off work this week and it has been nice to have the chance to rest and relax. Overall it has been a nice week although I have had some bad family news at the weekend. However I am going to talk about what I have been up to this week and what has been on my mind. The main aim of the week was to rest and catch up on things that I have put off doing for a bit. It has been just what I have needed and I will have to think about when I’m next off.

It is now September and this is my favourite time of year. I love seeing the start of autumn. The leaves are turning to reds, browns and golden yellows and the nights are starting to get a little bit longer. It is the start of a new season and I have been out and bought new jumpers and a new coat all ready for the autumn/winter weather to arrive. It is this time of year when schools go back and I have never lost that exciting feeling and I have the urge to buy new stationary especially a pencil-case but so far I have resisted. Instead I am going to get on and do some reading. I have neglected my books for a while and this is the best time of year to get into a good book. Another sign that autumn has arrived is the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. This is without doubt my favourite drink that Starbucks do and I first had it in Florida 9 years ago. It took a while to arrive in the UK but for the last 3 years it has been on sale in the autumn in Starbucks. It is without doubt autumn in a mug.

As I was off this week I decided to make the most of it and go out on Monday Night. For those of you who don’t know the significance of a monday Night out in Darlington it is ‘Gay Night’. As it is on school night I haven’t been for a long time because I usually have work the next day. I am not sure when the last time was that I went out on a Monday night but it is possible that it was 2-3 years ago. So I am well out of the loop when it comes to the Darlington Gay scene. I remember thinking the last time I went that I was too old and had missed my time and maybe that is part of why I haven’t been out since. It was an OK night this week but it could have been better. It seemed different from the last time and I felt really out-of-place which is odd to say as it is my home town. I suppose I was comparing it with Durham Pride which was a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere and I felt more comfortable at Durham Pride than I did on my night out in Darlington this week. I didn’t stay out too late partly because I was feeling a bit out of place. Maybe I should have stuck at it a bit longer I don’t know. At least I made an effort and went out. Whether I do it again I don’t know. I know I need to get out more and meet new people and this is one way to do that so maybe I should try again and give it another go.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have been trying to get fitter and this has meant I have been trying to be more active and eating healthier. It has certainly been working as I have lost weight (nearly 2 stone, still have some weight to lose but I no longer need to have checks at the doctors) One of the things that has helped motivate me with this healthy living is the Global Corporate Challenge that I have been taking part in for 100 days through my work. I signed up to the challenge before being told by the nurse I was obese and had to lose weight. Once I had been told this I realised how important the challenge would be to help get me started and it has. This week the challenge finished and I have certainly come along way since the start. On Day 1 my initial step average was 8,750 angccd by the end of the challenge it was 15,322. In total I did 1,532,219 steps (includes swimming) in 100 days which is a total distance of 981 km. I had pedometer with me all the time and got steps on my commute to and from work, rehearsals for The Tempest, Darlington Community Carnival and any other opportunity that came along. When I started the challenge I didn’t know what to expect from it but I soon found it took over my life. I kept checking my pedometer and thinking of ways to get those extra steps in. I was doing it along with 6 other colleagues from work and although it was a team effort we all became a little bit competitive which helped drive us on individually. Overall the challenge was a great experience and I am pleased to have taken part in it. The good points about the challenge were it helped me lose weight, I also used it as an opportunity to discover new parts of Durham and my place of work. The downside was that I found I was doing the walking/swimming on my own. I think because I saw it as a personal challenge I did it largely on my own instead of involving others from the team and this was a missed opportunity. I also felt I didn’t get much chance to sit and talk with other colleagues as I was out getting my steps at break and lunch times instead of sitting with them. Although this helped with my step count and fitness it didn’t help with my mental wellbeing. Now the challenge is over I have to admit to feeling a bit relieved as I don’t have that pressure of having to keep doing lots of steps each day because I was worried about others over taking me. I will of course continue to be more active but without the pressure that I have had. As I said I still have some weight to lose so I do need to keep going with it all but don’t worry I won;t be making my own fitness DVD just yet.

The last day of the Global Corporate Challenge was Thursday so it was very fitting that I spent my last night of the challenge on Newcastle Quayside with 20,000 people to celebrate the Great North Million  Opening Ceremony. Because I did the Great North Run 3 years ago I was eligible to apply for a free ticket to celebrate the millionth runner taking part in the Great North Run. I applied and by some chance I got a free ticket so I went along to the show on Thursday night. If I am honest when I applied for the ticket I wasn’t expecting much but in recent weeks it did become clear to me this was going to be a big night and one-off and oh boy was it a big night. Great North Million Opening CeremonyIt was a night not just to celebrate the Great North Run but also to celebrate the North East of England. The night was made up of a great story with fireworks and spectacular light shows and beautiful projections onto the Sage Gateshead. There was also live music throughout the show. At the start Mark Knopfler kicked things off with his hit ‘Going Home’ which is the theme to the Great North Run. I have to admit standing on the quayside listening to this iconic piece of music plain made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. There was also music from Sting & Jimmy Nail, the Unthanks and Chase and Status. It was an incredible night and one I won’t probably experience again. just like the actual race it brought people together. On the train home you could tell who had been to the event because of the space blankets we had all been given and we were all just talking to each other. Total strangers but brought together to share a unique experience. It really made me think about doing the race again. I did say I would never do it again but now I know I will apply to do it again. Whether that is next year or the year after I don’t know but I hope to relive the magic of the race again.

Finally this week I want to talk about my feelings regarding the referendum in Scotland over independence as the vote is happening a week on Thursday. Because I’m not Scottish I don’t have a vote and my opinion probably doesn’t matter but I have one so here it is. The people of Scotland have a huge decision to make as whatever the outcome it will affect the people of Scotland for years to come.  I am from the North East of England and I closer to Edinburgh than I am London so I do care about what will happen in the vote even though I don’t get a say. If Scotland became independent then the North East of England would have a land border for the first time in centuries and that would be an odd experience . To think about it would the North East still be the North East. I personally believe we are better together it’s not that I am against change or the idea of Scotland getting more power and influence over decisions in Scotland but that is what devolution was for. Scotland is a strong country and I’m sure it would do OK as an independent country but it would do better as part of the United Kingdom. Each of the home nations are strong countries but we are all better together. If the vote was for England I would vote no as we are better as a United Kingdom. Don’t be fooled in thinking the whole of Scotland would benefit from independence. Yes power would transfer from Westminster to Edinburgh and maybe some other places will benefit such as Glasgow and Aberdeen but the Northern parts of Scotland will probably be just as isolated from decision-making and benefits as they are now. I am not a fan of Alex Salmond I admit but fair play to him for fighting for independence. However Scotland remember he isn’t Braveheart and he is a businessman and I am not convinced that he is fighting for independence for all the right reasons. At least he is fighting though, I am ashamed at the lack of fight from the UK Government to save the Union. Even the Secretary of State for Scotland isn’t fighting for it and says if there is a yes vote he will quit Westminster and work in the Scottish Government. Surely it is his job to fight for the Union and not planning his future career. The entire Cabinet should be out getting support for the No vote. They all had a summer break thinking it won’t happen and in that time the Yes campaign have fought on and could do it. Alastair Darling has done his best to fight the Better Together campaign but now it is time for the UK Government to focus on saving the Union. Does David Cameron and Nick Clegg want to be known in  history for sitting back and letting the Union that has stood for centuries break up. To any Scottish readers of my blog I know you will make your own mind up and i hope you go and vote whatever way you wish, personally I hope you vote no but I as I said I don’t have a say and whatever you decide I hope it is done for the right decision.

Well that is for this week. thank you for taking the time to read it. Also thank you to anyone who has left comments about my blog. It is lovely to hear from other readers. I would especially like to know what special blog posts you would like me to do. I do my weekly post but I do like to try to have at least one special post each month in addition to the weekly blog post. any suggestions are welcome either on Facebook or Twitter or as comment below.


Top Programme of the Week – Great British Bake Off

Top Song of the Week – Mark Knopfler – Going Home

Book I Am Currently Reading – Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh