Simply Shaving

Just before we left the UK, I was frustrated by the fact I could hardly ever get a good shave. I was using a ridiculous Gillette Mach 3 multi-blade razor and some evil concoction as a shaving gel. Not long before Gillette had brought out the Fusion razor, with even more blades. I was very tempted by this, as I still wanted that better shave.

The Mach 3 was indeed the best razor that I had ever used, handily thrashing all my previous wet shave gear. Electric razors were useless on my stubble, and were long ago given up on. I dread to think how much I had spent trying to find a shaving system that worked. Unfortunately, the Mach 3 was far from perfect. If I shaved every day, I got nasty razor burn. The blades lasted only a couple of weeks at the outside, and cost a fortune. My stubble would block the tiny gap between the blades, which I would then need to use a nail brush to clear (blunting the blades even faster), and quite often I still would have a prickly short stubble remaining. So, would the newer, improved, even more bladed, even more expensive system take me that extra few percent and get me that perfect shave?

It was the idea of switching yet again, and the feeling that I wouldn't get enough of an improvement to justify the cost that got me looking at alternatives. And, in one of the first examples of a theme which I seem to be repeating in several different parts of my life, I discovered that going back to a simpler and older approach may be the solution.

The alternative I thought I'd try was going back to single blade shaving, was a double-edged blade safety razor. The initial investment was quite steep, as the razor handles are now quite expensive (the demand being a lot lower these days leads to the cost going up). The whole kit, a Merkur stainless steel razor, a sampler set of different blades, a badger hair shaving brush and a tub of shaving cream set me back around £150. Enough that I would give it a solid try, and not give up during the tricky learning period.

Looking back on my first attempt to shave is so funny. I was actually shaking with nerves as I lay the very sharp mildly guarded blade against my skin. It seemed that I only had to hold the handle wrong by a couple of millimetres and I would cut myself, and in those early days I couldn't shave at all without several nasty nicks. I would come out of the bathroom with several patches of toilet tissue glued onto my skin with blood. Sometimes it was take an hour for the bleeding to stop enough that I no longer needed any tissue to stem the flow. Also, I would have patches of barely shaven stubble amongst areas that were as smooth as a babies skin. A useful resource that I found at this time was Mantic59's Blog

I stuck with it, and in only a couple of weeks had a reasonable shave and a passable nick rate with only a couple of nicks per shave which could usually be stemmed in 10 minutes or less. At this point, I think the shaves were better than those I got with the Mach 3, the razor burn was gone and the number of cuts were low enough to not be an issue. I decided to stick with it. Not a major success, but good enough. An interesting negative point is the amount of mess. Having to really soak the face, build up lather on it with a brush, etc, causes quite a bit of soapy water to be getting around and a full size bathroom sink is a necessity. When we first arrived here in Australia, the temporary house we had used those tiny space saver bathroom sinks, and it was impossible. I would end up soaking the bathroom floor.

Over the months I have changed a couple of things. I now use shaving soap. The water we have where we live works well with the soap, and I get a nice lather from it. I also have a bottle of styptic lotion, which stems the odd tiny nick I get instantly - no more patches of toilet tissue to forget about and leave stuck to my face when I go to work!

The final result, over a year on is that I can shave in less than 10 minutes, with only infrequent tiny nicks, I get a better shave than I got on any previous system and the running costs are tiny (10p a week in blades, a £20 block of shaving soap looks like it will last a year). May be these new fangled gizmos are not as good as what our grandparents had, eh?

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Driving, Running, Cars and other things

Hi everyone!

We made the year, and spent our Ozzie Anniversary joining a bunch of friends down the local tavern and having a yummy $10 steak - classic.

The latest headlines are:

  • Tiff PASSED her test! She made it seem a piece of cake by only being out for about 20 minutes and passing first time. She managed to keep confident and our biggest worry for her (her exam nerves) was unfounded. She has been out pretty much non-stop since then experiencing her freedom!

  • James has started his second term of Tiger Tennis, and is coming along nicely. We hope he'll enjoy playing for some time to come.

  • Alison is starting work at the local primary school tomorrow. It's just a few hours a week, but gets her some of her own spending money. She is still working hard on her remedial massage course, and it won't be long now before she gets her Certificate. On to the Diploma next.

  • We are finding the winter quite cold. It may seem a bit odd if you look up the weather. 20+ degrees in the middle of the day, only 1-2 degrees colder than some of the warmest summer days in the UK this year. BUT the nights are much colder, getting down to freezing on some nights; the houses are not built for the cold; and we are spoilt by the really hot weather. Brrrr!

  • We are both running regularly now. Both Alison and I beat our personal bests in the Gold Coast 10K race. I beat mine by 5 minutes and Alison beat hers by 4 minutes. Oz must be doing something good for us. We have another race on Sunday, this time in the Brisbane Running Festival.

  • The guests are still coming. Currently, we have Alex (Tiffs friend from the UK), and in a month we'll be seeing Alison's mum and dad.


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Nearly a year

I have had a reminder on my to-do list since 3rd March to write this.  It has been in my face for nearly three months!  2 months ago I started writing it, with the obvious title of "9 months" and opened with some remark about it not being a baby - and then never got back to it.
Why haven't I been blogging?  I can think of two reasons.  Firstly, I didn't feel comfortable with posting an entry that was merely a pile of isn't life wonderful down under, we're fantastically happy, best thing we ever did, blah, blah, blah.  Why would the few people that are following me want to hear all that sugar coated crap?  The problem is, we are probably still in the honeymoon period of our life in Australia, and when I sit down to write - that is how everything comes out. Then I look at it, and don't post it.
The second reason I don't post is because life IS so wonderful, so I am not sitting around a keyboard all weekend, so my opportunities to write are a lot less that before.  I am more likely to catch up on reading, or watch some TV when I'm relaxing in the evening.
I am looking at my aborted draft post of two months ago - and it contains a wealth of newsy items, all of which I would love to update you on.  So, I'm just going to list them, headline style!
  • Tiff has done her 100 hours of learner driving, and is applying for her test - watch out south-east Queensland!
  • I have a permanent job
  • Ali is munching her way through her therapeutic massage course, and is building a round of customers to get her practical hours logged
  • My diet is progressing nicely with the occasional off day (like yesterday)
  • I'm running again - at a pace similar to where I was before that half marathon so long ago.
  • We had a nice toasty summer, not too hot - the locals say it was a pretty cool one
  • We won the quiz night down the golf club in December, and came last in March!
  • I finally installed the surround sound system, 7 months after moving in. Procrastination rules!
Yesterday, we spent the day showing a friend from the UK around the city.  Today, we are off to the formal opening of a new park thats within a mile of where we live.
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Diet update

Living in the land of the BBQ is very handy for eating a diet that is heavily meat biased, so it is getting a bit of a heavy work out.  We even invited a few friends around for breakfast last week for bacon, egg, sausages and mushrooms done on the Barbie.  We did get in some baked beans and bread for the guests, though. 
Monday, Wednesday and Friday I am doing body-weight circuits of push-ups, pull-ups, squats, inverted shoulder press and plank.  Tuesday and Thursday I do kettle bell swings and on Saturday I do a set of sprints.  Most days I try and walk outside at lunch times, and get around 2.5kms of walking at a reasonable pace done.
This week coming, I will be starting swimming again (with the session replacing one of my walks). with a few guys from the office.
Since I have started, I have lost 15kg. This is one of my minor milestones, at 90kg, with my first major milestone of 85kg approaching fast.  At that weight I will be a BMI of 30, so technically still quite overweight.  Interestingly, though, my body fat percentage has come down from 30% to 23%, and if I carry on at the current rate it should get to 19% around that milestone.  19% body fat is considered to be at the upper end of healthy, which sort of contradicts the BMI?!?
The best results are in the way I feel.  I am feeling fitter than I did back when I ran that half marathon, and I feel so positive about my health in the future.  This is a life style I hope to be able to follow long term.
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Wet wet wet

As I write this, on holiday, I am basking in the glorious sunshine at Adelaide, South Australia which is a thousand miles away from where we live.  But, with the news reports highlighting the terrible flooding in Queensland, I have received a few emails from friends and relatives concerned that we are OK.
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The rain has been heavy and almost every day for several weeks.  Some days the rain has been heavier than we'd ever seen before, and going on for hours on end.  As has been widely reported, towns up and and the state have been flooded, roads have been closed and airports shut down.  Food is running out in supermarkets.
So far, we've escaped all but the most minor inconvenience - the rain has been annoying and the supermarkets have had the odd item out of stock due to delayed deliveries.  We have heard of problems at nearby Ipswich, where the Bremer river is 12.7m above normal and bridges are impassible.  Suburbs that we know of are now receiving flood warnings, so it is starting to get too close for comfort.
The weather forecast is improving towards the end of this week, but I imagine it'll take a while for the rain to work it's way through the system.

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