Week 22: Knit and Natter

Week 22, I was invited to Cheneys Lodge in Seaford, for a Knit and Natter session. Cheneys lodge is block of properties, ran by Sussex Housing and Care to help support senior residents.

The purpose of the session is to help the older residents make friends and interact, so they don’t feel lonely in their later life. I was invited by Rebecca who organises the sessions, and was told the lovely people would teach me to knit. She wasn’t wrong.

Needless to say, I have no knitting experience on my CV. I still require my mother to sew on the spare buttons on my shirts, yet alone knit a scarf. I can natter to be fair, so if in doubt I’ll talk my way out of trouble.

At this week’s session we had Diana, Rita, Sue, Ann, Pete, Rebecca and myself. Nice numbers, as it meant I could at least remember everyone’s name. Diana would be my teacher, a genuinely lovely lady. Armed with my orange wool and two needles I was ready to go. Though I had no idea what to do.

Diana would ‘cast on’ for me, and then proceed to show me what to do. “Through the hole, around, back through, off, repeat”. She showed me a good ten times, and it was one of those moments when I went “yeah, got you” then as soon as she gave me the needles it was like I hadn’t been watching her for the past five minutes. Fortunately, she was very patient (she needed to be) and kept talking me through it. “Through the hole, around, back through, off.”

Slow start
Slow start

Despite these simple instructions, I managed to mess it up a lot. Diana would repair the damage in seconds everytime. I did slowly get the hang of it, only with intense concentration however. I looked around the room, and the others were knitting all sorts of shapes with such ease. I can’t even begin to work out how you knit shapes a line was tough enough.

The nattering part was also fun, Diana asked why I had to do a challenge every week. I explained I didn’t have too (didn’t want her thinking I was on community service or anything like that) but that it was my new years resolution and explained some of the things I had done. She told me some of the things she had done… Sky dives, white water rafting, mountain expeditions, bungee jumping, she actually had done loads of cool things that I’d love to do.

So after an hour, what did I knit? A slug’s scarf. Big enough to keep any slug warm in the winter. Yeah I was terrible, but it’s harder than it looks. They told me I was good (being nice of course).. Fair play to all you knitters out there, this requires a bit of skill and patience, neither of which I’m blessed with!

My Slug Scarf
My Slug Scarf
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Week 21: Facial Massage

Straight away, I know what you’re thinking, massage… Outside my comfort zone? This definitely is. Those that know me, know I cannot stand my Adam’s apple being touched, or even be flirted with being touched. In fact, I get uncomfortable even writing about touching it. I’ve also never had a professional massage, which is something I’ve always been intrigued by.

I have to admit I found the whole process extraordinarily awkward. Walking into the spa, a place that’s awkward for any guy to walk into (though it probably shouldn’t be). I tried to make out that the booking was a present to the girls working there, that’s how awkward I had gotten.

Before the massage started, I was asked all sorts of questions about my skin, to which I had no idea on the answers. I’d never thought about if my skin is oily or dry before, and what my perfect skin would be. All the while, there was this strange soothing music in the background, to help you relax.

Massage

I took of my top, and went under the towel and waited for the lady to come back into the room. She then wrapped me up into the towel, so I was almost in a cocoon. Dimmed the lights down, and then began.

I shut my eyes, as she began and let her do her work. I have literally no idea what she put on my face, loads of different oils and creams, some warm, some cold. Occasionally, she put something on my eyes… I THINK this was cucumbers? That happens right? I didn’t want to ask. It was all fine and dandy whilst the oils were going on my face, and was actually bliss when she started giving a head massage. But she had to go the neck and touch the Adam’s apple. She wasn’t to know to be fair. I’d find myself almost cringing everytime she touched it. Fortunately, she ended up with the head massage once again, and I left in a relaxed state. (Almost fell asleep a couple of times).

Don't touch my Adam's Apple

After the massage, I got out of there as quick as possible. It was nice, but so weird. Not sure I’d do it again, and not sure I understand why people go regularly. Just a generally strange experience I thought. Mind you, my face did feel so soft for the rest of the day, and smelt incredible. Maybe that has something to do with it?

Week 20: ‘Disability Day’

Week 20 of my comfort zone challenge – The Sussex Cricket in the Community Disability Day. A day designed get disabled groups, whether it be mentally, physically or emotionally, active and having fun, through the use of cricket. Disabled groups are invited from all over Sussex, to the home of Sussex Cricket, the BrightonandHoveJobs.com County Ground, to partake in many activities from throwing, batting, bowling, table cricket, deaf cricket and much more.

I volunteered to help out at the disability day, having shamefully, never done anything like this before. My role was to run one of the stations of activities. I was given the inflatable target throw… They simply throw the ball through the target, making it harder each time.

Disability Day

One of the full time coaches, before the event had started, gave me the advice “Just make sure you are enthusiastic” which turned out to be pretty good advice. Groups aged from young school children about 8 to 80 year olds. The reactions as I ran my station from each and every person varied, all making me smile in a different way, but three people in particular are worth mentioning:

Chaz – A young 11 year old child, in an electric wheel chair. Chaz instantly asked my name, and wanted to keep a tally of everyone’s score to see if they would beat his score of 5. Rather than wanting to win though, he was encouraging all the others in his group to beat him. Which I thought was really refreshing in what seems to be an ultra competitive world we live in! Chaz became my mate over the day, he supports Arsenal and his favourite player was Theo Walcott, he even taught me a new handshake/fist pump combination. To say goodbye, he said “If I don’t see you before, have a great half term”. What a nice kid.

Disability Day 3

Andrew – After being the best in his group at my target throw, he wanted to go even further back to see how far he would go. This sparked a competition with him and one of our coaches from across the other side of the hall. After a few attempts, Andrew managed to win this competition, and as it went into the hole, he ran at my full pace and gave me the biggest of high ten’s as we both celebrated like he had won the world cup. He could hardly contain his excitement as he kept walking around with a smile on his face, and occasionally high five-ing me again!

Chloe – Chloe, was a women with Downs Syndrome, who managed to throw it in the target from the hardest cone, despite her saying she’d never do it. After she did it, I gave her a big high five and told her that was brilliant. She then proceeded to blush and told me I was gorgeous. To my dismay, I found out later in the day, she had already asked out one of the coaches on a date three times!

Disability Day 2

There were plenty more stories, and plenty more characters. All the cliches came through, this really did remind me of how lucky I am and it really was rewarding. Selfishly, making these guys days was making my own. Furthermore, the bonds some of these people had with their carers was really heart warming, and did restore a lot of my faith in humanity. I felt extremely glad I had helped out in this event, and despite rain scares, it was a brilliantly organised event. I just felt bad that I hadn’t ever helped out in anything like this before! I’d strongly recommend this if you haven’t done anything like this before.

Disability Day 4

It just highlights some worlds that I’ve barely even considered over the years, and there are plenty of ways to help people on a small scale, this being an example of one. I’ll finish this post from a good quote from Winston Churchill “We making a living in life by what we get. We make a life by what we give”. A good one to live by I recon.

P.S If you want to see a high ten fail.. watch the Meridian news piece 28 seconds in! http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/update/2015-05-18/cricket-club-opens-its-practice-nets-to-the-disabled/ 

Week 19: Modelling

Before I start writing anything, I must say this weeks challenge was ‘Modelling’ in the loosest sense of the word. I think it was more a ‘take pictures of any Tom, Dick or Harry, that is up for wearing a ridiculous outfit.’ I happened to be that Tom. When referring to myself as a model through this, I’ll put it in inverted commas, as it would be an insult to all models in the world to label myself in the same category.

The opportunity came about via LinkedIn, as Kate was after amateur models (not sure I could even class myself as that). Not knowing what I was signing up for, Kate gave me a call to explain what I would be ‘modelling’ for. Wait for it. The Crazy Golf World Championships. Once I stopped laughing, I could hardly turn down such an opportunity.

I arrived to the ‘shoot’ 5 minutes late, to which Kate said to me “Tom, you’re such a rockstar” to welcome me. Believe me, what came about in the next 3 hours was not rockstar behaviour.

Dressed in ill-fitting golfers outfit from the 50’s, I would proceed to pose in some crazy positions around the 3 crazy golf courses. From the windmill, to the pirate boat, to the house, to even on the beach. Simon (the other ‘model’) and I, put on our best picture faces here, there and everywhere. Our photographer, put us in all sorts of poses, and as the morning went on, the poses started to become camper and camper! Maybe we just got too into it. At times I would be lying on the floor, at times crouched down and at times with my legs standing out, and doing my best to look over the top excited.

What have I signed up for here?
What have I signed up for here?

I’ll admit, there were absolutely times where I thought “I’ve gone too far this week”. Especially as the course was starting to get busy, and there were a few looks. All in the name of PR though. Besides, it was absolutely hilarious at times. If you can’t laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at?

One thing I completely under rated just how long it takes to get some good pictures. I thought it would be a 20 minute, take a couple of pictures, gig and shoot home. Three hours and hundreds of pictures later, I was quite relieved to be finished. Maybe it was more the ‘modelling’ that was the issue. It needed all that time to get the one picture they used.

Crazy Golf Modelling
It’s safe to say I won’t be the face of Calvin Klein anytime soon, but you’ll probably see my face in the local media promoting the World Crazy Golf Championships at Hastings Adventure Golf in the coming weeks. There’s a sentence I’d never thought I’d say.

NOTE: I’ll upload a few of the professional pictures once they have hit the media. I’m not allowed to leak them early!