Making my first hat – update: it’s finished!

For anyone who has read this blog before, you’ll know that I like my hats and have started to make my own. I finally finished it the other night and thought I’d share some pictures of it for you all to see.

At the end of my last post I had the basic shape of the hat and had sewn in the leather sweatband, and since then I have fitted the lining, sewn on the ribbon and shaped the hat by hand. I have to say that I’m really impressed with how it turned out and for less than £30 I have a fur felt hat that I can wear with my new suit.

What do you think? Do I have a future as a hatter?

(Sorry I forgot to take pictures of the inside of the hat.)





How to help with jet lag

After a recent trip to the US for work I struggled with jet lag for the first time. I’m normally ok when it comes to acclimatising to a different time zone and I don’t quite know what happened this time, maybe I’m getting old or didn’t prepare properly, but I do know that I don’t want to go through that again.

For those of you that are travelling long haul and don’t want to suffer like I did, here are some handy tips to help with jet lag:

Before travelling

Sleep more – try to get as much rest as possible before your journey as it will help your body to acclimatise to the new time zone quicker.

Change your routine – in the days before you travel try changing your routine to better suit the time zone you are travelling to, and during the flight eat and sleep according to the local time at your destination.

During travelling

Keep yourself hydrated – keeping yourself hydrated can stave off the effects of jet lag especially during a long flight.

Sleep on the plane – most long haul flight provide a variety of sleeping aids for travellers including ear plugs and eye masks, use these to get as much sleep as you can during your journey.

At your destination

Sleep – try to get as much sleep as you would at home, this will help you adapt to the new time zone. Try to sleep for a minimum of four hour during the night and top it off by taking naps during the day if needed.

Get out in the daylight – the light and dark cycle of your destination are important for acclimatising to your new time zone. Try to get out and about during the day and sleep during the night, this is the most effective way to help with jet lag.

For short trips

For short trips which are less than four days, it may be more beneficial to stay on your local time as opposed to changing to your destination time. This will minimise disruption to your internal body clock.

I hope these tips help, I’ll definitely be trying some of these on my next trip to the US.

planePicture: Kuster & Wildhaber Photography

Cycling in the South of France

It’s something that me and Jane have wanted to do for a while now, so we’ve decided to take a cycling holiday in the South of France. This seven day tour will take us from L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, through Oranges, St Victor and Uzes, onto Tarascon.

The tour includes bikes and helmets if required, although I wouldn’t mind taking our own bikes as we’re used to them. 3 star and 4 star accommodation along the route and gourmet meals and drinks are also included; they will also deliver all of your luggage to the hotels on each day and there is also free entry to attractions and historical sites along the route.

Some of the attractions along the way include the Roman Theatre in Oranges, Pont du Gard World Heritage Site, Flamingos in the Canargue and wine tasting at Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The tour starts on the 14th September from Avignon, and flights are included in the tour price with Ryanair which flies from Liverpool to Nimes, only a short transfer from Avignon. You could also choose to ride on TVG train, but it’s a long way and takes a lot longer than the 2 hour flight.

The only thing is that if we wanted to take our own bikes, Ryanair will charge us £120 for each bike, but I have found a specialist courier called SendMyBag that would pick up our bikes at home and deliver them to our destination from just £30 each. Although we don’t actually need to take our own bikes it would be nice to know that we could take them if we wanted to.

The tour costs £900 each including everything from meals to accommodation which is a bargain any way you look at it and it would be nice to stretch my legs out and see somewhere new at the same time.

Cycle Route

Kinect-less Xbox One coming in June

It was bound to happen at some point, I just didn’t think it would be this quick. Microsoft have announced that it will be adding a new line-up of Xbox One consoles to its range that do not include the Kinect motion sensor.

The Kinect-less Xbox One console will start at £349 in the UK ($399 in the US) and will be available from the 9th June. This will bring Microsoft’s new console in line with its main competitor, the PlayStation 4 which is also priced £349. Microsoft state that you will be able to buy the Kinect motion sensor separately and it will be released in the winter.

In other news, Microsoft also announced that popular entertainment apps such as twitch, Netflix and Skype will no longer need Xbox Live Gold membership and will be available to use on every Xbox 360 and Xbox One system.

The tech giant also announced that Games for Gold is coming to the Xbox One in June too. The first two games available for free will be Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault. It also announced Deals with Gold offering discounts of up to 75% on certain titles. June’s offers will include Forza Motorsport 5 and Ryse: Son of Rome.

This is great news for Xbox One owners and those thinking of buying the system, although I would like to see continued support for the Kinect sensor as I do think it has lots to offer gamers as a product. I am however looking forward to playing Max: The Curse of Brotherhood as I’ve heard some good things about it and might even pick up Ryse: Son of Rome if it’s cheap enough.

Xbox One Without Kinect

It’s been a while!

It’s been a while, but now I’m back after being away with work for a couple of weeks. As you can imagine, not much has happened with my hat since I’ve been away, but I have managed to trim the brim to size and sew up the leather sweatband (by hand).

I’m waiting on some ribbon to be delivered from the US and am currently figuring out how I will sew the lining of the hat.

In other news, I’m happy to see Manchester United back to winning ways after beating Hull City 3-1 last night. It was nice to see some of the youngsters get a chance to play and I’m happy for James Wilson, who scored twice on his debut.

Caretaker manager Ryan Giggs told fans after the game during the managers address that success would return to the club sooner rather than later, but stopped short of clarifying his United future. Hopefully Giggs will be a part of the United setup next season but only he and the board know.

Making my first hat – Part 1

Last month I had an idea of making my own hats, and here’s how far I’ve got so far. I tried making a hat block with an old hat and some expandable foam like in the video in my last hat post, but it didn’t work out. The foam pushed the hat shape out and I ended up with a sphere shaped foam ball.

Not deterred I hit eBay to see if there were any suitable hat blocks in my size. Luckily there was one and using my Snip software I bagged it for just £26, bargain! I then set out to get some supplies including a fur felt hood, leather sweatband, lining and ribbon, all of which came to less than £30.

Hat 1

Process of making my hat

Because I don’t have access to an expensive steamer I decided to use a large pot and upside down sieve to steam the felt hood ready for stretching, see pic below.

Hat 2

After the felt has been steamed it’s time to stretch it over the hat block. This is relatively easy as the felt is supple after being steamed and the felt is held in place with a piece on string at the base.

Hat 3

I will leave this to fully dry (at least 24 hours) then iron the brim out so that it’s flat and can be cut to size.

I will be posting my full process so keep an eye out for future parts.

Wedding plans are in full swing!

As you will know if you read this blog regularly, I popped the big question to Jane a few months ago and we’re getting married next summer. We’ve been visiting venues and scouring the internet for ideas, but when you utter the word ‘Wedding’ prices seem to skyrocket.

We went to a stately home near where we live at the weekend to enquire about hiring one of their fields for our wedding party. The woman was really nice and gave us a short tour before telling us that it would be £5,500 to hire the field! It gets worse, some of the venues that we’ve looked at are quoting £10,000 – £13,000 just for the wedding party.

Seen as prices are a bit on the extreme side we have been thinking about getting married abroad and in particular Las Vegas. I know it sounds a bit corny, but if we get married in Vegas we can then fly out to LA or San Francisco for our honeymoon and the prices (including flights and hotels) are looking a lot more affordable.

There are still a lot of options to look at before we decide completely, but I think a wedding in a different country would be a great idea.


Vegas Baby! (Maybe)

Do you take UK food abroad?

I came across a funny news article earlier saying that 62% of Brits take UK food with them when they go abroad. I’ve never taken any food abroad with me because I like to eat foreign cuisine, but I do have a friend that takes HP sauce with him on his travels because he loves it so much.

The top five foods that Brits take on holidays were; baked beans, chocolate, bread, sweets and condiments. I can maybe see the chocolate and condiment ones because it does vary depending where you go and people do have their favourites, but I can’t understand the others. Baked Beans taste the same wherever you are, you can buy sweets anywhere and bread will go off really quickly in a hot country not to mention the fact that it will get crushed in your luggage.

All this talk of holidays reminds me that we should start looking to see where we want to go this year. Wherever it is you can count on me eating only the freshest foreign cuisine.

Heinz BeanzPicture: Michael

Video games consoles – which ones did you own?

I came across a video today on TIME Magazines technology website (I’ll post it below) about the history of video game consoles and boy does it make me feel old.

Having been an avid gamer for the best part of 25 years I remember my first games console, the Atari 2600 which was given to me by my cousin when he didn’t play it anymore. I had 3 games with it, Space Invaders, Pac-Man and The Smurfs and played it most nights (after I’d done my homework of course).

The first console that was actually bought for me was the Sega Mega Drive and I loved that thing. Sonic, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, oh the memories. I was however gutted when I saw my friends Super Nintendo and saw Mario for the first time.

I then owned a Sega Game Gear as I liked to game on the move and partly because I wanted to show off to my brother as he had a Gameboy. I also owned the original Sony PlayStation, which for me really pushed the graphics to the next level and actually took a disc instead of a cartridge.

From there I’ve been Microsoft all the way owning the original Xbox, Xbox 360 and now the Xbox One. It’s amazing how for the technology has come over the years, but it does make me feel old.

Here is the video:


What games consoles did you own?

Would I suit a handlebar moustache? Time to find out

I’ve been in pursuit of a facial hair style that suits me for many years, I’ve tried a full beard, a goatee and even the horseshoe, but now it’s time to really go for it and try out the handlebar moustache.

I’ve been growing my moustache for the best part of a month, as I’ve read that the best way of growing one is to not trim it at all, and now it’s time to start styling it.

I received my Bounders Moustache Wax and Kent Moustache Comb in the post this morning and quickly hid it in my desk drawer so no-one at work saw, I’ll try out some styles over the weekend and if it doesn’t work out I’ll deny any knowledge of it and delete this post, lol :-)

Wish me luck!

Can I pull it off?

Can I pull it off?