ThatIsBeyond… wobbling on a knife edge!

Perhaps, it’s just me.

It’s a constant worry.

I suspect I am not alone in my manly insecurities. It’s hard to tell, because let’s face it, blokes (in general) don’t talk about their feelings.

I have struggled with body image for a long time – not a struggle with an illness or a disorder, but instead a complete helplessness about my size, shape and general wobbliness.

The high street has battered me down, shopping trip after shopping trip, until I have forgotten what it’s like to look into a mirror and think… you look alright, Wayne.

Like many others, I detest how I look. Marathon training and a sharp eye for fashion haven’t helped one iota. Still my little pouch of belly fat, the fold of neck flab protruding awkwardly atop my work shirt collar, and moobs that cannot be perceived as pecs unless I’m wearing a T-shirt in winter, all obstruct my confidence and lead me to the family-sized bags of crisps!

It therefore, took me by surprise to discover that I had recently lost some weight. I was standing in front of the mirror in some @boxmenswear pants that arrived and I thought 💭

“D’you know what, Wayne my boy – there’s less of you than last time”.

This was especially disarming as I had made no effort whatsoever to lose weight. No diets, no gym sessions, no nothing! Now don’t get it twisted, David Gandy or some other modern Adonis was not staring back at me either. This is not a Segway into a sales pitch for a diet pill! It was just me, but I didn’t 100% hate the creature staring back at me.

Over the coming weeks I was preparing for a friend’s wedding and discovered I had dropped a good 3 inches from my waist. I forgot my work shirt and bought a replacement… my size no longer had 2 x’s in front of it (or one x for that matter).

My confidence had peaked and I thoroughly enjoyed the amazing wedding, feeling as great as the atmosphere in the room.

Feeling fabulous in a room full of fabulous people is not something I have ever experienced!

A few days later (having recovered from a partial hangover) I decided to go through some of the pics that had been taken by me and some of my friends…

Hang on a minute… I was fat again!

I hated how I looked in almost all of them. My friends all looked like ballers. Trim figures, smiles on show and this beautiful glow around them. But I was just a stomach.

I am so angry with my own mind. Why can’t I look back at this incredible day and not be so self – obsessed – self-loathing is such an insular way to feel.

I choose to say “not this time”.

I am training my brain to accept how I look and also embrace that what I think are imperfections, could be part of what makes me… well, ME.

How funny that in the mirror I felt like a million dollars, but a couple of pictures have sent me wobbling on a knife-edge. I try not to judge other people, but perhaps it’s time I offered myself the same courtesy.

Perhaps, it’s just me.

But as RUPaUL says:

If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else… Can I get an amen up in here? 🙏

ThatIsBeyond… This dad’s swimming trunk dilemma!

Sometimes there is a cataclysmic event that leads you to believe the world is working in some unbelievable and mysterious way. But other times the merest hint of coincidence can click days later! Today’s post is about the latter…

Recently I decided that it was about time that I took my little boy for his first swim at the local leisure centre, and as with most things I avoided the high chance of procrastination by packing the night before (because if your bag is packed, you may as well go!)

All of the essentials were folded neatly into a gym bag that was a long time retired from use. Swim nappies and trunks, towels, my favoured Korres shampoo, spare pants, a comb, some change for the locker (it used to be 20p and now is a pound…I guess that’s inflation for you) and of course my David Gandy swim shorts in a classic Navy blue. It was all placed carefully in the bag ready for our momentous trip awaiting the addition of my phone and car keys the next morning.

We arrive at the local leisure centre, pay the toll and make our way to the family changing room. It is there that the screaming begins.

My son Toby decides that under no circumstances is he going to stay in this damp, echoey, poorly lit cubicle and worse than that “Evil Daddy” is trying to take his socks off (which is perhaps the worst thing that could possibly happen, evidently…)

Getting him ready to swim took a lot of effort, something akin to removing a Klingon from the starboard bow, I imagine. Every piece of clothing had to traverse his resistance whilst he attaches himself to me with a vicelike grip. Thank god for a mini seat with straps that meant that when I had finally got him ready he was held secure long enough for me to change into my designer trunks.

I have reviewed David Gandy’s range of swimwear on a couple of occasions:

David Gandy Swimwear

I stand by my opinion that they are great. I feel good in them, excellent quality and of course the fit is impeccable… at least it was.

Since the arrival of my darling boy, I have not had a holiday anywhere where a jumper was not necessary, let alone where I am out in public in a relatively small piece of fabric! So when in my haste to get the boy ready, I pulled up the shorts to discover that they had gone on rather too easily! I tightened the handy side toggle which tightened the waist to its smallest circumference and still there was massive risk of a permanant builders bum!

It dawned on me that I had two options. Remove the oversized trunks Re-dress, take the chance of riling my son again and getting him dressed back into his clothes and speed off home forgetting that this had ever happened, OR I could hold him with one arm, my trunks with the other and dive right in… figuratively speaking.

So that is what I did. I figured if I had got this far I might as well continue, (and I wanted to avoid any more grabbing of my neck-fat by my fantastic son!) It was fine. We struggled through the visit and the next day I was elated to hear my two year old say “I like the swimming pool, Daddy.”

I was aimlessly surfing the world of Instagram a few days later, and saw some sunny pics of couples soaking up the rays on the beach, when it dawned on me … I was too skinny for swimming trunks I wore two years ago.

Between work, Dadsponsibilities, Buying a house and life in general I had somehow managed to drop a full waist size!

Coincidently, for the first time ever I will be searching for trunks in a size that doesn’t start with an X.

If I hadn’t packed my bag the night before I never would have gone to the pool, and I never would have put the trunks on, and probably not realised that I was looking like a teenager in low hanging denim! It’s not earth shaking for humanity, but a positive conicidence for me.

But what should I buy? What does a broad, far from David Gandy Sized guy, buy to swim in when he’s hardly a beach bod, but has miraculously managed to lose that X that had been weighing him down?

I have since been swimming again and took some shorts to wear instead … they went pretty much see-through, which is one look a person of any-size should avoid in a leisure centre!

If you can help with my swimwear woes, any suggestions are welcomed in my comments. Hit me up with you fave brands and what swimwear is hot this coming season.

Share and like this post, if this is your sort of thang!


ThatIsBeyond…Bobby Abley and some Loony Tunes!

Early in the new year @lqdlondon passed on an invite to the hotly anticipated showing of the new collection from Bobby Abley. I couldn’t have turned it down if I had wanted to!

The buzz of the show was audible upon entry to the home of London Fashion Week Men’s (LFWM) and the whose who of the industry were celebrating in style! The party atmosphere continued into the collection itself, which featured the bold brights and graphic checks that you would expect from Abley and a whimsical nod to the cartoons of our childhoods (presuming you are as old as I am!) and some voluminous texture that was out of this world.

A clever catwalk and incredible music meant that each outfit was viewed from several angles and the greyish space was the perfect backdrop for the potent bursts of colour that traversed the walkway. This collection is fun fun fun and on the most part, very wearable.

The checked trousers in vibrant yellows and oranges strolled down the catwalk with a breezy ease that could have easily have continued through the front doors and into the night.

The whimsy of the faux-fur Bugs Bunny overalls was brought down to earth with streetwear stylings and a bunny ear bandana.

The sweatshirt character faces, were fun but the over- sized, yet perfectly cut garments were far from child’s play, they were stylishly donned pieces of street/ sportswear that I guarantee we will be swing across the media in the coming months.

And finally THE beaded tracksuit in green that seemed to me to be a nod to the vibrancy of London Fashion Week – a fashion forward cut but on a basic tracksuit, that rose to the occasion with embellishments but somehow seems completely wearable.

Also a nod to the hats, throughout the show, that took the styling to another level.

Thanks Bobby – now to get my hands on the “Bugs Bunny Face” sweatshirt.

Off to put on my LQD face mask and take my skin to another level!


ThatIsBeyond… The only daddy at Playgroup.

I can’t believe that my little one is almost 2 years old! Time literally flies and he has gone from this…

To this, in what equates to the blink of the proverbial eye!

As you can imagine there have been a lot of trials and tribulations throughout my relatively short foray into the parenting world. From the time it took me to come to terms with my son’s birth, to the utter elation of the day he said Daddy for the first time, the ever increasing temperature he gets when he is ill to the endless tiredness that only parents can even conceive (I REALLY did not know it was possible to be THIS TIRED).

But above all of these things, I still have not mastered the navigation of adult talk at playgroup. This may seem like an odd thing to say, but every group I go to, I feel that I am missing out.

The big secret is that these groups are just as much for the parents as they are for the kids – a chance to chat over a hot beverage and a jammy dodger to someone who can relate to you without even an ounce of judgement. All of my friends and my wife swear by it:

“I couldn’t have got through this first year without the playgroup mums”

“Thank god for NCT, they are some of my best friends in the world”

And other such sentences are uttered every day – but for me, not so much. Being of a nervous disposition around new people, but a extrovert when on stage, its a combination that a) people don’t understand, and b) it’s confusing to live! Part of the reason my career never took off was that I found networking an impossible task. I would hug the walls and skirt the inane conversations with nods and silence.

Meeting new people is difficult because I have the personality type that needs a little time to grow on people. I am not a quick thinker, so if I am left with the task of “making conversation there are invariably difficult silences to navigate through, which raises my stress levels and makes me even more self-conscious.

I envy my confident friends and family – I wish I could change it.

So it’s not surprising that being the only Dad at playgroup can be a bit challenging, for me. After almost 2 years of attending various different groups, you would think that I would have got the knack for it by now, but I haven’t, I just sit in a Siberia of my own making.

As much as the majority of this is in my head, there is also some truth to why I feel the way that I do…

I am literally the ONLY Dad.

All of the mums have a shared experience of childbirth, and I represent the person RESPONSIBLE for it. That and the fact that I haven’t had to push a baby out of me (which is a fair point).

Mums think I am hitting on them.

I am not. If I approach them to start a conversation, you know like “how old’s your little one?” I must automatically be coming on to them, right? Why else would the only guy in the room want to speak to you?

Mums stay in cliques.

If it’s bad enough walking up to a lone mum, try joining a conversation circle – or if you are me, don’t!

I am at playgroup on a Wednesday morning, so I must be a jobless, useless,sorry excuse for a man

I am not. But I did negotiate each of my job contracts to include some regular time with my son.

I am not like the other dads that I know.

All of the dads that I know are cool, calm and confident. Good-looking men whom people seem to want to speak to. I wish it was a case of just being too hard on myself, but the reality is, all of my dad mates are genuinely nice, interesting people and it can be hard to compete.

I want to get more out of these experiences and have someone to talk to. Being a dad can be quite lonely sometimes and I would love to make more of it. I feel I get so little time with my son that I don’t want to spend 2 hours a week internally worrying about what that mum thinks of me.

I don’t dispute the struggles that all of the amazing mothers go through every day, but I know how alone it can feel to be a dad and the judgement that people can have of us. I am not unique in this. I am sure there are men and women who feel exactly the same. But if you are blessed to be one of those amazing confident parents, promise me you will try to include the loner sat on the floor playing dinosaurs with his son – he/she probably looks like they could do with a chat, and behind the nerves they could well be the best mate that you never had.


ThatIsBeyond… Braving the Night Tube!

These days I am not much of a socialiser. Gone are the days when I would be out "clubbing" in the deep of winter dressed in ripped jeans and a French Connection tee shirt, instead I am now found having a snooze on the sofa in front of episodes of Law and Order SVU or reruns of my favourite series White Collar.

The other day however, after a long day at work, I decided to meet a friend for some drinks after my late night finish. Other than work, I can't remember the last time I was out past 11pm! And so with this in mind, this was the first time I have ever used the NIGHT TUBE…

Before I continue on, I think it's important that I level with you. I have an issue with sickness. Actually, it's more than that, it's a phobia – a very real one that affects my life every single day. Just the mention of the work "Sick" can be enough to trigger physical reactions. My mouth becomes dry, I get tension in my neck, my stomach churns slowly and deliberately and then my mind kicks in and I start to see pale faced people, liquid droplets in the air and it all gets too much. Sometimes I run, I get out of there to fresh air or a bottle of water, other times I am stronger and can try my best to take control back. It can be debilitating but I can't let it win. So these days I  don't really go where drunk people will be. I have a quiet drink in a local pub and that's about it.

So enjoying the conversation and prosecco at my post work drinks, I didn't think much about my journey home. I knew I would get the night tube, but presumed it would be quiet… HOW WRONG I WAS!

When I approached the platform at Leicester Square, people were 3 deep on the platform and staggering around clutching half finished cans of Stella Artois or applying lipstick as though their makeup artist had travelled from Clown Town! Three people were seemingly passed out on the floor or asleep on the benches  and some very sleazy and questionable chat-up lines were being used by a group of chubby Essex boys with over waxed eyebrows and quiffs that made them seem half a foot taller! 

The bustle gets onto the next tube, and as I squeeze on I find one lone seat. There is a girl next to it, leant against the greasy glass, who had been one of the bench sleepers a moment before. I Sit. It's a bit loud but nothing too much to worry about, my anxiety is lowish at the moment. At Covent Garden the girl sits up all of a sudden, smiles broadly and then I see the colour drain from her face – one of her companions asks 

" U Ok?" 

She can't reply she just points to her mouth. My anxiety spikes and its uncontrollable… I bolt to the other end of the carriage and antibac my hands for good measure.

Next I find myself in close proximity to the group of "Lads" who are now taking it in turns to "chat up" an Aussie Lady whose responses are comedy gold, but all in good humour. We smile at each other whilst I stifle a  lol at one of the boys inviting her to "Mum and Dad's" but it was ok because his room was at at the opposite end of the corridor!

Next a young guy, who had been listening to gangsta rap on his headphones, realises this is his stop and bolts for the bleeping doorway. In doing so he forgets to "mind the gap" and plummets face first into a light green suitcase, which in turn topples its owner over like a domino rally!

A young girl who clambered over the suitcase and roadkill humans, makes her way into the door before it attempts to close again and begins to manically laugh… before we reach the next stop she vomits into the Selfridges bag that she is clutching and then cries because she realises she was sick on her purchase (who knows what she had bought!)

There was a tap-dancing preacher, 3 people wearing no shoes and a man plucking his eyebrows (travel will never get in the way of his skincare regime #goals). But beyond all the hubbub I hadn't given more than a cursory glance to the vomit… I realised with all the craziness that I had managed to stay put, in a carriage, knowing all the time that "Vom in a bag" was literally a few feet away! 

I'm not gonna lie, the night tube sucks! It's a lovely idea in theory but in practice it's just plain grubby. But I did it, I braved it – and whilst for most this is no challenge at all, for me I battle my phobia everyday, and by George am I proud of myself!


ThatIsBeyond… What’s a family day in the park without an ice lolly? #fruitfull

Weekends are about family. (well at least for us, they are!) We facetime Toby's Grandparents and catch up on all of the family gossip, we visit his cousins at the local park, and of course our little family sit down for a lovely meal together and catch each other up on our coming weeks.

Whilst on our Sunday jaunt, soaking up the 9am sunshine, climbing play equipment, shooting down slides and see-sawing with the best of them – it was time for a pit stop, and a bottle of water was not going to do it! As a lactose intolerant, an ice cream wasn't an option, so I presumed that I would have to have one of those sickly-sweet syrupy monstrosities, (not at all conducive to early morning eating!!) But then I saw a sign for a new type of "frozen fruit bar" called Fruitfull.

"Why can’t something taste great and be good for you without a lot of fat and calories? It CAN – if it’s a Fruitfull® bar — one of the healthy and delicious products offered by Happy & Healthy Products, Inc."
Firstly, they taste great! I had a brilliantly subtle and not too sweet Green Tea & Melon bar, which was full of natural flavour, and chunks of Melon along the way! My wife chose the Strawberry and cream (from the fruit AND dairy selection) and she said, and I quote "this is way better than a magnum". 

With 100% natural ingredients, you know exactly what is in the product and it doesn't taste artificial or filled with E numbers for your kids. In a world where we are constantly watching what ingredients are being eaten by our little ones, The fruitful frozen fruit bars, are a great alternative to mainstream products that are filled with preservatives, artificial colours and sugar!
They are also pretty good for you…in the standard fruit bars at least there is no cholesterol and no fat! But there IS great tasting fruit!
Fruitfull® Dairy-free Fruit bars come in 11 tasty flavours: Strawberry / Raspberry / Pineapple / Lime / Watermelon / Green Tea Melon / Fuzzy Navel / Tropical Splash / Passionate Cherry/ Lemon / Guava
Fruit & Dairy Bars – Luscious and lush with the taste of real cream – a real treat! 8 scrumptious flavours: Banana / Piña Colada / Strawberry Cream / Raspberry Cream / Mango / Peaches ‘n’ Cream / Coconut / Horchata
And the Fruitfull® Chocolate Yogurt Bar which has No fat & no cholesterol… remember!

So why not spruce up your summer time park days, with these delicious fruit bars? They are so good, your kids may never find out that they are good for them!

ThatIsBeyond…The Return of the Grooming Routine!

Throughout my hiatus from blogging, it has become clear that I have not been looking after myself as well as I should doI My once stringent grooming routine has fallen by the wayside to make way for… well more sleep!

Those with little ones at home, will know the affects that sleep deprivation has on the minds' of parents… and for me, in the end, something needed to give to make more time for more slumber – with work and parenting being non-negotiable I was left with a choice of beer or Skincare…so out went the skincare regime (and any extrenuous episodes of my favourite tv show – Law and Order SVU)!

It was only this past week that I realised how haggard and old I am beginning to look – with a slightly silver tinge to my dark hair and panda eyes a plenty, I needed to reach deep into the drawers of my grooming cabinet and see what life-savers there were hidden within it.

When considering a brand to explore, I initially thought of an "old faithful" Murdock of London, but I was running very low on these items, and with so many brands and products in storage, I thought it was time that I tried one of them instead of buying even more! My eyes were drawn to the simple packaging of a number of items from the male grooming subscription service Gruum.

Their no frills approach brings the brand's focus to the quality product inside the packaging, and their style has a contemporary Scandinavian feel which really lets the natural and organic ingredients shine through.

Their Oksa Razor handle and Oksu blades really impressed me when I reviewed them early in 2017. The massive convenience of a 'to your door service' was a lot to write home about. For my return to skincare I chose the five blade version and the silver handle (a classic combination) and got straight to tackling the thick hair growth engulfing my face.

The market leaders are not a patch on this super sleek razor and the five blades create a smooth and close shave with a minimum of effort.

Alongside this excellent razor (a single razor "head" is only £2.15 by the way!) I decided to give their shave gel Danne a whirl, and see what this product has to offer.
With an amazing combination of ingredients (Orange, Rosemary & Eucalyptus) this is a fragrant and effective shave gel that creates an excellent lather, even though it is Paraben, SLS & Sulphate free – which lets face it, is great news for our skin.

This is a natural product that feels excellent on the skin, and lubricates the blade across the surface meaning a smooth face and pain-free shave. 75ml is the bargain price of £4.00 and is available as a monthly, bimonthly or quarterly subscription (which also has an anytime cancellation policy). This is a top notch product from an amazing company. The next of their products on my hotlist is the Gosta facial tonic, which I hope to get my hands on very soon!

Whilst dealing with the hair growth I also needed to tackle my out of hand eyebrows! So I had to go back to my tried and tested brand Tweezerman.
With a plethora of grooming gadgetry, they really are the one stop shop for any man. I love my little comb and scissor set (from the GEAR collection) so much, that the latter is now battered and a little toothless! None the less these were two tools necessary to tame the above-eye slugs.

A little trim through the miniature comb and I honestly feel like I look ten years younger – tweezerman what is this voodoo?!

So now I look and feel a lot better, I have rediscovered some prime products and I feel invigorated. Invigorated skin, invigorated to write and generally just ready to tackle life head – on (with or without sleep!)

I hope you will join me for my next adventure in the blogosphere, and would really appreciate it, if you want to show me some love with some likes, comments and shares.

Get your Gruum on, Tweezerman!


Thatisbeyond…Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.

For those that know me personally, it will be no surprise that I really enjoyed Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. It will probably be more of a surprise that I have only got around to watching the film tonight!
The Harry Potter series has never let me down before, and I am pleased to say that the latest glimpse of the 1920’s wizarding world is no exception.

Harry Potter, re-awakened me to reading, it was an amazing escape from the outside world and it gave me my first experience on a film set (and as an actor that left a massive impression on the career path that I chose). The books are magical in their own way because they have real stories that engulf you and that you trust in to carry you through this magical and unfamiliar world. This is a massive feat for a writer, but something that JK Rowling achieves with ease. But is this also the case with her screen writing?
For me the answer is unquestionably “absolutely”, and whilst I will elaborate on this point in the following paragraphs, it is for one simple reason… the story behind the magic has genuine heart.
This is a film for adults. It is a mature, politically-charged world, that struck me as having an unmistakeable parallel to both the history we know the franchise will follow (the lead up to the 2nd world war) but also to the omnipresent cloud of politics that sits above our heads in 2017. The duality is striking and shot beautifully.
For me some of the CGI is overly glossy and the shooting is very monochrome, but I did feel that this added to the historical context and the bleak New York landscape. It also helped excentuate the texture and colour of the magical creatures – which kind of made them seem even more magical!
I think that this film could have easily fallen flat, but it didn’t. There were enough magical creatures to keep the kids entertained, but the substance of this script far outweighs its parts.
My favourite creature?… the naughty Niffler with a penchant for shiny things. A particularly amusing sequence with the little critter in a jewellery shop window, brought a smile to my face.
Newt Scamander’s tale works as a love story on several levels, but ultimately we fall in love with him because of his love of the magical creatures and his good heart. Will we see another side to him in the later films? The mention of Lita LeStrange makes me wonder if there is a little darkness for Eddie Redmayne to explore? Afterall, all the best characters have both light and shade.
This is a great film that would be enjoyed by the magical and muggles alike. And I for one, cannot wait for the next instalment.
ThatIsBeyond… 4.5 ❤️