Special Post #38: The Beard Story

To beard or not to beard… this post aims to answer the ultimate question.

In continuation of my earlier post about hair, I thought I’d give a follow up. So since the last time we met one big thing has happened to my hair: it’s grown. Not been cut for a while not and I’ve got this fringe/mop thing going on. I don’t think I’m selling it very well so we can just move on.

The story of the beard starts with Movember. It’s an initiative to raise awareness for prostate cancer and men’s health. I’d love to say that I grew the beard for this, but this merely sparked the idea in my head. It wasn’t until the second week of “Movember” that I actually decided to take the plunge.

What sparked this phase was, in fact, terrorism. One night I was sitting down with my housemate Sophizzle, when I said I was thinking of growing a beard. Soph said that she believed all people with beards are terrorists. So I questioned if she’d think I was a terrorist if I grew a beard. The answer was inconclusive, so there was only one way to find out!

At this point I’d been in Switzerland for 1 week, and was about to head out for another 2. I thought this was the perfect time to grow a beard because I could grow it for 2 weeks and then return all like “SURPRISE!” and scare everyone. So that’s what I did.


In classic before and after fashion… above is before beard. And below is 2 weeks later…


And now 5 weeks later…


The beard even went to Scotland with me :)


In all the beard went through several phases. The first phase was caveman, all over look. After two weeks I decided that I preferred to go more “goatee and tash”, and that’s what I stayed with for some time (and what you can see above).

Since I’m being very open about this I may as well state the pitfalls. I never once found any food in my beard, which was more than disappointing as I fully expected to get a least a crumb. But by far the worst thing about the beard was the colour…. GINGER!

Now I have nothing against gingers, but I don’t want it on my face. Only kidding. I have to say though that it was surprising since my hair is ALL brown. If you couple the colour with the fact that the tash started getting in the way of my eating, which is very important, I decided to step the beard up to phase 3… stubble.

Admittedly it had to have passed through this step to get to phase on (the caveman beard), but this time it was more refined and, dare i say, sexy.

So that is the current state of the beard. No moustache, and a goatee stubble. Observe…

DSCF4763 - Copy

And this is how the beard shall remain until I get bored, which might not be too long considering how often I’ve changed my appearance recently. Upon seeing Auntie Fiona in Scotland she said “you’re different every time I see you!” and this is indeed true. With the long hair, quiff, spikey hair, up hair, beard, stubble and puffy hair of the recent months it’s all a bit too much. But maybe now is the time to experiment, after all I have looked the same for the other 20 years of my life, I think I’m due a few changes…

There’s Snow Place Like Home

Christmas is coming. Here’s a few schnowy pictures from Guildford :)

DSCF4747 Stitch

The view at the end of the street


Beth came to visit


And so did Sophie

The last week has been very cool. Monday to Thursday I was in Switzerland for work reasons, a very busy few days not helped by our return flight being cancelled at the last minute; but all was well eventually getting home only an hour or so late. But it poses a question: why is there always a massive traffic jam at the Italian border when you’re trying to get to a different airport for your flight an hour earlier than your cancelled flight that will turn out to be an hour late anyway? Answer: so you get the chance to take this photo :P


Monday was my last day at work and I’m off to my sisters tomorrow! I can not wait!

Stay tuned to this blog for a few special posts in the lead up to the end of the year. I’m going to be talking about my latest hair developments (let’s just say there’s a beard involved :P), the music of 2010, and the pièce de résistance: counting down the top 40 moments of 2010!

  • Happiness. 6 out of 10
  • Tiredness. 3 out of 5
  • Free Time. 4 out of 5
  • Last Meal. Gammon and chips
  • Song of the day. Sophie Jones’s original guitar composition :)
  • Thought for the day. When time sees us together… all moments fall apart.
  • What I’m Doing Now. Chillaxing with Beth and the ‘rents

Double dream hands!

Good morning one and all, and merry christmas. I'm writing this from a queue. Thats right. I'm queuing for tickets to the unions last night of the year: christmas flirt!

Over the last week i've been working in basingstoke for a change :P however, not for long as work has fortold my return to the land of chocolate (if they have any left) this afternoon! This trip was pretty much a given, and i'll be out there for 4 days before returning to london to finish off the year :)

On tuesday evening I ventured on to campus to watch madsoc's annual christmas panto, this year called 'not another panto'. It was written by the current director of madsoc, Laurence Williams, who is a great guy and an even greater writer. I'm not a reviewer, but the panto was crazy good! The panto was not traditional in any sense, except for the inclusion of a dame, but that could be misleading. It was about fairytale characters whose storylines were merging together, and amongst it all were 3 surrey students who had got lost and caught up in the whole thing. Lots of inuendo, and lots of laughs, but also very touching and moving towards the end. And to think it was all written by someone my age was just mind-blowing :O

On wednesday was the MADTV xmas meal, the first christmas meal of the year :) MADTV is getting on so well this year, they have a very big and energetic team, which has enabled them to put out some great quality reports (just see the new summaries to see what I mean!)

On friday, the housemates put on a meal and a half at le maison. Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, an all time classic, with great company. Friends I havent seen for months came over for the meal, and a generous quantity of mulled wine was consumed in the process… Shame I had to leave early to get a train to london.

Because this weekend was the family xmas meal in Scotland! I'm running out of ways to say it was good to see everyone again :)

Only a week of work to go until christmas, and that can only mean one thing……. My sister :)

Happiness: 5 out of 10
Free time: 1 out of 5
Thought of the day: housing for nexy year…
Song of the day: One Republic – Good Life (seriously, check it out!)
What i'm doing now: still queuing for tickets…. Beth rigby better appreciate this :P xx

PS reminissing about the lesbian bouncer who told Beth and I off about laughing at her hair a couple of weeks ago :S lols


The girls are putting up the Christmas decorations in the living room and listening to Christmas music… now it feels like Christmas!

Only a few short weeks to go before that fateful day, and this year I’m planning to spend it with my dear sister – continuing the tradition of recent years. But this time it will be slightly different since I haven’t seen my sister since July! That’s 5 months! I’m so used to seeing my sister every month or so that this has actually been quite difficult. I’m really close to my sister, if you hadn’t guessed that by now :D, and I love spending time with her and the rest of the family. That’s what this Christmas is going to be about.

After Christmas the plan is to grab a handful of friends (or 2) and have another new years party… a new tradition started last year that was so awesome that it just has to happen again. The party is also a fab opportunity to spend time with Jake, the infamous cousin. The party this year promises to take it up another notch and it’s just going to be a great end to the year, and start to the next!

Great time at my sister’s, and a quality party with my cousins. The Christmas balance is set! So dust off the decorations, throw on some Christmas tunes, and put that silly hat on…

…Christmas is H-E-R-E!

  • Happiness. 7 out of 10
  • Tiredness. 2 out of 5 (No thanks to a certain Miss Wilkie who set my alarm clock 10 minutes fast this morning!)
  • Free Time. 0 out of 5
  • Last Meal. Chicken and rice!
  • Song of the day. My MP3 player has ran out of battery :(
  • Thought for the day. Ciabatta banter! Cha-ba-ba-da-ba!
  • What I’m Doing Now. Dreaming of a white Christmas… and getting a Christmas hug from Tamsin :) which is pretty much the same as a normal hug… but with a Santa beard :D

Choose Your Attitude

Most of us believe our attitudes are caused directly by outside influences like unpleasant experiences or negative people. But while external pressures may trigger our feelings, we are the ones wearing those feelings like a suit of clothes. We can either be subservient to external events, few of which we have any control over, or we can take charge of our own response.

“Choosing your attitude” is not always putting on a happy face or feeling pressure to adopt the outlook that’s “officially” acceptable. Sometimes angry or sad are what’s called for. That’s why choosing your attitude is about being aware of what your attitude is, and that it does affect you and others. Once you are aware of the impact, you may view your attitude differently, even if the situation or person that upset you hasn’t changed. Then you can ask yourself, “Does my attitude help me or others? Is it helping me be the way I want to be?”

“Choose your attitude” asks only that you make your own choice and not try to pass it off on something or someone else. Once you accept that you are the only one who is choosing your attitude at this moment, you can decide whether to keep it or shape it into an attitude that’s more satisfying. You control your attitude, not the other way around.

“You gotta choose where you’re gonna be as soon as you get out of bed. I consciously make that choice every day.”


That was an extract from a website called FISH!

My mum once came home from a work dinner really inspired. The after-dinner speaker had expressed how she had used the philosophy “choose your attitude” to survive an ordeal sailing across the Pacific. Ever since then I have used that phrase many times to change my attitude in situations for the better.

If you listen to sad music, you will feel sad. If you want to beat yourself up about something, you will loose confidence in yourself. If you worry about what to say, then you will never be appreciated for who you are.

Choose your attitude is about waking up every morning and feeling good about yourself. Not worrying about the mistakes you inevitably made in the past. Not concerning yourself with people who don’t appreciate your company. If you are true to yourself then you will get the most out of life. If you don’t like something, change it. If your attitude isn’t helping, change it.

Inject a bit of fun into everyone’s day:

November: The Best Moment

November can be summed up in one word: Switzerland!

It’s been such a different month to the rest of the year and now it’s over I can’t decide if I’m sad it’s finished, but I know that it’s given me another new perspective on life.

But this post is about the moments, the seconds, that will stay with me from that month for years to come.

The first has to be the first day off when we went up Mont Bré and on the funicular railway. The views were stunning and we had a great time discovering a new part of the world.

The second day off has to be another highlight, and whoever idea it was to go back up Mont Bré in the fog was inspired. Sure, the view was questionable, but for the hilarity that the snowy mountain roads brought, and the pictures of us “admiring the view”, it was totally worth it!

That evening we lugged our chocolate stash back to the hotel and lay it out on the floor. The gravity of our purchase hit me and I couldn’t control my laughter. We all ended up laughing for ages at how ridiculous the sight before us was, and that has to be my favourite moment of the month. Not only because of those few minutes, but because of the stupid conversations it started for many days after and the eventual saga involved in exporting the chocolate from the country.

Take a look at the photos if you haven’t already, they tell a great tale :)

November feels like an isolated month, and now i’m home it feels like it never happened. None of my friends were there so it won’t really come up in conversation. It’s just a thing that happened, that has so many great memories. I feel more like an adult now.

December is always a crazy month, my main concern at the moment is that I have a university report to write due in 2 weeks time that I haven’t even started :S But once that’s out of the way, this month is just going to get better and better…

I’m planning on something similar to last year where I count down the top 40 moments of the year, and a few other things to look back at another great year! While I may have lost a summer to work, I’ve gained an experience of a lifetime… and the best part is it’s only just begun!

Chocs away!

Goodbye Lugano and one of the best months of my life! Never have I worked so hard and had so much fun before. Lots of food (especially pizza) and lots of Feldschlösschen!

Due to the excessive quantities of chocolate purchased in the last week, the journey back caused a bit of a kerfuffle. Trying to ‘sneak’ 8 kilos of Swiss chocolate into my hand luggage didn’t go a miss!


On the first plane ‘hand luggage’ is put in the hold because the overhead lockers are too small. So I placed my bag on the trolley outside the plane and didn’t think anything of it. The just before take off one of the baggage handlers came onto the plane and walked straight to my seat (which was luckily right at the front) and asked if I was Mr. Gray. He then proceeded to show me a ticket with the weight of my bag printed on it… it was 18kg! Now I know my bag was heavy, but that’s incredible! Considering that the weight limit for hand baggage is 8kg, I didn’t really have a leg to stand on. The baggage man continued to explain that my bag was not only heavy, but a whole 10kg over the allowed limit. His advice was that on my second flight, i shouldn’t put my bag in the overhead bin, but put it under my seat. That sounds very reasonable, anything to avoid having to wait ages to collect my bag at the reclaim belt. So the flight continued and we landed in Zurich.

Then we got to the gate at Zurich and the lady said my baggage was too big to get on the plane! She didn’t even weigh it! Since I flew out over a month ago I’ve always used this suitcase. And I knew full well that it was slightly too big for hand baggage, but it had never been questioned until now. So they took my bag away and put it in the hold, still wheeling it along completely oblivious to it’s excessive weight. Sometimes in life you just have to laugh, and it’s certainly true that all my work colleagues enjoyed witnessing my foibles :)

So I’ve return to a snowy and cold Guildford, back with my housemates and friends. It’s going to be weird going back to Basingstoke on Monday…

Lots to look forward to in the coming weeks, next weekend it’s the Gray family Christmas dinner in Scotland, and then a week later I’m going to finally see my sister for the first time in months and months! Let the good times roll…

  • Happiness. 8 out of 10
  • Tiredness. 2.5 out of 5
  • Free Time. 0.5 out of 5
  • Last Meal. Fish and chips (back in the UK, baby!)
  • Song of the day. Nelly – Just a Dream
  • Thought for the day. it’s good to be home
  • What I’m Doing Now. organising a new years party :D

PS pictures from Switzerland