black coffee

The quote made me laugh. 🙂

Relax

Sunday, day 17 of Blog Every Day in November. Today’s prompt is ‘how do you like to relax?’

Hmm. With a full-time job and a fairly busy family life, finding time to relax can be tricky. It’s so important though to find a few minutes in the day to yourself, free from the day-to-day chores, running around doing stuff for other people.

coffee and a good book

During the week, I like to get out at lunchtime to a coffee shop with a good book. It’s usually a Starbucks – I know they’re the antithesis of my beloved indie coffee shops, but I don’t feel quite so bad about paying £1.50 for a mug of coffee and sitting for 45 minutes reading my book.

The book of the moment is Scott Lynch’s  The Republic of Thieves, the third book in an ongoing series. It’s really rather good and I’m taking it quite slowly, not really wanting it to end as the gap between book #2 and book #3 was rather a long time! I’ve got a few more books lined up after this one though – Tom Lloyd has an interesting one coming out next week called Moon’s Artifice, and I’ve still got Terry Pratchett’s latest waiting to be read.

So, coffee shop and a good book is one way I like to relax. Others? Sitting down after a hard session down the allotment. Chilling out to some music on my morning commute. Floating in the surf with my bodyboard, waiting for the perfect wave. Sitting outside my tent late at night with a glass of something nicely alcoholic, watching the stars.

How do you like to relax?

Three Good Things

Liz at Margot & Barbara has started a new series of blog posts called Three Good Things. Her first week’s post is here. She says:

Each week, I shall choose three things to share. Things that have made me happy, made me smile, brought me a bit of joy or peace and made me grateful for the life that I have.

Various other bloggers have taken up the challenge (Kirsty at Hello Kirsty and Isobel at Leeds & Me for example) and I thought it sounded like a splendid idea. Here then, are my three things.

One

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Coffee. A good cup of coffee is a wonderful thing, and we’re blessed in Leeds with a fabulous range of indie coffee places. My mornings just wouldn’t be the same without a quick pick-me-up from the lovely folks at Bottega Milanese, or a delicious filter coffee from Luca & the boys at Brewbar Espresso. If I’m feeling slightly more energetic, a walk down to see Dave at Laynes Espresso is always rewarded with quite simply the best coffee I’ve ever had. It’s got to the point where now I just ask what he recommends and go with that. Never been disappointed.

Two

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My bike. I don’t get out on it enough, but when I do it’s like medicine. Worldly worries fade away as you zoom through the beautiful countryside on my doorstep in Wakefield. The word ‘zoom’ may not be entirely accurate, especially on the up bits, but zooming definitely happens on the descents, after which you’ll find me grinning like a loon.

Three

Learning Chinese. I was recently introduced to Memrise, a website to help you learn languages. I picked their Learn basic Chinese: read a menu course and was soon hooked. It’s a brilliant system, introducing the chinese characters via flashcards to help you remember, and it gets you to ‘water your memories’ to help them grow by going back over earlier concepts again at regular intervals. Both kids picked it up immediately and really enjoyed it. I was in the Chinese supermarket in Leeds the other day and picked up this packet of noodles:

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Which both myself and the kids were able to translate! How cool is that?

So, there are my three things for this week. I’m not sure it’ll end up being a weekly thing, but it’s a great way of looking at the good bits of your life.

What are your three things?

The Perfect Coffee Stop

Another great post by Ian on intotheorchard.com. Reminds me that I must dust off my plans to visit as many coffee places in Leeds as possible…

Into The Orchard

barecoffee2

I’ve recently noticed a new addition on my cycle commute into work which is a mobile coffee shop, housed within a fab little Piaggio Ape 3 wheel van, situated in Park Square.  I’ve whizzed around the square saying to myself that I must stop there and give it a go.  Today was the perfect storm, nice early ride in, no first thing meetings, fantastically warm weather so I rolled into the park unclipped and ordered a morning pick me up.

Now both street food and coffee have been slowly picking up over the last couple of years in Leeds, we may not be in Portland’s class but there are now several very good coffee shops and some great things happening on the quality street food scene, exemplified in my view by No Fishy Business showing that you can understand and sell a high quality product from a mobile kitchen.  It’s no…

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D is for…

dakegra

day 8 - 08-20-11

That’s me. Hi.

My name is Dave. I’m a blogger, cyclist, photographer, writer, geek, juggler, caffeine junkie, the list of labels is as long as your arm. Married, father of two, the irrepressible EB and Ms LB.

I go by the username dakegra online. It’s pronounced dah-keh-gruh, though I’ve heard it pronounced various different ways – dah-kee-grah, dake-grah, dake-gray. It’s made up of the first two letters of my first and middle names, and the first three of my surname.

I decided to use it many years ago when I was looking for an good username. It’s got the advantage of being fairly short and also (more importantly) unique. If you see a dakegra around the internet, chances are it’s me. Unless they’re doing something naughty, in which case it’s definitely someone else. 🙂

In my time I’ve studied astrophysics and information systems, worked as a librarian in a big law firm, designed and built automated workflow systems and mortgage forms, done a bit of coding, worked for various financial services companies and am now doing clever things with digital in central Leeds.

I do a bit of writing – I’ve written a few short stories, including one *very* short one which was published in a very swish glossy coffee-table magazine. I’ve even ‘won’ NaNoWriMo, but only once.

I like cycling too – in June 2012 I cycled 100km around London, at night. I’ve written a fair bit recently about bikes & stuff.

I write about all sorts of weird & wonderful things. You may have noticed. This blog doesn’t really have a focus as such – I tend to write about anything that comes to mind. A mishmash of thoughts that fall out of my head, though there tends to be a fair amount of coffee, photography, books, bikes and allotmenteering.

I set up this blog to talk about any and all of the above. You can also find me on flickr, twitter and other places around the internet.

Or you can email me: dakegra@gmail.com

I like emails.

The Great Mug Incident of ’13

Tea or coffee?
I need a new mug.

I had a work mug, identical to the hundreds of others which everyone got recently. Most of these mugs ended up in the kitchens, but I’d managed to hold onto this one specific mug since I got it. So, it was with no small amount of sadness that today it got lost amongst all the other identical mugs in the dishwasher.

It wasn’t me who put it there, I hasten to add. Now, to the casual observer, it was just another mug. But this was my mug. I’d washed it every night and kept it safe on my desk. Could you not just take one of the other mugs, I was asked. The ‘exactly the same as the one you lost’ went unsaid.

No. That was my mug.

I know it sounds silly. I know, I know.

So now, I need to go mug shopping. I’ve had a number of mugs over the years, but there are some quite specific requirements when it comes to getting The Perfect Mug.

  • Size. Despite what they say, when it comes to mugs, size *is* important. Too small, and you’re into multiple tea rounds. Too large, and it’s cold by the time you get to the bottom of the cup.
  • Handle. You need a good handle on a mug, one which facilitates carrying multiple cups for the aforementioned tea round. I’ve had mugs with handles which are too small, making the multi-carry tricky, or with sides which slope, causing the tea to slosh.
  • Design. I’m not a huge fan of the gimmicky slogan mugs. I like them to be a little plainer and understated. That said, my favourite ‘at home’ mug is the Starbucks City Mug I got in Barcelona. Perfect size, good handle, straight sides. Trouble is, Barcelona is a long way to go to get a replacement. And getting one from here with ‘London’ on it just isn’t quite right.

So, dear reader, I’m in the market for The Perfect Mug. I’ve got my eye on a few potentials, but am open to suggestions…

* The mugs in the photo aren’t the identical ones I was referring to. Yes, they are identical. But the pendantic amongst you will note that they’re cups, not mugs. Well spotted, you.