Tales from the gym

Exercise has always been important to me. I’m no athlete – my parents both run regularly, my mum was a Pilates instructor for many years, my stepdad swims, and my sister is a qualified dancer and actress, leaving me feeling like the family couch potato. In my defense, I have been going to the gym regularly for several years now. I don’t claim to love it, but nevertheless keep it up because I know it is good for me.

Last month, I moved to be closer to my job. If you had asked me then if I had any worries about this, the actual moving process would have been top of the list. Joining the gym that is conveniently across the road from where I work wouldn’t. Moving day came and went pretty smoothly, with little to report. My new gym, meanwhile, has probably caused me to burn more calories from sheer stress than from the exercise itself.

I spent my first visit being unable to find anything; namely the entrance to the building, the lockers, the lockers that had functioning locks, the labels on said locks telling me to use a 10p coin (instead of a £1 coin), and the gym itself. I could barely be bothered at this point, but thought hey, I’m new here, of course everything’s confusing, things can only get better.

Oh how wrong I was.

When I returned, I filled in a membership form. Come the third time, I tried to get in as a full member, except that the staff had no record of my membership on their system. Their most logical explanation was that I must have put my form in my bag and taken it home. Needless to say, there was no sign of it, nor any way that I would have been allowed to go ahead with my workout without handing it in first.

Which indicated that they must have mislaid it. Complete with my bank details, written loud and clear. Not good.

Feeling pretty fed up about this, I politely but firmly raised the issue with someone at the desk. They just told me to fill in another form. I reiterated that someone here had left a document with my bank details on it lying around goodness knows where for all and sundry to see. This interaction was repeated a couple of times before I gave up in frustration.

I then sent an email via the city council, retelling the story and highlighting the GDPR* rules at stake, which gave them a bit of a nudge. After some careful scrutiny of their CCTV cameras, a member of staff discovered that I had not filled in the entire form, and the person who had taken it had shredded it, but left no notes on the system. To compensate for all the stress – and the fact I’d needlessly changed my debit card – they gave me 2 weeks free membership.

Of course, not every staff member believed me during that 2 week period, or was able to find the notes explaining why I was getting in free. But it’s the thought that counts.

And now I am a full member. What could go wrong now?



*General Data Protection Regulation


Vegan prejudice

How do you know if someone’s vegan? Don’t worry, their daughter will write a blog post about it!

A new twist on an all-too-popular joke these days. I do amuse myself.

People say that being vegan – or even knowing someone who is – is an eye opener to some of the things that happen in the world. Very often, they mean the level of animal cruelty that so often comes with food production. Or, to put a more positive spin on it, a whole new way of cooking and eating.

For me, being a vegetarian with a vegan family definitely does all that. But there is one thing that makes me wary of trying it myself, and no, it’s not my love of cheese. I’m very fond of cheese, don’t get me wrong, but I used to feel the same about bacon and I honestly don’t miss that as much as I once thought I would.

My real reason is just as cowardly: the hatred and prejudice towards vegans that is spreading at least as quickly as the cause itself. The internet practically exploded when Greggs started making vegan sausage rolls. So did Piers Morgan when he tried a gelatin free Percy Pig. You see it in day-to-day life as well. People often don’t object to food that doesn’t contain animal products, or is bacon or cheese flavoured but has no traces of the real thing. Until you put the word “vegan” in front of it. Then they can’t get away fast enough.

Plus, any article on the subject will inevitably be followed with comments like “why not just eat an ACTUAL sausage roll?” Or “vegans should go stuff themselves with kale and leave our sweets alone”. Or “vegans are some of the preachiest hypocrites I have ever met, they should all just shut up and stop shoving their views in my face…”

So here’s what I have to say to those comments:

  1. Vegans – and vegetarians – rarely give up meat because they hate the taste. They simply do not want to eat something that an animal had to die for. Some love meat/dairy/egg substitutes. What’s wrong with that? Others see no need for them and can still have as wide a cooking repertoire as anyone.
  2. Having a veggie version of a popular chewy sweet in no way interferes with your right to keep eating the regular ones. Being a vegan doesn’t make you want variety and indulgence any less. Why does it bother so many meat eaters when vegans try to achieve that?
  3. Many of the most preachy, hypocritical articles and comments I have read have come from meat eaters who complain about vegans shoving their opinions down people’s throats but have no issue in doing the same. Then maybe for good measure, they’ll throw in a quip about how veganism is a lie because it’s impossible to go through life without causing harm. As someone from a family who feeds their cats meat, I KNOW. That’s not the point. The idea of veganism is to simply reduce your part in cruelty as much as possible.

I may not be a vegan myself, but prejudice in any form gets my blood boiling, and I’m glad to have got that out of my system. Being a vegetarian can be enough hassle, and I’m still working on dealing with the minority categories I’m already in before I choose to put myself in another. Through years of meat eating, vegetarianism, and veganism between us, my family and I have always been firm about not forcing our own ways on other people. Yet once people get it in their heads that this should go one way, they forget it actually applies to everyone. Couldn’t we all benefit from remembering that?

The VEGAN Christmas cake a made and decorated the other year.