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Sunday, 8 April 2018

The Confessions of a Public Toilet Butler

If you’ve followed my blog over the last 5 years you’ll have probably noticed I have written a lot about dung. Specifically, dung that has been produced by semi-feral children.

In this latest instalment, I’ve come to realise that kids are amazing at not only desensitising you completely to brown matter, but also making their excremental movements an entertaining topic of conversation.

Am I right in thinking there’s just something about their absolute joy in the pooing process that unless you’re a miserable git, you can’t help but laugh?

Picture the scene, I’m in M Shed Museum in Bristol and I’ve got both kids when the brown alert gets parped by the eldest, and I’m dragged along to the toilet.

We’re in a spacious cubicle. I can’t describe the stench, so I won’t bother. It’s sickening. This is a day’s worth of filth festering inside an enclosed space. I’m holding the baby just hoping this is going to be a quick one but knowing in my heart this is going to be a 10 minute job.

Aside from the sensory overload from the flavoursome aromas I’m happy because I’ve missed the boy and just picked him up off his grandparents and I’m looking forward to taking him sledging. This is par for the course of parenting. Grit your teeth and get on with it.

The conversation begins.

“Daddy I’m not gonna poo unless you leave the room” 

“Ok fine. I’ll stare at the wall.”

“I want you to go though. Go away.”

“No, don’t worry, look, I’m staring at the wall.”

Panic sets in. There’s no way I’m leaving this cubicle. I need to see he’s washed his hands, and I’m not sure he’s familiar enough with locks yet. I mentally picture a scene of carnage with him locking himself in. Fatherhood is full of paranoia like that.

The seconds pass and I hear the gentle plops of progress along with satisfied grunts.

I mimic the grunts. Can’t help it.

Laughing ensues. But now I’m just getting impatient.

“Please hurry up.”

“No. I want to sit here and poo alllll night long. HAHAHAHA.”

I hide my smile. That’s a good one.

“Seriously mate, it’s really hard holding Leo up all this time, my arm’s killing me.”

Frustration in my voice. I’ve been carrying him for ages, and it’s not like I can put him on the piss soaked floor of this hellhole. He’s also bored and doing his universal struggle movements to signify “put me on the damn floor so I can explore.”

Nothing good ever comes of putting a baby on the floor in a public toilet. When you’re on your own with one you have to pee sitting down while they flail around in your lap, grabbing at the toilet roll.

I lift him up onto my shoulders in a desperate attempt to keep him “entertained” and I take a toilet selfie because this is the type of crap a dad blogger feels like he needs to do in ridiculous situations like this.

A picture of me looking frustrated in the toilet with my baby on my shoulders
Absolutely fed up.

Charlie sees an opening to get one up on his baby brother.

“It stinks in here dunnit. Why don’t you put Leo on the floor so he can get all smelly and get pee on ‘is clothes!”

“No way, I’m not doing that!!”

More laughing ensues. Haha, very droll.

“Please hurry up. How much longer are you going to take?”

“I dunno, I think I got about 10 more poos to go.”

“OK. Keep going.”

“Daddy, what happens when all the people in the world die and there’s no one left in the world?”

[AUDIBLE LOUD LAUGHING FROM MAN IN NEIGHBOURING CUBICLE]

“Uhh. Wow. That’s a good question.”

Where the hell did that come from?

I thought of Stephen Hawking’s prediction that life on Earth will become unsustainable, and I pictured Elon Musk’s happy face, colonising Mars.

“Well maybe, well, what if everyone didn’t die, but actually some of them escaped to a different planet so they could live there instead of dying here...?”

“But why would they do that?”

“I guess they didn’t like the idea of dying! Look mate seriously it stinks here, it’s gross, we need to get out of here. Please hurry up.”

[LAUGHING IN NEXT CUBICLE INTENSIFIES.]

After 10 minutes the ordeal was over. I could start a podcast, 'awkward conversations I have in public toilets for the amusement of strangers'. It happens a lot.

Maybe this is weird, but I enjoy these scenarios, all the weird moments we get thrust into as parents. One day, my eccentric lord won’t need his butler’s stimulating conversation or helpful advice when we’re in public toilets. So I’d better make the most of it. 

I’m just glad I don’t need to wipe his arse any more.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Burnham-On-Sea: cheap thrills, chips and charity shops.

If you ask me what my perfect day out with a baby is, I'll say get the little guy in a sling and take him to a run down seaside town for an afternoon of gawping at England's most interesting and weatherbeaten people, and shameless browsing of charity shops.

My wife HATES shopping but I love it, in fact I'd go as far as saying one of my simplest pleasures in life is to go at a snail's pace through a load of charity shops and whittle away time.

Luckily, I have a very obliging baby who seems to be cut from my cloth, and enjoys the browsing experience as much as I do. Today we went to one of my favourite haunts, Burnham-On-Sea in Somerset. Let me tell you, this is a PARADISE for the chazza shops. It's a god damn mecca!

Quirky road in Burnham-On-Sea
Quirky road leading to the high street, AKA shoppers' paradise
It's a joy to walk around. You've got a decrepid high street where Almost every Shop has Random Capitals on their signs that make absolutely no Sense. They have also been given logos that look like they were designed by a Child.

Burnham-On-Sea is eye porn, pure and simple. It's a feast for the senses, and your inner typography nerd will be screaming!

It's also full of pensioners, who inevitably croak it. Their lifelong hoards of awesome, unusual or terrible items are then gifted to the charity shops, so when you wander round them, your senses are assaulted with all things 80s, toys you remember playing with as a kid, and also things that are so tasteless you wonder how the hell anyone bought them in the first place.

They are a collection of unseen stories, from the tragic to the awesome. You'll see things that are weird, bizarre, cool, retro, awful, trashy, and wonderful all at the same time. You can't see the stories but you can feel them in your hands.

What else do I find interesting about them? Maybe it's the smell of dead people and house clearances coupled with the TK Maxx effect: you never know what you're going to find, and one day you find that one item that speaks to you on a primal level and screams "I am YOURS, motherfucker. Take me home!"

Man looking at Barry Manilow record in Burnham-On-Sea charity shop
Locking on to target, please wait
A funny picture of Barry Manilow looking suave
Take me baby.
I'm solo dadding for the next three nights while wife has a girly holiday. Today in Burnham was fucking excellent because I did all the things my wife would never agree to, charity shops included, she absolutely hates them! It was the perfect adventure with mini-me (the eldest is at his grandparents for the night, lucky me!)

I decided we'd do this properly, and find a greasy spoon, after all it's character building for the young lad. This place did not disappoint and the locals were extremely welcoming. He lapped up the attention of course, and had a procession of lovely old ladies shaking his hand. This reminded me of when he was a newborn, and it's an old lady's god given right to shake your baby's hand, pinch his cheek and politely enquire about his weight.

Picture of a traditional English cafe, very retro
Oooh yeah! But what or who is BOS? Did they forget an apostrophe?

Anyway, the kid was getting all the attention, and milking the shit out of it. No interest in his fish fingers and chips whatsoever, he'd already been given a caramel biscuit by the staff, and he's crafty. He has a sweet tooth and won't eat 'proper' food when he knows the Brucey Bonus is around.

I was loving life in this place, it was awesome knowing there was no way my wife would ever come in with me (she's a cafe snob) but here I was left to my own devices to experience the traditional English seaside town eatery.

Bos cafe menu, Burnham-On-Sea
Decisions, decisions.

I think it's sad that most of England, especially in cities, is being gentrified. Every day a new organic cafe pops up, and don't get me wrong I'm a cafe snob as much as my wife, but if you think about it, the 'real' England is being slowly eroded by the obsession we have with posh coffee and bistro food, and things looking 'just so'.

The real England is harder to find, but alive and well in Burnham-On-Sea. The views across the Bristol Channel mud flats look more like an apocalytic, desolate wasteland, framed with picture perfect concrete sea walls.

Me and the son at Burnham-On-Sea
"Excuse me can you take a picture of me so I can write about your town."

And then there's interesting locals everywhere, all with their own stories to tell, and it's really hard not to stop and watch them (or stare).

The town is a heaven for people-watchers and fans of a bygone age.

It's a place that endlessly rewards you for going down a side street. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, a stunning piece of street art.

Amazing graffiti in Burnham-On-Sea, fine art of girl staring at a lantern


Salvador Dali street art in Burnham-On-Sea with the caption, "True love is surreal"

I can't wait to go back.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this then maybe you'll like my blog about a dirty burger...

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Secret Diary of a Baby - The Universal Truths of Having an Older Sibling

Imagine if babies could talk, or write savage diaries about how hard it is being a second rate citizen subject to the torture of their older siblings. Well wonder no longer, because I found my baby's diary and it made for horrific reading..




Dear diary. At 9 months of age, I have a select vocabulary of “mama” “dada” and a peculiar “get the fuck away from me” grunt that I reserve for my older sibling.

I literally can’t WAIT until I can walk. It means I’m one step closer to being able to slam a door like he does. It looks (and sounds) so god damn satisfying.

I barely got anything for my first Christmas from my parents. A £1 toy lizard from Poundsavers and a few clothes from the H&M sale that I watched you buy me? REALLY DAD? And HE gets a Scalextric? What the fuck?!

Worst of all, on Christmas Day, that idiot brother of mine decided he liked my lizard more than anything else he got, and proceeded to tail-slap and taunt me with it while I crawled after him. Talk about a 101 lesson in how to enrage and distress a baby, I’VE GOT MENTAL SCARS HERE PEOPLE. 

And what’s with baby toys? No interest, pal. Instead, when he leaves it lying around I get a god damn SWORD, motherfucker! And the giant Bruder crane lorry for 3 year olds and above is siiick!
Hold up, what the fuck, I was clearly playing with that. Alone. And you came in here and took it away from me for no reason because you are an arsehole. And now you’re damn near strangling me with the rope whoa whoa whoa this is not cool. Abort abort ABORT. 

(No idea why I keep saying fuck, but I can’t stress to you how stressful it is having an older sibling.)

Parents keep talking to him about his “reward chart” but meanwhile I’m sat here wondering why don’t I get a chart? I need a mini break in the Algarve for the shit I have to put up with.

And what’s this LEGO stuff with all the little pieces, why does dad keep having kittens whenever I go near it? I’m fucking teething here man, throw me a bone!

Bathtime is just plain nasssty. I’m sat here trying not to drown while this hippopotamus oaf keeps grabbing me like I’m a girl at a gypsy wedding.

You know what also pisses my bottle? Mother and father carry my nappies around in a rucksack and not a proper baby changing bag. I’m not a second rate citizen you know! Stop acting like you’ve got parenting nailed. I deserve a change bag FFS.

And why does HE get all the new clothes? This is bullshit!

Don’t even get me started on the dirty ass Maclaren stroller you carted me around in. Grubby as fuck. Did you even bother to clean it? Such a huge relief when my dear grandparents bought me a swanky new one, out of shame. No question, it was the best day of my life. Love you, Nana and Grandpa. Can’t fake this shit, I cried real tears of joy. 

When you change my nappy it’s bad enough, but when that boy loses his shit because he hasn’t seen my poo it’s the final humiliation. I AM BETTER THAN THIS. I AM NOT A SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENT.

Good news though. I’ve just learned how to climb the stairs. Up there is where all the good shit is! And my bed. Dear God how I need my bed. 

OK. Gotta go “play the game” for a bit. They keep telling me about this “See Boobies” thing on the big window and how my brother used to “love” this freak called Mr Tumble. Clearly the man is deeply unhinged but whatevs, I’ll smile and nod.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Newsflash: Having a Second Child is HARD!

People have been asking me recently, why haven't I posted any blogs lately? My last one was in March 2017.

The truth is, what can I possibly write that accurately portrays how fucking weird the last year has been.

Nothing prepares you for two kids.

Nothing...

...Especially if your eldest owns a pair of handcuffs!

Don't get me wrong, I actively support the notion of having more than one kid, I am overjoyed to be a dad again.

He's absolutely delightful! I'm totally smitten with the boy.

But it's hard.

It's RELENTLESS.

At times you can question your own mental health.

And, when I drop the eldest off at school I sometimes look around and wonder why the same people smile like they're not finding this difficult at all. They warmly greet other people, as they trundle their ready made five-a-side team of angelic oompa loompas through the gates.

But I'm just there thinking, "Mate, are you OK? How the fuck are you OK? How can you smile like this?!"

What I've learnt from the last 9 months:

I know it's easy for some families, and having another child can be a breeze.

I respect that, I really do.

But also I know first hand that people can't compute how you could possibly be finding parenting hard. And I consider myself quite an open person. If I don't know you that well and you ask me how I am, I'll give you an honest answer.

In those first months of parenting, I remember confiding once in someone that I was finding it tough. I was worried by how Charlie was reacting to the new arrival, that he was a bit rough, and I was scared he might hurt the baby. Their face dropped like I'd just said the worst thing in the world.

How could I possibly think that my boy was finding it hard that he wasn't the centre of attention, and might have a little bit of ill feeling towards his brother?

What an insane thing to say. How unkind! How shocking!

Yep. It deeply pisses me off when someone is judgmental like that.

You have to be careful who you confide in, especially if they're a gossip.

The truth is, if you have another kid, the chances are your eldest is not going to react well to it. Shit is about to get real.

It's like being the Marketing Director of Kronenbourg 1664, and telling Eric Cantona you don't think he is the face of Kronenbourg any more, while Zinedine Zidane laughs in his face.

That sort of conversation is going to end BADLY.

It's like being a collective of Moroccan couscous farmers who've invited Ainslie Harriott on an all expenses paid vacation to Marrakech, only to tell him you're not comfortable with his face being used so extensively in British supermarkets on packets of your little steaming balls of crushed wheat. And then Jamie Oliver walks out, smirking, from behind a curtain.

Ainslie's ever present smile is going to drop and he is going to go absolutely mental.



Words of warning:

There's a chance when you have a second kid that your experience is going to be a tough one. Introducing a baby into your home is potentially going take a long time, especially while balancing other things like work, lack of sleep, moving house, settling your eldest (let's call him Ainslie) into his first year of school.

That in itself is big, no one prepares you for that, for the tiredness when little Ainslie gets home and is god damn beside himself with hunger, fatigue and quite often indescribable rage from feeling so tired.

But the good news is it gets better.

After weeks and months of pulling your hair out with stress, and fatigue, everyone including Ainslie will adapt.

9 months in, my eldest accepts that when baby goes to bed it's a chance to binge watch Cbeebies while waiting for his turn, and he loves that.

Now he's obsessed with his baby brother and tells us he loves him!

Watching them interact and laugh with each other is heart-melting, it reminds you that even in the most difficult day-from-hell moments, having two kids is the best thing ever.

I know I've been negative in this post but let me just set the record straight. It is totally worth it!

I think we've all come a long way as a family during this time and we've all learnt something about ourselves, and if you're doing it too, or are about to have another baby, I hope you find these words reassuring in some way!



Thursday, 30 March 2017

Man up, man down.


On paternity leave and when your wife is recovering from a C-section it's important to be present and care for her at all times!

So today, as I clutched a Hot Wheels stunt builder kit and made my way down the stairs with its 'frustration free' Amazon packaging in my other hand I instantly became my own stunt dad, sliding down the stairs with a cacophony of bumps and an almighty smash of my arm on the bannister.

Yes. As my arse bounced down those steps I truly knew what it must be like to be a Beyoncé impersonator at a traveller wedding. It felt like I was getting grabbed and shaken roughly by an intoxicated man with a penchant for bare knuckle fist fights, and his intentions towards me were to give me a night I wouldn't forget.

"Harry? Are you OK? Can you hear me?" The voice of the person recovering from an invasive abdominal operation said.

I groaned loudly.

"Harry? I'm coming up."

She arrived, with adorable baby Leo in one arm. "Deep breaths. I'll get you some water. Deep breaths."

Leo this morning. I'm glad I wasn't carrying him at the time.

I showed her my arm. "Look, it's got a massive bump on it. That doesn't look right, does it."


In my mind, I started to picture a glorious gladiatorial fracture, with bone jutting out, pushing at the skin. Perhaps blood would spurt out in a fine mist, if this were directed by Ridley Scott.

"Deep breaths."

I followed her downstairs and lay on the sofa. 

"How much does it hurt?"

"I don't know, I'm feeling a lot of adrenaline at the moment. I should get it checked out."

She agreed it looked bad, and I called the local surgery. The news was that I'd probably need an X-ray but the nearest hospital was 25 minutes away.

"You'll have to get a taxi won't you?" She said.

"I don't want to pay for a taxi, we've got all these people who've offered you help so can't we ask them?"

I began frantically reeling off a shortlist of "women who might be morally obliged to give a lift to their friend's idiot husband who fell down the stairs and is supposed to be looking after his wife."

She agreed on my top two names, hand selected by me based on their current employment status. This was easy. I have many years of experience in recruitment, and was confident in my shortlist of candidates. The first person we rang answered the phone and immediately accepted the taxi job. Hashtag: nailed it.

In the car we made pleasant small talk. Ability to make non awkward small talk was one of the other ranking criteria in my taxi driver shortlist. As she drove, I made enquiries about her new relationship that I have heard about through my wife. I was even able to recount the detail about how he hadn't made a move on their second date, despite it being at her house. This helped the conversation to flow easily.

She dropped me off at the hospital and I was seen quickly by a grumpy triage nurse in the A&E department.

"Hello, I fell down the stairs." I thought I would keep my introduction cheerful and to the point.

"On a scale of 1-10, how much does it hurt?"

At this point I began to panic. This was definitely a three on the scale, paracetamol was helping me through the hard times.

"Five," I lied.

She scribbled something along the lines of "If his arm is broken, I'll dance naked on top of a harpsichord" on her piece of paper and told me to go to the next room.

I then spoke to a GP who played with my arm a bit and said I'd need an X-ray. 

The Radiologist twisted my arm on the table and at this point it was hurting a lot. He did his work and ominously told me they would discuss my results back in A&E.

The GP who I'd seen earlier ushered me into his room. His face was grave.

"It's all OK. No break. You've got yourself a baton injury."

He then explained what this was, and mimed being a rioter defending himself against a policeman hitting him with a truncheon.

"We get these a lot," He added.

"I'll put a plaster on it."

"Oh that's OK, no plaster necessary!" I responded awkwardly:

"No no, it's what we do, to avoid you getting dust in it."

Feeling quite silly, I let him patch me up with a hospital issue plaster.

"Can I see my X-ray?" I asked.

"Sure!" 

He then took me to a computer and I looked at my arm from several angles in its unbroken glory.

"Can I take a picture?"

"Erm... I'd rather you didn't."
 
With the last shred of my dignity, I ordered a large latte from Costa on my way out of the hospital and waited for my taxi. (Thanks! You know who you are!)
 
 

Monday, 19 December 2016

Conversations with a hitchhiker and a three year old


We saw her at the side of the road, she was maybe in her fifties, I'd say. Didn't seem like a mass murderer, she had a kind face. We instantly both agreed we should give her a lift.

Neither of us had ever picked up a hitchhiker so in my head I was thinking just act normal, there's nothing weird about this. So that's what we did, and started making small talk. How often did she hitchhike? Very often, she loved it, loved meeting nice people, and so on and so forth.

But it wasn't long before Charlie got involved, he was fascinated by this stranger on the back seat and was determined not to ignore the burning questions so he went straight for the jugular.

"Why's that woman got a sign?" He said, pointing at her sign.

"It's a sign for Bristol."

"Why you got that?"

"It's so that when someone sees it and they want to give me a lift they can stop and pick me up."

"Stop and pick me up," He whispered under his breath. That's what he does when computing complex equations or things adults say. It's his way of learning, whispering the last few words of a sentence.

"Are you a woman?"

"Yes, I am," Was the response. And the interrogation went a bit like that.

We found out she was very spiritual and believed in absolute kindness and good being something that will defeat any evil. She lived in Glastonbury and was part of a spiritual group called the Cathars, and she thinks there are only 110 of them in the world. I found out that the closest religion to theirs was Buddhism.

But naturally, the boy in the back kept interrupting. He couldn't help himself!

"What's that woman gonna do when we get to Bristol?"

"I don't know. I haven't really got a plan." She said.

The two were extremely interested in each other and he took great pleasure in learning an important new word, hitchhiker. She told him a story about how she hadn't realised her sign was upside down once, so people must have wondered where Lotsirb was.

Meanwhile, she was looking at him with adoration like he was the human embodiment of everything she believed in, spiritually. Innocence, goodness and purity. He had the whole package that day, confidently identifying a New Holland tractor one minute and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in his sweetest voice the next.

We weren't sure what to do when we got to Bristol, as she didn't know who she would meet, where she would go, or what she would do. What are you supposed to do with that info, as a taxi driver?

In the end I suggested maybe Charlie should decide where we dropped her off and she agreed that would be a good idea.

"Let's drop the lady off at the zoo, and then we will go and see the animals."

So that's what happened. We waved goodbye and wished each other a merry Christmas while this lovely lady wandered off to I-don't-know-where.

-----
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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

How to start vaping, quit cigarettes, and where to buy your juice.

Do you even vape bro James Bond meme smoking Sean Connery

It’s no secret that vaping is commonplace now. A recent survey by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) estimated that there are now 2.8 million people in the UK who use an electronic cigarette, up from 700,000 in 2012. It’s a vapers' revolution out there.

And if you’re reading this, the chances are that you smoke. But if you’re like me, you worry too, you worry will you ever stop? Will you get cancer? Will you die young and leave your kids behind? It’s frightening stuff - horrible to think about.

Truth is, none one of us smokers are ever proud of being addicted to something so clinically proven to be harmful to our health. And I’ve been sat on this blog for ages. It’s kind of embarrassing really, I’m fine with talking about a baby’s mustard-seed faeces dripping down my wrist, or a toddler’s todger dragging around a germ infested toilet rim while I look on in horror, but smoking is a more taboo subject. As a parent, it's often the elephant in the room.

And yet despite all this, I have for many years had less willpower than a baboon in a banana plantation when it came to ignoring my cravings. I genuinely felt like it was an impossible task to stop. So I needed something to help me - a crutch.

And that's how I started vaping...


So here's a review of the Coolfire IV Plus and a selection of the best places to buy e-liquid in the UK. Otherwise known as, a fairly idiot proof guide to quitting cigarettes and start vaping instead.

FACT: many smokers have tried an electronic cigarette without success.

Back in about 2013 I tried and I lasted about a week before I stopped, maybe you can relate to my reasons:
  • The device was faulty, and leaked.
  • I didn’t feel like I was getting enough of a throat hit.
  • It just wasn’t as satisfying as smoking. There wasn't enough 'smoke'.
  • The vapour didn’t taste as good as I had hoped.
So after that bad experience, it took another 3 years until I tried it again. This time, I was determined to get it right.

I locked myself in a bunker of research, because that's what I do whenever I'm buying something important. I read every review I can find until I'm reassured the thing I'm buying isn't crap!

FACT: failing to prepare is preparing to fail. I knew I had to get the right device in order to give myself a head start.

After reading hundreds of reviews I whittled the shortlist down to the Coolfire IV Plus (with an I Sub G tank), and I bought the whole starter kit online, consisting of the mod (battery) and tank (where you put your juice) for £40.

Coolfire IV box mod with iSub G tank
Box mod with iSub G tank - it screws into it.

I thought that was a good price. It was an investment but also gave me confidence that this piece of kit meant business.

Then I found this video review on YouTube

...And when I saw the clouds of vape the guy was chugging out, I was completely sold. He gave it a very good review too. Check it out.



Pro tip: Fast-forward to 8:00 to see how much cloud it produces. I’ve been using it for about 3 months, and I love it!

So now that I've been using it for 3 months, here's my review of the Coolfire IV Plus...

Pros:
  1. The battery can last a full day (and even a night out) on a full charge.
  2. Produces a decent, satisfying cloud that staves off my nicotine urges, but is moreish and enjoyable at the same time.
  3. The iSub G tank is economical, it doesn’t drink as much juice as other tanks.
  4. A tank can make a vast difference in the amount of money you’ll spend every month on e-liquid. Think of them like cars, the bigger the engine the more petrol it drinks.
  5. For example, some tanks like the Aspire Cleito are popular, but they guzzle juice faster than a toddler at a trestle table.
  6. I went for the black version, it looks discreet, fits in my pocket too.
  7. But it also comes in a range of colours to suit your tastes.
  8. I’ve had hardly any issues with leaks. Leaking can be a real problem when you vape. If your tank is even slightly faulty, it can be a real headache. But this has now been dropped multiple times and taken abroad and still doesn’t leak, apart from ever so slightly now and then.
  9. I only need to change the coil every week or so, and the process of changing it is very easy. N.B. The coil is a small part that slots into the tank to produce the vapour. These eventually ‘burn out’ and need to be replaced when that happens.
  10. Coils are pretty cheap, I buy 10 for around £10 online, and that’s at least a 2 month supply. I use the 0.5 ohm coils, but you can also get 0.2 ohm ones. A 0.5 ohm coil means the device is safe and comfortable firing the coil at a wattage between 20-30W and in my opinion that's all you need for a satisfying smoking sensation.
Coolfire IV battery in white, black, blue and red - all colours available
Battery comes in a range of colours, (N.B. that's not the Isub G tank pictured.)

Cons:
  1. No major cons, apart from once or twice where it has mildly leaked a little. This goes with the territory in vaping, I’ve had massive leakage with the Aspire Cleito tank. So when I compare it to that, it’s nothing to worry about.
  2. Would I like it to produce more clouds? It’s like asking a millionaire if they want more money. Yes of course, but on the flipside, I’m used to what it gives me, and satisfied with it. I don’t want to be that guy who walks around town chugging out ostentatious clouds and generally being a bit of a public nuisance.

Overall review
This is a fantastic, reliable piece of kit. The battery life is decent, and the smoking experience is second to none, especially if you’ve never tried a sub Ohm tank before. Many of the first e-cigarettes on the market were quite tame really, they’d never give you the throat hit or clouds you wanted. But sub Ohm tanks are what give you the sensation of a satisfying smoke!

I infinitely prefer this to smoking, and I’ve gone back and had a few roll ups on nights out but hated it. As soon as I got it, and started puffing on it, I was in love, because of the volume of vape it produces. It’s a bit like having a shisha.

I’m very happy with the Coolfire IV Plus and am in no hurry to upgrade it. Amazing for £40 and there are others that are a lot more expensive – but you can always move onto them if you try this and decide you like it!

Overall rating
8/10


And once you've got your device, that's when the fun really starts.

...Juice shopping!

Ned Stark meme - one does not simply walk into a vape shop and buy nothing - juice joke

Without nice e-juice your device is useless!

So here's my guide to buying e-liquids online – where are the cheapest places to buy the best tasting liquids in the UK, and what to look for...

Quick aside: it’s worth walking into a vape shop, showing them what kit you have and let them recommend you some liquids, and you can try a few of them in the store and work out what you like. Many people tend to be drawn to 'cake' flavours, but if you're like me I prefer the fruity ones (ooh, vicar!)

That’s a good thing to do when you start out as a vaper, you want to make sure you love the taste of it. By trying it in the shop you’re minimising your own risk and going to be less likely to stray back towards the cigs. It’s more expensive that way, but worth doing to get you started on the road to quitting cigs!

What you also need to know when selecting juice is PG / VG content.

With a device like the Coolfire IV plus, you should be aiming for something like a 60% or 70% VG content, this gives you more clouds and less harshness on the throat, but any higher than that it isn’t suited to the Isub G tank, it can clog up the coil because the more VG it has, the thicker the liquid becomes. Likewise, the higher the PG, the harsher it's going to be. If you've got 60% or 70% VG it's a good balance - powerful vapour production, and not too much throat hit. Perfect!
 
What nicotine percentage should you go for?

All the advice I ever had from anyone in shops and online was that starting out with a tank like the i Sub G, 6mg nicotine is more than enough. Don't be fooled by going higher than that, because liquids with 12 or even 18mg of nicotine aren't designed for devices like this.

After a lot of trial and error I’ve found these websites to be the best suppliers in the UK.

If money is no object

Vapeclub www.vapeclub.com

Vapeclub website - staff picks, best e-juices or e-liquids to buy
 
The service was quick, always got the juice next day, and I think it’s a good company. They import most of the gourmet liquids from all over the world to bring it to the UK so this is a place where you can spend a lot of money quickly if you aren’t careful!

You can try award winning liquids from the USA, France, Canada etc, so there’s a lot they do that’s pretty cool. But you’d look at them as being like the Harrods of the vaping community, if that makes sense.

I started off buying from Vapeclub and went a bit mental on shopping sprees because I thought the reviews written by customers always made the juice sound so good that I wanted it all. I especially like the ‘staff picks’ section.

However, if I’m being critical, they need to drop their prices a bit, it makes it hard to justify buying e-liquid from them in the long term. It’s nice as a treat, but not sustainable.

It’s a shame, because I like the company, and their website is a whole load of fun to browse. When you’ve ordered you really look forward to that vapemail arriving! It’s like you’ve been just food shopping in Harrods. Sounds sad, but it’s true.


If you’re on a budget and still want great liquid

Rejuiced www.rejuiced.com
 
I was blown away, these guys were awesome and I liked it that they are a UK based manufacturer. First of all I did the ’10 flavours for £14.99’  100ml sample box, on the strength of the reviews. I was pleasantly surprised, because the taste was as good as many of the premium liquids I’d tried beforehand through Vapeclub.

Rejuiced selection of cheap gourmet juices for sale on their website

Bear in mind that 30ml of a premium liquid can be as much as £15, this is a great deal – you’re getting 10 flavours AND 100ml! If you’re not bothered about sexy packaging and ‘brands’ then you’ve got outstanding juice here that is as good as any gourmet stuff you can buy on the market.

I loved the selection box, and now I’ve had a chance to try flavours that weren’t in the box, these are my favourites of them all.

• Beach fruits
• Orange cream
• Blood orange
• Strawberry slush
• Pear drops
• Big mamas milk(!)

I could go into detail about why I like these flavours, but that’s probably best for another blog.


Also have a look at:

LiQuid - http://www.onepoundeliquid.com/

I’ve only ordered off them once but it does what it says on the tin, gives you a range of liquids for £1 a bottle, so you can try the ones you like the look of without breaking the bank.

Tangerine flavour e-juice by LiQuid - cheapest juice online in the UK by onepoundeliquids

I have to say that their tangerine flavour is the mutt’s nuts, one of the most moreish juices I’ve ever tried, and I WILL be making a lot of repeat order!


Finally, you might be reading this thinking, well, chump, you quit cigarettes and replaced it with something that is still addictive and potentially dangerous!

This is true, however I’m definitely spending less money per month.

I’ve also now lowered the nicotine content in my vape to 3mg. At some point I’ll feel ready to go down to 0mg of nicotine. A part of me is dreading that, but at the same time, it doesn’t seem like it’s impossible.

I won’t lie though, the honest truth is that vaping is a lot of fun, and it’s relaxing. There is still a lot we don’t know about the dangers of it, but when I compare it to the known dangers of smoking tobacco, I feel a lot better. I’ve noticed it in my lungs too, I’m feeling more fit, able to breathe easier and like my lung capacity has gone up.

So overall, 3 months into the journey of being a non smoker, I’m in a massively better place than I used to be. I feel like I’m a different person and I'm also saving money. Most importantly I'm getting to a place where I could soon shut down my nicotine cravings completely.

Volcano cloud vape meme - dude we get it you vape
Yeah, I know, I'll shut up now!

If you’ve got this far in the blog you deserve some sort of medal – so it must be a sign you’re committed to this and want to make a change. Good luck and I hope this helps you.

Please share it if you found it useful and I’d love to know your comments!
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