Wednesday, 29 August 2018

My new Fitbit Alta HR - first impressions!

I dare say some readers must be getting fed up with my in-depth posts on this fitness gadget! But look: fitness is important. It makes life extra-enjoyable. It prolongs active life (that's reminiscent of a TV dog food advert from ages ago, but it's true all the same). And the time has come in my life to get seriously pro-active about prolonging it. So no apologies. I want to share my enthusiasm.

By late afternoon yesterday my Fitbit had arrived, and I'd carefully unpacked it. I opened the box, photographing every stage. I won't show every picture, but these will give the idea.

The warranty stuff was in the envelope on the left. The sealed packet contained the USB charging cable that would plug into my laptop.

What a neat little device! Nice and simple. Interestingly, the strap wasn't in the reddish-purple colour I saw on the Amazon website, but the standard purple on Fitbit's website (which Fitbit called 'Fuschia'). Not an Amazon Special after all, then! I didn't mind. It was a nice colour all the same, and more distinctive - in my opinion - than the 'safe' black that people seemed to go for more often than not. Sue's Alta HR had a black strap. So had Diwa's. (Diwa was one of the Boots Pharmacy staff at Burgess Hill, whom I'd been chatting to earlier that day: a slim young lady keen on fitness and general wellbeing)

My new Fitbit wasn't already charged up and showing the time: those were white-printed figures on a piece of plastic film protecting the screen. The screen was, for now, dead, as I realised once that film was peeled away. But it gave a faithful impression of what the screen would show once my Fitbit was charged up. Well, let's do that.

As you can see, a special clip held the charging head fast against the electrical contacts on the underside of the tracker. I waited a short while, then tried setting it up.

You had first to pair it with your phone. With all recent Android phones (and Tigerlily was a Samsung Galaxy S8+ from last year) you not only had to turn on Bluetooth, but also GPS. It didn't matter at all about getting a location fix - you didn't have to wait for that - it was to let the phone overcome an Android security protocol that would otherwise stop it communicating with the tracker. I intended to always sync phone and tracker manually on demand, and not have continuous communication (which would be too much of a battery hit). So both types of radio needed to be switched on when syncing and updating Tigerlily's Fitbit, then both switched off again afterwards. No big deal.

They paired easily. (This was also true when I paired Verity - my Microsoft Surface Book laptop - with the Fitbit later on, to study everything on a larger screen, using the same app in its Windows 10 guise)

I put in some basic details.

And that was as far as I got for now - it seemed wise to let my device fill up with charge before attempting anything else. This I now did. I left it alone while got on with other things, such as cooking and eating my evening meal. Then I disconnected the charger and strapped my new Fitbit onto my right-hand wrist.

Looks good? I think so. I adjusted the strap so that it wasn't slack, but definitely a firm fit. But not tight. I don't like anything tight there. This was comfortable. But all the same, I was highly conscious of Something New And Strange on my wrist. However, I knew that (a) in time the strap would 'mould' itself more naturally to my wrist shape, making it even more comfortable, and that (b) I'd soon get used to wearing it. As I had with the quite-heavy 'serpent' silver bangle on my other wrist, which at first I was conscious of all the time. This gadget was lightweight by comparison.

I was now eager to try it out. So, as planned, I walked to the supermarket, then took another route back home. And once home, synced again and considered the results. 

Hmm. that thirty-five minute walk had made a difference to my day's calorie burn. And had already bumped up the number of steps for the day to 3,000 or so. Well, if the thing incentivised me to get out on foot twice a day, and generally look for ways to move around on my feet at home, then it would certainly assist my weight-watching and get me gradually fitter, which was my aim. I had no ambitions to be a star performer; just good enough to tackle hills and stairs without getting out of breath, and enjoy the effort.

I wore my Fitbit to bed. In the morning, I synced yet again and found the results fascinating. While asleep, my new device had been measuring various things, and they were set out for me in the app. Let's look at some of the screens. 

First, the opening position for today, on what Fitbit calls the Dashboard.

That's how things stood soon after I got up, and before breakfast. Most of those 1,014 steps were taken after midnight, before I went to bed, and when getting up. Let's look at them in more detail.

As you can see, I got to bed rather late (so that I slept only six hours in all). I'm glad to see that my Fitbit recorded my quick visit to the toilet for a pee around 4.00am. It wasn't sleeping on the job, then!

There was also an analysis of yesterday's Active Minutes - times when exercise taken had an effect on fat burn, and even a cardio element to it.

What a surprise! I hit my twenty-minute target yesterday. I must have walked more briskly than I thought. Let's look more closely at that walk. My Fitbit automatically recognised when I was in 'walking mode' and recorded the duration of it for later showing in the app.

I must have stepped out extra-strongly before I reached the supermarket. The dip is when I was in there, buying something. Then I walked homewards at a steady pace. There was also a screen to summarise the effect of this one piece of exercise on my day as a whole.

I think it's saying that I had just the one spell of 'Walking Exercise' yesterday, and that accounted for 2,974 of the 4,091 steps I took overall, from the moment of setting-up my Fitbit in late afternoon. 

What about overall calorie consumption?

Based on my current age, weight and height, Fitbit reckons my minimum daily calorie consumption (for just being alive) is 1,432, which provides a baseline. Well, the previous-day's exercise (enhanced by that evening walk to the supermarket and back) burned almost 300 calories. I've set a tentative daily target of 2,000 calories to use up, and to get there I must clearly do twice what I did yesterday. A morning and afternoon effort then. I wonder how soon I will need to reset that target? 

Did you notice? Even going for a pee halfway through the night burns a few calories!

I did have a couple of screens on how my six-hour sleeping went. They analysed my awake moments, my light sleep, my deep sleep, and when I had REM and was dreaming. Unfortunately I deleted all of this accidentally, before I could take a screen shot. Silly me. But I will have more stats to show by tomorrow.

Then there was information on my heart rates, both exercising and at rest. The resting figure is a key indicator of general fitness.

Fitbit automatically works out what my current 'cardio fitness' is - I don't do anything myself. 

Excellent cardio fitness? At least for women of my age? That's reassuring - but I'm taking Fitbit's first assessment with a pinch of salt! Let's see what my device records over the next few days, and then see what the app concludes.

All this is undeniably useful stuff, and highly interesting too. I now want to get on my day, and get some more results clocked up. I think this could easily become a habit. Well, that's the desired outcome. Just as eating on Slimming World lines has become habitual, so can exercising to get up to a good fitness level, and then stay there. I'm now motivated.

I really like the fact that any worthwhile movement that the Fitbit recognises as 'exercise' counts towards the daily total. Which means that an active day at home can contribute much to the day's results. I don't have to commit myself to formal exercising sessions at set times, disrupting my day, although clearly I need to set aside time every day for a brisk stroll or two. But I can do it in short bursts - basically at my convenience - and it will all count. 

I've always abandoned previous attempts at regular exercising because it stole big chunks of my day, and I couldn't see the effect in figures and graphs straight away. Now I can.

This 'little but often' approach, adding a bit more every week as I get accustomed to the effort needed, might well work for me in the long run, which is what I want. If so, buying this gadget will have been one of the better things I've done with my money. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Driving passion

I have loved driving all my life. I loved it even as a child, a passenger in the front next to Dad. (Mum and my little brother Wayne always sat in the back) I didn't pass my driving test first time, but after a couple of years' further practice I managed it on 31st August 1973. I always regarded that as one of my key lifetime achievements, and still do.

Later this week is the 45th anniversary of that seminal event. Seminal, because the ability to drive anywhere on my own led to so much. Nearly all happenings in my life since August 1973 have been assisted or made directly possible by being able to drive. And it's an accomplishment I'm still proud of, that still underpins all I do. I'd be lost without a car. For me, driving has always been a major leisure activity. And a useful one. It facilitates my photography, my holidays, most things I do socially, and all the day-to-day things like shopping. One day, when I'm very old, I won't be able to drive (or won't be allowed to), but in this far future I will still enjoy getting out and about in an advanced driverless car of the time. And not slump on a bus with all the other old biddies.

I really can't imagine the mindset of those who have never learned to drive. I'm not mocking them, of course not - my Mum never learned - but I think they miss so much, and more seriously have to live in a world where public transport, and taxis, and lifts cadged from friends are the only travel options. Options involving a lot of waiting around and probable exposure to the elements. And slow, tiring journeys.

Perhaps it doesn't matter to them. It would be unbearably irksome for me, having to rely entirely on such choices if I wanted to go anywhere. I couldn't just go out, on a whim, and travel as far as I pleased, anywhere I fancied. I'd be stuck with inflexible bus routes, and wherever the train went; and a vast number of interesting places would be out of reach. It might even be a problem getting to the shops, or to the doctor.

Now, some statistics. In those 45 years I have:

# Owned seven cars.

# Driven 586,000 miles.

I know these things, because for a very long time I've kept a spreadsheet to record such facts.

My goodness, 586,000 miles! And yet it averages out at only 13,000 miles a year. The annual average is in fact greater for the sixteen years from 2002, as a result of caravanning. In recent years, since owning Fiona, I've driven more than ever. Currently I cover 15,000 miles annually.

I'm not a petrolhead. I used to regularly watch TV programmes like Top Gear, but I now question why. I do however continue to admire upmarket, highly-capable cars intended for enjoyable driving, and would never want a small, sensible, economical town car. I keep my eye on motoring news.

My next car? Well, it must surely be an advanced hybrid, or a next-generation purely-electric car, provided it has the grunt to pull a caravan a decent distance at a good pace. Otherwise another diesel chariot - a very clean one of course. How funded? I want to own it outright, so that I can use it freely and without contractual inhibitions. That's why I make savings one of my financial priorities.


As I begin this post (at 1.41pm) I have an assurance from Amazon that delivery of my new Fibit fitness tracker will take place by 9.00pm today.

9.00pm? Surely it will come a lot sooner. I've been looking at the delivery update pages at intervals all morning.  It was this at 7.25am:

Then at 8.57am it was this:

I decided to go out and get fuel for Fiona, pick up my latest prescription at Boots, and do some shopping at Waitrose. It seemed a safe bet that my Fitbit wouldn't arrive before noon. But if it did, then Jackie and Kevin next door were both around to sign and accept the delivery on my behalf.

Then at 11.04am the position was updated to this:

Aha! But no more news since then. Grrr!

Honestly, this delivery-tracking business winds you up. I want to get my new Fitbit unpacked, charged up, set up, and doing its stuff on my wrist while I step forth on my Fitness Project. I've already thought of things I can do this afternoon that involve a local walk instead of lazily taking the car. I want, for example, to pop into to the village supermarket for some extra fruit. I also want to visit the doctors' surgery to enquire why Boots weren't given authority to dispense to me all the items I requested online. But I can't go out now until the delivery man calls.

Ho hum.

It's the same every time I order something that will have to be signed for. Life goes into Suspense Mode while you wait...and wait...and wait...

This is what Internet Shopping does to you. 

But on the other hand, I can't deny the plus points:
- I was easily able to fully research my buying options from Internet reviews. I could mull it all over at my own pace. 
- I was easily able to find a keen deal online.
- I was easily able to pay online, and choose between several delivery options. (Although I stuck with the 'next day' default option)
- I have had confirmatory emails, full of information, and with links so that I could track delivery progress. 
- I may still be waiting, but I know for certain that the goods are in Sussex and will reach me by 9.00pm. 'Next day delivery' was a big part of the deal.

That's all a huge advance on how things used to be. 

Once upon a time you set aside a Saturday morning to go into town and see what was available in the very few specialist shops that might stock what you had in mind. You might, or might not, have seen a test report in a magazine, but if not you were buying largely on some blind hunch that the thing would perform well and be nice to use. And following some axiom that the more you paid, the better the quality. Or that only expensive things stood up to wear and tear and lasted. Or that anything made by manufacturer X was superior. 

Yes, you could handle the goods at the shop: and you used those moments to assess whether the thing was well-made and had the right features. If you had no previous acquaintance with the object in question, then you had to rely on what the shop assistant said. He'd be hovering there, swearing blind that this was the best you could get, and on special offer, and all that stuff. It was always hard to leave a shop like that without having fallen victim to a hard sell. And no fourteen days to send it back if not fully satisfied. 

Oh! A red Parcel Force van has arrived. Something for me? No...

My doorbell rings! A man with a very new white van hands me a parcel that's obviously from Amazon. Nothing to sign. I write this as I'm about to open it. Too late for making enquiries today at the doctors' surgery - I'll do that tomorrow now. But I'll surely be walking to the supermarket and back later today! It stays open till 9.00pm.

Monday, 27 August 2018

My new Oyster Card

London residents enjoy wonderful transport facilities for getting around the capital by bus, tram, underground and regular national rail. Services are frequent, use modern high-tech vehicles and trains, and go to all parts of the city.

The fare structure has long been simplified, and payment has gone electronic: nowadays cash is not accepted, at least not on buses.

A lot of people use an Oyster Card. This is a plastic smart card you load up with credit, which you gradually use up with whatever travel you do within London. You just tap it against a special terminal when stepping onto a bus, or going through an underground barrier. When the credit runs low, you just top it up. You use the same card until it gets lost or damaged. The credit lasts forever, or until you want to stop using Oyster, when you get back whatever unused credit remains.

You can instead pay contactlessly, briefly holding your credit card (or phone) against the same terminal. But that means exposing that precious credit card or phone to a lot of people passing very close by, some of them running, and who knows which of them is to be trusted? If your card or phone were whisked out of your grasp, you wouldn't stand any chance of a successful pursuit. So one of the attractions of an Oyster Card is that your potential loss is strictly limited. That's all the public sees.

Another is that, unlike with ordinary contactless payments, you can get the benefit of any concessions allowed. So one can go to a Transport for London travel office and - having produced the necessary concession card and some ID - get one's Oyster Card linked to (say) one's National Rail Senior Railcard, and secure a useful discount on most off-peak routes. That's what my cousin Rosemary has done.

It all seems a very reasonable scheme. There's a website Oyster Online where you can top up your credit very quickly, and do other things, including plan any TFL journey and track where you've been to, and how. Some of that can be done or seen on the linked app for your phone.

Rosemary visits London from Kent as much as once a month. I have been avoiding travel to London altogether. I haven't visited central London since August 2013 - five years ago. But that is going to change. Not only are occasional visits to see my friend Roz on the horizon, but I want to see things at the museums and galleries, and generally do the 'tourist thing' on day trips now and then. So a way of getting around central London by the underground (mostly) or a bus (sometimes) without constantly shelling out money for full-cost fares is most welcome. Plus I want the valuable convenience of never having to queue for a ticket.

I've taken a leaf out of Rosemary's book, and got myself an Oyster Card. You don't have to be a London resident - anybody can apply for one, wherever they live. The scheme is for visitors too.

I applied online, and it took only a day to arrive. It came with £15 worth of credit I'd bought when applying. That should be quite sufficient for my first two visits.

With the card in my hands, I then installed the TFL Oyster Card app on my phone, and having registered the card number, the app showed my opening credit. 

That figure will reduce as I make use of the card. When, and how often, don't matter.

So, I'm all set up for my first trip to central London for years. I'll take the ordinary train to (say) London Victoria station, and then step forth from there, ready to take many photographs. And I mean 'step forth' - I will want to do 10,000 steps or more while there, and I'll have the gadget to record the achievement! It may be that my Fitbit will help me make more of an effort to get around by foot than in the past. Even if it rains.

I changed my mind and bought one. But I was tricked when buying.

As often happens, if you sleep on something you feel differently about it next morning.

I'd gone to bed with the two Fitbit fitness trackers discussed in yesterday's post dismissed from my mind. But the notion of using one to get me walking about a lot more, and to gradually achieve a decent level of fitness, wouldn't go away.

The particular device that had set off this current enthusiasm for improving my fitness was the Fitbit Alta HR - what Sue had been wearing on her wrist last Friday over lunch. I'd liked its styling, obvious quality, light weight, and how the strap felt. At a quick glance, it resembled a woman's bracelet. But I thought its screen was too small, and its functionality too limited, and it didn't seem to be what I needed. I had in mind something much more on the lines of a proper sports watch with a big screen and umpteen bells and whistles. That was a mistake: I would never use them. I would be served well enough by a less complicated device. At less cost, too.

So after writing yesterday's post, and before I went to bed, I looked more closely at the Alta HR.

And I looked even more carefully this morning. I read the reviews again. Hmm. Although simpler than the two models considered yesterday - and, yes, cheaper to buy - it still offered rather more than I'd probably ever need. But it was a device definitely recommended for the average person. And there was Fitbit's oh-so-useful app to study on my phone - accumulating statistics, and producing from them graphs to reveal trends and progress towards better personal fitness.

I thought: this would complete my modern 'walking kit'. I had already, back in April, switched to a small, lightweight, cross-body bag from Pittards - much less to carry, when out and about. Last month I purchased Memory-Map's all-GB OS Explorer map for my phone and laptop - perfect for planning walks, and plotting them on the map with GPS as I walked along. Why not add an Alta HR, to record my steps, my heart rate, and some other fitness things besides? And apart from both being able to tell me the time of day, with alarms set if I wanted them, there was no overlap between Fitbit and phone.

The online TechRadar review gave today's best prices, among them Amazon's. I clicked through, and there was the Amazon deal: £119.99 with next-day delivery. As compared to £129.99, if I bought it from Fitbit's website. A no-brainer. I already had an Amazon account. A few more clicks later, and my order was made and confirmed. (I'd better stay in tomorrow, until it's delivered. If I go food shopping, the delivery man is bound to call, no matter how quick I am)

So what have I bought? Here's some of the Alta HR stuff on Fitbit's website.

Just to be perfectly clear, I do not in any way mean to exert myself in the way the girl on the right in the lower screenshot is doing!

Lots of strap colours, but the strap on the Fitbit I've bought is in a colour not shown above. It's close to the magenta one, but to my eyes somewhat more red. An Amazon Special, perhaps?

I will definitely give the sleep-monitoring a go. I do sleep OK, and usually wake up refreshed; but I ought to go to bed earlier, and it would be interesting to see what benefit there might be if I changed my habits.

There's Fitbit's own price: £129.99. And that's what the ordinary black-strapped Alta HR looks like. I think Sue had that colour. So I thought it best to choose another colour for my own. Amazon's illustration showed one with a plum-red colour that almost exactly matched my lipstick. That would do nicely. So this is what I've bought.

The strap size was important. I thought I'd be a 'small', but in fact (after careful measuring) I had to specify 'large' (only just, though). 

And here below are two pictures to show how my lipstick-coloured Fitbit will appear. I know, I know. I resemble neither that slim athletic teenage girl, nor that trendy mum with her daughter. But hey.   

The Amazon purchasing process was slick - perhaps too much so. And they spoilt it by hooking me into Amazon Prime, against my will.

I have an ordinary Amazon account, but I'm not a very regular customer. I will, at odd intervals, purchase a few mp3 music tracks. A much bigger purchase like this Fitbit is a rarity. Prime membership has its perks, but I'd never buy enough to use them.

So I did my best not to fall into the trap of signing up for a 'free 30-day trial' of Amazon Prime. But I must somehow have clicked on the wrong onscreen button, because after the order was made I got a message confirming that I was now going to enjoy that free trial.

Oh, how did that happen? I didn't want Prime membership at all, on any basis, because there's a monthly payment. As expected, the small print said that there would be an automatic run-on into paid membership after 30 days. £7.95 a month, I think they said.

No way.

So I spent the next quarter of an hour trying to get out of this. I took screenshots of each stage, as evidence of what I did to extricate myself from this unwanted commitment. You had to go from screen to screen, with Amazon extolling the advantages of Prime membership on each one; and each time you had to confirm that you really, really wanted out. After several screens, I finally got my way, meaning that I wouldn't have ongoing Prime membership. Amazon sent me an email confirming that.


But what a palaver. I feel tricked. And it wasn't easy to escape the trap set for me. I'll be very wary of you henceforth, Amazon!

Hmm, I hope they don't mess around with my order, out of spite.

Same day, early evening
Well, all credit to Amazon. They have processed my order fast. I have a just received an email to say that it's been 'dispatched'. That means it's now on its way to whatever local delivery firm they are using in my area. I can track my Fitbit's progress by tapping the link on the email. I might get a chance to nip out for fuel and shopping after all!

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Fitness wristbands and watches

A couple of days ago I was enjoying a light lunch locally with Sue and Valerie, and Sue was showing us the Fitbit fitness wristband her husband Dave had bought for her. I think she said he had one too. Both Sue and Dave are keen on walking as much as possible, and both take their little cockerpoo dog Molly for long country walks, which keeps them all healthy.

Now I would most definitely say that I pay great attention to what I eat and drink, and I have no unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive drinking, and so on. But I can't claim to be fit. I get out of breath on any slope, and can't run any distance. I am not the worst. I tested myself on the steep hill at Robin Hood's Bay in Yorkshire last June, and managed a credible 100 yards before being forced to quit. Indeed a couple watching me said 'Well done!'

So I am not yet a lost cause, and with a steady long-term programme of ever-more-strenuous walking could get back to a reasonable state of fitness. Walking will do nicely - it fits in so well with photography.

In fact, it's vital that I get a good deal fitter, if I want to live long and be active into my eighties and nineties. Gym-type exercises have no appeal, and I am not at all sporty. I am not even competitive. But I can set a personal target and work at it until I get there, if it will secure a clear and obvious personal benefit. Losing weight, for example. And it's the time of my life when a small but permanent improvement in general fitness will pay great dividends, and enhance the effect of keeping my weight down.

So I'm in the mood to look at what fitness bands and watches can do for me. I am so lacking in physical energy. I want to train myself into a better state. And the more energetic I become, the more I will do.

A lot of this is of course psychological. With a fitness device strapped to one's wrist, one feels much more inclined to take credible exercise - to walk around more anyway! It's a reminder not to be slothful, a constant nudge to do things the energetic way, to climb stairs, and move briskly.

And nobody can wear a band or watch that screams 'Look at me! I am fit!' to the world at large without needing to live up to that image. Indeed, the larger and more sporty the watch looks, the more imperative it becomes to be truly active, otherwise it's just a worthless pose.

So, what kind of wrist-worn device? There are bands and smartwatches. The bands are slender, and of course lightweight, but have small screens. The smartwatches are chunkier and heavier, but do have big, easily-read screens. The bands are primarily devoted to fitness monitoring. The smartwatches are like miniature smartphones, and presently the best one offered by Apple is king. All types will of course tell you the time of day. But then your phone will do that. I wouldn't buy a fitness band or smartwatch just to have the time on my wrist. They have to offer a lot more.

On the other hand, I don't want a smartwatch. It will duplicate too much of what I have a phone for, and that would be money wasted. Whereas a device centred on fitness will not, and I will get the most benefit from whatever it might cost. I have therefore been looking seriously at Fitbit's line-up, and two devices in particular. The Versa, launched earlier in 2018 and now available to buy, which is the larger and more expensive. And the smaller and less expensive Charge 3, recently announced but not on sale until October.

Let's visit the Fitbit website. Here's series of screenshots, taken with my laptop.

If you want to do this yourself, the website is at

Let's contemplate the smaller Charge 3 first.

The watch syncs with the phone, and you can study all kinds of stuff using the larger phone screen.

It's certainly a neat little device, even though its screen is wider than the Fitbit Alta HR that Sue was showing me. The wider screen makes it better for reading the displayed information. Mind you, the display isn't a colour one: just black and white, and shades of grey. 

It's £129.99. If I were very keen to have one, I'd go for the black silicone wristband. The white band looks nicer, but it would soon look grubby. A grey band would be nice too. But not the others: I'd hate that rose-gold case. 

Next, the Versa. This is more expensive - £199.99 - but you get a lot more for the cash. As the name implies, it's meant to be highly customisable, both physically and electronically. It's half-way to being a smartwatch, but if I bought one there still wouldn't be any significant overlap with my phone.

In the screenshots that follow, you can see some of the strap/case/time-display combinations, some of which seem in good taste, others less so.

A long list of functions, most of them fitness-related. Here's what some of them look like on-screen.

Yes, that's video coaching on your wrist. Crikey. That's not me in the video.

I wouldn't invest in Bluetooth earphones, just to listen to a small selection of tracks stored on the watch. But who knows.

The aluminium cases come in black (fine with me), silver (fine) and rose-gold (not to my taste at all). If you want to buy just the basic product at £199.99, then the case/strap combinations are limited to three, and you don't have a completely free choice of every combination possible.   

The case/strap combinations that cost only £199.99 are black/silicone black, silver/silicone grey and rose-gold/silicone pink. The other two, with fabric straps, cost £219.99. It would however be possible to buy any strap (or straps) as an accessory, and in that way customise your watch to your exact preference. But it would set you back by £24.99 per strap. The accessory straps include a nice silver case/white silicone strap, which I'd consider if I grew tired of the original silicone strap, and wanted to try something else.

Really, I'd be most inclined to go for the grey strap/grey case combination, and let them whistle for anything more than £199.99. It looks fine.

The accessory straps include luxury designs in leather. They look very, very nice, but are impractical - you mustn't get them wet. I suppose they are for sophisticated occasions only.

So: would I actually buy one of these Fitbit fitness watches? Shall I take the plunge? 

I do need to address my lack of fitness, but buying a gadget is only a means to that end. A Charge 3 or a Versa is a tool, and only that. It might motivate me to take more exercise, and it can show me the result, but life is more than just moving around. I can't help feeling that after a short while I would get bored with spending time trying to exercise sufficiently. And then the thing would become just a fancy device to tell me the time. But I have clocks everywhere in my home, and in front of me as I drive along. A wristwatch just to tell the time with is unnecessary, and I'd end up taking it off and putting it away in a drawer. As I eventually have with all the watches I've owned since retiring thirteen years ago.

It's raining hard outside. Would a fitness watch get me into waterproof clothing and out onto the streets for a few thousand steps? No, it wouldn't. I think that's sufficient answer! I need some other incentive for a good tramp - such as the prospect of some wonderful pictures. 

Besides, £200-odd is a lot of money. It represents, for instance:

# The fuel and site fee cost for a five or six day caravan holiday.
# The price of fitting a new tyre on Fiona.
# Seven or eight pretty good pub lunches. 
# Three pairs of new shoes at full cost.

And I could just save the money. I do have a savings target to keep in mind!

There are also some other considerations. 

I don't like anything strapped tightly on my wrist, especially if it needs to be there 24/7. And a fitness watch, however stylish, however customised, doesn't have the elegance of a proper item of jewellery, nor indeed the simple elegance of a bare wrist. Like a lot of 'wearables' it needs to have a certain amount of bulk to be easily usable. 

I'd think of wearing a big watch if it could replace my phone in all important respects, but it can't. The phone would remain my major always-with-me gadget: the universal one with extraordinary functionality that I can't do without.  

There could be occasions, too, when a fitness watch would look unsuitable or inappropriate. It's not an item you can keep out of sight, as you might a phone. It's meant to be big and obvious, by design. Not for funerals, then, nor any kind of grave or important occasion. 

So it's a 'no'.