Sunday, 31 May 2009

Today was a bad day on the water. I disagree with the T shirt and would rather have been in the office. Having spent a week in Portugal sailing in a lagoon with consistent winds and sunshine, with a fantastic instructor on a stable catermaran, we decided that I should put my skills to good use and get out on the Topper. Now, I am still bobbing up and down inside. It is small, driven by only one person and has a daggerboard and bobs from side to side in a manner which is impossible for a boat with two hulls. It also has a very responsive rudder, which resulted in me going round in circles. I totally panicked and froze and was crying and could not think what to do to get myself going again in any direction. It was awful. R was trying really hard to explain ( first from alongside in another boat, then he decided to sit on my boat and help me) but the wind kept changing direction and the boat felt really unstable and I was miserable.

The week previous had been great days on the water! I felt myself moving from unconscious incompetence through conscious incompetence to conscious competence, so you can imagine how depressing it was today to step back into entirely consciousl incompetence. Jackie had faithfull taught me to sail the RNR way, ie by repeating all instructions 3 times and using the proper sailing lingo, like chocks away, tally ho, and so on. R tends to use everyday words like 'turn left' where Jackie, and other proper sailing people, would say 'starboard tack ready about lee ho' or some such drivel. We were staying in Portugal with R's dad and Jackie, his partner, who luckily for us is a good sailor and worked really hard carting us about in her car and shopping and cooking for us hungry sailors. The sailing school was a 15 min drive from their house, and we spent every day there, H had a lesson each day in an Optimist, and on the last day went out on her own and did really well before needing to be rescued when she banged her knee and couldn't sail back in to the school. I know how she felt! A went on the Cat with R, and another little girl we met took a couple of rides with them too. The girls had a go in a canoe with the lovely family we met down there.

Apart from sailing, we weeded the boules pitch and did a few runs to keep limbered up for next events. The girls had some borrowed bikes and the house has a long drive, so that and the weeding kept them amused. It was fun to do so much together, and I really enjoyed the time I took R on the cat to show off my new found helming skills, but shame they didn't translate into Southampton Water. The weather, however, was very Portuguese today, temperatures over 25 all day.

In the garden, we have been eating the fruit of my labours in the way of lettuces, which are something I seem to do very well ( too well, got sick of them last year). Its all looking good, and I am back on the radio in a couple of weeks to tell the listeners of BBCRadio Solent how to garden. Also ate a home grown strawberry. Only 4 ready, and they the size of peas. I can not believe they don't have anyone in the whole of the Solent area better qualified than me to talk gardening.

We flew out with TAP, who come highly recommended, serving child friendly food before they served the adults. No veggie option though. We flew back with Easy Jet, who did board the families first, so we could sit together, and who managed to get the plane from A to B, with a very smooth landing, so not bad. However, Stavros or whatever his name is has clearly upset someone at Gatwick, as we landed on the Tesco car park in Brighton, or it felt like it from the length of bus journey to get to the terminal. I think we did 2 laps of the perimeter fence. It was a late night, but here we are, courtesy of Easy Jet and my bro who picked us up and delivered us to our car on his road before midnight. No flights booked for any more holidays - I know, you are used to us being the jet set in your life! next trip is to Yorkshire to stay in a train.

At Lisbon airport I noticed an older lady with a T shirt with the following slogan:

Was there just an earthquake or did I rock your world?

She was not a svelte lady. It reminded me of a cook in the Camp we did in Croatia with the Bosnian church back in 1998. The food was essentially bread and jam for breakfast and tea, and bread and stew for lunch. Once in 3 weeks I had an egg, and there were sightings of pate. Anyhow, you get the picture with regard to the monotony of the diet. Her T shirt, clearly something she had got from an Aid package sent from UK during the recent war, had the English slogan:

Same shit, different day.

Which we UK volunteers thought funny, and she did too when one of the Bosnians translated it for her. The US volunteers might have found it funny were they not busy with their heads up their own ... sorry, where was I? Croatia. We did not hit it off with the team from Vineyard church somewhere or other, Atlanta maybe, although I have since then met some fantastic Amercian Christians. They didn't really 'get' R's sense of humour, which not many of us do, its a bit dry to say the least, so lost somewhere in the Atlantic.

I was sad to miss the week of Britain's Got Talent, but made it home in time for the final, where I was delighted to see the people I would have voted for if I had managed to find my mobile, won! Isn't is sad or ironic or something that more people voted on BGT than are likely to vote in the European election on Thursday? I mention it to scare you into voting, as in my world people would get their fingers chopped off if they didn't exercise their democratic rights. Which is probably not very democratic, is it? Poor Amanda got the wrong side of my tongue with her 'I don't believe in voting' comment at tea tonight, one of those throwaway comments which brings me out with all my guns blazing ready for a fight. So don't even go there with me, ok? Just vote, spoil your paper if you want to, but don't tell me you can't be bothered. There's some famous saying about bad men winning when good men stand by and do nothing, and frankly, that is where its at, so vote, for anyone you like the sound of. I will wheel out every suffragette and prisoner of conscience in my argument, so just do it, OK? I love going and voting and feel proud to live in a country where I can. Back to BGT, wasn't it interesting to see the diversity of people represented on the programme. I mean, someone from Wales, someone from Scotland, someone from Cyprus pretending to be from Ireland, I was impressed with the diversity, as well as with Diversity! Haha. I think the Queen will like them, more than she would the other lot. Aidan was great, wasn't he, but I was glad it was a troupe who won, as Queenie probably had her fill of dancing solo boys with George last year. I did observe that the finalists only included 3 females, and about 30 or so males, not sure what that says, but an observation I put out there for your own analysis.

In the village in Portugal which we ran through there was a pink house, with a shrine of Mary behind a window, with flowers all around her. In an act of profound cosideration, the window had a blind which was pulled down to avoid the sun shining in the Blessed Virgin's eyes. How nice is that? The houses were a tribute to Ballamorey, with some fab shades of this season's yellows and pinks, oranges and greens, the Portuguese are clearly a fashion following lot, even using their houses to accessorise their outfits. The general feel of the country was something slightly like Bosnia and Cyprus, both of which were very run down and messy in my opinion. Maybe its the whole of southern Europe, where there are no fences, no gutters, no pavements, no anything much but I guess who cares when the sun is shining? The council tax (rates) are about a tenth of what they are in UK, for a house double the size, so there can't be much money around to bother with potholes.

Friday, 22 May 2009

At the working men's club in Netley there is a sign which has always amused me. 'We have 3 rifles teams. Fancy a go? Come in and ask!' I imagine the club members rounding on anyone who dares to come in and ask for a go, shooting them at point blank range and thus maintaining the use of the rifles for themselves.

Yesterday I managed to get out for my short standard run, having now booked in to do an aquathon and another triathlon I need to keep getting those Green Flash out on the tracks. Today I did a very long way round cycle from Grange Park to Netley, and then home, but did have some chips and a yogurt drink in celebration of it being Friday and a week off work. Today I dressed as Winnie the Witch, using clothes donated by Hattie, Emma and Libby. No one could help me out with blue high heels though.

Monday, 18 May 2009

The weekend saw the girls and I in Wales. The weather lived up to its reputation, with the rain and gusty wind mixing it up with sunshine, just enough of the rays to trick us on to the beach ( in wet suits), with time for A to make one sandcastle before we were retreating to the car, bath and watching a DVD of Annie under a duvet. Claire and Ingemar live in a very comfortable little estate house in a village a few miles from the coast at Porthcawl. I went for a run from their door, within 2 minutes I was in proper countryside with stawberries growing in the hedgerows. Dragged the girls up there for a walk later, they liked the muddy puddles but we didn't cover the same ground. We got to Wales by train, which is something between a challenge and a joy. the train reservation system seemed to break down on the way home, when another lady had the same seat reservation as me, so she sat on my lap from Bristol to Swindon. The girls were generally good, with me displaying saintly patience for most of the miles, except the Bristol to Swindon ones.

The beaches around Porthcawl are fabulous, sandy, but sadly the wind made surfing lessons impossible for us, we just watched from a steamed up car. We had fish and chips in a smart retro style diner, with a Dyson airblade hand drier which always elevates establishments into my top 3. The chips were a bit pasty looking, clearly the Welsh like their chips semi raw.

Several times I noticed a van which was advertising 'Dunromin' double glazing, with the tag line 'your dreams - our reality.' Now, that is weird. My most recurrent dream is the first day of term eve one ( all teachers will get this one in some guise or other) where I am a teacher, but all the children are the ones who were in my class at junior school. So there I am trying to keep control over Rolf Neset, Jo Pank, Jo Lobo, Lizzi Huggins, Mark Lane ( holidayed in Greece - how posh - dad a police officer), Adrain Stockbridge ( lived near me and we once did homework together)Mark Blakely Smith (holidayed in Crete, dad also a police officer), Richard Pierce (one of my favourite funny boys), Lydia Rushton (burnt lip kissing her reflection in a kettle), Vicki Woodhouse, Mel Cross, Andrew Osborne, Martin Poet, Emma something ( mum into organic food - this is the 1980s!)Anna Gosling, Nikki Smith, Carla Mc Gilchrist, Jenni Lynch, Michelle Wells( think she may have died of a brain tumour - along with 2 other people who lived on the same road - surely not a coincidence?), Patrick Barker, David Billet ( hole in the heart, mum's a faith healer hippie type)... sorry if I missed you off the list. I was the clever girl with lots of black curly hair who was really good at maths back then...)

Anyhow, the point is, how weird that this double glazing firm live in that kind of reality, where the teacher is surrounded by her peers who slowly begin an uncontrollable riot.

We went to Claire's church on the Sunday, an interesting mix of total devotions to Isaiah 58 and serving the poor in their community, with a very Welsh take on the big worship experience thing. As the most charismatic our gatherings get is a shut eye or two, the girls were a bit clingy and no sure how to take the loud utterances of Jesus and Alleluia etc etc from the stage. I really don't do churches with stages and lights on the worship team, but forgave them as they are so good at the gospel! If you wondered where Mark Knopfler ended up, he's playing the guitar in a church near Bridgend. Man, he sounded worse than Pete Kitts on his toilet guitar. I mean better, if that's possible.

Further to my plan to get around Easy Jet's tight baggage allowance by wearing our wetsuits on the flight, I tried mine on today ( it arrived at the weekend). Wow, its tight. Wished I had told R I was a size 14 and could have had a chance at lung function. I recall this problem with a wetsuit before, when I bought one in 2000 from a lady in Warsash. I passed that on to Deb, so if you know her, you get the picture. ( For the benefit of non Deb fans, she is one of the thinnest people I know).

I have found a couple of new triathlons to enter, so please holler if you want to join in. It's fun! And you might surprise yourself. Sadly the sailing wetsuit seems not to cut the mustard (huh) when it comes to tri suits, so will be continuing in pools only, can't bear the idea of a lake yet. My new school has a swimming pool, which will hopefully make up for it not having a projector in the classroom. I cycled there today to meet my new jobshare partner, and if I had just taken a dip and ran around the field I could have invented a new triathlon. The school field is huge, bigger than any I have ever seen. Literally stretches to the horizon. It was a rough bike ride, due to the bad wind (not my own), with the twin towers at the top of the hill causing a funnel effect I was literally cycling and getting nowhere. I came home through a steelement that is very near my home but which I had never come across before, its called Buttocks Heath, and is near Netley Abbey, it has a store and 2 pubs, and seems to be a pleasant enough little place. Weird that I had driven and ridden so near it but never through it before. It's really near Tescos at Burseldeon.

Butlocks Heath. Sorry.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Eastleigh yesterday. I had booked in for a cours at the college but got there and waited while everyone else got called for their family history, pottery etc etc, silly old me had missed the answerphone message saying it was cancelled. I was really cross, and got home to find that the answerphone does not work, but the BT 1571 was awash with messages, which I never really check - so, now I know. Anyhow, I tried to make the best of a bad hand, what with having cycled to Eastleigh, and checked out a few charity shops, but my heart wasn't in it. Ended up sat in the library ( Eastleigh has a HUGE shelf section about trains) reading the TES. Which saved £1.40 on buying it. R had taken the girls to the fun club at the gym and decided to meet me for a Poppins lunch, which my heart wasn't in either. Took the girls to the great park in Eastleigh and played there for ages while R did haircut and bought some new trainers from the specialist running shop. One funny thing about that shop is that it is next door to a stannah stairlift and mobility scooter shop - side by side at different ends of the spectrum of fitness. Cycled home which is uphill, feeling weak, and stopped at a tesco express for a muffin and a fanta 0. Had a funny conversation with a lady who was intrigued by my racing bike and how much the saddle hurt. I told her 'quite a lot' and offered her a go but she was not keen.

Was delighted to wake to a text message saying that the new Miss House is in the world. I am sure she is as cute as her sister and as beautiful as her mum. Our little church had Godly play today ( we are the only church in the world who put something on for the children, and then wonder what to do with the adults - 'just shove them in another room with some colouring, they'll be fine...'). I was leading the story ( my favourite job) and Adam was ably door keeping for me. The wondering was amazing- they made links with other bible stories they knew, even Abbi, who is 3! The more Godly play they do, the better they get at linking the stories together, and the fact that you get to wonder about God, Jesus, and the characters in the bible stories is just awesome. After a shared lunch, somehow the ladies got roped in to go and clean up the House House after the birth - which happened at home but was a bit messy. I volunteered quickly for kitchen duties and got on with loading and unloading the dishwasher, while everyone else upstairs made secret vows never to have more children or become a midwife.

Just been for a outdoor swim in the deliciously warm pool. H did her test for her Advanced Swimmer Brownie badge while we were there, and passed. It meant A and I had time just for us two to play sharks. Her choice, not mine, some nasty wounds inflicted.

Friday, 8 May 2009

I worked out that I was beaten by 75 women, and came ahead of 50 other women. Which makes me feel better than coming 300 and something th out of 400! R is really keen to do another, however I fear that our finances might not be able to cope with yet another dent of a fitness variety, as most of our disposable income these days goes on various sporting pursuits. I am going to join Triathletes UK and get a small discount every time I enter, and with all the outdoor training its almost not worth going to the gym, but I do love the outdoor pool and the spa stuff. Got annoyed there today by crowds and water too cold, so will drive a hard bargain renegotiating our membership. As one of my reasons for joining was learning tennis I ought to get around to that sometime soon.

I am doing a 'Godily play' this Sunday after a bit of a break, am hoping to use a few at school shortly too. School has been fun this week, but tiring, we had our family assembly on Wednesday which meant lots of rehearsals and tired teachers and children. I was very stern today with the non library book bringers, but nice to the rest. We have learnt about Grace Darling, and they have done some really good writing this week, when you look back in their writing books to the start of the year you can really see their progress.

I forgot to say that H won a Barbie microphone and stand, but the stand is broken. It spurred me on to enter some great competitions tonight, including one for a watercress cookbook. I have a coupon to enter the same competition that I entered last year for the garden design if you are interested let me know. The Alresford watercress festival is on next Sunday and includes Morris dancing and the world watercress eating championships. Its got to be the best event of the year! I love watercress, I could enter that, its really healthy and low calorie and tasty. I challenge you to go up against me and take the victory from me!

Not much of note happening, I have not watched TV for over a week but not deliberately, just not had time to breathe let alone sit down. But this weekend is less action packed. I do have to buy some small luggage and a wetsuit. We are taking our own wetsuits and buoyancy aids to Portugal and I have concluded that it would be best to wear them in order to minimise packing. This might not show much faith in the pilot though. I nearly made R wear his sallopettes on the plane on the ski holiday and he refused, so I think he will be less than keen to go in wetsuit on another aeroplane. But why not? In fact, I might wear all my clothes and not have to put anything in the hold. I once stood in the Tate Liverpool and watched a video of a man putting on lots of clothes in a public toilet, in the name of art. R was sat in the cafe drinking coffee. He doesn't do modern art. Or old art much, actually.

Girls are vying for a pasta treat to Disneyland Paris. Pasta treat indeed! I have suggested if they can defer and fill up the jar three times it might be an option ( I want to go anyway). They keep losing pasta at the moment, so we will not get there ever if they continue to whinge at each other. My brother was laughing at H's description of me describing Blackgang Chine as 'the worst place on earth and I am never going again, you can if you work there when you are 18'. Surely Disney's offering is nicer than the Isle of Wight's falling cliff chimney pot walk experience? It's Angus's 3rd birthday today. We went to Blackgang Chine for his 2nd birthday. Luckily they are not on the Isle of Wight this time so we are saved from that doom. A swim to the Isle of Wight, a cycle across it one way and a run across it the other would be a good tri though wouldn't it?

Monday, 4 May 2009

So, here are the eagerly awaited times of my first triathlon ( so you can secretly train and beat me next time:)

overall, 1.31.50 came 326th out of 406 finishers.

swim: 10.30 - rank 352
bike: 47.24 - rank 286
run: 33.21 - rank 350

So, as you can see, my bike was by far my best leg, and the other 2 much of a muchness. Swimming was impeded somewhat by being in a lane with a lady left over from last night's aquarobics who thought doggy paddle was compulsory, so struggled with a bodged overtaking and had to walk the last half length behind her, so think I could gain 30 seconds next time on the swim. Cycle was fab, really flat and fast and the bike did the job! I knew R was trying to catch up on the bike ( he started 10 minute later) and it gave me a great incentive to not let him. I finished the run about 30 seconds ahead of him in the end, he came in with an awesome overal of 1.21.55. The winners were just under an hour, so pretty good eh? Run - aargh. First 2k my legs were like jelly and it was on really long and uneven tufty grass, felt like we were going on a bear hunt. The middle 2k were fine, got some speed and better surface, but the last 1k was mainly around the perimeter of the school field and seeing the finish but having to go so far round to reach it was grim. Running on my fresh legs last month I could do 4 minutes quicker, and on hillier terrain, so really I could improve the run by a couple of minutes. My aim was between 1hr 40 and 1hr 50 so I am delighted to be nearer 1hr 30, and next time will aim for under 1hr 30! I totally recommend it to anyone who enjoys running dripping through a leisure centre car park in just your bathers. So, any takers? The finish was a bit of an anticlimax compared to the Bolt round the Holt, no banana or gift pack, just a glass of water.

There was no reason to walk around bare foot before the race, but lots of people seemed to think it was clever. Because people start from 9am til 12 noon, there is always something going on and the best people go last, so I guess technically they could be finished before the first people. WE didn't hang around for the prize giving, guessing that the medals don't string out to 232nd or 326th. It was quite fun in the end doing the transitions despite me being really nervous about those bits. Some people set out a little stool (as in like a bench, not a sample) to put their possessions on, but I just put mine on my towel on the ground.

We enjoyed a Pizza Express lunch together in Fleet, before heading off to Little Bookham, or more precisely to Polesden Lacey to join H, A and the A A A Gibbs family for little A's 3rd birthday picnic. It was cold and drizzling and they had stuck it out for a good few hours, and as we arrived the various babies started crying and everyone headed for home. So, back to triple A (baby number 2 on the way - Alex? Alice? Andrea? or Alec?) for a well earned cuppa before returning to Southampton to deliver Matthew and Anna their tea - we went for the fish and chip lazy man's option as there had been little opportunity to knock up a souffle or similar. I have just treated myself to a post first triathlon massage a la Jackie Brown, so feeling loads less knotty than before.

Will I be doing it again? Oh yes! The massage that is, not the tri!! Only joking, am just off now to find one for Sarah and I to do together.