Friday, 23 July 2010

As you know, I write here for the benefit of my non cycling public, although almost anyone can do it and i recommend it heartily. However, life is more than 2 wheels and I am delighted to announce the end of term. Yes, it happened today, and right now at after 11pm I am finally sat down and about to have a rare glass of wine. Rare cos it doesn't mix with training, but the last two weeks haven't involved much of that, as I have either felt not right or been at work or dreaming about work. But, here we are, on the eve of a hugely long holiday, with my first ever experience of doing the same classroom twice so no moving stuff and I managed to get books and folders ready for next year. When I say I, really I mean we, as my great LSAs were seriously on the case and did lots of the dirty work. The children were great too, we had a jobs wheel ( ie a rotation of 5 activities and 5 groups), and one of the jobs was sharpening pencils and another was helping me. We even got the maths resources tidied up. I had a bumper wine harvest, 5 bottles, from lovely families to say thank you for taking their kiddies off their hands for hours at a time, day in day out. Oh, and helping them learn something. Chocolates too, and a couple of mugs, some flowers and some shower gel. I gave the girls smellies for their teachers, and they also made cakes to take in for the helpers. I competely respect the mum who told her child 'we don't give presents to teachers as they are just doing their job' - absolutely, I agree! I think it is one of the few public sector jobs where you are allowed to accept gifts - probably you aren't and they are tax deductible, in which case you didn't read any of this.

I accidentally mislead my class yesterday by telling them the reason we had no fruit for them at breaktime was because the new prime minister had decided that the government was not going to pay for it anymore. That was the message I had received. It turns out we had run out and the greengrocer wasn't delivering, and DC has not made a decision yet. Thatcher Thatcher Milk Snatcher, I can hardly see any outcome other than fruit being abolished, so 4-7 year olds won't get their one a day anymore. LSAs are in for the chop as well, we hear, so soon I will have no LSA, no fruit and probably no pens and paper in the next budget. Hey ho. The free swimming for children is being stopped too, in another short sighted move which will increase spending long term as more obese people have obese children and the health problems related to that, and they will not even be eating a piece of fruit to help alleviate the stodgey diet they exist on. Free swimming for children is so cheap compared to the benefits for the whole family. But then, who asked me?

The Claygate flower show provided the usual exciting entertainment you can expect from Morris Men, the scout band and a few pods of peas. The peas were thrilling, as my brother entered for the first time and got second for his peas, with my dad trailing in third place. Overall my dad got his usual haul of cups, 8 this time, including best exhibit in the show for an amazing Lily stem with tens of open blooms. H got a second prize, worth £2 for her poster design, and A managed a highly commended for getting 36 different objects in a match box. My mum got a third for her victoria sandwich I believe. There was a lot of competition in the baking classes, and the cake made by a gentleman class had to be seen to be believed. Our friend Jo came along for her first ever Claygate experience and found it a bit of a culture shock after Bangladesh, where the fruit and veg are of different varieties and there is a prize for the juciest mango. Jo managed to do the whole English summer in one go, with great weather and two sports days to go and watch, plus 2 clarinet concerts and a choir concert, she certainly got her money's worth from her visit. She also came to H's birthday party, which involved me setting a trail in Telegraph woods and H and various friends, family and haggard parents following it to find me and the picnic at the end. The sun shone and it all went without a hitch, and H seemed happy with the outcome. Her birthday present from R and GMary is a new bike, and A has moved up to H's second last one, with gears for the first time, so we are now able to ride further than just a few metres without A crashing or giving up, and R took the two of them by bike to the swimming pool yesterday, and back, and all I had to do was cook tea. My present to H is having her ears pierced, so we are planning a trip to town to do the deed. She had them done a few years back but was too young to deal with them independently and we gave up, so this is a second chance. I won't take her to the place I had mine done, which was a serious piercing parlour with ears a minor part of the body hardly mentioned in the price list and the price list giving options for piercings I didn't know existed. Ouch.

Monday, 12 July 2010

During my various bike rides around the nation, I have taken to observing the names people give their homes. A regular on my route is Karma, a nice touch, but I never feel like I have reached Nirvana at that point in the ride. On my disaster ride around Marchwood, I came across the classically named quaint cottage - Almond. not Almond Cottage, just Almond. It was nearby to a close called 'Old Magazine Close'. Now clearly the local council are into recycling, but living in a road named after an old magazine? No thank you. Fair Oak is a treasure trove of comedy names for roads, Dumpers Drove always makes me smile. This weekend we went to Bike Radar at Brands Hatch in Kent. It is a great location and there was lots to do for all, including the 70 mile sportive ride which I did on the Saturday. It was very hot and there will be a full technical analysis in the magazine. I was followed by the photographer and after a while recognised his car and could sympathize with A list celebs, he kept jumping out from behind bushes with his long lenses getting close ups of my sweating face as I tried to ascend cliff faces on a bike. At least they have usually just stepped out of the salon. I can only suppose that C + mag are intending to run a Chamber of Horrors which is why he took so many pictures of me.

My stats were pretty good, didn't make a silver medal time, was 13 minutes over, did it in 4 hours and 43 minutes and 8 seconds. So, a bronze medal. But I was the 12th fastest female out of over 40, and well in the top half of the field overall. So, London 2012, move over Victoria and Emma, here I come!

It's getting very near the end of term and the children met their new teachers at my school on Friday. That meant that I was more nervous than them, but I know most of them from the playground anyway so I think we'll get on ok. I got a little note from one girl in my class saying 'I like you' which is always nice. the only trouble was, it was addressed to Miss Borin. Do I laugh at her spelling and hope it is just a spelling error, and then cry that her spelling is so bad and therefore it follows I have taught her nothing. or do I cry outright that she thinks I am boring? It seems to be a lose lose situation. I went through last year's 'thank you teacher' cards to get a bit of encouraging to make up for being addressed as Miss Boring, and found the one that says I love you ( twice). Aah. That's better. I need a bit of loving. Have now recycled them and have room on the mantelpiece for a new collection. Hint. Actually, our mantelpiece, such as it is, contains a award for R, who was Green Volunteer of the Year and a picture drawn by A of a tree, and a photo of a recent baby, there seem to have been a rash of them lately and the pictures are up, I promise.

A few times at the Bike festival I got spotted by my adoring fans, no one asked for an autograph but a few people said ' Are you the Cycling plus team'? or similar tentative questions. Fame at last. Jeremy, aged 5, asked me last week - 'are you trying to get in another magazine Kay?'

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Luckily for us, H's flurry of enthusiasm for football petered out last Sunday afternoon at about 4pm. She was in the front row in the sailing club house watching, and gave up her seat at half time for a lolly and a trip to the park. Normally on a hot Sunday, the walk from the sailing club across a few hundred metres of grass to the park involves tripping over sunbathers, families playing football and rounders and plump dog walkers eating ice creams. Last Sunday, there was no one to trip over or bump into. No couple sat under a tree playing scrabble. Not a person. Only a few plump dogs eating ice creams.

I am not sure how up to date you are regarding cat Emily, ie have I told you that she has moved to Milford on sea? and who would blame her? It's a lovely place to retire to, and her new family are a retired couple who live by the sea. R got in a muddle and told Jo that Emily had gone to Eastborne, but it is not true - its Milford. Due to not having a cat and wee and poo to cope with, we have made the most of our freedom and spent 6 of the last 9 nights camping at the sailing club. With the run of sunshine, we have relished sleeping with a sea breeze rather than in our stuffy house, which does get very hot in the summer. The girls commuted to school 2 days and turned up tanned, tired and with the most dishevelled hair that I would expect a visit from a social worker, were it not for our new government having sacked them all. We picked a prime spot so we had a sea view too. Last night we had a family fire on the beach, that is a little fire and sit, not a funeral pyre for members of the family.

We are watching HSM2 at the mo, the bit when Troy tells Sharpei he is going to clean the kitchen. A hero in our eyes.

To add some variety to my cycling training, I took Josh out for a spin last Sunday, which was fun and he has caught the bug and bought the shoes and shorts so he can come out with me again. As my blog is increasingly a sports related publication, it may interest some of you to know that Libby Crandon has bought some trainers.

I went to town on a Thursday evening a week ago to buy some sports bras, I was totally overwhelmed by Debenhams, as I rarely go to town or shopping if its not in a charity shop, but charity shops aren't the best place to buy bras. Especially sports ones. And as I have boycotted M and S I had to go into town. Even though it was late night shopping, there were too many people and too much stuff to buy. I so enjoy my solo rides in the countryside, I am finding busy places a bit much sometimes. However, I made an exception for centre court at Wimbledon, where I and Jo Hayles watched Birdych knock out Federer and Murray go through to the semi finals. We had a lovely day, with a Pimms picnic lunch /tea. It is weird how tired you can get sitting and clapping. We did do the walk to and from the ground from the station, and I got a stitch both ways. This is crazy - I never get them anymore when I run.

My sailing career has gone up a notch with two weekends camping meaning sailing on tap, as it were. Last weekend I did my first solo sail on the catamaran, known hereafter as Bat Cat. I managed to tack and gybe and the wind was kind, consistent and gentle. I then took Ang out as my crew, and there is nothing like teaching someone else to consolidate your understanding. I then had another go on my own and it was a bit more windy by then so I came back in quicker. Buoyed up ( is that the right spelling - in which case, great sailing joke!) by this positive experience, I fixed up a sailing date with Bethan, a mum from my class who is also a teacher and more importantly an Olympic sailor. When we went out, there was almost no wind, but it picked up and got to a point where I would not have gone out in it if I had seen the whites on the tops of the waves. I helmed and Bethan crewed, which is ironic, but she was a fabulous teacher, really patient and encouraging about how in control I was, even when I didn't feel it. We got splashed a lot, and she was so confident in my ( and probably her) ability and in the tolerances of the boat, that I kept going in wild conditions that would have had me begging R to let me jump in and swim for shore last year. So, 2012, it will be a steep learning curve, but I reckon Bethan should have another stab at the Olympics crewing for me. I am loving the outdoor lifestyle and feel immense gratitude to our creator for such a beautiful world to get out there and live in. A and H are very good at climbing trees and have a nice set of friends down at the club. H did training yesterday, sailing with another couple of girls of similar ages, they seem to make a pastime out of capsizing, sometimes on purpose. We found out that the world record for the number of people on a Topper under sail is 18, and H, A and sailing friends are setting out to beat that, and spent a few hours on the end of rope trying to all stand on the upturned topper ( hereafter known as ET). Am I selling sailing to you?