Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Going for the burn/ My legs, still sore with lactic acid dripping off them from skiing, were a little upset to hear my plans for today, as I jumped out of bed at 8am and decided I wanted to do my first ever group ride with Fareham Wheelers which starts from Wickham at 9am. So all hands on deck, with R pumping up tyres and A serving me an interesting breakfast of sugar puffs with milk and lemon juice. So, Wickham Square, blue sky and sun shine, very little wind and the most perfect cycling day, so off I go! Now, cycling is not reknowned as being a female dominated sport, and I keep telling the few single friends I have that they should take up triathlon, but I was the only woman, with about 18 males, ranging from 13 - 70 something. Was not expecting it to be any different, if I am honest, and it might explain why I have taken such a long time before taking the plunge of going along to a club run. However, I opted to join the slow gang, and there were 10 of us, we did a pleasant route out around Corhampton, West and East Meon, Petersfield and Rowlands Castle. We stopped there at 25 miles to have a refreshment break, it is a great cafe with speedy service and good choice of food so check it out if you are ever over there. So far so good. However, my body assumed, wrongly, that the day's cycling was done. Oh no. My fronts of my thighs were burning and heavy and I was utterly leaden for the next 15 miles back to the start. I struggled to keep up, got lost behind at one point and really had to work to keep up. My heart rate was always in the zones above the zone 1 I have been training in all winter, at one point my heart rate was above 180bpm. I blame the skiing for my legs being out of practise on the bike... However, I was utterly delighted to find that our riding average speed was 17mph, I usually managed about 14mph on my own, so having a gang to chase along with made a huge difference. I am looking forward to going out with the very welcoming Wheelers again, but I am afraid that Sunday mornings are at a premium. It would work much better for my sporting life if Messy Church could be on a Saturday morning. On my return home, we decided we would go to see my bro and family at Bracklesham Bay where they are staying in a holiday home, with a huge garden and gate directly onto the beach. Wow! Amazing weather, the children all played in the sea and on the beach all afternoon, and R checked out his open water wetsuit which had arrived since we were away. He found it a bit freaky to swim in the sea, with no visibility when you are head down, and a cold head as the wetsuit does not cover your head. I was really proud of him, anyway, I think he is great, learning to swim open water in order to do his half ironman in September. I would stick to breaststroke, at considerable disadvantage to my speed, but at least you can see where you are going when you breathe.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

This last week, I have been taking in my quota of films for the year, as R and I have spent an awful long time on a coach, on the way to and from Morzine, in France, near Geneva, for skiing with his school trip. More on that later, but for the film buffs, these were all new to me, and a fairly eclectic bunch of titles... The A team - great, but too much double crossing and I get muddled. Marley and Me - I cried at the end, and was pleased to see miscarriage and early parenthoold given a fairly realistic portrayal by Hollywood standards. Balls of Fire/fury - ridiculous comedy about ping pong. There is no way you can make a good film about ping pong, but it had is comic moments, despite the subject matter. Sherlock Holmes - excellent film, missed the end as the coach drew in to the school driveway seconds before it finished. Despicable me - great comedy genius characters, loved this one. Wild Child - what can I say about a film about a wild child from LA who joins a boarding school in England and falls in love with the foppish son of the head teacher that hasn't already been said? What happened in Vegas - one of the most predicatable rom coms you could imagine, no twists in the tale whatsoever. So, that is probably my year's ration of films, all over in a week. Phew. Skiing. Now you are talking! Why would you want to stay inside watching DVDs when you could be out there doing it for real? We were a bit subdued on arrival because the temperatures were in the low 20s, great for a spring walking break, but not good for snow to stay snowy, and the first two days of skiing on slush and lumpy snow low down, but decent snow and great sunny conditions higher up were tempered by the fear that the snow would all disappear - it really was melting that quickly. It is very late in the season and we were delighted when the temperature dropped overnight to freezing, and despite a rainy/sleety day when everyone was miserable, and then a 'white out day' with good skiing but no visibility, we were jut pleased it was cold again, the pistes were being looked after as best they can be and the last two days were clear but cold, perfect conditions and lots of runs high up in good condition. Lots of the lifts were shut (about 50% open) which meant that although we could see the swiss border at the top of a mountain, we could not ski into Switzerland, which I thought would have been fun! The only other problem with the lack of snow at lower altitudes is that like us, tons of people from the lower resorts were heading higher up to start the day, so the slopes and lifts were very crowded on the days with sunshine. However, despite my fear of crashing into people (and of being taken out by the dreaded snowboarding fraternity who sneak up behind you) I managed to keep up with the intermediate group and skiing with 13 teenagers with no fear certainly speeded me up. The French alps are beautiful, the buildings in the villages are identical to those in Switzerland, and it is a cheaper place to ski, and handier to get to, if a bit crowded and packed with Les Anglais! Amazingly, there were lots of skiers there worse than me, which is not something I have come across before, I think a combination of me getting better and it being a big resort with lots of beginners. So, I found myself having to think ahead about other people's moves and avoid them, and overtaking people, the only people I have ever overtaken before have been stationary, so a big shift in my ability! The company on the trip was fabulous, R and I had a pleasant en suite room in the hostel which served great food, although the vegetarian options were egg or cheese, for lunch and tea. Ah, omlette again! They did apologise at the end of the week and explain the oven was broken so they were struggling to cater for our group of 30 teens and 8 adults, (we had a rep and two coach drivers to feed) plus a bunch of about 50 Belgians, who true to form brought their own two ring stove tops so they could cook waffles of an evening. The other teachers from R's school were great fun and easy going and very accepting of me into their 'gang' - likewise the teenagers, who were generally polite and chatty, or polite and quiet, but either is fine with me. The boys who skiied with me in the same group were really sweet, always checking I was doing ok and apologising if we bumped into each other. Spending time with young people is always such a positive and life enhancing experience, I remember when we ran the youth group in Sheffield we wondered why anyone would lead adults when you can work with youth? I was really impressed with R's rapport with them all, they really like and respect him, and he clearly has built that up over the decade he has been at the school - bearing in mind that the youngest kids on the ski trip were only babies when he started teaching at Cams - and the oldest ones he taught there are now 27. The oldest kids he taught in Sheffield are now over 30 - weird or what? I was really proud of him, he is a great teacher, clearly, and I remember something we said a while ago when we were still involved in the big Vineyard church leadership - that the leaders of a church should spend a day a month shadowing their volunteer leaders in their day jobs, to really see what skills and talents they have but which are missed. I have never shadowed R at work before, and although this was kind of not 'proper' work, I was impressed by how his laid back approach works, with the young people grasping the chance to be responsible for themselves, in most cases, with the odd exception as can be expected from 13 year old boys! I hope R cuts and pastes this and prints it out for his head teacher to read, as for many of us, our bosses don't always realise the fabulous people they have working for them, and get complacent about those people. Note to self - remember not to do that when I am sec of state for education. We brought back some delicious rose wine with grapefruit in it, it is a beautiful drink and a bargain at 4.5 Euros a bottle. Had some tonight. Yum. We got back to Fareham at 11am, dragged our stuff into the car and then out again and then shot up to Claygate to eat lunch, and pack the girls stuff up and bring them home. They had a lovely week staying with Granny and Pop, and a day with the cousins in Little Bookham, after a weekend away with the big Vineyard church, thanks to Ang and Paul who took them with their clan. We have a plan to go skiing with them all next year, lets see if the plan comes together - I hope so, as it would be fun to take them all too and they have the crazy 'have a go' spirit that is necessary for a good time in the snow. The present to R from the children on the trip was a pair of reconditioned skis and poles, so he now has all his own kit, so there is no giving up now...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Ah, Matthew, I knew you would like that weird mobile phone story. It is true, you couldn't make it up could you? Today I got an email that started 'Hello dear Friends' . Which almost makes you stop reading right there. R and I have been working crazy hours lately, every night we sit and tap away at plans and mark schemes, so you, dear reader, have been neglected in favour of the education of the young of Hampshire. I have been offered and accepted a new post at my current school, the offical title is Key Stage 1 leader, the unofficial title is 'general lacky and mopper up of administrative issues and stray children no one else has the effort or enthusiasm to deal with'. I do get paid a bit extra for the wearing of a prefect's badge. I am genuinely delighted with this turn of events, as I like where I am and want to help build the team and make it even better than it is at the moment, and it is the perfect next step up on my campaign to become secretary of state for education when the revolution comes. Until it does, I will carry on drumming finger spaces and capital letters into the minds of children who will probably never hand write anything in their adult lives and be used to a world without capital letters as they have been born into it. We had a lovely sunny games lesson today, we are doing 'inventing our own games' and they all played brilliantly on making up games and then testing each other's games out. And the sun shone. We had lots of space on the field and no injuries and only one argument that I had to arbitrate on. Isn't the sun an amazing invention? In the winter, I would have had injuries everywhere - after 3 I blow the whistle and go in, as experience teaches me that if you carry on, the injuries get so thick and fast that you reach a tipping point where more of your class are sat in the medical room than on the playground, there are none left to stretcher bear for their buddies and I and the chapping wind are alone picking up balls and limbs. And the secretary is discreetly typing 'child protection' into Google and seeing if there is a technical loop hole that allows teachers to avoid being strung up by the hamstrings for child cruelty when all they were trying to do was the unit on skipping and hopping, as per the Scheme of Work, and not deliberately maiming children by scraping them along a cold playground. I speak from experience, as my best friend at Infant school and I were skipping along with our arms crossed and I fell over, but she carried on skipping and dragged me the length of the playground - or a few metres anyway, dredging grit and agony into my knee. It was probably the same Scheme of Work. After a fruitless visit to my GP and a faintly hopeful one to my podiatrist, who I am paying, so have more faith in, I am out jogging again, about 1km tonight, but it is better than nothing and desperately needed as I am planning on running 5k at the start of May on a dodgy ankle that has been ill since December. No quick fixes, but another gadget purchased from the 'fitness fund' a wobble board to strengthen my ankles. Do you know of another family that has a fitness fund, that is about 75% of its disposable income. Wobble board, new bike bits for R's faithful commuting and hardworking road bike, two triathtlon entries for the club Tris for H, sailing lessons for h, diving lessons for H and A, swimming lessons for A - swimming training extra session for H . Tri suit for H. Flippers for me and R. The diving people sent a letter asking if H wanted to be fast tracked ( at a cost) and we decided no, even a Bowen girls can't do all that exercise. Goodness, membership at the Hampshire ( not missed - when did we find the time?) is beginning to look like a bargain compared to all this add on expenditure here and there of a triathlon family. The girls are both going on brownie camp this year, perfectly timed to mean we don't need to worry what to do with them whilst we do our biggest triathlon yet. They are staying in a village hall in Owslebury, which is not very far away, but further away than last year which was staying in Manor Farm. When I went on Brownie camp it was always to a village hall somewhere in Surrey. Glad the Brownies are keeping hold of important traditions.