Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Home from Greenbelt. Everything went well, the weather was mostly ok if not warm, but my new sleeping bag meant for comfortable nights under canvas, as the House family were using the campervan, we were back to the trusty tent. For £50 and a trip to Salisbury, that e bay purchase must be knocking up towards triple digits in the number of nights we have slept in it over the summers of 2008,2009,2010 and 2011. It leaks a bit, but not to the extent that we have wanted to throw it away in a skip in a fit of dampness. The annual pilgrimage to Cheltenham for Greenbelt gets better and better - we know the way there now, we have the arriving, reservation of spot and camp construction down to a fine art and this year everyone from our little church gang came, plus the Lennards. The band have been invited back next year to once again bang out some worship songs for the children, the junior age range, who had a late night youth club this year. Will write more elsewhere about how much more enjoyable the system was with the children, and also me not working meant I got to go to a lot more things than in years when I have been working as a volunteer. The chilling out and chatting was great, and I went to a few comedy shows, some awesome acrobatics and a surreal clowning show, plus the ubiquitous Family Twist. A and H got to tell a joke on the last night, right near the end, after sitting through some torture waiting. We loved Fischy music on mainstage, obviously, and seem to be amongst many when it comes to Fischy fans who do all the actions. One extremely nice thing was bumping into Helen and Andy Hunter and hanging out with them a fair bit, felt like we had never lost touch ( last saw them nearly 7 years ago) and I popped in to see Andy do his DJ thing and thought it was great! Saw a few other old friends from here and there, couple who cleaned toilets with us in Croatia in 1998 were there and Sue is getting ordained next week, which just goes to show that even bishops clean toilets. Not that she is a bishop. Yet. R is cycling home from Cheltenham, although he called a while back and is having spoke trouble near Nether Wallop, so I found him a nearest station to Nether Wallop to aim for. The girls opted for an afternoon of watching the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe next door but one so I have got through an immense amount of washing, tidying, cleaning, even mowed the grass. I am off to the office tomorrow.... September looms...

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

If you go to George Burgess Photography .com you can look me up in the new forest rattler gallery for some great pictures of me looking awful. My rider number was 125, so you can use that to look them up.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Now, a while back, in April, I went to a new hairdresser, Sam, in Sarisbury Green via Groupon. She was a bit negative, ie talked about her bad luck and didn't have a very adventurous outlook on life, and seemed to me a bit scared of others' thoughts - ie not wanting to ride a bike in case people laughed at her. Anyway, the haircut was nice, but the salon was not very welcoming and I decided to try elsewhere. So, randomly, I picked a salon in West End, and who should be cutting my hair, but Sam herself. Spooky! So, clearly fate has it that we are destined to be together, so I have rebooked with her, and lets see what God has planned. Haircut is great.

Today we made our repeat visit to Portsmouth Dockyard to see some of the attractions we missed the first time, which was back in the half term holiday on a nice sunny day. Today, it was less sunny, and we did the indoor Mary Rose museum - worthwhile, even without the actual boat available - apparently with the MOD cuts it has been brought back into active service. We learned about Tudor medicine and timekeeping and navigation. Then we went to Action Stations! which is a bit like Intech, the science centre near Winchester, in that there are lots of interactive exhibits, so you can shoot and land an aeroplane and do similar things which are not really my kind of thing, however I did do the climbing wall, and the girls did 2 climbing walls. I mentioned to R that I had no idea the navy involved so much climbing ( I guess the Marines have to) and R said if you are on a submarine you do a lot of climbing. Now, the good thing about this ticket is that it is valid for a year, and some of the things you can go to every day if you wish. So we still have not done the Dockyard Apprentice experience, and the Warrior you can go on as much as you like. which is interesting. And you can go to the Naval museum unlimited, although there comes a limit even on a rainy day, even for someone interested in history.

On Sunday I cycled 79 miles, it was the New Forest Rattler, a ridiculously long, but flattish course all around the aforementioned national park. Great scenery, nice people, I hitched a ride (not literally!) on the back of a few groups for a few miles to help me along, and found a couple of nice guys who took turns with me to pull me along a bit at other times. I was pleased with my 'silver' time achieved - 5 hours and 7 minutes. Saw a lady with the same bike as me. Saw a group of lady cyclists from Bromley. Still mostly men, but I am used to it now. I had a really good ride, making it to the second feed station at 55 miles without feeling it too badly. Had a hard 15 miles after that though, slogging it out mostly alone, then there is a killer hill, short but deadly, about 4 miles from the finish. I could not get off once I had started it, as I would have fallen off. I had to keep going, but was screaming that I couldn't do it, and was talked up by aforementioned nice chaps. I honestly had not felt so physically exhausted since giving birth. If anyone asks you to ride up Blissford Hill, laugh in their face and get off at the bottom, unless you are a Tour de France veteran. After all that cycling, I ended up cycling down to the leisure centre to go to Pilates that evening, a welcome stretch out after being hunched up on the bike all day. Now I am working hard on my running, did a short but faster run this morning, hoping to build up some running fitness again before a duathlon in October.

We have been away recently, to Stockport in Cheshire for our pilgrimage to Aunty June's, and then to North Wales for some sailing. It was the Sprint 15 nationals, and R borrowed a boat, so that I could sail them too, so I found a willing helm and off we went, me crewing, and messing that up sometimes. Luckily most of my mistakes were redeemed by Bethan, sailor extraordinaire, but even she couldn't do anything about me being sea sick on day 1 in big waves and so we retired from those 2 races. I took herbal remedies for the next 2 days, and the waves were not so big, and I did fine. Loads of other sailors got sea sick so I felt a bit better. We actually won the ladies cup, but as there were only 2 boats helmed by ladies it was not that much of a competition. The setting was spectacular, Snowdonia in the background, sandy beaches, and people speaking Welsh in the streets and shops, which I think is great. Once someone spoke to me in Welsh! Clearly I was starting to look like a native. We had not been to Snowdonia before and were really impressed with the mountains and the only trouble is how long it took to get home. Like the Lake District, it needs to be moved a few hours nearer. I am sure we could get rid of Birmingham and then sew the country up at the break and that would help.

I have been trying to do a bit of work these last few days, as I want to hit the ground running, as it were. There is a lot to get my head around, but I know I will have a lot of people asking me questions and I want to be mega organised and not lose bits of paper. To that end, I spent 4 days at the start of the holidays tidying my room and cupboard, so that everything is filed, and spent all of yesterday morning doing likewise for my computer documents. I deleted all 'my favourites' on the interweb, but I think that is good, because the important ones I will remember, and the others don't matter anyway. I feel a bit in a state of flux, rather like the dLorian car in Back to The Future. 'Marty! the flux capacitor!' Hattie helped me to see that I probably thrive on routine and work and am at the lowest point of the holiday, ie we have run out of money for fun things, the weather is awful, and I kinda want to get back to work and get going on new things. The girls are busy making cakes as part of their 'Baking Sisters' business, they have been commisioned to make birthday cakes for Charlie and Daisy. Therefore, the kitchen floor is sticky at all times. Apparently they are getting paid materials for this one, so we won't be making a loss. If only they could afford a cleaner to clean up after them.

Now, a nice thing that happened at the weekend was that Gillian and Keith from Alnwick came to stay, with their delightful daughter Rosie, who incidentally is our god child. It was her birthday while they were with us, so we arranged for the Houses and the Clarks to join us on an afternoon at Hilliers Garden, near Romsey, a splendid spot in the sunshine for an afternoon of sitting. That seems to be the main hobby of Duncan and Emma. We also took Keith and Rosie sailing, and the weather was perfect, sun and windy enough wind, onshore, so H and I practised capsize drills. We were having such fun it was 7pm and we had not thought about food for dinner. The trampoline broke on the boat though, which will mean an expensive repair, coming in at over £400, which is very expensive compared to the new ( to them) Topper which Paul and Rachel have bought for £50. We could buy a fleet of old Toppers instead of mending our boat, have one each and a spare. Hey ho.

Campo the Camper van is doing well, although mostly being used by Emma. We have it this week, I used it to get to Ringwood, but it is rainy and a bit grim and so we are not camping in it. Emma, meanwhile, is using it for evenings out by the sea in the rain. She has put up flowery bunting and furnished it with retro cushions. R hopes her enthusiasm wanes soon. We have a shared log book to write down where you went and what you did, and it is mostly Emma doing things in it, presumably sewing. We don't mind at all, and it makes us laugh, we are so not into flowers and furnishings, it is funny to have a shared residence with someone who is.

R is off this evening frantically practising for Greenbelt, at which he is playing which is this weekend. I am sure it will be fine, their band are playing in a junior youth club each evening, and doing some songs for the little kids in the mornings, just him and Hattie singing and playing guitar, without any loud drain noises in the background. Will report back.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Another fish is in residence to keep the other one company, so we now have 2 fish we never wanted. Newsflash that A found some money on the verge along a road, she gave a third of it to her chosen charity, Edukids, and is spending the rest on things she is not usually allowed to buy. H found some money in a field on a cliff near Swanage, clearly they take after their paternal grandfather who is well known for having an eye for gold in the gutters of Claygate.

My last day of freedom as a at home person was spent in Bitterne, aptly enough, as on the last day of term when everyone was at school except me, I enjoyed a very nice swim at BLC, in cool and almost empty pool. My general low energy levels are dragging on and on, I have got rid of the sore throat but am exhausted and can only manage a 15 minute jog, the idea of a 78 mile bike ride in a couple of weeks is not filling me with joy right now. I have even spoken to my Dr with a view to getting an appointment, as maybe I am anaemic or something. That was suggested today, as someone noticed all my bruises. My bruises are war wounds from sailing at the high performance end of dinghy and cat sailing. Seriously!!! I was asked to go out on a fabulous fast cat with a very good couple of sailors on Sunday morning, and learned to trapeeze, the hard way, on a fast boat, but it was awesome as we were soaring across the water, and I felt excited and not scared at all, in safe hands!

After lunch, as I happened to be wandering around wearing a wetsuit, a man I had never seen before asked me if I wanted to go sailing. Of course I said yes, and set off towards the water after him, and able to answer his question 'are you ok going out on the wire?' with the answer - 'well, I learned this morning!' It was a very different boat, being a dinghy, and it seemed to be the kind of tippy over boat that would have FREAKED ME OUT a couple of years back. I was once again in the hands of a very good sailor, literally at one point as I fell off/out/somewhere and I have the hand shaped bruise where he tried to haul me back in without us capsizing. Somehow, in wonderful slow motion, we managed to capsize, and then righted the boat with nowhere near as much trouble as it takes to do it with a cat. Still quite a lot of fiddling around in the water, but it was ok. The reason for my falling off/in is still unclear, but it was when I was just taking control of the spinnaker. This is a beautiful and awesome piece of fabric that means you can sail fast downwind, it is literally like a kite, and is beautiful, so powerful, so awesome, and the crew has the job of holding it in the right place. You can feel the power of the wind through its rope, it is so so awesome, however, clearly a novice I got something wrong and ended up over the edge. I had got it right (ish) the first time and messed up the second time.

So, still smiling, a bit achey the next day, and have instructed R that our upgrading of our fleet will not be to a Dart 18 but to a F18, and I also need to upgrade the Topper to a Asymmetric Dinghy. The boat pot is a little low at the moment, but R is now working as a bike mechanic and is a part time teacher, so I am sure he will soon start using his bike profits to buy boats. He won't need much encouragement!!