Sunday, 20 May 2012

that was a year overdue

That last one about the campervan is really old news, we have had it for a year nearly now and lots of adventures had in it. Beyond my techno understanding why it is now on the blog and wasn't before. I would be no good at the News of the World.
Some of you might know dear Emma, who lives around the corner. She and I rode up the road together, and she told me she did not need to wear a helmet. If you know Emma, you will be thinking the same as I was, wickedly, regarding the sawdust between her ears not needing protecting. However, her logic outwitted me, with the reason given for not wearing one being

'its my sister's bike'. Ah, so the magic bike fairy will protect you from all harm then!

Some exciting developments in our lives, firstly being the onslaught of a camper van on to our drive just as soon as we can liquidate some cash and splash it, on a fine N reg 'valentine special', co owned with the House family. We went and looked around it with Dunc and 3 small Hice, and it was not big enough for all of us, so we are going to take turns in using it. We will have it every weekend all year and they can take a turn for a fortnight every summer. We took our tent down on Monday after it had been up for 16 nights and slept in for 9 of those nights. The weather has been tent weather in the main, and on the one sweaty night we spent at home A announced that she preferred sleeping in a tent because she felt more alive. On my pestering her about not wearing shoes for the millionth time that week, she announced that her feet feel more free without them. Clearly we are raising a hippie. I will let her paint nail varnish flowers all over the camper van, then Emma (House, although reading this next bit you would be forgiven for thinking it was the other one) can have a go at brillo pad rubbing on the paintwork to get the hippie flowers off. Emma memorably took to bird poo with a scouring pad on their brown Skoda, possibly the only time ever in car history that someone scouring the paint off the bonnet of a car has increased its value.

We also seem to have booked ourselves another ski holiday this year, at this rate we might as well live in the alps and be done with it. We are taking the lovely Elise Hayles with us for her first ever time on the piste.

So, in between skiing and camper vanning, we just about have time for sailing and triathlons. No time for cooking or sewing or other dull indoor past times. We did a triathlon very early in the morning on a Sunday, we got up before 4am, and then I slept on the back seat of the car as my start time was way after R's. I was really proud to smash my previous best time by 2 minutes - although it was on a different course, so you can't really describe it as a smash as it is not comparing like with like, but still, a delight to see. Half term. A highlight of the teaching profession, although the reports tend to take hours of time on this one. The main joy of our week was Youth Week at NSC, it was our first time for the girls to take part and somehow I was running the shore based activities and R was instructing. I have never had such enthusiasm and support for running anything. Literally all the parents of the kids on the course (34 of them) did something to help, be it organising races, setting up DVD players, launching boats, instructing,endless hours in the safety boats, or making squash and serving biscuits or ice cream, or organising orienteering. Or cutting up onions. Serving in the bar - we sold a lot of Tango. Filling water bombs. Washing up. Taking money to the bank - we sold a lot of Haribos too! I had jobs for all skills, and was stunned by the enthusiastic take up of them. When people saw me coming, they did not hide away and pretend to be asleep - but actually offered to do more to help! Club members who have no children, or children long past the youth week stage were there too, to cook barbecues, teach people to sail, be OOD and beach master, buy ice cream and organise rounders matches, take official photographs and change toilet rolls. The enthusiasm of the parents for sailing and Netley was closely matched by that of their children. The sun shone throughout, which helped make everything seem like a holiday, and explained why so many people at work asked me where I had been on holiday. Even though we were working hard we had a lot of fun too, got to know a lot of new faces and hope to see them all in the bar and on the water all summer.
In RVCP cafe there is ice cream for dogs. This is ridiculous full stop, however it gets more incredible. the flavour on offer? Steak? Sausage? Rabbit? No. Banana and carrot. What kind of credibility can a dog muster if it stoops to eating food that is more tastebud tickling for a rabbit than a hound? Shame on you, dogs of the world. Unite against this crushing of your dogginess.

We invited the Whitmores round to watch a film and catch up on Friday, all 6 of them. Paul pointed out, nicely, that he has a bigger TV than us. Come round to our's he said. Fair enough, off we trotted, and very big it was too. However, what he failed to tell us in his 'big TV advert' was that he also owns a puppy that emits smells from its derriere so bad that I can only imagine it has been snacking on carrot ice cream and banana strudel. Despite Ang's galant attempts with the air freshener, the air got so toxic  I had to open the front door and take in lungfuls of air to stay alive. Next time someone tells me their TV is bigger than ours ( not hard as ours is the size of an average ipad) I will ask if their dog is less smelly than our dog, and as we do not have a dog and will not until I die, we will win on dog smell. I am still in nasal counselling about the wretched cat and her pooing habits that got me down. No way am I going to fall for all that cute puppy nonsense.

Today the girls were entered for a triathlon run by their club, Chapel Tri. There was some debate over the type of tyres to be used ( cycling is on grass at children's events) so yesterday Claire and I took the girls over to check it out. After that, we let them have a play at the nearby park, during which A took a fall off a zipwire, and sat with me limp and pathetic with a poorly wrist. I placated her by buying her a bandage, giving her calpol and suggesting she watch a DVD, then we went to the sailing club to meet R. We had a walk, a pub dinner ( food at the Prince Consort is too greasy, but it has a nice atmosphere for a drink) a lovely walk back when we saw a deer, but no crocs. A slept badly, but she does have a lot of nightmares at the moment. This morning she still complained but we jollied her along and got her in her tri kit, off to the tri, numbered, then R said he really thought she was bad and maybe a trip to casualty was a good idea. She did look grey, so we drove off to Winchester, leaving R and H to prepare for the race, R was marshalling. The service at A and E at Winchester was amazing, within an hour and a half we had been pain killered, examined, x rayed and plastered. She has a fine crack across her bone, radius I think, maybe ulna, can never remember which is which. And amazingly, we got back with 5 minutes to spare so we got to watch all of H's race! So, A's debut race will have to wait until next month, when she is entered in the New Forest tri.

A slighly random story we heard last night is that deer from Netley swim across Southampton water to get to the New Forest. Why don't they take the Hythe Ferry? Apparently because of the M27, the area of land between the Itchen and the Hamble rivers is essentially an island from a deer's point of view, and the only way off is by sea. Hmm. Seemed a bit like an April fool. And it is May.

Monday, 14 May 2012

There are a few bits of me that do not ache. Do something scary every day. Today's scary has been admiring my bruises, getting up and down stairs unaided and generally breathing without too much pain. I do not expect sympathy, as these wounds are utterly self inflicted, the harvest of a race out in a dinghy in windy weather, hanging off the edge on a wire and falling in too much. That was yesterday's scary. We had an amazing start and a fantastic first lap and a half. Then I noticed someone else capsized and thought we should join them. From then on, in a catalogue of errors I could write a book on, I managed to keep on tipping the boat the wrong way, thus landing myself in the water many times more often than is necessary or useful. At any point of sailing I can achieve a capsize, where others have tried and failed, I will succeed! Yikes. My body must have gone into some kind of retreat to protect itself from me. I spent the morning on a mild and pleasant cycle ride with Kev and Lucy from Esporta days, great to see them both, along with a few more intrepid cyclists that Kev has recruited to his merry band of outdoor training enthusiasts. Kev aplogised that the cycle was neither long nor challenging physically, but believe me, it was not necessary to be either with the afternoon I then endured. I love sailing, I really do, I remember when I thought that any sport that involved falling over and hurting yourself was ridiculous. Now, my two favourite sports involve just that! Although I tend to stay upright on my bike most of the time.

Today was cancer free day, a half day off work to go to the hospital and find out that I am fine. Still. 4 years on. Thankfully, my consultant appreciates the cost to me, her, and ultimately you, dear tax payer, of taking a teacher out of class ( thus paying a supply), and having a consultant oncologist tell me I am fine ( probably a nurse, or even an admin person could achieve this, and be paid less per hour). In fact, a text message would do the trick and could be automated and cost the NHS even less. Then doctors could doctor and nurses could nurse and I would be happy to see someone ( anyone!) every 5 years for them to prod my neck, and in between I will give them a call if I am worried. So, we have come up with something more cost effective, for which I feel sure you will thank me.

One irony that amused me was the people at the hospital smoking next to no smoking signs, and outside the windows of the Cancer research unit. Oh, how I laughed. Well, I would have done, could I have drawn breath in the smoky twilight zone that I was walking through.

I bumped into some Christians I slightly knew in the past at the hospital. They told me the name of the church they now went to, and the name of the pastor there ( as if I should know him as he is famous!), then asked me if I had heard of another ( I assume ) famous pastor, from the God channel. No, sadly I hadn't. I have no idea of who on earth they are on about. With my new found catholic bias, I don't think any pastor is more famous than the pope. And he is not on the god channel! Anyway, I mention this because it upsets my 'priesthood of all believers' mentality to have people hopping churches to hear the next big thing. I do not know that the RC church is that hot on the priesthood of all believers either. Still, got to give it a go.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

my new training pal

I have a new training partner. She is quite like me, in fact, alarmingly so. She is better at swimming and running than me but we are about the same at cycling. We have started doing 'Training Tuesdays' together. Last week we did a great little sunny evening cycle around Durley, and only had to cut it short due to a damaged gear cog which necessited that calling of an excellent bike mechanic. Today we went to the Quays for a swim but the lanes were really packed, so we went in the leisure pool and played follow my leader instead. I am delighted to present to the world the mini me super triathlete, Hannah Bowen! She and A did the Hamble Aquathon on Saturday, unfortunately their parents were not there to witness the spectacle of A's first ever multi sports event. She swam and ran all the way. H did really well with her swimming, since last year's event she has moved up an age category and had to swim an  extra 100metres, which she achieved in just an extra 40 seconds. Obviously she did not do the extra 100m in 40 seconds, it was an average, although 100m in 40 seconds would be record breaking time, as the world free style 100m record is 46.91 seconds. That is 4 lengths of Bitterne at an average of less than 12 seconds per length and keeping that up for 4 lengths. Can you imagine that? Awesome. 

Now, the reason the parents were not there to witness the girls' foray into multisports as we were living the high life at the Norton Park Hotel, near Sutton Scotney, near Winchester. I cycled home from there yesterday in the rain, through Owslebury. If I cycle through Owslebury with someone else it does not rain. If I cycle there on my own, it does. Now what is that all about? I took an odd route to avoid Winchester, as it is not pleasant to cycle through a city when you want to be in the countryside. Norton Park is a pleasant hotel, made all the more pleasant when you get a bargain room rate. The wedding we went to was everything a wedding should be, with the right mix of comedy grandads, disco tracks and free drinks, along with a tasty chocolate brownie pudding, champagne and random very slightly related people to chat to. Fab fab fab, we had a ball and were delighted to be invited. Thank you, Anna and Chris.

We saw the other Chris and Anna too, on Monday at the Old Chemist, at a goodbye picnic for Steve and Elaine Jones. For reasons only they understand, they are moving away from Southampton and to N Ireland, which I hear is lovely. Steve has been around in Southampton Vineyard since before we were, ie pre 1997, so we have known and loved him for a long time. He is a legend in the musical / engineering worlds, a comedy genius and utterly unaware of his brilliance. I have very happy memories of a church group, including Steve and I, driving around Washington DC in a minibus, with he and I driving everyone else beyond the patience of saints with our bad jokes. Another great memory of that trip was Matt and Di arguing over which restuarant to eat in, to such an extent that for some reason we ended up eating in the back of a nightclub style bar. Oh the fun we had! Elaine came into Steve's life some time later than 1997 and sadly her being part of the Southampton picture has kind of overlapped with us moving to be a mini church of nutters in Thornhill, so the relationship with her has not been what it might have been. Although her mince pies are to die for, and we spent a happy day smelling wee in a convent in Portsmouth together. Steve and Elaine, we salute you, we will miss you and we will come on a cycling holiday to Northern Ireland, even though you have not actually invited us.

Apart from having fun, I do still go to work, I have come up with a new technique for managing my class which involves working them so hard they fall asleep. I had three children asleep on Friday afternoon. I think they were ill too. Or bored? Anyway, three sleeping children means they are safe and happy and those are two of my three criteria for successful days in a primary school. A good couple of decades ago, infant classes had beds or quiet corners where children could have a nap, and I remember all of us having a quiet time after lunch with our heads on our desks, at junior school. Ha! i don't think that would go down well with Ofsted. I heard on the radio that Ofsted criticisized a secondary PE lesson for 'many children not doing anything' - the school challenged the grading and pointed out that the lesson observed was a cricket match, and the children involved were fielding. Love it.