Monday, 29 July 2013

Competing in competitions

You can tell it is the holidays, as I have entered a raft of competitions tonight! An old and profitable hobby of mine, which landed me in the past with a garden makeover, a year's sponsorship by Cyling Plus, a weird kaftan, a cleaning cloth, a trip to Exbury gardens, several trips to Paultons Park,  night at the something hotel in Knightsbridge (can't recall which one), Large Family books and CD, and who knows what else I won but can not even remember now. I am sure you will remind me if it was you.

So, after tonight I will be winning a year's supply of washing up liquid (R gets through a lot with bike grease) a romantic break in Yorkshire (with up to 2 dogs allowed per room, they know how to do romance in Yorkshire), a wine tasting class, a trip up the cathedral tower in Winchester and a cream tea, a glamping trip to the Netherlands, £500 of Tesco school wear, a meat barbecue hamper for 20, a jam making session and hotel stay in Winchester, a bee hotel, a flight to Jersey... should keep me busy for the rest of the summer holiday.

Today I heard the bad news that my lovely friend and fellow Dart sailor Rosie has broken her ankle and will be out of action for 12 weeks at least. This was a sailing related injury, do not know the details yet but trust she is in safe hands. We too had a sailing trouble yesterday, we were winning in beautiful style and then our mast fell down, mercifully away from us (which I guess it would as the wind is pushing it that way, the shroud broke and the mast just fell down. After a lot of effort to get the sail rolled up and so on we were towed back to the beach, and now have a little light repairing to do to the rigging and sail has gone to the menders too. I had two glasses of wine, two chocolate biscuits and a twix to recover! No harm done to us, just the boat, so a blessing and we felt that we had bowed out to give someone else a chance to win for once!!!! 

Today we are officially on holiday. Last week I carried on going to work after the children had left, combining short days at work with the dentist and the hair dresser (have pink hair for the holidays) and other such tasks, like taking dry cleaning, picking up prescriptions, things I NEVER get time to do in term time and skip with joy about doing! We went into town today to hunt for rhinos. All over Southampton there are model rhinos, decorated by artists and schools etc, and you can get an app and hunt for them. So we wandered the length of the city and found over half of them. This was an entirely free pastime, as we parked at the Quays, which is free parking for me as I am a member. We are going in for very very low cost holidays this year, our trip away camping is to Netley! We have gone through our finances with a nit comb and tracked down every spare penny ( found one today on the road) and are trying to get into a more solvent position than we have been in the last few months. The other day I cleaned our drawers etc (oh the joy, its the holidays!) and found £3.50, which was wisely reinvested as pocket money arrears. Even H has tidied her bedroom as one of the holiday projects.

The dog is learning not to be scared of the hall floor. R is going for a tough love approach and dragging her across it and she is getting much better - in fact, although she moans and fusses when we want to take her for a walk, and stays in the kitchen at all times, she can mysteriously make her way across the hall to go up the stairs when we are out!  Last week was the Claygate Flower Show, and we proudly brought home a dog with two rosettes - first in the rescue dog category, and fourth in the sausage catching. And that was up against able bodied contestants, no t4 Paralympic amputee catergory to be seen. We were very proud of her, and it was worth the £1 a class to enter her in those two classes and see the rosettes of glory!

The girls were glorious the next day at Andover tri, coming in 6th and 7th places, which is truly awesome in terms of the progress they have made this season. A is really into her fitness programme and is not letting the long break from tri stop her - she swam a set of her own design tonight whilst R did his bit with the Southampton tri club, I spent the time in the gym downstairs and H was at a different pool doing her 2 hour stint!  I forgot how much I like the gym, and am going to make a bit of effort to make most of it this next few weeks.  I have entered another sprint tri in September, and also have a 50 mile sportive on the September diary, and R has entered a half marathon for next spring and is thinking about another half ironman- I guess two halves make a whole...

The bike business does not stop for the holidays, seems a really busy period and R is working every afternoon or evening at least on bikes. He made H a beautiful new cross bike for her birthday, which she tends to leave not locked up, and we try not to nag too much, as will already have spent time nagging for losing her goggles, swim hat, trainers, coat, wetsuit, sailing boots... no wonder we have no cash!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Sun sea cycle

The isle of wight is there to be conquered, so last Saturday, with the evil sorceress Emma in tow we took to our steady and pedalled out from the wilds of Brokenhurst, across flat lands to a crossing point, where we hailed a boatman and paid in gold dust to cross. Managing an on pedal average of 12.5 mph, which makes Chris Froome look like a tardy paper boy, we toiled the length and breadth of the isle, no stone left unturned, no beach unpaddled, no rugby club toilet facility unchecked.  Emma seemed to think that a bike ride with thousands of men was an opportunity to seek out a toyboy.  Having been on many of these invasions before I know that all the soldiers are focused on one thing... The finish line.
I even got my medal putting on at the finish ceremony onto the official video!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Re - cycling

I just found out that my daughter can swim 400m in 6mins 14 sec. I can not do that. She can, because she practises more than me. I have started my spring cycling training though, ie this week I cycled home from work twice. It is exactly 17 miles, 14 of them uphill, I am convinced. I would cycle there but would arrive sweaty and without a shower handy it would be just wrong.  Cycling home is odd, it feels different to 'going out for a bike ride' even though it is across similar country to where I would just go out riding. It feels less fun and more like a chore. I need to vary my route for two reasons ; 1, to make it fun, and 2, to avoid stalkers.  Desperate to get at least a reasonable ride time on my tri I cycled home from Winchester on Saturday to count towards the hours of training. It was really wet, the kind of weather you do not see anyone else cycling in. Really grim. Hardly anyone out in a car.

 I have recently joined Linked In, after finding out there was another Kay Bowen I needed to let her know she can't have it all her way.  I do not think I am the kind of person they are aiming at because I am just not going to list my CPD for all to see. It would just not make sense to anyone other than teachers and even then might not.

On Wednesday I found R in Hanble school and whisked him off to have dinner at the Bugle. I really wanted to see the sea. I see it on my way to work every day, which is a blessing, in fact this is my third school out of 4 where I got to see the sea or be very near it and could have popped to see it in 5 minutes. I am very grateful for that fact. If you do not live near the sea I guess you get used to that but you are missing a trick. It is instantly calming and healing. And that is before you get in/on it.  Speaking of which, R and I have new boat hulls and they seem to be winning for us, as in we won a sailing race - such a rare event it deserves national press coverage, however Margaret Thatcher seemed to be hogging the news rather churlishly.  We only did one race as it got really windy and we had a bad start (over the line - or were we?) and I lost my concentration and then had a bit of a panic moment and forgot what to do. However, it was really windy so I can be forgiven, I think, for retreating early.

 I was glad to fit in a dinner date as every night this week I have been working, mainly marking and planning maths lesson for the next day. As I am teaching pretty much full time at the moment I have been trying to make the classroom a more lived in space in terms of using the walls for display, getting the children to interact more with the displays, that kind of thing. Maybe I should put that on my Linked In as an interest - staple gunning. And maths planning.

We have a lot of dog news. On Monday she slipped in the garden and yelped, I carried her indoors ( quite impressive if you saw her size) and then R found a wound about a cm wide on her leg. She does not have too many spare legs, you may recall.  R trotted her off to the Out of Hours vet for a stitch. We have pet insurance, and as the paperwork had come through we were delighted that we would just pay the £60 excess. Until we found out that as it was within 14 days of the policy starting, we were not allowed to claim the £334 it cost for a stitch. Coincidentally, the next day, the credit card company sent a letter telling us they were upping our monthly limit by a grand. Might as well get the dog her own credit card. Ouch. I have never understood people spending money on their guinea pig to treat its stomach cancer, or for a rabbit to be brough round from liver failure. Now I understand. These animals draw you into loving them and then you would pay anything for them. Bah. Tonight A R and I were dancing in a comedy fashion and Lacey wanted to join in, she got very excited and had a dance with R. She loved it, but did not know what to make of our dancing. Which is a fair point.

As well as cycling I am doing a bit more running   - did two laps of the woods last night, which is highly unusual, I did not have too much trouble with my left side, after Sarah Zaki the osteopath genius had done her magic on me.  So that is two runs in 2 days! Wow. Get me...

Friday, 12 April 2013

wetter washing

Now the washing is all done and dry I can talk Devon. It has been a bit of a trauma but we cope. We were not sure whether to go as the weather looked bad, but decided we would make the best of it etc etc and on Monday we packed up the camper van with bikes and headed west. We were aiming for Salcombe, last visited by R and K in 1993, in a hot and sunny summer trip around the west country. Famed for big argument on long walk to Hope Cove. I recall the argument was about sailing, or more precisely it was about R's assumption that a sailor, seen for a cliff top, was male, and my not letting it lie that his assumption showed his implicit sex discrimination. We have had similar arguments many times since, as R does not think that it matters if you use 'he' to talk about a person whose gender is unknown. I think it does matter, and even struggle with God being a he. Anyway, I digress, and luckily for R, we do too  and are not continually stuck in this argument. Phew. Anyhow, I decided it would be lovely to go down to Salcombe, or more specifically, Hope Cove, for a few days in the balmy april weather. It would have been, wouldn't it, last year or the year before.  But not this year, with no green shoots to be seen, nervous daffodils bobbing in the wind and wishing they hadn't bothered. So, all was going well until the brakes failed near Dorchester. R was driving, thank you God, and nursed campo on to the town centre where we found a garage and left her in good hands. It was an overnight stay, so the girls went to the cinema while we drank coffee. Then we found a hotel, then we found a very authentic Italian restaurant. The wine drinking started. After a busy night in a huge bed ( Amy was sharing too and I woke up feeling like I had been kicked all night - oh - I had) I went for a quick jog around the town. After reading the paper and doing the crossword, sitting in a coffee shop, buying lunch, playing games in all the shops in town and A and R visiting Tutankhamun's burial lair (which is bizarrely situated in Dorset, methinks?) we had almost done all there was to do. True, we did not do the teddy bear museum, the Chinese Warriors (what is it with Dorset that all the wonders of the ancient world are there?) or the dinosaur museum. Sometimes you can't keep me down from museumtastic life, but I was not feeling the love, it was raining, we had spent £650 unintended pounds on brakes, plus the various costs of hotels and coffees and I was tempted to join H and call for a turning for home.

A hauled me back from the brink of giving up with a quote from Reepicheep ' There is no honour in turning away from adventure'. On we grimly drove, into a danker and damper west of England. The roads past Bournemouth west are nothing more than cart tracks. Luckily for us our campo has a top speed of 66 mph so it copes well with carts. Once I had to overtake someone (in a sports car!) and had to psych myself ( and the van) up for it. Karageen is a lovely campsite in a pretty spot and should be enjoyed in the sunshine. We are 4 other campervan/caravan owners were enduring it in the rain. And the wind. We cycled into Salcombe and ate an award winning pub lunch, Then cycled home in the rain. We played games invented by A, including the homonym game and hunt the finger ( it is quite easy to find a finger as it is attached to your hand). We watched a couple of DVDs as R had brought a TV (I had ridiculed the idea initially but was glad to have a few hours of watching Swallows and Amazons in my sleeping bag in the end).  We watched Arthur and the Invisibles, which is better than I imagined it would be. Perhaps helped by the wine.  After a few hours of this warmth and toasty campo time the wind got up and along with the rain battered the awning on campo to such an extent that we had to take it down and stow it in the toilet. We decided to go home in the morning. So, to summarise:

Do turn away from adventure sometimes if it is raining.
Do not accidentally stay in Dorchester unless you are on some weird quest to spot the most wonders of the ancient world in the wrong places.
Do draw a line on a map (about next to Swanage) which says 'Here are no further!' when it comes to planning camper van holidays.

We are NOT going to Scotland in the camper van. R is talking about selling our share and getting a folding tent thing. I am not selling my share yet, I love waking up in my camper van more than waking up anywhere else. But I have to say that I love waking up in my camper van in Netley more than waking up in it anywhere else in the world. 3 miles from home strikes me as the perfect driving distance to avoid brake trouble and cart tracks. I am not saying no entirely to R's folding tent on wheels but I will need a lot of persuading that it is cuter and more funky than campo.

an old but favourite photo

When we were at Winchester museum a few years back the other people looking round thought I worked there. Can not think why. When I retire ( if I get to such an old age) I am going to be one of those people who dress up in museums and educate children. I have my eye on being Mrs Earwicker at Manor Farm but need to pile on the pounds between now and then to achieve that particular ambition.  
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Dog still happy

The dog experiment is going well. I am still in love. R is even more in love. She is still good. She has been spayed, and was a minor celeb at the Blue Cross when I took her in for the op. She has been on her first holiday, to Surrey, to stay with Aunty A and cousins A and N, and their cat, who I doubt was impressed. She really is as good as it says on the tin, and when she is not around I miss her. Can you believe that I am saying that about a dog? Me - the least dog loving person known to dog kind! I have had a road to Damascus conversion to dog life.

Birthday completed

I mentioned that my birthday would go on and on. I think it has ceased. Before I go there, I must mention a comment made on my last post. It said that my Christian values were strongly apparent in my blog ( REALLY? I always feel they are too well tucked away) and did I feel that they were compromised in my job. In a Catholic school? Who's asking? It would be a very worrying indictment of my school/faith/church if I said yes! The short answer is no.

Now, the last two weeks have been Easter holidays. I know that teachers get too much time off blah blah blah so won't tell you how hard I have been working - I enjoy it and do it every weekend as well and like working hard at what I do so don't mind if you think I am a workaholic - one great  thing about the holidays is being able to read about education etc a bit more thoroughly. I bought and read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, an astonishing and interesting book that I could not put down. I was bough a novel for my birthday, which is novel, and have started it and found that interesting so far although out of my normal reading comfort zone.

Our Easter holidays started worryingly with mum having a stroke and being admitted to St Peters Hospital, Chertsey. This is conveniently situated just off the M25 between J8 (M3) and J10 (A3) so well done mum for choosing the easy to get to hospital. Not knowing much about strokes we all feared the worst but mum has been working hard on recovering and was home within a week and came to some of my birthday weekend! Ta da! She is magic! The bit she came to was very popular, the cream tea. It was at the sailing club on Sunday. It was really windy and so not sitting outdoors weather, instead the bar was crammed full and cakes were provided by two Anges and a Mary ( bit religious sounding when you put them toegether!). The cakes/scones were extrememly popular and I did my best social butterflying. That was part 4 of the birthday weekend.

Part 1 on Saturday morning was not so popular. A bike ride at 8am. I think 8 of us started and 7 finished ( H gave up at Upham pond and daddy rescued her). The weather was gloriously cycle perfect sunshine and I felt very blessed to be out there on my bike on some of my favourite roads, albeit not at the level of cycle fitness I have enjoyed in previous years. Loved being there anyway, my usual group position of fast downhills and then overtaken by everyone up hills. Very nice bunch of cyclists who were quite well matched (or the good ones were polite). Back at Bowen HQ R was on fierce pancake duty and doled out pancakes to several families who turned up on the premise that their dad had been on the bike ride.

After lunch and scone making (ACTUALLY it was mainly granny Mary who did that) and a nap in the sun it was time for the party evening. R was now furiously on singing duty, it was amazing for me to watch the band set up from nothing to ready in 40 mins. They did a great job and lots and lots of people said 'Iddidn't know Rob sang/played guitar  -a man of many talents! After that initial 'Oh no no one is going to turn up' moment of course heaps of people did turn up and I was a social butterfly and still didn't get to talk to everyone. But loved it. I should have parties more often, I love everyone I love being in one place at once. Hopefully that is what heaven is like. Or should I say that for me, a party where everyone I know and love is there (or invited, anyway, even if they couldn't be there) is heavenly. That is what we always say is wrong with Netley Heaven - not everyone we love is a member! Lots of people had gamely worn sports wear as requested, and Bradley Wiggins made an appearance, along with a Grand National jockey and horse, and all sorts of other sportss people. I  felt very loved and valued, I have heaps of bottles of champagne to drink so might have to invite some more friends round to help. 

After finally getting to sleep (was having a finance panic, R laughed in the morning and told me not to worry about money - I will go with that) it was time to get up to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for sailing at 10. Weather was perfect, sun and wind, and R and I were in the zone. We were second Dart in both races, and in the second race third overall. This result is nothing short of a miracle. I have found the secret to success was to talk R up all the time and tell him how he has made good calls, is thinking ahead strategically etc etc. Which was all mostly true. We need to work on our stamina to race back to back in longer races for nationals.  Oh and not to mess up my little contribution at tacking time. After saying last week that we did not like sailing the cat and were going to sell, we are thinking again.

So, birthday is now finally officially over apart from the champagne to consume. It is a bit weird to have a big 41st birthday so very glad I made the most of this one. I have so many people in my life who  I like so much but don't get to see too much, that it was really really great to have some of them all hanging out together. With me. Even if we didn't get to talk much.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

birthday dog

My birthday started early this year and is ending late. A week ago I was at a concert in the Guildhall, a Jake Bugg gig to be precise. I had not gone out to a gig since I was about 20 and this was entirely inititated by me on the back of Chris Evans' recommendation, I bought the tickets having heard one song. Anyhow, live music is up R's street so I took him along. It was great! I was not the oldest person there, neither was R, there was a real mixture of people who admired this hardworking and talented guitarist and singer, he is 19 I think, and a real story of hard graft, practising and gigging and then being spotted. He has a huge voice and is better on the guitar than me. So, that was a great evening. Then my actual real bday involved a bring and share lunch for all the February birthday girls, with a big bouquet for me, then a bouquet arrived from R in the afternoon. Then a normal evening. But more was to come!

On Friday I was whisked away from school at 3.40 by my family, we headed to Guildford and then swapped to train for the journey to Waterloo. We walked to our centrally located and fab modern hotel, the Park Plaza Westminster bridge. After a quick taxi ride we were eating Mexican (food not people) in Leicester Square, then on to watch Matilda. Wow. Tears rolling off my cheeks - a completely awesome musical which makes me want to cry right now. Joy and sorrow mixed together are the perfect combination. It is up there with Blood Brothers and Chicago in my all time greats.  Always a sucker for good triumphing over evil and a story about a teacher's passion for education always going to get me... After a very good night's sleep and a tasty breakfast we had a quick dip /steam/ sauna and then headed to the dinghy show, before remembering why we didn't go last year - it is too expensive, boring for the girls and basically a trade show. However we met a pirate who we knew (Rob G's brother) and were videoed saying how much we liked the show for next year's promo. We lied. On our return we made a brief appearance at a wedding party, then home to find that R had bought us a new TV! And its bigger than our old one.

The giving goes on and on, as R has acquired himself a dog. I do love her already, but she is his dog. She is adorable. She has 3 legs, and seems to be well trained and as good as gold so far despite being a rescue dog. She is 3 years old. She has to go back to be spayed (ouch) next month. She is called Lacey. She has a stump where her leg was which takes some getting used to. She has a big smile and floppy ears. She is brindle and white. I will attempt to upload a photo sometime soon.

Our 'playroom' aka bike storage facility has 6 bikes, a sail and a rudder and a bike rack in it. There is no room for my bike in it. That is in the lounge. I always suggested that my bike be kept on the wall in the lounge. However, the walls of the lounge are now adorned with BIG TV and guitars  x 3 and a mandolin. I like them being up on the walls. I think they are pretty.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Monday, 25 February 2013

cakes for orphans

My daughter number 2 is planning a trip to India to see Pastor Sam and his huge family of adopted children in orphanages when she is 12. She is 9 now, and is saving up and fundraising already. To which end, yesterday afternoon was spent shopping and baking, and I find myself now perched at the end of the kitchen table as it is covered in fairy cakes, with icing of varying shades of blue, yellow and green. After writing a proposal and getting agreement from the management, she and her dear friend Beth are selling said cupcakes after school to raise the money for the trip. They have reesearched it and are aiming for £1200, so far I  think they have about £37 - but still have time on their side.

Today was a work day. I tend not to dwell on work here, for fear of libel suits from those high up in the Catholic church, but I will give you a rough idea of the highlights of a normal day as an Assistant Headteacher.
 1. Drive camper van to work and unload enormous boxes.
2. Take whole school worship - its about the Pope who is retiring, I know all about that because I am forever hopeful that I will be considered for the job every time it comes around. We prayed for the Pope who is departing, and also for the people choosing the new one ( please consider me! - I would be just what you need - a new broom).
3. Cover the office for an hour while the staff have a meeting ( this is the first time I have done this and I had back up,  and luckily no tricky questions). During this time, talk maths data and children's progress with my colleague and Assistant Head extraordinaire.
4. Leadership team meeting about various things to do with leading a school, some of which you would not believe if I told you, so I won't.
5. Eat
6. Dress in my pyjamas and pretend to be sleeping in my camper van, answer questions from  60 Year 1 children  about camper van life and let them all have a good poke around in it.
7. Email and admin stuff, including organising a e safety evening and a Easter Egg competition among the more interesting, get out of pyjamas back into normal clothes
8. Lead a team meeting for my KS1 and Early Years teachers including wandering around the school looking at interesting places to learn and talking about what we could do in these interesting places.
9. Sort through a huge pile of books and make a 'throwing away' pile of those books that are older than me.

Just a normal day in the office. Loving it!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Harry Potter and the Freecyclers of delight

I am a bit slow to the party with Harry, my children have only just discovered the delights of HP and his mates. I have no strong feelings about wizard stories, just never got around to watching /reading. Confess we are watching first, but I think Hannah will be up for a read if you have the books lyging around spare.

Another party I have recently got back into is the Freecycle gang. The wanted posts are priceless - one guy wants some axle stands, a wardrobe (double please but anything will help) and someone else wants a 16gb memory stick! One that amused me was the one asking for a fridge freezer 'for my pregnant sister' - like she is going to get in it for the labour? Another one said 'breast pads' then in the detail 'unopened and unused' - like you would be giving away used ones. Another wanted item was 'garden ornaments( I quite like gnomes)'.  Well, for heavens sake, do you like them or not? Because if you only quite like them, and get inundated with them from all four corners of Southampton, with people only too happy to send them to you, you had better like them, not just QUITE like them. Or else you will end up hating them pretty quick. I notice that the area of Southampton Freecycle seems to have expanded to take in Bishops Waltham and West Wellow, so hopefully there will be some higher standard gnomes on their way to the gnome liker.

As my faithful one follower will know, winter sports are one of my passions, and I like to spend the two years immediately after the summer Olympics fine honing my skills for the Winter event. I never know whether to really go for it with the ski jump or the slalom, and end up doing neither, but having a lovely time in the Alps nonetheless.  Just yesterday I got back from an intensive training week in Austria. I took my family along so they could see how skiing is done by a real professional (shame wit did not spot any). We also took the Whitmore family along for their second ever family ski holiday - the first was taken when the eldest children were 3,2 and 1 and Matthew was the size of a cake crumb, so all of them had been practising at the dry ski slope for months in anticpation. The snow conditions were perfect in Loser and Tauplitz, the two small and secret ski areas we returned to after a lovely time there two years ago. We stayed once again in Haus Gisela, all ten of us taking up the 2 apartments and the b and b room. I can highly recommend the accomodation for skiing or for a summer holiday, within a five minute walk you are on the shore of a beautiful lake, and it is a perfect place for walking, biking, eating apple strudel and other delights of Austria.

It snowed every night, and was already deep, so the pistes were perfect. Never content on the piste, A decided on day 1 to head off through the trees at the side - children often do this thing where they follow tracks along the side behind a few trees then come hurtling back on. Except she did not do the hurtling bit. And did not shout back when we shouted. So I stayed around and prayed and shouted, and R headed back down to the bottom and got a rescue team out to her - by which time she had got herself out of the hole she was in and back onto the piste. Bless her, she didn't cry but did panic a bit. R and I did more than panic. Tried not to be too cross with her, just pleased she in one piece. Kept her on a much tighter rein from then on.  A has two skiing styles, a controlled snow plough descent, or an uncontrolled paralled descent. Either seem to work for her and she seems to be blessed with a low centre of gravity. H just makes it look easy and is great at picking out routes for less experienced skiers (aka Whitmores) to follow. The Whitmores are such a gung ho gang they were bound to have a good time and on the last day Joe nearly beat R in a race down. R enjoyed using his speedo app (NOT to be confused with Speedos - bad ski wear) to find out his top speed - he managed over 40mph top speed, although I challenged him to make that his average speed he was not quite there yet, I am sure he will be by the time the Olympics come around.

R did excel at high speed driving yesterday, as heavy snow fall and an early start for the 180 mile drive back to Vienna for the flight worked together with 3 sets of snow ploughs on the main road  to make our average speed less than it needed to be. We arrived with forty minutes before the flight, and took the decision to attempt to get me and the girls on the flight, while R dealt with the hire car return and missed the flight. So after an adrenalin fuelled risky drive on snow and ice that would not have looked out of place on Top Gear ( nice car, I drove it and enjoyed it! Skodia Estate 4x4), he threw us out at departures and we sprinted to the check in to find that the flight was delayed due to the ...snow. Of course. So, we all made the flight which was two hours late, with time to enjoy one of those random 'meals' which cost you more than the rest of the holiday put together, because you are enjoying said 'meal' in an airport - meal consisting of drinks drunk very slowly so you can justify sitting on the only seats around, which are in the cafe, and a croissant shared one between two because they are so expensive you don't think there are enough Euros in the universe, let alone in the random remainder of cents you are scraping together to pay for said items.

I had a couple of one to one skiing lessons, which are expensive but worth it if you ski at the level I do (intermediate is I think the polite term). The teacher, Sarah, was an excellent teacher, telling me one thing to change to improve my style and confidence to turn at greater speeds and in tighter confines, so I can develop feeling a bit more happy on any kind of slope. It made me think about what makes a good teacher, and praise and one point at a time to develop seem to be the secrets of success - not really very secret either.

Not content with spending today resting our aching limbs, we had already scheduled a meeting with a man about a dog. All my married life, I have told my husband that he may own a dog when I die. Even up until a month ago, then we met George, rescue dog living a happy life with our good friends, the Gales. George is such a nice polite dog, and we have had him to hang out at our house for a couple of Tuesdays lately without disaster. R has wanted a dog since he was born, almost, and spent his childhood dreaming of having a dog. The girls are keen on dogs, and I came to the conclusion that there were three of them, and one of me, and I am at work all the time anyway, so who am I to stand in the way of the doggy happiness of my family? No sooner had I relented, or even slightly mentioned considering relenting, that the Lurcher website was consulted ( I do not know why he wants a Lurcher, it was that or a Greyhound) and a suitable four legged friend was found at the local Blue Cross centre. Except she is not four legged, but three legged. R and A met her last week and H and I went along as well today for the family meeting and interview. Well, I was so nervous, but she (the dog) seemed to like me, and even did some of the things we asked her to. Despite only having 3 legs, and having lost the 4th one recently, she hurtles around at speed, and the staff member we talked to thinks she still has enough speed to catch a rabbit. So that is dinner sorted on a daily basis - until next door's rabbits are all gone.  She is a very friendly and sociable dog, and despite being a bit bigger then I had in mind for a dog, is pretty and smiley and when she wags her tail her whole body wags.  So she is coming to live with us, her forever family, next week. She can not come earlier as it is my birthday and there is a secret planned.

Saturday, 5 January 2013


See what I did there? Have decided to go back to basics and use this blog  as a weapon in my fight for fitness and world domination in sport. So, after so long not telling you anything, I will try to keep you up to date with my fitness campaign so you can vicariously feel fit, just by reading along and being a couch training buddy.

So, I got up early to go swimming with R, but A was feeling a bit lonesome so I stayed home and did some gardening instead - well, I pulled up dandelions and brambles, which is what counts for gardening around here. A and I cycled to and from her swimming lesson, 15 minutes each way, and while she swam, I ran. It is very hilly around Bursledon, so more of an amble. My troubled left hip/knee/ankle combo has reared its evil head, I blame the gardening.

Yesterday went a bit better, after cycling to see my spiritual director on Hill Lane, I cycled into town and swam for nearly an hour at the Quays, with R, doing a set which he has memorised from his tri training. It's like this if you want to have a go:
200 swim, 200 pull, 100 swim ( that is the warm up)
4 x 50 slow there, fast back
4x 75 right arm, left arm, both arms
4x25 kick
200 pull

Then you do the set that I have not yet got very far into, essentially its something like this;

swim 400
swim 200
swim 100
swim 50

I only got up to the first bit of that last bit. And wearing flippers. So, I have someway to go there.

Then cool down (I do 100 breaststroke for that)

Tomorrow - who knows - maybe a bike ride or a run?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Seas the day

One of my favourite mottos, saw it today on a little sign spelled that way and like it even more.

Today R and I had our best sail of the year. Seeing as the year was not even 12 hours old as we sailed, it would have had to be bad not to have been the best. It was sunny and perfect wind conditions, a good crowd and we were sailing a boat new to us both. A slow and secure boat, a dinghy built for stability rather than speed. It had a spinnaker, and as R had never sailed with an asymmetric before I had the mantle of expert, which is a bit of a worry. And would possibly explain that we could not get it down again after a trial hoist, I had to do a bit of meddling in a tricky position to rectify the situation. That led to us being very late to the start line, but we made up some ground and were not last!  I REALLY enjoyed it, and flying a kite in a nice non tippy boat was a great place to learn - made me realise how ridiculously steep my learning curve has been this year in sailing.

We slept in the camper van for New Year's Eve. It was not too cold,thankyou,  and meant we were on the site for the first sailing club NYE party. Which was great! It was really lovely, random mix of people, with assorted extra teenagers to get drunk and dance. Enjoyed my stint in the bar with R, time flew by and the pound a pint prices meant maths not too much of a challenge. Felt very special and lucky to be a part of such a lovely family of people from all walks of life.

Today we enjoyed a walk along the beach to Hamble with the lovely Sanderson Taylor family. A beautiful sunny day, sea looking as blue as the sky, bumped into the lovely Powell family to make it even better! Felt very blessed to have friends today.  Am trying to convince some of them to do a triathlon with me in May - have booked my space! Winchester, 7 May. Interested? Also booked on a sportive on Isle of Wight. The post Christmas week makes me a bit miserable, and when it rains its even worse, so booking in some sporty events for the summer gives me hope that the sun will come again. Yesterday I did a tough swim session with R, did not manage to finish it (2k altogether) as felt dizzy and sick after 1 mile.  But felt good to work so hard and R was a good training partner. Whole family did a bike ride the day before, we managed 13 miles, really proud of A keeping on going. I did a few extra hills on my own after and have a bike ride planned for tomorrow. It is clearly the season to get training!

I find the holidays quite tricky, making the adjustment to being part of our family rather than out of work, I get a bit stressy and miserable. Had a chat with R about it, who said that the feelings I describe are those of a husband! e.g. out at work, don't have a role in the family day to day life, feel like a spare part and that everyone would do better without me. He said that for ten years when he went out to work full time he had to remember when he got home that for you it is the end of the day, for your family it is the start of their time with you. Likewise for holidays. Really helped to know I am only suffering from husbanditis and it has a solution. Glad he explained it to me and it made sense.

I just made H watch Dambusters, told her it was essential viewing. She seemed to enjoy it and asked relevant questions. R's compulsory watching is World's strongest man - so girls are being initiated into that right now. Amazing and utterly ridiculous. But what Christmas is all about, surely?