Archive for September, 2009

Driving Myself To Distraction

skipSome time ago I bought a skipping rope at Tescos and recently I dug it out so that I could do a few minutes of skipping prior to going running. On Saturday morning I set about some skipping drills on the patio at the back of the house, managing a small rally of jumps between whipping the rope to a halt with my shins. The rope needed shortening a little and upon examining a removable cap on the handles I found inside, the ends of the rope which, it seemed could be pulled through and trimmed off. A job, I thought, for later.

This morning Wil left early for a ride with the bike club. Cameron eventually ditched his dressing gown for some mismatched items of clothing and left the house clutching a large magnifying glass. I was left in blissful silence, lording it up on the sofa in my dressing gown scrolling aimlessly through a distraction of internet sites, whilst eating a bowl of porridge and occasionally glancing outside at the morning sun warming the top of the hedgerow.

At 11:30 it was blatent that I was pissing the day away. The load of washing in the machine was not going to hang itself out and the chickens needed to be let out to destroy the garden. I started upstairs to get dressed only I realising an item of clothing I needed was downstairs in the clean washing pile but as I walked past the sofa I caught site of my empty porridge bowl sat on the arm. I picked it up and took it to the kitchen. When I passed the aquarium I stopped to feed the fish and when I washed my hands I noticed the sink needed a clean. Distraction after distraction. Finally I walked out into the garden.

Outside, the chickens watched with great interest as I hung the wet laundry on the line.  I opened their coop door and they immediately set about pecking the weeds growing between the paving slabs. I collected their eggs and placed them gently in the pocket of my dressing gown while I cleaned out their nest boxes. The sun was warm and the air still crisp and unusually there wasn’t the slightest breeze blowing through the garden. Wendy began chasing a butterfly across the lawn, quickly pursued by Susan who is not one to miss out on excitement. I picked up the empty laundry basket and returned inside.

Stepping inside the back door I left my shoes on the door mat in the dining room. The skipping rope caught my eye. I picked it up and removed the cap from the end of the handle to expose the surplus rope. The end was secured in place by a small O ring pinched in half. The folded O ring sat against a flat washer inside the handle on which to swivel so that the rope didn’t become twisted when it was turned. I could remove the folded O ring, shorten the rope and replace the O ring to make a neat adjustment. But just before I did, it’d be worth skipping with the rope once more just to make sure shortening it was absolutely necessary.

Having removed my shoes it seemed the best place to give the rope another go would be in the living room where the extra high ceilings would allow such movement and swinging of a rope without causing damage. In my socks and dressing gown I clasped a handle in each hand and positioned the rope behind my ankles. A quick check around confirmed nothing within reach of the rope so with a flick of the wrists I sent the rope up over my head and down in front of me before executing a little jump allowing  it to pass under my feet.

As my feet returned to the floor they did so with a crackling wet ‘snap’ sound. It was an unexpected noise. It wasn’t the wood floor splitting, the TV was still in situ and even the large lightshade was still suspended near the ceiling completely untouched.

As I stood there wondering for a moment about the source of the strange noise, I glanced down and it became blatently apparent where the noise had eminated from. There in front of me slowly expanding across the wood flooring were both of the fresh eggs which had been jolted out of my pocket in one swift jump and sent smashing across the floor.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the day where I ended up half way through making some muffins only to find I didn’t have any eggs.

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First Place Loser

Wil peered round the bathroom door on Monday morning. “You didn’t come third in that race yesterday” he said.

I paused brushing my teeth using the silence in my head to conclude my estimate of 4th must have been spot on.

“You came SECOND!!!”

“SECOND?? SECOND PLACE?? Are you SURE? NO WAY!

For having turned up with a cracking headache, no desire to get on a bike and a pet hate for hills, clearly the biking gods had been with me and a persistant steady effort paid off both at the race and the little training I did before hand.

My actual finish time was 1:15 and I’d beaten 3 other girls to take second place. Two of them I’d hastily passed on my last lap it seems were only on their second circuit of the 4.5mile route anyway. Only myself and the girl who came first did 3 laps within the hour and she’d finished 10 minutes ahead of me.

The interesting news about the girl who won is that she’s a triathlete and has participated in a number of national events recently so one could draw the assumption that she’s fairly up on her training. Where as I, as a friend put it did ‘suck it and see’ training, could have hidden super powers if I put the consistent effort in.

I’m fired up now…

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1 Hour Enduro Race – Langdon Hills Country Park

Wil and I took part in a 1 hour Mountain Bike Endurance Race in Essex today.

For a change we were on time, organised, well trained and fighting fit. Everything went smoothly including the trip down to Southend.

The course was 6.5k (just under 4miles) through woodland and fields consisting of narrow very rooty trails with a mixture of gravel and sand under tyre. The hills were plentiful, vertical, long and winding and ripped into sections by large tyre eating cracks that were difficult to avoid in places. The descents were also very rooty and closely hugged by trees and overhanging branches but also offered beautiful smooth fast twisty singletrack which, according to my heart rate monitor I managed to max 25mph down!

On the first lap I was frustratingly held back by all the junior and non-serious competitors who promptly all failed and clambered off their bikes to push up the first hill. Despite many of these idiots blocking the path somehow I managed to keep pedalling eventually dropping a load of them behind. Much of the first half of the first lap was plagued with people who clearly hadn’t trained or were on inappropriate bikes and they became moving obstacles who would either block the route past or go so slowly you were stuck behind until an appropriate passing place. For once I felt smug for all the training effort I’d put in – it was really paying off.

Then about 3/4 of the way around the first lap there appeared a familiar orange and white jersey in front of me pushing his bike along the side of the trail. Ruling out any serious injury given the fact he was walking ok I noticed Wil’s back tyre was flat. I jumped off my bike and offered it to him but he declined, instead urging me to get on with my race. So I went.

The second lap was better – now knowing where all the technical tricky parts of the course were and missing most of the kids who’d bailed out after the first lap I was able to really hammer around. That said the first lap of hellish hills had taken a toll on my legs which were burning like mad on every incline. My heart rate monitor frequently beeped as I reached 99% of my max heart rate!

The second lap felt strong but the third felt quicker as I passed another girl in my category on an incline and then left her behind to cross the finish line in 1:16 by my watch.

Unfortunately there was a glitch with the timings which meant no one got to find out their times and positions and there was no podium today. Hopefully timings should be put on their website tomorrow night – so fingers crossed, I’m really hoping for a good result this time. Ranking bottom third is not worthy of eating one’s own exploded lungs 3 times over.

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Which Came First – The Egg Or The Screaming?

Regular size chicken egg on the right and Susans whopper on the left!

Regular size chicken egg on the right and Susans whopper on the left!

Susan and Wendy both laid their eggs today as usual – one each placed next to eachother in the nest box. I was at work when Cameron called me squealing ‘you won’t believe the size of the egg one of them laid!’.

He was right – my eyes nearly fell out of their sockets and broke a couple of eggs in the basket when I checked out the infeasibly large egg.

I called Wil exclaiming ‘You won’t believe the size of the egg Susan laid today’ – ‘Is it a double yoker?’ came the response. I said I thought it must be a triple yoker because it was that big.

After Wil had been home for a few minutes I prompted him to look in the egg basket. He picked up the massive egg and held it up to examine it.

‘Man alive’ he laughed… ‘When did we get the Ostrich?.. I bet that bloody well touched the sides on the way out’

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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First Day At High School

'Oh God MUM, hurry up and take the picture'

'Oh God MUM, hurry up and take the picture'

I can’t quite get my head around this boy going off to High School today.  It doesn’t seem 5 minutes ago he was knee high waddling around the living room in his undies licking plugs and stroking the electric sockets on the walls. Ok he’s not knee high anymore however, it’s hard to say that much else has changed.

As ever the organiser I wanted to make sure everything was ready to go for his first day. School Uniform was purchased and name labelled, PE Kit aquired, trainers still fit, new socks in the drawer, bag emptied and refilled with pencil case and dinner money. Cam even remembered to find the map of the school building he’d been given at the end of term. Bus pass in hand it’d be an early start out of the door for the 7.50am bus. That’s 50 minutes earlier than before.

‘In my day’ after walking to school uphill, in the snow, both directions, with no shoes and a 3 stone bag on my back we arrived at secondary school with a barrell load of rumours and fears churning in our stomachs. A favourite of the rumour mongers was that the older kids treated you on your birthday by holding you upside down and flushing your head in the toilet. A prospect that I wasn’t so much worried about the toilet as I was the thought of water going up my nose while I was upside down and note to self – wear trousers on my birthday. Thank god my January birthday was in an allocated trouser wearing term.

You’d turn up at this place each morning to a rowdy yard full of badly dressed teenagers doused in hormones and just hope like hell you’d spot someone you knew cowering around the edges of the building so you didn’t have to stand on your own. Goodbye little diddy classrooms with minature chairs,  brightly coloured melamine tables, named coat pegs and last weeks tissue paper collages on the wall. Hello pissed off looking teachers, detention and toting your weighty bag full of crap around with you all day because some bugger will have it if you take your eyes off it. There’s no ‘Lost Property’ here, it’s all ‘Permanently Borrowed’.

Yes, I was definately more nervous than Cam this morning.

But no, no.. where was I going with this? – Its’ all different now. The primary schools now spend so much time over the years leading up to this transfer by blending the schools and kids together on every occasion possible. Cam has been to the new school on countless occasions for sports events, Science Fayres and Awards Ceremonies and with it being a local village school a lot of the kids there live in the neighbouring villages or attended his old primary.

Cam waltzed into the school like he barges into his own bedroom. Past kids twice his height and groups of teenagers gathered in bundles that I didn’t even want to drive past with my doors locked. Before disappearing through the double door entrance to the school hall he turned around and waved me off with a big smile.

Since he was 6 weeks old I’ve introduced him to three new Nurseries and we’ve shared 3 first days at different Primary Schools but today was the day I felt the proudest and I was glad to be there watching him from a short distance confidently walk off and not be embarrassed to give me a big wave infront of all those big kids. I drove off with a smile on my face.

I even let the fact he missed the school bus on his first day go!

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First Proper Ride

My Uncle borrowed our car at the weekend and in return left us with his BMW motorbike. With two bikes on the driveway ready to go Wil and I kitted up and went for a ride.

Wils bike is a Honda CBR600, a rather sporty riding position and not at all like the Kawasaki ER5 I’ve been riding at the training school. I’ve taken it out once since I passed my test for a short wobble around the 7 mile loop of country lanes leading from our house and back. I was terrified. So terrified that my death grip on the bars sent both wrists into spasm making it a bloody good job I arrived back to the house when I did. I reached a top speed of 45mph. It felt like 100.

My Uncles bike is a BMW R1100r. It’s a good sized 1100cc complete with windscreen and heated hand grips like a comfy sofa good for cranking out the miles on. For Wil, leaving his bike and riding this is like stepping out of the hardened uncomfortable racey confines of a Lotus Elise and into the refined leathery splendour of a Jaguar XJ, what some would call an upgrade. An upgrade that is perhaps, if you were 50+ and enjoyed reading your newspaper whilst wafting along the M25 in no particular hurry.

Much more relaxed this time and with a concerted effort not to squeeze the life out of the bars I lead the way to the dual carriageway. Do you know how hard it is to concentrate on your first big ride when your boyfriend is getting his race style crouch on behind the windscreen of “Das Panzer” and passes you in the fast lane with a grimace more suited to if he’d been riding through spray coming off a manure truck? I can tell you, it’s bloody hard.

We pulled off the roundabout at Felixstowe and followed the road down to the beach. At the first set of traffic lights it became apparent what a huge mistake this was. After living within 10 miles of Felixstowe most of my life I’m amazed the combination of it being a BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND,  SUNNY and the PEAK OF THE SUMMER HOLIDAY SEASON – didn’t ring any alarm bells with me to STAY THE HELL AWAY from this grimy little resort.

Every muscle shirt clad, beer drinking, chip scoffing, baseball cap and cheap gold jewelry sporting freak had swarmed the place. If I counted one baseball cap wearing teenage lad with his vest top hanging out of the back of his tracky bottoms swaggering down the road as though one leg was missing a knee joint, I must have counted hundreds only equalled by the copious amounts of wobbly dimpled pasty flesh displayed by their girlfriends and mums.

The Fish & Chip shops had lines of people pouring out of the doors onto the pavements. Kids faces had been replaced by streaks of sticky rock residue, giving them the mouth of The Joker whilst old grannies wedged in wheelchairs sizzled to a crispy red colour in the sun. Riding down the beachfront road was like weaving through the crowd of a Cliff Richard concert where Basehunter was fronting as the support band.

We parked the bikes for about 5 minutes while we discussed where else to escape to. All the coastal towns would be pretty much the same only varying in the degrees of trash to snobby upper crust wankery depending on which town we went. (Not forgetting the time we sat and had a cup of tea at Thorpeness and listened to a polo shirt/chino wearing pompous twat on the next table talk loudly all about buying fine art for his second home in Nicaragua – pronounced ‘Nikka-rar-wah’, and the time he toured around Kenya ‘Keen-yar’)

We ended up at Shotley Gate where we sat in the Bristol Arms Pub eating Fish & Chips and taking in the view of the estuary to a soundtrack of Foreigner ‘I want to know what love is’.

We stayed for about an hour by which time I could tell you exactly what love is. Be it a Lotus Elise or Das Panzer it’s having a set of wheels with which to speedily take you back home where controlling the sights and sounds that hit your eyes and ears are fully within your own remit.

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