Feb 16

2014 – week 7

Reading

Doing

  • I started a new job, although it’s a contract for a few months, I’m back working. :-) More about this another week.
  • Went to a evening at Ogilvy, taking a look at what they are up to in the social space.
  • Had drinks with my ex-colleagues. Slightly too much, but it was a great night! :-)
    Drinks (13th Feb 2014)
  • Ran the Dorney Half-marathon, a last minute entry at the beginning of the week. It went brilliantly and I got a new PB. I also met up with a group of people from a running forum I’m taking part in.
    Runners (15th Feb 2014)

    Training

    Overall, it was a pretty good week. The runs all went to plan, in fact were slightly easier than expected. The training is working. There were 2 key sessions, one with 5 * 800m fast intervals and the other the half-marathon, which was a test of marathon pace with a faster last 3 miles. The race went perfectly to plan and I knocked 7 mins off my personal best, at 2:07:03.

Feb 09

2014 – week 6

A bit more activity this week

Reading

Doing

  • I started mentoring for this programme Digital Mums. A good scheme to teach new skills and the support local businesses.
  • I went to a leaving do, a friend from Momentum who has moved on and caught up with a lot of ex-colleagues.
  • I went to the Zoom F1 auction, which was selling pictures taken by F1 journalists/drivers/team members. A good night – and a chance to wear my new slim styled dress :-)

Zoom Auction (7th Feb 2014)

Training

A slightly heavier week, as mileage ramps up. It’s 9 weeks until the marathon and things, in general, going well. Hopefully, this weeks issue won’t cause a long term problem. As well as the recovery runs, I managed the following sessions

  • 6 miles progressive, where I started slow and increased speed every mile, finishing with a 8:50m/m
  • 20 miles steady. My longest run to date. Went well, but needed to fuel better.
  • I started but had to abandon the 16 miles with 12 at marathon pace. A cold was the first issue, so my heart rate was all over the place, but then also had a hamstring issue that meant it was not a good idea to continue. Lots of stretching and rolling ahead.
Feb 09

2014 – week 5

Another quiet week (well, if you call some travel quiet). We’ll have to stop that soon!

Reading

  • Life as a Non-Violent Psychopath. A neuroscientist working on brain scans takes a look at his own and how similar it is to psyshopath brains. A great read, and interesting journey of self-discovery.
  • The Day we Lost Atlanta – how 2″ of snow paralysed a city of 6m because of lack of transport investment
  • Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars. I’d call myself a feminist. However, I find the fragmentation and worthiness, leading to all of these public arguments, silly and self-defeating. There are so many different ways to express, why should you fit into someone else’s definition and how do you fit into them all!
  • My Wife Doesn’t Get how it is in Advertising. I think most people don’t get how silly it can be in advertising/marketing etc. Some of the expected behaviours are just weird.
  • No chance for Stephen Glass: the long, strange downfall of the journalistic wonderkid. Should a journalist who faked and made up a lot of stories get a chance for a new life? According to the Californian Supreme Court, not if he doesn’t change.

Doing

  • I ‘watched’ the first F1 test of the season, well, watched via Twitter and reporting. The last few years I’ve travelled to a test, but not this year. They’re not going to Barcelona and I did not fancy a trip to Bahrain.
  • I went to Naples! The reports of Pompeii and Naples can be found earlier on the blog. A great long weekend, with lots of good art, architecture, history and food.

Naples

Training

A short week, I only managed a 12mile and a 5mile run before I went away. I did do about 10miles walking everyday in Italy, so I was still spending time on feet!

Feb 09

Visiting Naples Part 2

The dry (if overcast) weather that I had for the day round Pompeii did not hold for the rest of my stay and there was plenty of rain around. For the rest of my trip I’d planned walking round Naples, Churches and Museums. My Lonely Planet guidebook had a good walking day set out and that’s what I sort followed!

I started off at one of the city gates, the Porto Nolona. To get there, I’d jumped on the Metro, which is surprisingly modern and clean (given the rest of the city). The city had got various artists to design the stations and they were all pretty nice!

Naples

The walking tour took me round ancient streets and churches. Having visited a lot of Uk cathedrals, visiting those in places like Italy, which never went through the Reformation, is always slightly disconcerting. Colour and pictures and paintings? What is this! I’m used to them being plain, with the stone only forming beauty. The sheer number of images is mind-blowing, especially when you see some of the painters. The Caravaggio Le Sette Opere di Misericordia was particularly wonderful. So much to see and wander round, I never got to all of them.

Naples

The history of Naples in the 20th century is not the best, a town beset by a lot of corruption. But I think it may have been responsible for the historical legacy of the old town centre, with it’s lanes and small roads, the surprise squares and statues. It was not modernised at all and is fascinating to wander round. Certain streets are home to specialists, such as Via San Gregorio Armeno, which is full of presepi makers – figures for nativity scenes.

Naples

I made sure I had time to try the local speciality – PIZZA! I went to Pizza Gino Sorbillo, generally regarded as one of the best places in town for pizza and it was brilliant – both the busy restaurant and the food :-)

Naples Food

At this point, I decided it was time to head inside for slightly longer as it was getting a bit wet. As I walked towards the Archaeological Musem I was totally bemused by the attitude of the locals to the rain. It’s as though this was a once in a lifetime event and they had no idea how to deal with it. Just a little sprinkle had people heading for cover. It’s not as though you couldn’t get umbrellas…for most of the weekend, you couldn’t go a block without seeing opportunistic salesmen.

Naples (1 Feb 2014)

The Musueum was great, with lots of Roman art and lots from Pompeii. Again, I think it would have been great to be able to see the artifacts in situ as such, how did they display the various artworks alongside the everyday objects. The mosaics were amazing, to think these were basically floor coverings. the Gabinetto Segreto (Secret Room) was also fun – flying phalluses with bells on! Seriously, what were these for?

Museo Archeologico Nazionale

I was back at a museum on Sunday, this time the Palazzo Reale di Capodimonte. Loads of paintings from masters, including Raphael, Titian and my favourite Caravaggio. There’s a LOT in this place and it’s well worth getting the audio guide, even if the translation seems odd at times and the narrator has difficulty with some of the names. As well as the art collection (most of it came from the mother of Charles VII of Bourbon), you also get to wander round the royal apartments.

Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte

I really enjoyed my time in Naples, there’s so much to see and I only touched the surface. I’d like to go back to see Herculaneum, to see more of the museums and sights and spend more time wandering around. That said, Naples does not give the impression of being welcoming – it’s in the architecture. It’s all closed and square, with shutters, with lots of grafitti, with no glimpse of what is behind the walls. I never felt unsafe, but the streets themselves seem to tell you to watch out and don’t bother them. I fully recommend it though, but probably go with friends and be prepared.

Naples

Feb 09

Visiting Naples

Last week, off I went to Naples for a long weekend visit. With so many cities in Europe to visit, Naples may not be the first on the everyone’s list, but it has plenty of attractions, the main one for me being Pompeii. The others were food (practising my carb-loading for running) and the art. I managed to squeeze all of these in!

First up was Pompeii, on what turned out to be the driest day of the weekend. A brilliant place and going at this time of the year meant that for much of the time I was wondering round the places and streets on my own, with plenty of time to sit and take up the atmosphere. You could definitely feel the volcano looming over the town. There’s always a worry that it may erupt again, but there are many more ways of monitoring so I don’t think there’ll be the same massive surprise as there was in 79AD.

Pompeii

Dotted around the site were some of the plaster casts that had been taken during the 19th century excavations. You look at them, in some of them seeing the expressions on their faces and can imagine the terror they must have felt as they realised there was no way out of the town.

Pompeii

Interesting that over the years, people have not changed. There’s still grafitti, the sports in the arena, the plays and music in the theatres, the places of worship, bath houses, swimming pools and fast food shops. It’s all there, we haven’t changed that much.

Pompeii

The fast food shops were great, with the inbuilt counters with spaces for the food containers. Not that much different from today’s canteens. What I found interesting is that the concept of the shop as the front of the house which just had a shutter pulled down out of hours was still found in Naples. So many of the shops there were literally rooms behind a shutter, no glossy window displays for them.

Pompeii

One thing that has changed is our public attitude to sex. The brothel had a lot of people going through it, all wanting to look at the wall pictures that are still perfectly recognisable as various pictures. In the Archaeological Museum back in Naples there are a lot of other pictures and objects (flying phalluses with bells on were my favourite) showing that there was a very different regard for sex.

Pompeii

Pompeii is well worth a visit, although in summer it is supposed to get really hot and unpleasant to walk around. It’s huge, I spent at least 6 hours walking around and quite a few of the places were closed for work – they’re still digging it up and working on it. I think the only thing I’d like would have been to see some of the places kitted out completely, a few replicas, to understand how the houses/places worked and how the objects that I saw later in the museum would have fitted into the lives.