Apr 13

QuarterNotes 1 2019

Weeknotes, monthnotes, annual reviews. I’ve tried them all, depending on how bloggy I feel.  With its restoration, it’s time to try another favour of diary, so it’s time for QuarterNotes!

But! But! What have I actually done this quarter?  Not as much as I could have, I think. As has been my usual, I spent what felt like about half my time at clients in Germany, being in the UK every other week.

  • I finally got to go see Hamilton.  I’d being keeping an eye on the tickets for a while, tried the last minute lottery on occasion and was prepared to buy one of the expensive tickets if I could get one in my preferred row (the one with the extra legroom). In the end, another opportunity came up, a not so expensive ticket in the very front row.  So £75 only, plenty of leg room and really good views of most of the action.  You could see the stage and all the action, just not the footwork.  Excellent show, and much of the music still sticks in my head – especially as it is actually all available on YouTube.  My only disappointment was that it was a downbeat ending, which left you a little flat on leaving
A view from the stage from the front row of Hamilton, empty s it's before the show starts
My front row view
  • Another Michelin restaurant, my first for a while, I took in The Goring after my Hamilton visit.  I had to try the traditional Eggs Drumkilbo, (reportedly the Queen Mother’s favourite)
Glass bowl, with eggs, black caviar, aspic jelly and green leaves of herbs.
Start at the Goring
  • Back to Sheffield the second trip in 4 weeks after my New Year walking trip. this time it was the pre-trip weekend for my Kili trip.  Information about kit, the trip, a walk up in the Peaks and most importantly, a chance to meet all but 3 of my fellow adventurers. 
Sheer cliffs, a quarry in the Peak District. Blue sly and brown grass
Peak District Quarry
  • Another trip round London for the Winter Run 10k. Definitely my favourite race, this was my 5th time running it.
Me next to a Polar bear - a person in a polar bear outfit, after the Winter Run
  • A quick pop over to Barcelona for the F1 testing.  I missed last year, due to uncertainty about jobs, but took the chance this year to go over for a day, spending it in Red Bull hospitality. A most excellent day, I love just being able to watch cars all day, without it being a race.  The following day was spent in the city, having lunch down in the harbour.
Me, next to Max Verstappen, standing in front of a Red Bull back drop
  • The first trip to Kew this year was also accomplished. Taking advantage of a work from home day, with a quiet sunny afternoon available, I walked along the river to spend a couple of hours in the gardens.  I love having membership, it allows you to take advantage of spare hours like this.
Pyramid glasshouses in Kew Gardens. In front there is a sea of golden daffodils

An that’s it really for the first 3months of the year.   One theatre trip, one restaurant. A couple of trips abroad that weren’t work. And a few miles spent running and walking, as always.

Mar 15

2018 Review

I’ve not blogged for nearly a year..how many noticed?  Very few I say, but this is still for me rather than others.  I did eventually fix both my sites, no idea why things worked this time instead of when I have previously tried things…but work it did.

So what did I do in 2018?  Change and challenges is the best overview I think.

We’ll start with the stats!

The stats

  • Swarm checkins: 944 (+101)
  • Countries visited: 5 (-)  (Germany, Spain, Bhutan, Nepal, Austria (just for lunch))
  • Michelin Meals: 2 (-4)
  • Miles run: 62 (- 28)
  • Races completed: 2 (-)
  • Miles walked: 570 (+391)
  • Cathedrals visited: 2 (+1) (Bamberg, Vienna)
  • Movies seen at cinema: 6 (-)
  • Theatre visits: 0 (-2)

There appeared to be a lack of cultural activities.  With training for a long distance walk and then much of my time took up travelling to work abroad, there was less time to get out and do things around town. Something to do more of in 2019.

January

The first event of note was my first Escape Room, with my German colleagues.  I ended up on the winning team, even if we finished it with only a couple of minutes to spare. 

The only other highlight was a weekend camping out with Adventure Queens.    This is a Facebook group, with the aim of connecting and encouraging women who want to get out and do things.  From doing their first night in a tent to walking around the world, it is a very supportive group, ready to offer support, encouragement, ideas and congratulations to all who post.

Tents in a field, surrounded by trees
Camping out in Guildford

February

The month started off with one of my regular runs – The Winter Run.  This is my 4th time taking part.  With my overall lack of running miles, wasn’t expecting much, but I did have a great run/walk race.  About a mile in I complemented a fellow runner on her leggings and ended up going round the course with her and getting her to the finish (she’d been about to give up)

I went to The Story conference in the middle of the month – see the previous blog posts for my write up of that day.

This year’s challenge was another attempt at a 100km ultra walk.  After pulling out last year before the event, due to injury, I decided to have another go, so I seriously started my training this month. These walks were usually on my own, but I did get out for a few miles with Wine Club.  As the years go by, we have turned to more than just drinking wine 😊

Four women grinning in the woods
Walking in Surrey woods

March

This month I made the biggest change.  I stopped working for a company and started my own with a former colleague. In the same area (digital and marketing strategy), but smaller and more targeted.  This took me a long time to make the step (it’s quite scary) but looking back, it was a good thing to do. Year 1 has been great, we’ll see how we go in year 2.

Th first Michelin meal of the year was at Celeste at the Lanesborough. An amazing room and fantastic meal

White plate, with cabbage, stuffed with mince.
Stuffed cabbage at Celeste

More walking this month, with an outing onto the South Downs.  From Arundel, myself and 2 other women from Adventrue Queens headed west to the Gumbar Bothy for a nights camping, before carrying on to Chichester.

Stone barn, with wooden benches in front of it
Gumbar Bothy

The main reason for this was to try out my new rucksack and tent – which I’d bought in preparation for my “holiday” at the end of the month.  It was holiday only in being away from home – I spent a week walking around the Isle of Wight.  In the end, only 2 days camping due to the rain and mud, but a successful perambulation of the island. A total of 73 miles covered across the week.

The Needles, from hill above. Whote chalk pillars in the sea
The Needles
The cliffs on the South of the Isle of Wight Green hills, red stone cliffs. cloud over the sea
sea cliffs

April

At the end of my week of walking, it was time to start the new “job”.  So instead of going into the office every day, I started to work from home. Initially difficult, I have slowly worked out how to do this, even without a study to work from (the ironing board acts as my desk).

Walk training carried on, along with volunteering at 2 races.  A small one to start with, my running club’s race and then the London Marathon again. Fewer photos this time, but I quite like my Mo Farah picture

Mo Farah, in orange top and blue shorts, running the London marathon in April 2018
Mo Farah

May

Lots of walking done this month.  Final weeks of training before the main event in the last weekend – walking 100km from London to Brighton.  This was done with Action Challenge, who had great organisation across the event

Me standing in front of a big Finisheer sign, holding my medal
A happy finisher

I’d decided to split this across the 2 days, with camping overnight.  Just over 36 miles on day 1 and 29 on day 2.  Waking up and getting day done was not too bad, it was however far worse on the day after, very hard to walk and feet in agony!  But I did it, in a final walking time of 30 hours, with an elapsed time of about 36 hours.  

When training for this, you only really go up to about 30 miles max – or at least the plan I followed did.  The rest of it is all mental struggle, to just keep pushing onwards.  (although the ability to NOT get blisters is an essential skill)

June

I managed to remember to get tickets for Trooping the Colour this year. Not the main event, but the one of the 2 rehearsals. An excellent event, definitely something you should go to

A carriage pulle dby two grey horses, making its way across Horse Guards parade in front of a line of red jacketed soldiers
Trooping the Colour
Solidiers on horseback, in a balck jacket with gold frogging
Artillery and guns and horses

Another Wine Club event…this time we headed to Manchester for an attempt at Go Ape.  We generally managed it, except for one obstacle which caused a fair bit of trouble. A very silly afternoon – and at least the rain waited until we had finished.

Four women wearing climbing harneses in the woods
ready to go at Go Ape

One final mini outing was to Kew – I don’t use my membership nearly enough, but I enjoy it when I can

An aisle of trees
gardens

July

A little busier this month.  My ‘regular’ trip to the British Grand Prix for a day in hospitality was made slightly even more sporty by staying to watch England in the football World Cup on telly.  I did a second GP this month, with a trip to the German event.  As I was in Germany for that week, I drove to Hockenheim and camped.

 Parade of cars along Silverstone circuit
Cars at Silverstone

An old school friend was visiting London, so we met up and then joined in with the anti-Trump march for a few hours. The Trump baby balloon that could be found in Westminster Square was something special!

A Baby Trump balloon, orange and snarling
Baby trump

But a sad end to the month as my remaining granddad died. He’d had a fall and had been in hospital; he’d recovered from that but it was too much for his body.

My sister and I, with Granddad, in the 19702.
Sarah and me with Granddad in the 1970s

August

A fun day at the Running Club sports day. Some serious races and some fun ones, especially the fancy dress.  

3 runners dressed in fancy dress standing on running track
Fancy Dress race

Plus my first geekcon, a trip to Nine Worlds. For some reason, I took no photos here, even of the excellent cos play that was evident 

September.

I spent a lot of this month on Germany, so had a weekend trip out to Bamberg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamberg  which is a World Heritage site.  Fascinating medieval town.

A gate in Bamberg. Tower standing guard at the end of a bridge
Bamberg Gates

And another weekend sent me back to Garmisch and Zugspitze.  This time I took the cable car up and then walked all the way down. A total of 15.6 miles, all downhill, a few scrambles but basically walking. A good day, but my legs suffered the next one!

View from summit of Zugspitze. Blue skies and peaks of mountains sticking through clouds
Looking down
Zugsmoitze mountain, a stony path heading down into the valley
More down

I took the opportunity of having a day with no meetings to fly back from Germany the long way round, via Vienna.  I booked flights with a long lay over and nipped into the city to see the cathedral and to have lunch

Vienna cathedral Whote and brown tiled floor, long columns
Vienna Cathedral

October

This was a month of seconds.  My second Michelin meal of the year was at Bibendum  Another superb room and great meal. And the following weekend I ran my second race, the Royal Parks half, on a day that started wet but eventually dried out.

A sweetbread on a white place, with black and white dolups of puree and sauce
Sweeatbreads

The next weekend was spent at Yestival, a festival dedicated to adventures and challenges.  Lots of ideas shared about adventures as well as lots of practical advice about planning, fund raising and executing them

A sign saying "say yes more", white lights against the darkness

At the end of the month, Charlotte, my cousin, had finally decided to get married.  A vey different experience, as it was a Greek Orthodox service and party, but it was good fun

Bride and groom in front of priest. Behind alter are gold icons of saints
A marriage day

November

A month of holidays – which I’ll write up separately. But first a visit to Bhutan (via a day in Nepal) with the parents.   And then a week in Tenerife on my own, with time spent walking the mountains

A red and white monastery on the side of a mountain in Bhutan
Tigers Nest Monestary
Mountains and blue skies
Volcanic mountains

December

I finished the year in the same way I finished last year, with a few days away walking. This time I went to the Peak District for a couple of days walking up hills, along with a day on a navigation course.  Dome good learnings, even if the weather was wet and windy.

A Green public footpath sign on the Moors
Peakk District sign
Mar 01

2017 Review Part 2

The second part of my 2017 Review – basically just for my records.

Mountain Tops

Mountain Tops

July

July started off with me doing something completely different. I headed off to Switzerland for a Beginner’s Mountaineering Course! So taxi, plane, train and finally bus took me to the small village of Les Haudere’s in the south of Switzerland. There, I met up with my fellow course mates – 2 guys, one around my age who’s been slowly getting into climbing/mountaineering and one young, just still in his teens, guy who was looking for something fun to do before heading off on further travels to Asia. We also met with our course instructor who fulfilled the stereotype of blonde, slightly scruffy, mountain guy (who would have obviously preferred to do some proper climbing then deal with beginners)

Mountain Hut

Mountain Hut

Over the next few days we:

  • learnt how to use crampons on ice; travelling up to a glacier and stomping around, climbing up and down slopes and ice faces
  • Went hiking up the mountain, stayed in a mountain hut before heading out early to get to the top of a mountain across another glacier, learning how to move roped together
  • Did a little climbing and abseiling
  • Did a lot more hiking

I was not well enough to do the last mountain trek with the group – I was coughing too much; given they were a lot faster then me in the hiking, I decided to stay behind and do some solo trekking, which was great fun.

Glacier trekking

Glacier trekking

I flew straight to Germany from Switzerland to start my first week with adidas, just getting my head round what would be needed. The first weekend I flew back, as I had tickets to the London Paratheletics World champs, to see with my sister and niece.

London Stadium

London Stadium

Para Athletics Champs

Para Athletics Champs

A quick turnaround, switching over clothes, before heading back to work. The first week I was in a hotel, now I moved into an AirBNB apartment for the next three weeks. This was my second AirBNB; it definitely proved useful during my stays in Germany, in one case I was in the same flat for 2 months, which just makes working in a different country far easier when you have a solid home base.

August

Time for the World Athletics Champs! I flew back and started the next day with my shifts, picking up the new kit first thing in the morning before starting my session. I’ve written all about that in another post.

Spa F1

Spa F1

Then back to work in Germany before heading up to the Belgium Grand Prix. This was a test of my driving! I’d got the use of a hire car in Germany, which was a challenge given how long it had been since I’d driven, but I soon got into the swing of most things (the give way to cars from the right in towns/villages was hard though!). But although this was over 300 miles, it was motorway all the way, so pretty easy to drive. And with a small hire car, there was no temptation to drive too fast and out of my skill zone 🙂

Sofia and Andy came to the GP too and we met at the campsite. Yes, we camped. About 20min walk from the circuit, it was a relatively exclusive campsite run by a British company, Pillow camping. We were provided with a 2 unit tent, which was more than enough room for the 3 of us (we ended up sleeping 1 in each ‘bedroom’ and one out in the main part). This was my 3rd time at this race. it was Sofia and my first live race back in 2010, when we went with a tour company, stayed in a hotel in Germany and coached it back and forth. The second time was a competition win with Shell and we had a brilliant VIP trip, again coaching it back and forth. This last time was far less glam, out in tents. I quite enjoyed it; I’m pretty sure Sofia and Andy will never camp again. 🙂

September

Nuremberg

Nuremberg

Such a quiet month! It was work only for the most of the month, staying in the quiet village of Herzogenaurach. Only one weekend of fun, flying back to the UK for the inaugural Wine Club weekend. We were off to the country, 2 converted railway carriages in fields in Oxfordshire, wood-powered hot tub included. It started with a down note, with one of the group being told just before she left that her role had been made redundant. But we made the most of the weekend, cooking over open fires, walking and visiting famous gin pubs, which have whole cupboards of gin. The instructions were to just go in, open bottles, smell the gin and decide which ones we want a drink made from.

Country chalets

Country chalets

An amazing weekend, only abut 40 hours in the countryside, but great for resetting the brain.

Hot tub

Hot tub

October

I was supposed to be back in London this month, but changes in plans meant I was still staying in Germany, coming back for one week for a few meetings.

Rock formations

Rock formations

I took advantage of being in Germany for a final month by heading off for a visit to the south, to Garmisch Partenkirchen. A fairly straightforward journey on paper, train via Munich, but it was made rather nerve wracking by late running trains. getting to Munich I had to run for the next train, making it with about 20 seconds to spare. It was still late when I got to my hotel – the restaurant had decided to close and there was nothing to be had, they couldn’t even whip up some bread and cheese for me – not a good start.

I’ve written all about my weekend in this post.

As the month drew to a close, the question remained was I going to be leaving, or staying on at adidas. After some discussion, I decided to stay on, but with a change of terms. I couldn’t do the full time in Germany – I had no desire to leave my flat on its own for any more time, nor did they need me full time. So we agreed that I could cut down my work days (to 3 days a week) and alternate between London and Herzo.

November

The month started with lunch with Caroline and a trip to the National Gallery – where we played ‘hunt the arse’ around the museum. Plenty of fun to be had 🙂 Other fun events including a leaving party for my ex-boss (it wasn’t fun because she was leaving, it was just fun), a trip to St John’s Museum, drinks with friends I hadn’t seen for years and drinks for the launch of the Zombies! Run game. Which is a very mad board game that I’m really bad at. Also visited cinema for first time in ages, this time to see Thor Ragnorok.

One thing I did do this month was go and get a National Archives reader ticket – the plan is to go and dig into a few documents that could be associated with my family history.

I few more interviews happened; including which I would have loved..but the recruiting person had completely failed to properly understand the role and the requirements. It was not possible to do it full time starting the next week given I was working already on a contract I’d just signed. It was associated with the Olympics, so was time sensitive. They even called a couple of times to see if things had changed. Unfortunately, no…the one that got away.

I ended the month the same way it started – out with Caroline. We headed to Winter Wonderland to have a go on roller coasters, drinking gluhwein and hot dogs and having a very good time.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

December

Ooh, finally another Michelin restaurant started this month. Not a new one, but a return to my local, Hedone. More cinima visits as well, to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi (enjoyable but annoying at times, too many silly decisions) and The Greatest Showman which was cheesy but lots of fun and I left the cinema grinning.

It being December, there were Christmas get togethers. I made it to the running club party for the first time, even if my fancy dress was pretty poor. There were Christmas dinners with various friend groups, including Wine Club (we’re still generally far to sensible) and then to end the year, time to head to visit the family for the usual visit, plus a trip to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for the Christmas lights.

Family at Clent

Family at Clent

Birmingham Botanical Gardens Christmas lights

Birmingham Botanical Gardens Christmas lights

December also bought to a close a ‘mission’ I’d been slowly completing over the last few years. I walked the last section of the London LOOP, from Harold’s Wood to Purfleet, bringing myself back to the opposite side of the Thames from where it all started. I need to work out which one to do next, which will probably be a lot harder to organise. The great thing about the LOOP is the ease in which it was possible to do it in day trips from home, with all the sections arranged around transport hubs. Few other walks I’ve seen have that same arrangement.

I closed out the year with a last minute decision not to spend New Year’s Eve as usual, on my sofa watching the fireworks. I headed down to Arundel for some walking in the area. The pub I was staying at was running a murder mystery evening and I was persuaded to join in – they would assign me to a friendly table so I could be in a team. An excellent night was had, made even better when we won 🙂

Arundel

Arundel

So that was 2017. Some interesting moments, some quite times when working away. Some major life changes happening and there are more of these to come

Feb 27

2017 Review Part 1

As I’ve not being doing weeknotes or even month notes in 2017, I’m going to go with a Year Note. A record for me to remember – rather than any one else to be amused by :-). A aide memoire to what I was doing and where I went, based on combination of calendar, Swarm Checkins and photos taken. It was not that exciting a year for activities; well, compared to my usual.

We can start off with my checkin history for an overview.. I’m pretty good at making sure I log in to everywhere I go, especially if it is not the usual train station or office. You can still (just about) pull out the history from Swarm and map it. So here we have it. UK, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium. This is the first year since my digital records begin that I have not been out of Europe; in every year since 2005 I’ve done some form of long-haul travel. There are reasons, as you will see, but hopefully I’ll change that in 2018.

The stats

Swarm checkins: 843
Countries visited: 5 (Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium)
Michelin Meals: 6
Miles run: 89.89
Races completed: 2
Miles walked: 188.2
Cathedrals visited: 1
Movies seen at cinema: 6
Theatre visits: 2

January

January is normally a quiet month and this year was no exception. Very little happened; I went to work, I had a massage and went to the pub occasionally. The only unusual activity was my volunteer assessment. Oh, and the Women’s March

In autumn 2016, I’d applied to be a volunteer at the 2017 World Athletics Championships that were taking place in London. January was the time for my assessment, a set of group exercises and an interview with the team. They’d taken over the Crystal building in Docklands and were working their way through 10000 or so interviews. It would be 4 months before I heard anything, a lot of waiting.

Women's March in London

Women’s March in London

February

Zoom Auction

Zoom Auction

February was a little more interesting. First weekend, I was off to the ZOOM auction again, something I’d gone to for the last few years. F1 related, it’s a good time to have a little fun, meet up with people I know through F1 twitter and get dressed up. A good evening was had, with lots of laughs. The next day was one of my irregular Michelin meals, at Tamarind. Neither of these were good prep for the final event of the weekend, the London Winter 10k, a great 10k through closed roads in the centre of London. Well, the lack of training wasn’t good prep either, but I made it through the event and claimed my hug with the polar bear.

Winter Run 10k

Winter Run 10k

The year’s walking kicked off the following weekend, with the first Wine Club walk – something that was to be repeated later in the year. Time to wrap up and face the winter elements.

Wine Club Walk

Wine Club Walk

For the rest of the week I headed to Munich for work. Two full days of workshops but ending with a long weekend to explore the city (one cathedral added to the collection) and cross off another Michelin meal, at Les Deux.

Munich

Munich

The final outing of the month was to fit in more walking, up in Hertfordshire. I was delivering a souvenir to a former colleague of mine who had left it in the same Kathmandu hotel I was staying in. I’d carried it back to the UK and was finally handing it over. So a long Saturday walk before meeting up and spending the evening in the pub he now owns.

March

I had the first cinema outing of the year, watching Logan. A bleak end to that cycle of X-men movies. Then – holiday time! A short trip over to Barcelona for the F1 testing, another annual tradition that has been going for the last few years. The first day was spent in Barcelona before heading up to the circuit hotel. So another Michelin meal arranged and enjoyed, at Restaurant Angle. Superb tasting menu, I especially liked the wine pairings, which includes things like beer and sherry 🙂

Angle Restaurant, Barcelona

Angle Restaurant, Barcelona

I made the most of the week. Just before I’d left, I’d been informed my role was at risk – which means I was going to be made redundant. There was nothing I could do about this when I was away, but it was full steam ahead on my return. The process was followed, the meetings were had throughout the month but the inevitable conclusion was reached. I was off. Sort of. Not quite. For a variety of reasons I asked to work my notice, and this was allowed (we’d just kicked off a 3 month project that I was running). There was a high probability at that point that additional revenue would be found and the role could be saved..so let’s see what would happen.

F1 in Spain

F1 in Spain

I finally got in a section of the London LOOP (Gordon Hill to Chigwell), a walk that I’d been slowly nibbling away at since 2014. The walks this year were all leading up to an event – the London to Brighton challenge – so i was getting in as much as I could, and if I could use them to nail some other plans so much the better.

Walk the Loop

Walk the Loop

April

Meetings with recruiters continued through April and I was now starting the interview process for some roles. The first weekend outing as another section of the London LOOP (Chigwell to Harold Wood). Another walk the following day to take in the scenes along the river in preparation for the Boat Race, which was taking place that afternoon. Combining walking with other activities is always a good way to motivate me (rather than just seeing it as ‘training’) so another weekend I walked most of the way into town for brunch with friends. For Easter I visited the family and did some canal exploring to get in the miles. And during my work trip this month, I made sure I had time to walk around the city to places instead of taking taxis.

Putney at Boat Race time

Putney at Boat Race time

The family visit this month was fun as we finally got Mom to sign up for parkrun and we made it a family outing, with Mom, sister, her daughter and myself all giving it a go at the local event. And later on the usual visit to the Balti 🙂

I also went to one of my rare theatre visits this month, to see David Tennant in Don Juan of Soho, a really enjoyable, fun, play. Plus an interesting ‘experience bar’, called The Bletchley, where you get to dress up in uniform and solve codes using pretend enigma machines to get cocktails.

Bletchley Bar

Bletchley Bar

After this, another work trip – 5 days in Portugal for a data conference. for the weekend, I took part in a ‘hackathon’ with a team of data scientists from the office, then joined in the conference later. A small opportunity for one afternoon in the sun, but the rest was definitely work.

Porto

Porto

The final event of the month was the Hackney Half marathon (using a run walk strategy throughout). Nowhere near as hot as the previous year (thankfully, far less casualties seen) another great event. Although it’s now been taken over by Virgin, so some things did not feel as local as previous episodes. Given what happened next, not sure it was the best thing to do, in hindsight.

May

I like May. Often the best weather of the year (dry, pleasant, not too warm), it’s also my birthday month, although i rarely do anything to celebrate.

We start with a trip to the cinema (Guardians of the Galaxy – it does seem I mainly visit for the big blockbusters).

Another LOOP walk was planned for the first weekend. But disaster! I managed about 3 miles before having to stop and return home. The half had obviously damaged something and walking was extremely painful – there was no way to continue. Would I be able to make the London to Brighton? Physio arranged, massage and accupuncture organised, but it was not sorted in time. I thought about attempting the long walk..but decided that it may not be the best options. I was borderline fit anyway, which added to the reasoning. So postponed it to 2018. I’ve learnt the lesson though, no races in the training period for the long walk!

In a break with tradition, something was arranged for birthday – a picnic at Kew with the Wine Club girls. That was a lot of fun, the weather was OK, the company was great and we were sensible. This was followed on the Sunday by a pub watch of the Spanish GP with friends. Where we were less sensible with the wine. But that was fine, the Monday was the birthday added work holiday, so a lie in before heading into town for another Michelin meal to celebrate the completion of another solar circulation. More drinks on Tuesday, with a friend on a quick visit from the US. Wow, 3 out of 4 days out and about with friends. That’ll do, will need the rest of the week to hibernate 🙂

I’ve started interviewing a bit more now, in fact one day I had 3 different sessions. Slowly getting into the groove. One of the challenges will be finding the right fit, as I’m not a typical creative planner. (given my background in project management then definitely not the usual type of brain)

For the Bank Holiday, there’s no longer a long distance walk. Instead more time in Kew Gardens (on a hot day, I pack up for the afternoon, take a picnic and spend the time reading a book.)

June

Trooping the Colour! I’ve lived in London for years, and have never been to see this. I was too late to get tickets for the event but…for the 2 weekends before the main event there are rehearsals. You can get tickets for these, but it’s also easy enough to do what I do and just go and stand on the Mall to watch the parade. No Royals, so the crowds are smaller. A great view of the pageantry. Maybe next year I’ll try to get a rehearsal ticket.

Trooping the Colour

Trooping the Colour

One cinema and one theatre trip. Cinema was Wonder Woman, theatre was Hamlet, with Andrew Scott. I’d never seen Hamlet performed, or studied the play, so I have no idea how this compares with other productions, but I really, really enjoyed it and it kept me captivated through the long run time.

Interviews continued this month, but so did the no’s. I was making it down to the last couple, but not the final step. However, an opportunity arose to continue, through current company, with a secondment with adidas, based in their German office working on digital marketing processes. Three months in Germany and then one month back in the London office to get back into the swing of interviews. Why not, a great company to work for, let’s give it a go.

Finally, after months of waiting, I got the response back from the Athletics World Champs…I was in! Admittedly last minute, for a team that had only been decided on at the end, but I was going to be a Mascot Escort, looking after and supporting the mascot activities. Training took place at the end of the month, both general and specific and it looked like it was going to be a lot of fun.

Part 2 to follow shortly!

May 31

2015 Week Notes 19

10-16th May 2015

Doing

  • I started the week running Hackney Half Marathon. A closed road course in its second year, it has had a lot of publicity locally. There were some organisational issues in the 1st year, but it looks like they had definitely learnt from them, as I found the organisation of the day of a very high quality. Great runner village, great course and good support around Hackney all lead to me having a great day. I as really happy having a steady half run, with no walk breaks and feeling in control all way round.

    Hackney Half

  • On Monday, my parents came down for a few days visit, partly to see me for my birthday. I took the Monday off and we went to Greenwich for the afternoon, spending much of it wandering round the Greenwich Observatory. Lots of good science there and a chance for me to see one of of my favourite pieces – the Harrison Clocks.

    Greenwich

    Greenwich

  • On Wednesday, I was invited to a Zomato blogger evening that took place in the Andaz Hotel. An excellent evening in 3 of their venues – write up to follow!

    Zomato Blogger Visit: Andaz Hotel

  • The final activity of the week was a trip to the cinema to see Avengers:Age of Ultron. Overall, a good film, a lot of fun, but Stark is becoming a cliche and they seem to ignore some basic physics (yes, silly statement in a superhero movie, but I still think the ending was just ridiculous..I’m pretty sure to do real damage a hunk of rock would need to be far, far higher.). As it was a nice day, after a good lunch at the Duke, I came home via a stroll round Key Gardens and a couple of hours watching cricket on Kew Green, just a lovely relaxed day.

    Kew Gardens

    Kew Cricket

Reading

  • Just the one book finished, I’m reading longer ones at the moment and they are taking time.
  • Marketing Crack – Kicking the Habit an article about capitalism and one of the things that I never understand, how the requirements (often legal) to maximise shareholder value leads to short term, thinking and behaviours that are often antagonistic to long term survival in a changing world.

Running

  • the Hackney Half Marathon on the Sunday
  • Only 1 other run this week, Tuesday morning run club, a full team made their way out for the early start.
  • The rest of the week was a right off, a head cold moved into the chest, taking me out for a week with coughing
May 31

A trip to Gloucester

After spending the first day of my bank holiday weekend in Worcester, on the Sunday I explored the town of Gloucester. A day similar to the previous in that it took in Cathedrals and museums. First of all was Blackfriars Priory, founded in 1239, dissolved in 1539 and bought by a local alderman who turned it into his house. It was still lived in until the 20th century. the main church now has had all of the floors and rooms removed, just leaving the shell.

Gloucester

The centre of Gloucester is pretty compact and just a couple of street away are the docks (GLoucester used to be a fairly large port on the Severn). The former industrial area has been turned into a shopping and pedestrian areas, with a couple of decent museums.

Gloucester

The first one I visited was a military one, that told the history of the Gloucester regiments, along with a lot of local stories. After a good wander round that, it was back to the other side of town to go round the cathedral – on a Sunday the opening hours for tourists are shorter, due to services. Just round the corner is the House of The Tailor of Gloucester, as in Beatrix Potter fame.

Gloucester Cathedral

At Gloucester Cathedral, there was another volunteer tour guide, this time for a tour round the crypt. My favourite story of that was of Robert Cuthose, the eldest son of William the Conquerer, who dies before he could succeed his father. During the WWII, his burial statue was stored in the crypt, on top of a large storage box that had been sent up for London – the Gloucester vaults were deemed to be fairly safe. At the end of the war, the box was revealed to hold the throne of England – so the Prince had ended up ‘sitting’ on the throne. The other royal burial in the cathedral was Edward II, a not quite successful King who ended up being deposed and disposed of. Edward was not the eldest, he only inherited when his older brother died – Alphonso, a name that cold have been interesting as an English king :-).

Gloucester Cathedral

The final museum of the day was back at the docks, the Gloucester Waterways museum, all about the canals and the life spent on the canals.

British Waterways Museum Gloucester

A very good two day trip and 2 cathedrals knocked off the list. I’m busy planning my next one now – looking at a double header of Peterborough and Ely.

May 05

2015 Week Notes 15

Marathoners at Arc de Triomphe

Doing

A marathon was done. And a very slow trip home was made. Well, Eurostar was fast, my legs weren’t. They didn’t feel too bad, so no need to walk down stair backwards!

My agency ran an event this week, field.work, lots of different views on data. I spoke on the first panel of the day, about readiness of business for the world of big data but couldn’t stay for the rest of the day with workload, but by all accounts, it was very successful and had a lot of great press, including a mention of me on Contagious. It looks like we may be running more

I had a lovely dinner with a friend at Helene Darroze at the Connaught, a lovely 2 star Michelin experience. Write up will follow. But I did love the menu, you had to take a look at the list and decide what you wanted using the game.

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Reading

3 books read, lots of train travel!

  • A look at why Millennials are moving away from traditional banks by the co-founder of LinkedIn Max Levchin. An interesting take, although it does not make it clear what they are after, just something different. I don’t have issues with my bank, so maybe this is just a US perspective.
  • Running

    i ran a marathon, I think that’s enough. I also did a full write up.

May 04

2015 Week Notes 14

This was a pretty quiet week.

Doing

A relatively quiet week, with a lot of work to get in to the 3 days in the office. On Thursday, I went along to a London launch party by Datasift, a company I’d watch Nik Halstead grow for years out of the early London start up scene. The party was held in canary Wharf, which had a wonderful view

Sunset over the city

It was wonderful to meat up with so many people from those days, many of whom I’d not caught up for years. I ended up going to dinner at the end of the night with Nik, Suzanna and a few others, which was a great. definitely not an early night, but didn’t need it to be as the only thing planned on the Friday was a trip to Paris.

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It was a smooth trip over, then I dropped the bags and made my way to the expo to pick up my number. And that was it for the Friday, apart from starting the carb load. On the Saturday, I took a trip to Notre Dame to take a wander around that cathedral to add to the list. Magnificent building. Then back to hotel again for more leg resting.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Reading

Only the 2 booked, one of the Outlander series and also the new book by Ben Aaronovitch, Foxglove Summer. The latter is one of the authors I buy the physical book instead of the digial version. And I managed to make it last 2 days 🙂

Running

Nothing happening – it’s all about saving the legs

Apr 29

Marshalling at the London Marathon

London Marathon 2015

Last April I entered the Paris Marathon as my target for the year, but I still put my name down for the London ballot, just in case. I didn’t get in, but as a result of finally joining a running club I get did get an option to marshal the race. Having being very grateful to people who have marshalled the races I’ve run, I thought it was time to give something back.

London Marathon 2015

The day started early, with a group of us meeting at 7am at the Tube station to make our way to Shadwell for our briefing. West 4 Harriers have for years being part of the team that marshall on the Highway, which is from Tower Bridge mile 12.5 to Limehouse (mile 14) and the reverse route miles (21.5-23, or near enough). it’s a great piece of course as we get to see the runners twice.

London Marathon 2015

Briefing done, we spread out onto the course for 9am and then our job was waiting. Not too long, as we had a series of elite racers come by. The wheelchairs, the IPC championships, then the women elite and finally the men elite, who were followed by the trickle, stream and then flood of the masses.

London Marathon 2015

We were there for safety, to answer crowed questions and most importantly for the runners. We started off with a security role, keeping an eye out for left bags and then an eye out for anyone who may decide that jumping out in front of the elites would be a good idea. Luckily, nothing like that happened on my section, although the section along did have to call in the police after a woman had left her suitcase next to the course as she went to the toilet (there were long queues, she was gone a while).

London Marathon 2015

Later, it was all about supporting runners. On the way out, most runners were going along fine. On the way back, the effort was beginning to take its toll. Last year, with the heat, there were apparently a lot of collapses in the area that needed support. This year, I had to deal only with one person who had a very heavy fall and knocked the wind out of her. She did get up and carry on, hope she finished.

London Marathon 2015

So as it was quiet, I had the chance to take a lot of photos (you can find them all on Flickr) and chat with a BBC spotter, who was set up to spot celebrities (and great fancy dress) for the camera that was about 200 years up the road. So celebrity spotting and cheering was the rest of my day. Along with freezing as it was very cold – I ended up having to dance a lot to the music just to keep warm.

London Marathon 2015

This was the first marathon I’ve watched end to end and the difference from start to finish is huge. I think London, with its large emphasis on charity places and fundraising, may be slightly unusual on the people it attracts – it has a 7 hour cutoff time but there appeared to be a lot of people running who would not make that.

London Marathon 2015

As time went on, the stream reduced back to a trickle as the slower pens got to the 13 mile mark. The the sweepers came by, the car that told everyone that the course was closed, that they had to move to the pavement. Followed by the street cleaners, the rubbish collectors and the course demantlers. I felt for the people who were being overtaken at that point – at what point would they decide to stop if they are overtaken by course closed at 13 miles? People who had taken on the challenge but had probably not realised what that meant!

London Marathon 2015
As the runners went back the other way, the sweepers turned up again. This was at 22 miles, you’d got a mixture of people who had obviously suffered an injury or had hit the wall. it was all walking and at this point the stare of death had set in. I’ve been the, I know it. It’s one step at a time, just pushing forward to the finish, knowing about but not having the energy to acknowledge the comments. this is the point I made sure I was loud and encouraging, this is the point it is needed. 4 miles out, I would assume that everyone who was passed by the sweeper would keep going to the finish, I hope they got a medal! I aslo saw a lot of family and friends joined them at this point, just to keep the march going.

Overall, a great day, well worth it. Would I do it again next year? Only if I’m not running!

London Marathon 2015

Apr 13

Running the Paris Marathon

I ran the Paris marathon on Sunday. Running it was a very. very silly idea but I still went ahead and did it. Last year, London was my first marathon. I had no idea what to expect, I did all the training I could despite suffering an injury, I pushed through and finished the marathon to plan, in the target time. It was hard and I was not mentally prepared for those last 6miles but I liked it enough to try again.

When I entered Paris last April, the intention was I would train regularly during the summer to build up the base fitness and improve my speed before starting the formal training plan. But that was before I ended up with a detached retina and not being able to do anything for a couple of months. So I started off with the plan, at lower level then I wanted and it was all going well until a fall, a broken finger, another operation under general anaesthetic, colds, chest infections, and a shin splint that meant it was hard to walk at times, never mind run! Seven weeks ago, if I could have, i would have deferred the entry but you can’t do that with Paris. Furthermore, my travel and hotel were paid for, so i was going anyway. In the last 6 weeks, I have only run about 50miles, with some other aerobic training built in. Nowhere near enough when I was supposed to be running 50m a week! I was not sure I was going to run until a few days before and even then, I still had the option not to. I had amended my plan. Instead of 4 hours, my original target a year ago, I wanted to get under 5:40, the published cutoff time. I researched run-walk plans and was prepared – if I decided to run. I’d run to each km marker and then walk for 60 seconds.

DSC_1132

I arrived in Paris on Friday, dropped my stuff at my hotel and headed right to the expo to get my number. It was surprisingly quick through the process. Hand in the medical form, get my convocation stamped, move to the next section and swap that for my number. then make my way through all the stalls. I did end up buying a souvenir tshirt and cap, but didn’t do much shopping for other things.

Notre Dame

Saturday, i decided to spend a could of hours wandering around Notre Dame (to add to my cathedrals visited collection) before a quick pasta lunch and then an afternoon napping and eating carbs, before more pasta in the evening. A long, lazy day eating carbs sounds fun; the lazing was, but not the ongoing ingestion of noting for bread, pasta, fruit juice and sugar!

Notre Dame

Sunday morning, it was time to race. I’d spent the week watching the weather and my worst fears were realised. It was going to be a ‘hot’ and sunny day. Hot is relative, but 20c is more than warm enough. An early breakfast before getting ready to be out for 7:30. Made my way to the Metro station for the direct journey to the start area, then a quick dash back to pick up my watch. yes, despite making a list, I still forgot to put on my Garmin! Second attempt to get on a train worked and off I went> Most people got off at the Arc de Triomphe stop but I stayed on an extra couple of stops to get to the end of the finish straight and an easy stroll to the baggage drop off. A final loo stop, a check I’d remembered everything (it turned out I hadn’t. more later) and then no queue to drop the bag off. More strolling up to the start, through the chaos around the Arc de Triomphe where not all traffic is stopped and the runners play frogger.

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Because I knew I was nowhere near my predicted pace, I decided to drop back a pen or two, but they would not let me. I was only allowed into my original starting pen. Once in there, I settled at the back and waited, not oo long, only about 25 mins before we were ready to move. We slowly made our way down the pen, moving through the queues for the loos (hint, if you’re in a back pen and need a last minutes put stop, wander on down once they release you as there are loos with no queues).

They started on time and I headed off, keeping well to the side and trying to stay out of the way as everyone started to stream past me. It was straight down the Champs Elysee, wide and plenty of room. The first km marker came quickly and my first walk break. After the wide part, the roads narrowed, made even more narrow by crowds creeping in.There was very little control of this and in some parts it made for some vary slow running. There was also minimal control of people crossing the course and I saw plenty of near missed and the odd collision, as people just strolled across, with bikes or small children. There was often little time to react of this, which made the running risky at times!

The first water break arrived and it was time to grab a bottle, half of which went over my head – it was warm!! I also made sure I took advantage of the cooling stations, grabbing a handful of water out a bowl and running through the spray from the firemen’s hoses. The kms (and miles) kept ticking over. At mile 10 I grabbed a quick loo break, ignoring the state of the loo. There were plenty of men nipping to the side fro a break at many points where the course was quiet

So far so good, but i could feel the tiredness creeping up. At half way, I was on pretty much the same pace I’d run my last half in, passing through it in just over .5 hours. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain it. I’d been drinking regularly and taking my gels to plan, so it was just plane old lack of miles in the legs rather that fluid or fuel I think. By mile 18 I was taking 90 second breaks, then I hit the drinks stalls at about mile 20/km 30. Paris don’t provide gels or isotonic drink (except for one stand) but they do provide oranges or bananas and lots of people take advantage of them, throwing the peel all over the ground. This stand was on a slight slope and I could have done with spikes to keep my grip – traction was definitely an issue! This was the start of me starting to walk for longer and also the start of my right hip starting to cramp up, interestingly more so when I was walking rather than running. for the next few miles, I was doing shorter runs and longer walks. But I was not going to stop. It was only 2 park runs to do, then only the 1 park run. that was only 3 laps round my local park. But the legs at this point had done enough. They didn’t like running and the hip hurt when I walked. I switched to run 1min, walk 1min, or rather count of 60, again and again. The final mile though was walked, or rather limped, even down the finish straight. I’d done more than enough, all I wanted to do was finish.

Eventua;y, I got there. Through the markers and just keep walking. Get finishers tShirt, get water, get some oranges and pick up my medal. I was very silly to try and run Paris marathon but I finished it, in 5:38, so just under my target time. I would never, ever advise someone to do the same with such little training. It hurts!

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Oh, the final things I forgot? To vaseline my upper arms, so I’m in extreme pain now from chafing and bleeding there. Always remember to slather on the vaseline! It worked on my feet, no blisters there. And surprisingly, despite legs being sore, i can still walk down stairs normally.

I liked the Paris marathon, but not as much as London. Paris is huge – they had 41k finishers. Much of the course is past some of the greatest sites that Paris has to offer, but some is still through boring woods, including eh last section which has nothing on the end of London. There is much made of the crowd who watch, but although they were heavy at times, I did not think there was the same consistency as London. Overall, the organisation was good, he start, finish and information provided. The only area I had concerns with was what appeared to be lack of marshalls. There were large stretches with what appeared to be no cover, which, given the temperatures, could have lead to delays getting treatment

Jan 01

A review of 2014

Before I look ahead, surely it’s time to take a quick look back, even if just for a reminder for myself. For the first time in a few years, I did not set any new year ambitions for 2014. I’d been made redundant and really, was not in the mood! I was focusing on finding a new role, not thinking beyond that. So I can’t do a review and see if I achieved them. However, they would have been the usual – fitness and expriences. it’s all about that. So what did I get up to? Time to take a look at the photos.

January was a quiet month – it was looking for jobs and going for interviews. But I did take advantage of a sunny day to visit Kew Gardens for the first time in the year. I go there quite a bit, as I have bought membership – definitely worth looking at if you live in the area and want to support plant research (you know, the stuff that may keep us fed as the climate changes)

Kew January 2014

Once I’d got myself sorted, I too advantage of the opportunity to take a long weekend and popped over to Naples, primarily to see Pompeii. Having read reviews about visiting the preserved city in the summer, with the crowds and the heat, I was quite happy to have a dry winter weekend and the place almost to myself.

Pompeii

Pompeii

I got a couple of F1 events in during the early part of the year. First, the Zoom auction, which sells off signed photos from F1 stars to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. There’s another one this January and you can buy some from the online store. I also went along to watch a filming of the Sky F1 show, something I did a couple of times. It’s always fun watching TV being made. Finally, the Not a FOTA Forum, an event run for fans by the ex-Secretary of the FOTA org, who got along some F1 insiders to talk and entertain.

Zoom Auction

the F1 Show

Not A FOTA Forum

Running went well in the first part of the year. I completed a couple of half marathons and then the big one – the London Marathon. I was very happy to get round in 4:30. No entry for me in 2015, but I’ve decided to run the Paris Marathon, so training is full speed ahead for that

London Marathon

The week after the marathon, I got the chance to go skiing, through a friend. Last time I tried skiing was when I worked in Scotland and dry slope lessons were part of the social club activities, but I’d never tried on snow. I think that’ll be my last skiing holiday though. It turns out I don’t do the mix of mountains and skis very well, or rather skis and edges. I’m not afraid of much, but I experienced physical terror on a couple of occasions. I did not like it!

Val d'Isere

June brought a trip to the Canadian Grand Prix, via a few days in New York and then Toronto to see old friends. Loved this trip, good catchups, good food and a great time in Montreal, which has to be one of the best places to hold F1, with the circuit right near the city with plenty of public transport.

Canada GP 2014 Friday

The summer had a few of my regular events. I officiated at the Joint Services Regatta again, went to Kew fete and visited Goodwood and the British GP – it was a bit rainy for the latter, but the sun was out for everything else

JSR 2014

Goodwood 2014

Silverstone Saturday 2014

In July, I ended up in hospital having emergency surgery for a detached retina, followed by 2 weeks bed rest before slowly getting back into things. All my running got put on hold and the autumn plan of 3 half marathons in 3 weeks did not happen, but I did manage to squeeze in a local 10k and half marathon in September,before heading up to Birmingham to run the Great Birmingham run, another half, with my sister. With minimal trianing over the summer, I was quite happy just to get round!

A few local events in the autumn, with the Tall Ships Festival visting Greenwich and the amazing installation Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red at the Tower of London. I went fairly early in the process of building this and it was relatively quiet, but I’m not surprised at the corwds that developed over the weeks, via word of mouth as it was just an amazing site. I bought a poppy too. I managed to get to watch the Lord Mayor’s show for the first time (the problem with living in London is doing London events!). And I won the Army Rowing Club Player of the Year cup, for all my help over the past 19 (?) years

Tall Ships Festival, Greenwich

Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

Player of the Year award

The year ended with a bit more F1, with a trip to Abu Dhabi GP (having won tickets at Silverstone) and also a prize trip to take a tour around the Mercedes F1 factory. I always say that if you never enter competitions, you’ll never win, so you always have to take a chance!

Sunday Abu Dhabi 2014

Mercedes F1 Factory Tour

That’s it! A pretty full and fun year. I’m already got my plans for 2015 for holidays, but it’s the bits between them as well that make the year interesting.

Nov 09

The Lord Mayor’s Show

I’ve watched the Lord Mayor’s Show for years on telly, but despite living in London, it’s one of those events that I’ve never watched live. Like Remembrance Sunday, London Marathon, Trooping of the Colour etc. But I’m slowly working my way through them.

The Lord Mayor’s Show is one of the oldest of the big London events in origin, with the website stating it has its origins with King John in 1215, when the elected Mayor of City of London was made to come along to the next door City of Westminster to swear allegiance to the Crown. And so it continued over the centuries, by horseback, boat and now coach and horses, an annual parade of military, guilds and charities.

It was easier than I thought to find a place, wandering up along the Strand about 10:30, I stopped in the first clear place I saw, which happened to be right opposite the entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice, where the Lord Mayor alights to swear his oath – this year it’s Alan Yarrow, the 687th version of the position. It got a lot busier later, but this was about an hour before the front of the procession got there and over 2 hours before the Lord Mayor.

I took a LOT of photos – it was a long parade – and they can all be found on Flickr. But here’s some of my favourites.

Marching along with the Marines. I have NO idea what this guy was doing.

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

Gog and Magog – the giants take part in every parade

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

A lot of the military units had members in WW1 uniform

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

Some of the uniforms were even older – one group were all dressed as soldiers from Waterloo. They even had a French group, with a Napolean.

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

I wonder how big the market is for Guild Robes? I’m guessing there are only a couple of makers

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

At the end of the parade were all the horse and carriages, bringing along the officials. So dotted all lover London are these carriages that get brought out may once per year? They were gorgeous!

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

The guys in red are Watermen – when the parade was on the Thames, they were the ones that powered it and they are still involved now. The guys in black are Yeoman Warders.

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

Trumperters announced the arrival!

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

And finally, at the end, the Gold State Coach, carrying the Lord Mayor – and this year, a Magna Carta as well. The coach can normally be found at the Museum of London and it’s well worth a look. Under the weak November sunshine, it looked gorgeous!

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

If you’re in London, it’s well worth a trying to see this parade.

Oct 30

Not all Women?

You’ve probably seen this video. The ‘highlights’ of walking around New York for 10 hours, but not in a good ‘look at all this tourist stuff we visited’

The video troubled me and not just because it seems to be a very narrow selection of choices of the types of men who do interact with her. That could be deliberate, to get more coverage, or it could be as stated, that the majority of comments from white guys were not recorded well. It’s a film by a charity trying to get views and attention, it’s going to do everything it can to get watched and talked about/

It troubles me in two specific ways. The first is my reaction, the not all women reaction. I can empathise with men who use #notallmen in reaction to reports of harassment. it is human nature to want to put things in stories that relate to their own experience, so if it’s never happened to you or people you know, then it is hard to understand. That was my first reaction – in all the time I have lived in New York, doing lots of walking, I never got a commented on at all. So what is different?

You have to move beyond the first reaction, recognise it for what it is and then move to understanding, not explaining and denying. Then ask yourself the question – what can you do to change it.

The second troubling thing is tied into the notallmen reaction. How have we, as a society, for into the situation where good morning is seen as a threat by women or where men can be scared of saying it. Many of the comments on the video are about how can this ALL be harassment when it was lots of general greetings. Because it is perceived as harassment. Because the experience of this woman and many others like her is that the body language, eye contact and tone that go along with the bland comment are threatening. So how can we change both reactions – that men can just demand attention and that women now see that as a threat.

Oct 12

A New bathroom is delivered

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll have seen my daily photos charting the renovation of my bathroom over the last few weeks. Finally it’s done!!! After 2 weeks of having to shower at work, it’s over and I get my own bathroom back.

I’m pretty sure that the bathroom was original, with the suite installed when the flat was built back in the 50s. The council added central heating since then – running the pipes in front of the bath, but everything else has stayed the same. This is why you have a toilet cistern that may contain asbestos and a cast iron waste pipe on a very weird angle that means the toilet needs to be raised up a few inches off the floor. But in generally, it works, so no need for me to change it, up until this year.

Now it’s done and I’m happy, especially with the increase in storage so I can hide everything away. 🙂 It was installed through London Bathrooms, a small local firm. Very happy with their work and with the excellent finish. I gave the owner (Rufus Landricombe) instructions and he recommended the suite and fixtures/fittings; I’m not someone who wants to spend ages on details of this! And the fitter was extremely tidy, leaving it all packed away at the end of each day. I would definitely recommend them.

What it looks like now

Bathroom Day 11

Bathroom Day 11

Bathroom Day 11

What it looked like

Bathroom Day 0

Bathroom Day 0

Oct 05

Hedone again

So Andy Hayler, a great food blogger (who is from Chiswick too), pointed out that there are 992 foodblogs writing about London, or at least 992 who have signed up for Urbanspoon’s blog list. I don’t pretend to be a regular food blogger but I do LOVE eating out..and taking photos of the food, so I thought I’d join the list 🙂

The last time I booked for Hedone, I ended up being unconscious on the operating table having my retina re-attached at the time I was supposed to be eating. So this time, not that I’m superstitious or anything 🙂 I didn’t book too much in advance just rung up an hour before to get a ‘bar stool’, which I normally where I end up sitting. I chose the 7 course menu, with accompanying wine. I didn’t take photos of everything, but I did take some notes! This is my 4th time eating here, the last time was in February. Even with only a few visits, the maitre’d still remembered me – last time I was there I was reading the Naples guidebook and she came overto ask how my trip had been. For someone who is really bad at faces…this is extremely impressive!

The meal started off with a couple of little bites that were not on the list. There was a little cherry meringue, with fois gras and raw button mushroom slices. Loved the cherry and fois gras combination, the button mushrooms provided an earthy flavour that did not quite gel. Then a tiny cone with mini tuna nicoise salad. That was tasty. The first listed starter was poached oyster with granny smith foam and a violet. This seems to be a standard here. Didn’t take a photo this time, but here’s one I made earlier.

Birthday dinner at Hedone

Next up was a cucumber medley – cucumber flan, cucumber sauce and a cucumber granita. Hedone used to serve a unami flan and they seemed to have used this as a base and added the cucumber to it. The sauce carried the pure essence of cucumber and was gorgeous! Next, another staple of the restaurant, which was sweet onion and pear. I could have eaten a lot more of these

Hedone pear and onion

On paper, the liquid parmesan ravioli, with onion foam, bits of smoked ham and more sweet onion, was potentially my least favourite, as I don’t really like parmesan, I have no idea how they have liquid cheese that does not burn the tongue! But it worked extremely well,the cheese flavour modified well by the onion. The plate was scraped clean!

Hedone - parmesan ravioli

The ‘main’ now: venison, beets, radish (and a little more onion). Just great ingredients served lovingly, nothing too clever here.

Hedone - venison

Then the first of the deserts was a trio of lemon with figs. Lemon sorbet, cream and jelly (or syrup or something). I’d watched all the figs being cut up earlier in the afternoon and seen the care that went into making sure that everyone was perfect. The whole combination was great.

Figs and lemon at Hedone

Finally, another standard, the chcocolate and raspberry desert. The sharp raspberry powder just set of the chocolate perfectly.

Hedone Raspberry desert

All in all, I love this place, would go far more often if I could!

Hedone on Urbanspoon

Jul 16

Emergency Surgery

I had a lovely weekend planned. A haircut, lunch at one of my favourite restaurants, the the British 10k race on Sunday. All of that got blown away Friday afternoon when I looked up to find my eye full of floaters, dark strands filling the vision. They settled down, but over the next few hours, a blurred spot started to grow at the edges of my site and the eye now appeared to be filled with dust. Myy first thought was to pop in to the opticians on Saturday morning to see if there was a problem but some internet reading on the NHS site led to articles about retinal detachment and worried me enough to decide to give the 111 service a ring, just to check.

Now, as I’d just got off the train (I did not want to walk the 10mins home if I had to go right out again), the initial conversation was a little silly, The first thing they want to do is find out where you are just in case they need to send an ambulance and Chiswick Station was not in their list, so I offered them a pub name. They eventually found something that matched but seem to have issues without postcodes, which is just sill for a service that is part of an emergency response, you may never know where you may be if you want to call them, We worked our way through the questions – no bleeding, no breathing issues, no migraine, but, after a few minutes on hold as my call taker consulted, i was told to make my way to A&E within an hour and given the address of the nearest. But this was a mistake, as they should have told me to go to the specialist eye A&E at the Western Eye Hospital. When I got to Charing Cross (which is in Hammersmith, no idea why), the receptionists thought i should be elsewhere but said i should be seen anyway. The doctor immediately sent me to the eye place!

Two hours after arriving, I got seen by the doctor who spent a long time staring at the back of my eye and as long on the phone to her boss. I definitely had a retinal tear, she thought I had fluid behind the retina but there was nothing she could do then, so I had to return in the morning where I would be assessed by her boss and a decision made. Just in case, I was to be nil by mouth after 1am.

Saturday morning, 8am, I was back. Pretty much the first to be seen, the next doctor spent slightly less time looking at my eye and decided that i was a surgery candidate. But his boss, the consultant/surgeon, needed to make the final decision. So more hanging around the waiting room for her to arrive. She was already on her way in to do a procedure on a child as an emergency, it looked like i was to be the other on the list. Finally, I was examined by the surgeon and it was all agreed. I needed emergency surgery to fix the tear and get the retina back connected with the eye. Continuing the trend, the most senior spent the least time looking at the eye. The more experience you have, the easier it is to recognise things.

So I was admitted and found a bed and a gown. A few hours later, off to surgery, under a full anaesthetic. The decision was to fix the tear cryogenically and inject a gas bubble into the eye to keep the retina in the right place. From going into the operating theatre to waking up took 2 hours. They’d left me with a patch to protect the eye. I then had a choice to stay overnight, which given I had to be back in for checks in the morning I decided was the best thing to do. I did help that I was in a private room.

Everything was checked as Ok in the morning, so off home I went. But the surgery does not fix it immediately. I have to stay lying down on my left side, keeping the bubble pressed on the right side to keep thee retina flat until the fluid behind it has gone. All I can see is light and dark and large movements, until the gas bubble has been absorbed and the eye starts working again. There is a 90% chance that all will be fine, but still a risk i have lost some sight. We just don’t know until it heals. So 5-7 days lying down, another week off work before I go back for a checkup then still a few months for everything to get back to normal. It’s just one day at a time.

Jan 05

2014 – Week 1

It’s a New Year! 2014 is here and has done its best to make its mark with the weather.

Reading

  • How to run the perfect marathon by Beer Belly Running. I’m going to be reading a lot more like this as I have no idea what to expect (pain, I know there’ll be pain, but what else? 🙂 ) It’s 14 weeks today. I have a lot of miles to get through.
  • Facebook reveals mobile growth by country. (TechCrunch) One thing about being a public company is Facebook has to give information to investors that it would not have normally made public. This is interesting reading about how it is spreading, especially with the rise of the messenger plus the deals it is putting in place to make Facebook use ‘free data’ with certain carriers.
  • How the content industry almost killed the Blockbuster and Netflix. (TechCrunch). A look back on the entertainment industry and its continued inability to understand the disruption that keeps hitting it.
  • LOL My Thesis. A tumblr with one line definitions of academics study. A lot of fun reading.
  • Paul Dacre – the man who hates liberal Britain. A New Statesman study of the editor of the Daily Mail

Doing

  • Visited the Bank Of England Museum. A fascinating little place in the City, showing the history of the bank and of money and banking in the UK. Shows how banknotes came to replace money, the rise of the cheque and how, in England, this bank became the only one that could issue money. Well worth a visit – especially to handle the HUGE gold bar they have.
  • Appeared on Al Jazeera TV on Inside Talk, talking about social media, viral videos, fakes and journalism. How should journalists verify video that appears on the web. Making these programme is weird as the main studio is in Doha, so you’re in a dark studio, facing lights, you can’t see the camera so hope you hope you’re looking at the right place and you can’t see the videos they are talking about. This was the first long discussion I have done, it’s normally been small slots in news programmes but this was a 30min show. Enjoyed it (and apparently did OK). Also, more telly makeup so took picture that is becoming my new avatar.
  • Did a London Treasure hunt through In the Hidden City. A brilliant idea that uses text messages to send you clues for places around London. Do it fast, you can get prizes, but the real prize is taking the opportunity to see places about London you may never have been before. This one took us from the National Gallery, through St James, Soho and up to Marylebone.
  • Updated my CV and applied for jobs. Cost cuts are work meant re-structuring and me no longer having a job 🙁 So after getting through the holidays, I’ve now taken stock and am busy getting my details out there! Anyone need a digital thinker/social media strategist/project manager? You can see what I have done on my About Page/LinkedIn.

Training

The training picks up hard now, with 42 miles in the plan

  • 8mile steady with 10 100m strides. These are fast sprints where you push yourself hard
  • 10miles to and from a New Year’s day parkrun, with the 5k fast in the middle. Well, not that fast. I usually do my parkruns on a flat course, this was in Richmond park and there are hills!
  • 10miles steady. It was a lovely run until 6miles in when the heaven opened, hailstones poured down and there was thunder and lightening. I got very wet and it was horrible for 2 miles. Then there were blue skies!
  • 15 miles steady, again round Richmond Park. No deer seen today

Dec 08

2013 – Week 49

Reading

  • Odon Childbirth device: Car mechanic uncorks a revolution. A feature about Jorge Odon, a car mechanic from Argentine, who has invented a new device to help with childbirth.
  • What we can learn from fake tears on social media (The Kernal). Why people push their grief onto social media when a celebrity dies. (something you would rarely see me doing, I never know the person!)
  • Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett. I didn’t want to start, as it could be the last book from Pratchett. He’s an author I’ve bought all the stories,the first when he was signing books in Blackwells when I was at college. At that point, there was no queue at all, something that would never happen these days.

Doing

  • A little work dinner for a pitch team, just some wine and Italian. It was the first time I’d been to Vapiano’s, where you queue up to order your pasta or pizza. Decided I don’t like the system. Ordering at a counter and waiting for them to bring it is one thing (like GBK, or Nando’s), but don’t like the having to wait around for the order to be cooked!
  • An evening out at Fashion Fringe. The 10th year of this event had a little celebration, announcing that it was also the last year. Not my usual event, but it was a lot of fun, with wine and sushi and loads of interesting dresses to take a look at. There were apparently celebrities there, but my usual lack of recognition was there and failed to see anyone I could put a name too!
    FashionFringe London
  • It was time for the office Christmas party on Wednesday. A well put together evening at UFF Tea Merchants, where it’s all styled like the 30s. We had a band playing old time music with a lead singer aged 74, who was pretty brilliant. Overall, a very good night. I left at a reasonable time without going overboard, which meant I then had the pleasure of watching the office the following morning struggle! 🙂
  • I used my last spare day on Friday. A long run, followed by a lovely lunch at the Cinnamon Club then a trip to the National Gallery. it was supposed to be wrapped up with drinks with a friend, but their work got in the way.
    Venison
  • Nelson Mandela died on Thursday night, so wandering around town on the Friday there were gatherings at the statue in Parliament Square and outside the embassy in Trafalgar Square, where people were queuing to sign a book of remembrance.
    Memorial

Training

After a week off for injury, I was back training this week.

  • 3.34 miles @ 9:57 paces. Fairly steady run
  • 3.05 miles @ avg9:46 pace. Interval runs, with fast 1k pieces (well, sort of)
  • 9.03 miles @ 10:42 pace. Steady run around Richmond Park
  • 16:04 miles @ 10:45 pace. Another run around Richmond Park, along with the hills. My farthest run yet! Felt pretty good, although last mile was painful, but I kept up the pace. There was a santa run there at the same time, but did not fins myself in the middle of them!
    Santa Run in Richmond Park
Dec 02

2013 – Week 48

Reading

Doing

  • Took a day off on Monday and used it to wander round London looking at Sir Christopher Wren Churches

    Wren's Churches

  • On the same day had lunch at the Michelin starred Club Gascon. Gorgeous!
  • On Wednesday, attended a blogger event at the May Fair Hotel, where we got to look at the Sensationails gel nail varnish system and the iPulse Smooth Skin System. Had a great talk by a professor of laser physics! Full write up to follow.
  • On Friday, I was at another brand event, this one a pop-up bar for Grey Goose. Gorgeous cocktails and a very, very slick event showcasing the brand. Very impressive dressing and service. I ended up going on to club with some people from the event, having a really good night and a very late finish 🙂
  • Saturday was shopping day. Having reached target size, headed out to the Westfield stores to collate the start of the capsule wardrobe, over an above my work jeans/tops. Very successful outing with all the required pieces purchased in a couple of hours!
  • Put the tree up! Yes, it’s early, but I like the lights in an evening!

Training

There as none. A knee injury necessitated taking the week off. I rested, started added some specific strength exercises and bought a knew support. Took a light run on Sunday to test it and so far so good

Nov 28

I met Ben today

Sitting on the bus, a man is helped on. He says he can’t see, although he does not seem to have too much trouble moving around or slapping his Oyster card down. He says he’s disabled, cheerfully, as that’s the armour against the world. He sits down next to me and just starts to talk. the initial reaction is typical London, ignore him. But you can’t. There’s a stream of talk just flowing out, asking me not to be scared. That he’s disabled. That he had a parachute accident and fell, broke everything and was in hospital for 5 years, 3 of them in a coma. Again, a request not to be scared and reassurance that he was not trying to chat me up. At this point you can’t help to engage in the chat.

He’d been a stuntman, he’d worked on Gladiator and Die Another Day. Apparently Pierce Brosnan was very nice and Russell Crowe not so much. He used to instruct in 10 sports. Now he’s disabled. And i shouldn’t be scared. We chatted about how much he loves horses.

He leaves, heading back out into the streets to try and get to his destination. He leaves me with the impression of a very nice man with a scrambled brain, who has stories to tell and wants to share his life with people, a man with a positive outlook despite knowing he’s different. He also leaves me with just a hint of disbelief, was this true? Or was it a story that has been created to make life fun?

A search later on a few facts and up pops this piece from The Guardian asking If He was Happy. Even more relevant was this piece, I’m not Angry , a story of another encounter with Ben that has turned into a collection of stories of the people he has met and how he has touched them. How he has made an impression on everyone he meets by living his life to the full.

Thank you Ben. It was wonderful to meet you today.