Sunrise on a run

Sunrise on a run

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The four horsemen of the Apipplypse

This evening while getting read for bed, Pip asked "when will it end?"

I replied: "Tuesday."

Pip: "Tuesday."

Me: "yes, you've five more days of nursery school and then it's the end of term"

Pip: "No, when will the world end?"

Me: "err, I'm not sure, I think it's infinite."

Pip: "what's infinite?"

Me: "never ending."

Pip seemed slightly dismayed by this, I went on to say "well let's hope it's not before Christmas otherwise where will Father Christmas deliver his presents?"

And then, in the words of Zebedee, it was time for bed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

An anthology of poems

According to Paul Muldoon in the Faber Book of Beasts, anthologists tend towards the despotic. As part of the section on poetry in the AA100 textbook on tradition and dissent, we are asked to compile our own anthology from the poems set out in the Faber book of beasts. Here's mine.

1. The Butterfly by Joseph Brodsky

A poem about the ephemeral existence of a butterfly. 14 verses about the day in the life of a butterfly - the very hungry caterpillar for grown ups?

2. Jabberwocky - Lewis Carroll

The Gruffalo's great-grandfather. Pure nonsense verse at its best.

3. Ode on the death of a favourite cat, drowned in a tub of gold fishes - Thomas Gray

A cautionary tale - "Not all that tempts your wandering eyes and heedless hearts, is lawful prize; nor all that glisters, gold". The cat in this poem uses all her nine lives in an attempt to catch the goldfish. Thankfully my cats were more successful in their goldfish hunting adventure.

4. Of the Pythagorean Philosophy - John Dryden/ Ovid's Metamorphoses

I remember reading about the mythical Phoenix and its rise from the ashes. Probably over twenty years ago. Long before it was reborn as Dumbledore's bird.

5. An Otter - Ted Hughes

This caught my eye as I was skimming through the anthology. The description of the Otter as neither "fish nor beast" evokes a wonderful image of the Otter as it swims and wallops in an attempt to escape from the hunt. I'll let you read it and find out whether he does.

6. Our little kinsmen - Emily Dickinson

A poem about worms after the rain, at least it is until the third verse.

7. The Owl and the Pussycat - Edward Lear

More nonsense, never failing to charm

8. The Song of the Jellicles - TS Eliot

Somehow this appeals more when reading the printed word than when watching Lloyd-Webber's cats.

9. The Tyger - William Blake

William Blake addressing the Tyger, pondering on who made the Tyger. Was it the same hand as made the Lamb?

So that's nine, happy to receive suggestions for a tenth.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why do stars have points?

This was Pip's question to me at bedtime this evening. Twinkle Twinkle is a regular feature of the bedtime routine and clearly set of a train of thought in the MOP (Mind of a Pip). Actually her question was:

"why can't we see the points"

"the points of the stars in the sky?"


I thought for a moment as it was such a fabulous question. I explained that stars when we Draw them have points as the stars that we draw are representations of real stars. "Real stars are actually mini suns" I said. I said that the reason why we draw them with points is so that people recognise them as stars, the stars that we actually draw are not real stars but symbols.

She seemed happy with this explanation. Although as Mr S pointed out, the reason we draw them with points is to represent the twinkling. Whoops missed that bit.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Race times

A Duathlon wouldn't be complete without some post race stats - hopefully blogger won't mangle the layout...

2011. 2010. 2009

Run 10K. 56min 56s. 57min58s. 49min 7s (9K)
Pace/K 5.7. 5.8. 5.45

Cycle 20K. 1hr 12min. 1hr. 1hr 20min
Pace/K 3.6. 3. 4

Run 5K. 30min 53s. 32min 49s. 31min 37s
Pace/K 6.2. 6.6. 6.3

So my run times are faster than last year (marginally) but my cycle time was slower. Perhaps unsurprisingly as I hadn't done any focussed cycle training. Additionally conditions were different today - v windy and it rained during the second lap which probably resulted in me slowing up a bit.

Interestingly, I ran in a brand new pair of trainers - you see them in all their turquoise glory in the picture above. In the rush to get the girls over to a friend's (Mr S was away at a conference) and getting the bike on the back, I managed to leave my trainers at home. I had a pair of other shoes to drive in, you see. I realised as soon as I got to Richmond Park, when it was too late to go home and collect them. Initially I was just going to run round in the shoes I'd driven in but as I walked up to the racking area for the bikes, I noticed a stall selling trainers. One pair of trainers later and I was ready to go. It's not ideal but I've been meaning to buy a new pair of trainers since the half marathon in March.

So, a slower cycle ride this year, marginally faster runs and proper transitions - I rant between the sections rather than ambling. Slower ride was partly a reflection of the conditions but also that old chestnut, my lack of dedicated cycle training. For next year, and yes there will be a next year, I need to make my Sunday morning runs a Sunday morning run-cycle.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Beat the Heat: playing catch up

Afraid to say that I have neglected the blog over the past couple of weeks so playing catch up on the last two weeks and then I will write a round up on Sunday evening.

1. What have you achieved towards your goals this week?

Past couple of weeks have seen usual mixture of circuit training, running (did a hill session with a few friends from work with Sweatshop running club) which was good. Went out on the bike as well - with Pip on back to sing along as I cycle.

2. What have you done to make yourself feel fabulous?

Had a cultural evening at the weekend and went to see Faustus at the Globe, very enjoyable. As I'm playing catch up, the previous weekend saw us in Amsterdam with the girls - lovely weekend had by all!

3. This is week 9 and the final week of the challenge! Is there anything you want to really push to achieve now?

Duathlon day on Sunday, will report back after the event!

4. How have you felt through the challenge? Has anything been more difficult than you thought? Anything easier?

I haven't done as much cycling as I would have liked, I will be relying on knowing the course and general fitness to get me round. I think I'm probably fitter than when I did the Duathlon last year. 10k doesn't feel like a long way to run for a start.

5. Would you rather be attacked by 20 duck sized horses or 20 horse sized ducks?

20 duck sized horses every time. The idea of even one horse sized duck terrifies me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beat the Heat: Week 6

1. What have you done to help you achieve your goals?

Last week was an adjustment back to the working routine and timezone. I completed a session of circuits courtesy of Jillian Michaels, a session at the gym using my new shoes (Vibram five fingers) and a 10k run on Saturday morning.

2. What have you done to make you feel fabulous?

Going out for the run. I'd run out of contact lenses and was thinking about ditching run on the grounds of not wanting to run in my glasses. I decided that was a feeble excuse for not going running and went out. I was pleased a did.

3. If your house was on fire, and you could grab ONE thing (outside of people and your computer/laptop, they are all out) what would it be?

I think I'd be too busy worrying about getting out safely to grab anything. We had a fire alarm go off in our hotel when we were on holiday and all we took were keys to the car and hotel room, our passports and cardigans.

4. Tell us about your blog. Treat it like a book, what’s happened so far?

We were given a domain name as a wedding present. I never quite got to grips with the uploading etc although had great fun designing and planning it. Around the same time we discovered Blogger and this discovery coincided with our six month sojourn in Philadelphia.

There's not huge amounts from our Philly adventures looking back, it saw something of a revival when I was on maternity leave a second time and DH was in Mexico for five weeks. It's great fun looking back, I have used it as a record of various running events I've taken part in, and I've tried to revive it periodically. This is why doing this challenge has been great as it's provided an opportunity for revival!

I use Blogpress on the iPad which makes it easier to blog on the move, another means of keeping this up regularly.

5. Fun Question: Tell an embarrassing story about yourself. No dodging.

Dodging is an apt phrase. About five or six years ago, the Garfield Movie came out. I can't remember what we were going to see but there was a giant inflatable Garfield in our cinema foyer. I've always been a big Garfield fan so clearly had to run over to the Garfield and give him a big hug. He was quite bouncy and the force of my hug saw him rocking like a giant weeble and me laughing feebly!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Beat the Heat: August

This was the last week of my holiday, so a bit late in posting this.

1. What have you done this week to help you achieve your goals?

A little lax in last week of holiday but made it out for an evening run along the beach while we were still in Cape Cod and had a fab 90min yoga session with Tara Stiles at La Strala Yoga while we were in New York.

2. What have you done this week to make you feel fabulous?

The yoga session was great. It was the first time I'd been to a formal class for about six years, most of my sessions tend to be short sessions in the morning or evening, this was 90mins. There was a great mix of formal poses with a couple of freestyle sessions where you basically did your own thing. That could be a handstand or something more challenging or just a medley of your favourite poses! I spoke to Tara afterwards, hope I wasn't too starstruck as I've been following her podcasts and the video she did with Deepak Chopra since getting the iPad last year.

3. Do you feel you get everything out of your life? Would you like to change things or are you happy where you are (I know a bit deep but I’m thinking about major life achievements this week achieved and not!)

Happy where I am. I think my problem might be trying to do too much and not having enough time to just do nothing.

4. What’s your ultimate favourite food? Is it healthy? Can you make it healthy?

I don't know that I have an absolute favourite. I try and aim for the healthy side of the spectrum but a little of what you like now and again is no bad thing.

5. Fun Question: What do you want to be when you grow up J ?


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Long weekend in Cape Cod: Saturday 30th July - Monday 1st August

We spent three days in Cape Cod, we could have easily spent longer there but three days gave us a taste of the area and provided a welcome contrast to the two city parts of our holiday. Our visited included: a trip to Provincetown, Whale watching, an evening at the Drive-In, Chatham and the Marconi Museum as well as lots of time on the beach.

Provincetown is a very pleasant town right at the end of the Cape. Based on the number of drag-artists handing out flyers it looks as if it has a lively nightlife... We didn't get there in time for the 2:00 sailing so we had ice-creams and then went for a wander, including a visit to the shell shop which was a treasure trove for the girls. It was time to board the boat for our three hour trip to see the whales.

It was great to be on the water and enjoy the view of Cape Cod from the sea but the Whale watching was amazing. We were there at tea-time so we saw huge numbers of whales all very close to the boat. The girls were also v excited, definitely an experience of a lifetime. I was a bit trigger happy with the camera, some of the whales to follow.

We went straight from whale watching to smurf watching, at the drive-in, complete with Hot Dogs and bad popcorn. The Girls' car certainly enjoyed the experience: me in the back with the girls and their new friends in the front.

Sunday saw us drive to Chatham, firstly to the Marconi museum where Mr S was in his element and then into Chatham itself - lunch and then a browse around various stores.

Monday was a beach day. We met up with Mrs L and the girls and she smuggled us into a private beach! Some of the local beaches are for local people only, which seems fair enough really. After the beach, we headed into Hyannis for a browse followed by more beach action back at the hotel. The girls enjoyed digging sandcastles, especially the moat, while I flew our little 99p kite. Well it flew itself really.

I had a final run along the beach, much cooler in the evening and that was the end of our Cape Cod section. Very enjoyable, we could have happily spent longer there, we didn't really explore route 6A or the national park area.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Philly-Cape Cod via Princeton: Friday 29th July

We had a very early start, partly so we could see Annie, Parker and the boys in Princeton and partly because we had such a long journey ahead (350miles).

The pause in Princeton for breakfast and a catch up with old friends was great. Last time we visited A and co, they had just moved into their house in Princeton and A and I were talking weaning and bouncers. Six years later and we're now talking extra-curricular activities for the kids and playrooms! It was lovely to see them and the boys before they headed off to camp for the day (although not the littlest, he looked as if he had a busy schedule of cuddles ahead).

Lunchtime saw us stop in Stamford for a break, including a run around for the girls and a trip to Barnes and Noble to buy maps and make use of their wifi.

I took charge of the wheel once we'd refuelled and hit the road. My first proper drive on the US. Speed limits are slower so it's good we had a car with the acceleration of a small elephant - foot down and eventually it speeds up, but not by much. The drive was fine, the girls slept, Mr S was forced to keep me company and therefore was not allowed to sleep!

We had something of a race against time to get to our dinner date but we had a brief stop in Starbucks - refresh the girls and change drivers. After a brief conflab by phone with our hosts for the evening, we decided to head straight for the hotel, unload and quick change before heading into Hyannis where we were meeting our friends.

Girls did very well considering the lateness of the hour so we stayed to listen to Rick and his band while I enjoyed a Mai Tai! Boo discovered a newfound love of Jerk Chicken - well, more like chicken with barbecue sauce.

Back to the hotel and then it was time for bed, punctuated with a couple of fire alarms. Hotel is basic but has everything we need and is a shell's thrown from the beach.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Beat the Heat: Holiday time!

I'm on holiday this week so this week's BTH comes to you from Cape Cod.

1. What have you done this week to work towards your goals?

I'm on holiday in the US at the moment (Philadelphia, Cape Cod and then onto New York). While I therefore have the perfect excuse to eat over-processed rubbish choc full of high-fructose corn syrup and not do any training, I've actually done OK: visit to the hotel gym in Philly, a run along the beach yesterday and circuit training thanks to Jillian Michaels on my iPad.

The run was hot, I just spent about 18-20 mins running from the beach outside our hotel, where the girls and Mr S were playing. I got them to time how long it would take me to run along the beach and back - around 6-7 minutes.

2. What have you done to make yourself feel fabulous?

I'm on holiday, that's all I need! It's great just switching off from work and spending quality time together as a family.

3. How are you finding your goals? Do you think you can still achieve them?

Once I get back from holiday I really need to get focused on the cycle training and aim for either two spin classes or a spin class and a cycle ride each week. I've got the added challenge of sorting out logistics for the actual day as Mr S will be abroad at a work conference. Finding a willing grandparent shouldn't be too difficult but it's just an extra complication.

4. Freebie! If you want to change one goal, change it.

I'll stick with the Duathlon but if the logistics don't work out then my new goal will be completing a half marathon in 2hrs or less.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Listening to the sounds of the waves from our hotel then it would have to be here in Cape Cod. Really beautiful part of the world. The next stage of our holiday takes us to New York. It's going to be an assault on the senses are this.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Philadelphia: Thursday 28th July

Thursday morning and another buffet breakfast - a good selection, I've been in US hotels in the past where their idea of breakfast was doughnuts and coffee.

The drawback of only spending a few days in one place where there is so much to see is trying to decide what to go for. We took advantage of our location and went to the Academy of Natural Sciences: the lure of the Dinosaurs was what clinched it for us. A particular highlight was watching people working on the Dinosaur bones from Argentina: an entirely new Dinosaur, not yet named and apparently very large. He will be going back to Argentina but it will be interesting to read more about him.

Another highlight were the summer interns, all school kids desperate to impart their knowledge of the dinosaurs. It only seemed fair to stop and listen.

Next stop was the Butterflies, a particular favourite of mine and I spent quite a bit of time trying to get photos of a spectactular blue one in flight. The pictures weren't quite so spectacular, so I thought I'd share a shot of this giant.

There is a great area upstairs for children: lots to touch and explore. My favourite was looking at the slides under a microscope, especially the ant head. Mr S' favourite was the moose antlers.

After a final visit to the dinosaur area, this time to the big dig, it was lunchtime. We had a voucher (due to the hotel's mess up with our room on the first night) to TGIs. It was ok but not the best TGI I've ever been to. The wedge salad really was just a big wedge of lettuce and I'd forgotten how much dressing they drown it in (note to self: ask for it on the side).

After lunch, we decided to go for a bus tour. The highly detailed tour was probably going to be lost on the girls so we opted for the Philly Phlash and our own commentary, including an account of the store (Wholefoods) where we bought Boo's first foods!

We headed up past the Rodin Museum, the Museum of Art, the Zoo and the Please Touch Museum. It was a shame we didn't make it here as it had moved to a much bigger location and looked quite fab.

We couldn't keep away from Reading Terminal Market so we headed back to the candy store for more Lego sweeties. Once we'd stocked up on gifts, we picked up the remains of our picnic and headed back to Rittenhouse Square for one last visit. Again the girls had a fantastic time, they seemed to spend much of it picked up dried leaves and pretending they were going to the Antartic.

After that it was time to say our farewells and pack up the hotel room in readiness for our long trip to Cape Cod.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Philadelphia: Wednesday 27July

So here we are, summer holiday time. The first leg of our holiday has seen us revisit Philadelphia, six years after I spent a good 5-6 months of my maternity leave living in Rittenhouse Square while Mr S worked on a project over here.

We arrived late on the Tuesday evening, after a comfortable flight and a less comfortable drive (JFK to Philadelphia during NYC rush hour) to our hotel. We'd booked into a place just on Ben Franklin Parkway so easy to get around.

After breakfast at the hotel we headed out into the City heat - first stop Reading Terminal Market. Visiting it with Boo and Pip meant that the stalls selling sweets were more a prominent feature of our visit than I remembered. We got there during its busiest time, a lot of people must visit there during their lunch hour. I'm trying to think where is comparable in the UK, maybe Borough Market, although Borough Market is not a permanent fixture and is much smaller. We settled on Cajun for lunch. Pip was not that impressed so I tracked down a ham and cheese sandwich, they certainly didn't skimp on the ham!

After this we wandered up to Rittenhouse Square in an attempt to find the Ben and Jerrys we used to visit. Unfortunately it was no longer there but we did find a frozen yoghurt place so stopped there to cool down.

Later in the day, we'd arranged to meet a friend and her daughter who is the same age as Boo and who we used to hang-out with. First stop was Di Brunos, our favourite Deli. It took quite a while trying to decide what to have but we got there in the end. Picnic procured, we headed back to Rittenhouse Square.

It didn't take long for the girls to all warm up and spend the evening running around and chatting with the lady who was hoola hooping in the park. We finally dragged the girls away and tentatively arranged to meet again the next evening.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 25, 2011

Beat the Heat - end of July!

1. What have you done this week towards your goals?

Three circuits sessions! Been a bit manic at work with pre-holiday panic so I'm glad I got those in at the beginning of the week.

2. What did you do to make yourself feel fabulous?

I've guest-posted on Beck's blog which is v cool - a little bit of internet fame - thanks!

Tne weekend saw me at High Voltage in Victoria Park, London - lots of Guiness and some great rock acts: Skin, Thunder, Black Country Communion, Slash and many others. All topped off with Dream Theater headlining.

3. Do you exercise? What is your favourite kind and why?

Yes - running as it's great getting out and enjoying the scenery and also the "mind-wandering" time it gives me. I'm enjoying the challenge of the Jillian Michaels' circuits videos which I've downloaded to the iPad. I thought I had a good level of fitness but doing those makes me realise that there is ALWAYS room for improvement.

Yoga is always good for relaxation and flexibility - I feel an inch or two taller after a stretch and ready to face anything!

4. There are loads of fantastic bloggers here in the Beat the Heat competition, which blog or blogs have you discovered through the challenge that you particularly enjoy? Show that person some love!

I've always been a big fan of Beck's. I also recommend everyone pays a visit to somerandombint. I'm still discovering everyone else's but many thanks to all for sharing!

5. Fun Question: What song makes you want to dance at the moment?

I've two days of rock going round in my head at the moment so I'm probably in more of a moshing space than dancing at the moment!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beat the Heat week three!

1. What have you done this week to work towards your goals?

This weekend was a bit on the lazy side but during the week saw me doing circuits, session at the gym and session on the cross trainer.

2. What have you done this week to make you feel fabulous?

Saw the final Harry Potter movie! Now re-reading the books!

3. I wrote about gadgets this week (my fav one anyway), do you have any gadgets that help you to your goals or are you a low tech kinda person?

I have cyclemeter on my iPhone. That and the belkin arm strap are essential. I like keeping track of my runs (and cycle rides when they happen). It tracks the route and breaks down the miles in terms of pace etc. Here's a graph showing the elevation of last week's run!

I always talk about getting a heart-rate monitor but somehow never bother.

4. We are half way through the year, what have you achieved so far (in all aspects of life)?

It's been a good year for holidays and family activities. Work also good.

5. Fun Question: Tell me one of your secrets to achieving goals and living a happy life?

Variety. Taking a break from the routine. Trying something new.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beat the Heat Week 2

I'm wondering whether this should have an alternative name for us Brits. Beat the Heat (what heat!). Anyway rain and moaning about the weather is about as English as queuing.

1. What progress have you made on your goals this week?

Since Monday I've been doing my circuit training (twice), and a 10k run. The 10k run merits a post of its own. I had hoped to do a spin class on Friday but worked from home so didn't get to gym.

I found the spin classes were an essential part of my training last time round as they operate at a much higher intensity than if I just get on my bike and go for a ride.

2. What did you do to make yourself feel fabulous?

I went to see Emperor and Gallilean at the National Theatre at the Southbank. It's not something I would have thought to go and see myself but some family-friends invited me so I thought "why not". I can thoroughly recommend it!

3. Did you have a moment in your life where everything changed for you, an epiphany moment, or has it happened gradually?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I can point to many moments, not just in my life but in other people's lives which I would call "Sliding Doors" moments where things could have taken a different path. Anything which was an epiphany moment probably didn't feel as if it was at the time.

4. What made you get involved with the Beat The Heat challenge?

From following this good lady's inspirational blog. As it coincided with the run up to the Duathlon, I thought it would be a fun way to revive my own blog and keep a training diary, of sorts.

5. What is your favourite TV Show at the moment?

Just watched the last Episode of Luther (brilliant crime drama here in UK), the Apprentice, although this season hasn't grabbed me the way the last one did. CSI is always a favourite (original Vegas rather than Miami or New York) as is House but not seen the latter for eons.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Steam punk and the art of tea-duelling

A few weekends ago saw us pay a visit to Kew Bridge Steam Museum. We'd seen a link to it via the Londonist website and particularly a feature on things for geeks which somehow resonated, I can't think why...

The Museum is in the old water pumping station and houses number of pumping engines. Over the summer it is hosting an exhibition of Steampunk-obilia, including a Steampunk K9:

The Museum is also hosting tea-duelling heats which we were privileged to see. The basic premise is that you and your opponent sit down armed with a mug of tea and a malted milk biscuit. When the referee says "go" you each dunk your biscuit into the tea for ten seconds. You then withdraw the biscuit and hold. Given its immersion in hot tea, the gamble is on how long before the biscuit disintegrates: the aim is to be the last person holding a structurally sound biscuit.

The museum provided the perfect backdrop for the event. We were amongst true tea-duelling giants.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Latest on the garden

With the beat the heat challenge I was supposed to post a positive picture. Pictures of the garden always make me happy and I'm trying to experiment with our new camera. So, killing several birds with one stone, here's an update on the garden:

Up on the roof terrace is our cherry tree. The cherries have now been picked as too many were going to the birds.

Roses in the front garden. I probably take too many pictures of our garden but plants tend to keep still and are easier to photograph.

Lavender. Smells gorgeous.

We've picked about a bowlful of blueberries so far. Thinking they're going to become muffins. We've had to put netting round them to stop the birds. Better check it's worked.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 04, 2011

Beat the Heat 10 week challenge

So, welcome to the start of my ten week challenge. More about the challenge can be found here. Here's my take on it. This is the first time I've done anything like this so bear with me.

1. What are your goals for the 10 week challenge?

Goal[s]. Mmm my main goal is to complete the London Duathlon in less than two and a half hours. This will be the third time I've done it. Last year I completed it in 2hr 35 and my first year saw me round in 2hr 45

There's probably other goals I could add, exercising more is the other one which springs to mind. Blogging more regularly is another.

2. Why did you pick those goals? What makes them important right now?

Well, the Duathlon is about ten weeks away so this gives me the perfect focus for my training. The other goal I considered was to exercise more but I think this will follow on from my Duathlon training: if I have a target time in mind then not only will I increase my activity levels but I will also train smarter and not just exercise more for the sake of it. I also mentioned blogging more. Periodically I try and aim for a post a day or a photo a day. I think that participating in the beat the heat challenge, I will increase the frequency of my blogging. "hurray" I hear you shout!

3. What’s your biggest excuse /reason for not doing something and how are you going to stop it getting in the way?

Time. I work full time and have two young children. Fitting in exercise CAN be done however. In the mornings, in the evening, in my lunch hour. It cn be done. I just need to get back in the habit of diariasing my lunchtime exercise, not hitting snooze when the alarm goes off and going straight to my circuits app instead of Facebook when picking up the iPad of an evening.

4. Are you a planner or do you go with the flow?

I like to have a structure if I'm training for an event but it needs to have flexibility too. I don't go for rigid planning.

5. Fun thing Tell us something that will help us get to know you. Like things you like or a silly story or about your family.

I won (correction, my husband won) tickets to the iTunes festival to see the Manic Street Preachers last night. They rocked. We got back after midnight so my mission today is not to let my tiredness be an excuse for eating rubbish and then not exercising when I get back from work.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Sometime back in March I ran a half marathon around Reading. Start and finish were at the Majeski stadium which meant we had an amazing finish line: in the stadium itself. After nearly 13.1 miles pounding the pavements, a wave at the girls and Mr S as well as a sprint finish over the line provided the perfect boost and backdrop for a sprint finish.

My time? 2hrs 8 mins. A full five minutes slower than my last half marathon: Windsor in 2003 in 2hrs 3 mins.

Reading was great fun, being in the city (sorry, town) centre and round the houses you get loads of spectators cheering you on. Additionally, you get the spectacle of the fancy dress runners as well. Highlights included a chap in a Mankini, a comedy camel and assorted superheroes. Actually, the Mankini wearer overtook me in the first mile (to many cheers from the crowd) and thankfully that was the last I saw of him.

I've come to the conclusion that I prefer trail running, my training tends to be a combination of tarmac and trails and the off-road running is so much easier on the feet over long distances.

I'm definitely going to do Reading half marathon again. I've signed up to do a small half marathon at the end of October. Aim is to do it in less than 2 hours.

I've not done much running since the half marathon. Instead I've been doing a combination of circuits (Courtesy of Jillian Michaels), yoga (Courtesy of Tara Stiles), cross-training (courtesy of our cross trainer) and weights/ circuits based exercise (courtesy of my gym).

This Sunday saw my first run since the half marathon - just over six miles in an hour so pleased with that. Just need to keep it up now.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Ayes AV it?

I was working from home yesterday. All in all a productive day (of course). Thursday sees the polls opening for local elections and a referendum on the voting system so Wednesday saw me spending some time reading up on the various options.

I say various options: there's yes to AV. Or no to AV. Two options.

I suspect that the turn-out for the elections will be low. I also suspect that the Nays will have it. The populist media seems anti-AV and has modelled all sorts of "if we had AV" scenarios designed to pander to their audiences' worst fears.

A lot of the material I read yesterday was leading me to think "yes" but the arguments seem to boil down to the simple premise that FPTP is just "not fair". Not fair is a statement made, usually by children, when they can't get something or do something they want but they don't quite know why they should be able to do this.

I think what I don't follow is why someone's second choice vote should carry the same weight as someone else's first choice vote. I think I could understand AV if the second choices counted as half a vote, third choices a third of the vote and so on. Clearly, this would be more complex and cumbersome to administer so the desire to keep things simple will always prevail.

The current system is criticised because parties can be elected to a majority of the seats with a minority of the votes. This leads to voter disenfranchisement and political complacency. The concept of MPs representing a constituency seems outmoded, the world has changed significantly (beyond recognition?) in the last 200 years.

Perhaps the system needs reform. I'm just not sure that AV is the answer.

If the question on the ballot paper asked whether I wanted FPTP to stay, I would say no. Instead, the question will be whether I want AV to be introduced. I don't know that I do.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday 3rd May

Despite having the day off work, there are no photos for today. Boo was at school until 4:15 so Pip and I had planned a full day of meet-ups and catch-ups.

Our plan to take the mog to the vet was thwarted by his plan to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. This gave us more time to get to the play barn so we decided to cycle. Carrying pip is easy but I'm sure the locks I bought weigh as much as her.

Our plans to pop over to see another friend were thwarted by her Guinea Pig's unplanned visit to the vet.

Boo enjoyed drama and was positively beaming when we picked her up, she wanted to introduce me to the teachers!

So a very nice break from my usual working routine and a welcome foray into the girls' weekly routine.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday 2nd May

Monday saw us packing up and travelling home. The sun was shining and the tide was out, leaving a long line of flotsam and jetsam above the usual high water mark.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Some more from the weekend

Sunday was very windy so we decided to head somewhere with indoor and outdoor activities. Having forgotten our national trust passes, we headed for a place called Woodlands Adventure Park - a popular destination for other families but big enough that it didn't feel crowded.

We spent most of the morning in the indoor play area - children under a metre tall had to be accompanied in the big play area, Mr S and I accompanied the girls without too much disappointment at having to run around a three story structure containing slides, ball pits and areas to run amok.

I did manage to sit down and continue "Devil May Care" which is Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming. I'm not a huge fan of the James Bond movies, having only ever seen Octopussy (as a bored 8 yr old on a family holiday to Dorset) and a more recent one at the cinema. The books however are an enjoyable romp through the same glitzy world of casinos, glamourous destinations, fast cars and villains with dastardly plots and a monologue to tell you about them, all in the name of international espionage.

Our plan to explore outside was scuppered by the rain so we continued with our indoor adventures until it was time to head back to our cottage for tea.

The wind was quite strong, so there were some quite spectacular waves, making for some good photo opportunities. I also managed to find the sepia setting on the camera.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Bank Holiday celebrations

The weekend was a time for celebration. We spent the Saturday morning lounging in the cottage - girls helped me open my presents and cards and then we played on the wii. We started with DJ Hero and then moved onto Just Dance Junior - a lyrically anodyne version of Just Dance. As you can see, Mr S enjoyed himself.

Having worked up an appetite and with the rain easing, we strolled down to the local pub for lunch. Fish all round, with a burger for me. It was then time to head to the local cinema to see Rio. Very entertaining, the girls both enjoyed it, Pip was particularly taken with the dog's carnival costume: "that doggy's wearing pants!"

The weather had cleared enough for picnic on the beach in the evening.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

A post a...

Having recently celebrated a birthday, I thought it time to try again with the blog a day, possible a photo a day, we will see. I will start with the 29th April.

We arrived in Devon late on evening of 28th and just about managed to find out holiday cottage with the help of some locals. On asking for directions they responded "oh that must be x's place!" you can't beat a bit o local knowledge.

While most of the world was transfixed on the Royal Wedding, we were getting our bearings in our home for the next few days. The cottage was in a perfect location, a pebble's throw from the beach and with the sound of waves crashing off the cliff-side.

After breakfast at the local cafe, we decided to explore the beach. While the tide was out, we enjoyed clambering over the rocks. Once the tide started to come back in we donned wetsuits and had a small splash around.

Mermaid of the sea?

The girls enjoyed exploring.

The view from our cottage. We have one or two photos like this...

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Experimental veg

We've also decided what to do with the fourth bed in the front. We had some carrot and radish seedlings and weren't sure where to put them. Problem solved! They've gone in the fourth bed.

Here's the carrot seedlings (and sunflowers) before planting out. It's a bit shady because of the Bay tree but we will see how they do.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Garden update

Thought it was time for an update on what we've been doing in the garden. Actually, what we've mostly been doing is enjoying barbecues with friends and breakfasting on the roof terrace. Most of what you will see are the fruits of our labour earlier in the year or, more likely, the fruits of previous owners labour.

Purple bearded iris. These were here when we moved in and have just started to flower this week. We have a lone iris in the back garden by the pond and a proliferation under the Bay tree in the front.

Bluebells are coming into their own this week as well.

Blueberries are looking promising. We've had a good crop the past few years so we will see how they do.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Garden (March 27-3-2011)

This weekend saw our first foray into the garden. We first stocked up at the Garden Centre and fortified ourselves with lunch and tea.

Focus was on the front garden. This area is nicely laid out with four beds for herbs, a planter for mint, a bay tree and some flower beds (Peonies looking very promising again this year). However, the beds had been taken over by something lemony and very prolific. Having had them cleared last year, it was time to start planting.

This is one of the beds. On the left we have chives (some already there and some nearly planted garlic thyme). In the middle we have rosemary (a rather tired looking plant that was already there and a more vigorous plant which was liberated from a pot on Sunday afternoon). On the right (eclipsed by the rosemary) a fennel-type plant.

The next bed is being prepared by Mr S in this picture. Some mint is visible and after this picture was taken, two varieties of thyme were planted. There is also some sage in this bed but it's not visible.

After clearing the planter and marvelling over the resident worms, we planted two varieties of Mint. Apple mint...

English Lamb Mint. This one has "Sunday Roast" written all over it.

Finally, I moved some of the Muscari and (I think, Primrose, or a weed with yellow flowers). There's plenty of room in this planter so I might add some more mint varieties.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jan 30th

View from the playroom on 30th January. This afternoon has been lovely and sunny but sunshine now all but disappeared. Heating and lights now on. Back to our mole-like existence until another sunny Sunday.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, January 10, 2011

Training diary

I have signed up to do a half marathon.  March 20th.  The last half marathon I completed was nearly eight years ago, I'll find my time and post it later.

Rather than trying to wing it, I've decided I need a training schedule and appointments in my calendar setting out my training schedule.  There's a good mix between shorter but high intensity sessions combined with longer runs.  

Saturday saw a perfect morning for my first long run: an hour and eight minutes, 6.73 miles.  average pace of 10.11 minutes per mile.  fastest pace 7.23 minutes per mile.  A climb of 1129 feet - which I did twice.

Sunday saw 45mins on the cross trainer.  The cross trainer works in km, I think I did 5-6 km, can't remember the exact stats.

Anyway, all off to a good start so far.  Will try and keep this updated.  My success rate would be much higher if I could get blogpress on the iPad to cooperate...

Monday, January 03, 2011

2-1-11. The party day

Having posted a picture of the six cake on my Facebook page, I thought I'd share a picture of the preparations. Boo and Pip wanted to help decorate the cake. I was at a fairly delicate stage in the proceedings so I gave them a pack of icing. And some edible glitter.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Boo turned 6 this New Years Day. We celebrated with the traditional grannies and nannies party. Once the girls were tucked up in bed, we set to work getting organised for the birthday party for her and her friends which took place on 2nd. Stuffing of bears proved to be a great hit with the attendees.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

My very own project 365

Happy New Year. Let's see how long into 2011 this lasts. Many of my friends having started a project 365. One photo for every day. I started a similar project but posting a blog-post a day but it quickly faltered.

Anyway, first photo to kick this off is from the last day of 2010. Having been in the house for exactly a year and a half, we got the fire going and saw in the new year with champagne and a toasty fire. Here's to 2012

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone