The week started with some good weather so I mowed and gardened on Monday but swam in the evening. I abandoned the idea of doing a ‘U’ turn before the end of each length as being too hard.
As a compromise, I tried not to stop at each end and to have a small push off so as to not lose all momentum, but without getting a big glide to start the next length. I suppose that helps (slightly) to mimic the non-stop part of open water swimming but, as ever, I am making it up as I go along.
It was still unreasonably hard. I missed the buoyancy of the wetsuit but I managed 1.1km. I don’t know what I was doing different/wrong but my back ached a bit afterwards. On a more consistent note, as always, I started sneezing soon after finishing and sneezed for over an hour.
My back improved a bit overnight so I ran with my wife on Tuesday morning in more lovely weather. We did 7.1km in 6.21min/km – she’s doing so well and getting faster.
I spent some of the afternoon causing more damage to my back. We have quite a lot of flagstones in the garden and my wife would like a(nother) seating area. I cannot lift some of the flags so laying them out to see how it might look is not easy – let alone how hard the process of finally setting them in place might be.
Gym on Wednesday morning for an hour and more gardening in the glorious weather. For an update on the garden, the new raised vegetable beds are going really well – spinach and lettuce being produced and eaten in great quantities; beetroot, cauliflower, leek, tomato, rhubarb, butternut quash, pumpkin and peas all coming on well.
Back to the gym again on Thursday morning for an hour and then a swim in the evening. Some things are getting to feel a bit more natural in the pool but I don’t seem to be getting any faster or travelling any further per stroke. I need bigger hands, webbed fingers and fat forearms (and bigger muscles to pull those through the water).
At least I did push out the distance a bit – 40 minutes for 1.25km – and only suffered second degree sneezing afterwards. While I am generally rather agnostic about swimming, my sinuses are certainly in the ‘anti’ camp.
It felt like I was in danger of overdoing the exercise – 13 sessions in 12 days, little muscle niggles and general tiredness – so I took Friday off (other than manning the bike shop in the morning and some more gardening).
With no particular distance in mind and just a cup of coffee for fuel, I ran on Saturday. It was a good but hard run – not fast (6.03min/km) but just beyond a half marathon in something over 20℃ (around 70℉).
In the late afternoon I mixed a large jug of Pimms and we played croquet – ah, such civilisation. Eventually the Pimms takes the edge off the croquet.
To Winchester on Sunday to celebrate the 21st birthday of a niece (and our own 34th wedding anniversary). Wow.
The European Football Championships have started. One of the charities we support are running a fantasy football league like they did for the domestic league season that just ended. After five matches I am top … there’s only one way to go from here.
My very best wishes to the Danish footballer, Christian Eriksen, who collapsed and was revived on the pitch during Saturday’s international against Finland. Puts it all into perspective …
Interesting stuff this week
1. African wise words: When the shepherd comes home in peace, the milk is sweet
2. BBC News website: Germany to ship army beer home from Afghanistan
Germany has announced it will fly more than 22,500 litres of beer home from Afghanistan, as Nato forces prepare to withdraw.
Commanders had recently banned soldiers from drinking amid growing violence in Afghanistan ahead of the withdrawal. Local forces were unable to sell the alcohol due to religious and cultural differences in the country.
Of all the possible logistical problems facing the troop withdrawal, I’d missed this one
3. BBC News website: Waging war on slang, jeans and foreign films
North Korea in general has no internet, no social media and only a few state controlled television channels and now has clamped down further against what is described as “reactionary thought”. Anyone caught with large amounts of media (such as CDs or DVDs) from South Korea, the United States or Japan now faces the death penalty. Those caught watching face prison camp for 15 years.
A recent letter in state media called on the country’s Youth League to crack down on “unsavoury, individualistic, anti-socialist behaviour” among young people to stop foreign speech, hairstyles and clothes described as “dangerous poisons”.
4. Statue farce makes monkey out of town
Hartlepool in the NE of England has a ‘legend/myth’ that, during the Napoleonic wars (late 18th century), a French ship was wrecked off the coast, the sole survivor being the ship’s monkey (which was dressed in uniform for the amusement of the crew).
Having seen neither a monkey nor a Frenchman, the townspeople are said to have hanged it as a French spy. Folks from Hartlepool are still sometimes referred to as ‘monkey hangers’.
A new statue of a monkey in the town’s marina has been criticised as ‘unfriendly to foreigners’ or racist. A plaque is being added to explain the significance of the monkey to Hartlepool.